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No place affords a more striking conviction
of the vanity of human hopes
than a public library.

Samuel Johnson,
March 23, 1751,
the Rambler

 

Amazon Lemmings Effect

In no way one can blindly rely on Amazon ratings (or any similar ratings). Amazon rating while providing interesting information often are subject to so called "Lemming Effect" when people rate highly a book that is mediocre at best (just look on reviews of JavaScript: The Definitive Guide or Learning Perl. In this case several good reviews incite conformists to say a couple of nice words about the book that they probably own but that they either never read or they lack the ability to compare books on the subject due to some other factor.

Bad books from a respectable publisher or a known author sometimes
have many excellent reviews on Amazon (Lemmings effect )

At the same time many really good books (for example Learning Korn Shell) are underrated on Amazon with a lot of reviews that belong to the category described above, only with minus sign.

You also need to understand that the value of the book depends on the level of the reader and only really brilliant books (for example TAOCP) can bypass this vast diversity of experiences of the readers.

Evaluating a book before buying

If you are still thinking about buying a book, do yourself a favor, when you're at the book store look in the index or table of contents of this book and then browse the book and read at least one, important for you, chapter before spending any money.  If you still have the same level of understanding as before the reading and the chapter does not contain interesting ideas or badly written then probably this is not the book you are shooting for. Then take another book and keep doing this until you find one that really excels in explaining this important for you concept. 

If you cannot browse the book yourself in a bookstore, then you should try to grade the book indirectly using other sources (this is less reliable but at least helps to avoid blunders):

Books with titles that includes the word Bible are often pretty weak and belong to the "make money fast" category . No respectable author would consider himself to be a God :-) Every time I see a book named  "XXX Bible" (Unix Bible, Java Bible, Javascript Bible, etc). I think that such name is misleading as for the level of complexity and weirdness of the subject and from marketing standpoint it might be better to replace this title with a title  "XXX Kamasutra." :-)

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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Old News ;-)

[Mar 10, 2021] Fulfillment- Winning and Losing in One-Click America by Alec MacGillis

Mar 10, 2021 | www.amazon.com

An award-winning journalist investigates Amazon's impact on the wealth and poverty of towns and cities across the United States.

In 1937, the famed writer and activist Upton Sinclair published a novel bearing the subtitle A Story of Ford-America . He blasted the callousness of a company worth "a billion dollars" that underpaid its workers while forcing them to engage in repetitive and sometimes dangerous assembly line labor. Eighty-three years later, the market capitalization of Amazon.com has exceeded one trillion dollars, while the value of the Ford Motor Company hovers around thirty billion. We have, it seems, entered the age of one-click America―and as the coronavirus makes Americans more dependent on online shopping, its sway will only intensify.

Alec MacGillis's Fulfillment is not another inside account or exposé of our most conspicuously dominant company. Rather, it is a literary investigation of the America that falls within that company's growing shadow. As MacGillis shows, Amazon's sprawling network of delivery hubs, data centers, and corporate campuses epitomizes a land where winner and loser cities and regions are drifting steadily apart, the civic fabric is unraveling, and work has become increasingly rudimentary and isolated.

Ranging across the country, MacGillis tells the stories of those who've thrived and struggled to thrive in this rapidly changing environment. In Seattle, high-paid workers in new office towers displace a historic black neighborhood. In suburban Virginia, homeowners try to protect their neighborhood from the environmental impact of a new data center. Meanwhile, in El Paso, small office supply firms seek to weather Amazon's takeover of government procurement, and in Baltimore a warehouse supplants a fabled steel plant. Fulfillment also shows how Amazon has become a force in Washington, D.C., ushering readers through a revolving door for lobbyists and government contractors and into CEO Jeff Bezos's lavish Kalorama mansion.

With empathy and breadth, MacGillis demonstrates the hidden human costs of the other inequality―not the growing gap between rich and poor, but the gap between the country's winning and losing regions. The result is an intimate account of contemporary capitalism: its drive to innovate, its dark, pitiless magic, its remaking of America with every click.

" Fulfillment vividly details the devastating costs of Amazon's dominance and brutal business practices, showcasing an economy that has concentrated in private hands staggering wealth and power while impoverishing workers, crushing independent business, and supplanting public governance with private might. A critical read." ―Lina Khan, associate professor at Columbia Law School and author of Amazon's Antitrust Paradox

"Anyone who orders from Amazon needs to read these moving and enraging stories of how one person's life savings, one life's work, one multigenerational tradition, one small business, one town after another, are demolished by one company's seemingly unstoppable machine. They are all the more enraging because Alec MacGillis shows so clearly how things could have been different." ―Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help

"Alec MacGillis practices journalism with ambition, tenacity, and empathy that will command your awe. Like one of the great nineteenth-century novels, Fulfillment studies a social ill with compelling intimacy and panoramic thoroughness. In the process, Jeff Bezos's dominance and its costs are made real―and it becomes impossible to one-click again the same." ―Franklin Foer, staff writer at The Atlantic and author of World Without Mind

"For a generation, inequality has been rising relentlessly in the United States―not just inequality of income and wealth, but also inequality of power and geography. In Fulfillment , Alec MacGillis brings this crisis vividly alive by creating a broad tableau of the way one giant company, Amazon, affects the lives of people and places across the country. This book should be read as a call to action against the new economy's continuing assault on working people, small businesses, and left-behind places." ―Nicholas Lemann, author of Transaction Man

" Fulfillment addresses the human impact of current technologies and economic inequality with rare power. People in tech don't often think about the ramifications of their work; Alec MacGillis reminds us that it has consequences, and that even if there are no clear solutions, we have a moral imperative to consider its effects." ―Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist

Alec MacGillis is a senior reporter for ProPublica and the recipient of the George Polk Award, the Robin Toner prize, and other honors. He worked previously at The Washington Post , Baltimore Sun , and The New Republic , and his journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine , The New Yorker , The Atlantic , and other publications. His ProPublica reporting on Dayton, Ohio was the basis of a PBS Frontline documentary about the city. He is the author of The Cynic , a 2014 biography of Mitch McConnell. He lives in Baltimore.

Geo March 10, 2021 at 7:55 am

All of these "advancements" are around removing face-to-face interaction with other people. Whether work-from-home, automated rental & purchase, retail goods delivered, etc. Curious what long term impact this seemingly exponential shift toward human interaction as personal irritant is doing to our social cohesion.

Is standing in a line always a burden or is it sometimes a benefit? Sure, sometimes I just want to do my business and go but have also met fascinating people while in lines. I'm assuming many of the people working at that ski resort are "ski bums" who used the job as a way to fulfill their skiing lifestyle. They are a part of the skiing culture that has been removed from the experience now. So many local jobs are being removed and replaced by tech jobs. We barely have local community left and it's being replaced with, what? Social media? I'm a big fan of our online communities here at NC so it's not all bad of course.

Yes, change is inevitable and much of this is convenient but just curious what it's doing to us as a society. Maybe it's allowing us more time to focus on closer social bonds we've already developed? Less time in lines or stores means more time with friends and family?

Our prior ways weren't exactly healthy so honestly I don't know if this will lead to better ways or push us further apart. Any insights or ideas are appreciated. Just been pondering it and curious what other think.

"In a system that generates masses, individualism is the only way out. But then what happens to community -- to society?" – Jeanette Winterson

Miami Mitch March 10, 2021 at 8:04 am

Maybe it's allowing us more time to focus on closer social bonds we've already developed? Less time in lines or stores means more time with friends and family?

The social bond with your doctor is pretty important I would say. As it is with your local bookseller or grocery store. They are all people too, and being face to face with them you build more trust and compassion. This helps us both in times of hardship

No, I do not think I like this change.

vw March 10, 2021 at 10:44 am

I'll take the most dire view here (someone has to!):

Every step this society takes away from face-to-face interaction, and therefore community and fellowship, is going to proportionally increase the death rate when the rolling disasters of our era arrive properly at our shore.

I wish I could reach out and shake everyone who is like "I interact with people too much already, this enforced isolation is GREAT!" don't they realize this philosophy might kill them? In the upcoming chaos, if they're an unknown unknown to the people around them, don't they realize they'll be all too easy to leave behind or even sacrifice??

This seems to be the path our society is absolutely determined to take – so be it. Even NC is posting articles that are more or less cheering it. But as for me, I will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Sierra7 March 10, 2021 at 3:38 pm

Found myself in a rather long line (no complaints) last Sat. for 2nd Covid vaccine. Realized later that between the long line waiting and the after waiting to leave it was probably the most people interaction I've had for over a year! We are social creatures. Our system preaches "individualism" because that is the only way the "instant profit" system can operate. There are other ways; our ruling classes opt out of those and the general population becomes muddled instead.
"Modernity" and "AI" technology is great but if u have no human interaction eventually those traits leave and you have what???? A dead society.

The Rev Kev March 10, 2021 at 8:06 am

And with every step forward there is a step backward. Going digital across the board is not always good as it takes away privacy and I have an example here. There is a linked article in Links today called "Are punitive rules forcing doctors to hide their mental health problems?" In it, a young doctor is under enormous mental stress and turns to older doctors for advice. They 'advised her to drive out of town, pay cash and use a pseudonym if she needed to talk to someone.' If most transaction were done digitally, how would this doctor and others like her go for help without endangering their jobs? What options would they have?

Reply
  1. ambrit March 10, 2021 at 9:59 am

    In cases like this, the only 'options' allowed will be "official" options. As my misguided attempt at "therapy" years ago taught me, often times, the analyst can be toxic. Also, in a mental health setting, I encountered the "official" preference for medication over 'therapy.' Both are situations that put the 'authority's' preferences above the patients. One big way I eventually 'twigged' to the dystopian dynamic was in observing the attitudes and body language of the "health care professionals" I was dealing with. Electronica and devices have no agency, and no "body language." The entire process is removing useful tools for the patient to navigate the shoals and reefs where the sharks hang out in any bureaucracy.
    The other, knock on effect of telemedicine we encountered was that the charges for electronic "office visits" have not dropped. This is analogous to when a grocery store keeps the cost of an individual item stable and reduces the package size.
    Others have said it better than I, but it bears repeating; 'modern' methods are reducing people to the status of 'things.' Just as in the process of reducing a person or group of people to the status of "other," the next step is 'removal.'

    Reply
  2. Alternate Delegate March 10, 2021 at 10:43 am

    This is another example of the war on cash.

    Cash is agency. The spying may be efficient, but its main purpose is to take away agency. Just like "software as a service" or "in the cloud", when you could just as easily have the same functionality on your device which you own. The vendors don't want that. They want to control you.

    The only alternative is to support and keep alive businesses that accept customers with cash and agency. And boycott the rest. Even if it is inconvenient!

PS March 10, 2021 at 8:52 am

Yay, less human interaction, more isolation, fewer seasonal jobs for high school or college students. More magical technological solutions that the on-site staff has no idea how to fix when they stop working. You're too busy and important to stand in line! That's socialism! Let's tell everyone that they're risking imminent death by being around other people and then sell them ways to avoid it!

Jeremy Grimm March 10, 2021 at 10:09 am

The U.S. exported its production of goods and became a "service" economy or a "knowledge" economy. Thanks to Corona much of the service employment has become virtual. Knowledge workers can now work from home. How many knowledge workers possess knowledge unique to the U.S. and how many could be replaced by remote workers from somewhere else?

This post describes changes, some of which may prove temporary and others may prove permanent. I believe most of the changes and their longer term implications require time to fully unfold. I am not fond of virtual service. I order online from the independent vendors still around as Amazon, E-Bay, Etsy, and other platforms grind them down, but how long will they remain independent? The U.S. Postal Service is under attack and when it falls to privatization what kind of e-commerce will come after that? Cashless means exposed to me -- exposed to tracking and monitoring and exposed to theft from the shadows.

  1. grumbles March 10, 2021 at 11:58 am

    I don't understand the rush to eliminating cash. Cash is the last way to opt out of commercial control. People seem to positively embrace it, and I don't get it.

    (Exception: I understand why legal cash-business owners like the idea.)

    I hear crime prevention and money laundering prevention as reasons. The first is code for "control of poor people", the second is true as far as it goes, but that's not very far. You're targeting mainly drug money while completely ignoring corporate and high-net-worth individuals.

    Again, all about control.

    And even if you only care about drug money, it still won't help. It is delusional to think going cashless will stop the off-book transfer of value. (For instance: https://nymag.com/news/features/tide-detergent-drugs-2013-1/ )

    Reply
  2. Anonapet March 10, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    My question (to no one) is how was the automation financed? Did the ski company issue new shares in equity with first refusal to the employees? Or did the company instead mosey on down to a local branch of the government-privileged private credit cartel to have themselves a heaping helping of the PUBLIC'S (including the employees') CREDIT but for the company owners' PRIVATE GAIN?

    As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid,
    So is a person who makes a fortune, but unjustly;
    In the middle of his days it will abandon him,
    And in the end he will be a fool.
    Jeremiah 17:11

Anthony G Stegman March 10, 2021 at 2:07 pm

The human population didn't grow to 8 billion through physical distancing, touchless interaction, and living in isolation. ecommerce is a thing now, but it may not have a long shelf life. There is an inherent need for human interaction if the specie is to prosper. The pandemic is transitory and will eventually pass; human needs, wants, and desires will endure. I look forward to the day when I can speak with a store clerk, browse shelves and racks, and pay for things with currency. I don't believe that there is no going back. In fact, we must go back. At least most of the way back.

[Mar 06, 2021] When I read "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley I considered it an improbable fantasy. But it certainly does seem now that something of the kind is in our future

Mar 06, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

zeta , Mar 5 2021 16:34 utc | 10

@James joseph | Mar 5 2021 14:55 utc | 1

Given that we no longer trust the intentions of most public and private institutions, i am looking for signs of a new phenomenon, which i call "Fear of new developments in science or technology". ...due to the belief that said developments will only be used against us, either by the state or oligarchy. Anyone have thoughts on this?

When I read "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley I considered it an improbable fantasy. But it certainly does seem now that something of the kind is in our future, if the "best people" have their way. Another good treatment of the subject is the short story "Welcome to the Monkey House" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

[Feb 24, 2021] Satan's Diary by Leonid Andreyev

Feb 24, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

C4 , Feb 23 2021 21:51 utc | 253

Satan's Diary by Leonid Andreyev

https://archive.org/details/satansdiary00andruoft

Possible early influence on Bulgakov

"Satan has returned to Earth for a sightseeing visit in the form of the American billionaire Henry Wondergood. Accompanied by his faithful demon butler Toppi they head for Rome, but are sidetracked by an unforeseen accident and end up at the home of the inscrutable Thomas Magnus and his divine daughter Maria. As Satan begins to discover the meaning of being a man, the satanic aspects of mankind become ever more apparent to him"

[Feb 24, 2021] I noticed the other day that this book by Evgeny Zamyatin is available online for free:

Feb 24, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

suzan , Feb 23 2021 20:01 utc | 245


@Posted by: Paco | Feb 23 2021 15:00 utc | 212

"...Evgeny Zamyatin who wrote the book "Us", many think that the book served as inspiration for Orwell's 1984, for lovers of anti utopian literature it is a must read."

I've been appreciating your recommendations over the past months, Paco. Thank you. I wish I could read/listen to them in the original language.

I noticed the other day that this book by Evgeny Zamyatin is available online for free:

EUGENE ZAMIATIN
"WE"
Authorized Translation from the Russian
By GREGORY ZILBOORG
@1924

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/61963/61963-h/61963-h.htm

[Feb 24, 2021] Yes indeed, we are talking about the same book and author, Mikhail Bulgakov. He was a doctor even though he did not practice for too long. He wrote a book of short stories about a young doctor out of university who is sent to a remote village

Feb 24, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

juliania , Feb 23 2021 6:41 utc | 193

Paco, was your series you first mentioned an adaptation of the novel I am reading? I was puzzled by your mention that 'Bulgakov was a physician' -- the author of 'The Master and Margarita was not, so not to confuse James any further than I have - and James, just to clarify, the quotation I gave is not from the novel. Here's a bit, and I'll include psychohistorian in this conversation as well:

"But here is a question that is troubling me: if there is no God, then, one may ask,who governs human life and, in general, the whole order of things on earth?"

"Man governs it himself," Homeless angrily hastened to reply to this admittedly none-too-clear question.

"Pardon me," the stranger responded gently, "but in order to govern, one needs, after all, to have a precise plan for a certain, at least somewhat decent, length of time. Allow me to ask you, then, how can man govern, if he is not only deprived of the opportunity of making a plan for at least some ridiculously short period--well, say, a thousand years, but cannot even vouch for his own tomorrow?

And in fact," and here the stranger turned to Berlioz, "imagine that you, for instance, start governing, giving orders to others and yourself, generally, so to speak, acquire a taste for it, and suddenly you get ... hem ... hem ... lung cancer ..." - here the foreigner smiled sweetly, as if the though of lung cancer gave him pleasure - "yes, cancer" - narrowing his eyes like a cat, he repeated the sonorous word - "and all your governing is over!..."


Paco , Feb 23 2021 15:00 utc | 212

Posted by: juliania | Feb 23 2021 6:41 utc | 193

Yes indeed, we are talking about the same book and author, Mikhail Bulgakov. He was a doctor even though he did not practice for too long. He wrote a book of short stories about a young doctor out of university who is sent to a remote village:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Young_Doctor%27s_Notebook

He became adicted to morphine, adiction that would torture him all his life. The great post soviet -greatest IMO- film maker Balabanov took those stories and made a film by the name "Morfiy" of Morphine, I truly recommend you to watch it, a fantastic film that depicts the backwardness of Russian villages during the revolution and the decadence of the burgeoise. There is a truly electrifying scene -among many- of an iced run on a sleigh, the doctor is pursued by a pack of wolves. The film maker took a liberty for the end of the movie that does not appear in the book and that obviosuly is not real but closes a circle of a fantastic story. I read both books before watching the TV serial or the movie, the serial is really worth watching in spite of its length, but try to search for the original with subtitles, I watched a couple of minutes of the one dubbed and it is awful, it kills the impresive acting of Basilashvily doing Voland, and the film Morphine too, high quality stuff both of them.

If you're interested in Bulgakov's life read about the phone call from Stalin, he asked him if he wanted to leave the Soviet Union and Bulgakov hesitated, so he did stay unlike another writer that just as Bulgakov wrote a letter to Stalin asking to be allowed to leave, which he did, the other writer was Evgeny Zamyatin who wrote the book "Us", many think that the book served as inspiration for Orwell's 1984, for lovers of anti utopian literature it is a must read.

james , Feb 23 2021 16:35 utc | 226

@ juliania and @ paco... thank you both... i was able to watch the first of a 10 part series that i did find on youtube.. although the english subtitles are poor, one gets the brilliant content of the philosophical discussion in episode 1.. i am thinking it might be best for me to read the book, as opposed to watching the other 9 episodes..
here is episode 2 link if you are interested in seeing what i am watching - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG07m3-_Oxc

Mikhail Bulgakov is a fascinating character and story teller... i am still caught up in the brothers karamazov book and don't imagine i will finish it for another good month! thank you both for drawing my attention to him and this book The Master and Margarita.. thanks also paco for mentioning those other books as well!

@ 211-212 migueljose / paco... i my late 20's i made a trip down to the yucatan pennisula visiting the area - merida, progresso and the archaeological sites chitzen itza, and also palenque which is a bit further away... i believe this is mostly all mayan culture and there are still mayan people in these areas.. i really enjoyed my experience and believe i would have crossed paths with some of the mayan people in this area, but i have never been to gautemala...i think the reason these people are not highlighted as the uighurs is for geo political purposes only... it is the way of the west... thanks for both your notes and comments..

juliania , Feb 24 2021 2:18 utc | 261

Thanks very much, Paco @ 212, the introductory information for the novel (which is all I have read of Bulgakov's work) did not mention his medical profession, nor his morphine addiction. Here is what wikipedia says about it (I know the source is not always accurate but in this case it would seem fairly reliable):

At the outbreak of the First World War, he volunteered with the Red Cross as a medical doctor and was sent directly to the front, where he was badly injured at least twice. Bulgakov's suffering from these wounds had deleterious long-term effects. To suppress chronic pain, especially in the abdomen, he injected himself with morphine. Over the next year his addiction grew stronger. In 1918, he abandoned morphine and never used it again. Morphine, a book released in 1926, is his account of that trying period.

His description of Pilate in the novel is most certainly as a result of his experience with morphine; it is really a powerful rendition of character, and based upon Bulgakov's own experiences - another motif is cowardice in the face of imperial might, certainly a factor in his inability to release the novel and, like Pilate, his subservience to Stalin. (That is discussed in the introduction by the translator, Pevear.)

juliania , Feb 24 2021 4:44 utc | 268

Sorry, james @ 226, from just the first frame of that I shut it off -- no way is it what the book is presenting, which is farcical and humorous. Bulgakov had his novel memorized -- he went over and over it to get the right effect and the shock value I think much depends on our imaginations at full play and his actual descriptions of what is happening, not how it would look, with musical interpretation. I think you lose that with a visual representation -- I have watched the Russian series on TBK also, and I would say the same for that, even though they did better than the American version, which was awful.

It's about words. Do save yourself for the words - they are exquisite, even in translation
. And the contrast in the words between the two narrative forms used in the novel is like Dorothy going to the land of OZ -- happening in the second chapter of the book, which starts:

Pontius Pilate

In a white cloak with blood-red lining, with the shuffling gait of a cavalryman, early in the morning of the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan, there came out to the covered colonnade between the two wings of the palace of Herod the Great, the procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate...

It's the reader's imagination, first shocked by the earlier tone of fantasy, being now given an epic scene, tragic as the first chapter was comic...it can't be made real except as the words carry it forward. The novel reads like that theatrical image of the two masks of tragedy and comedy combined - that's the only visual that works. And it's like poetry. You can't make a film of a poem, or you shouldn't try. The words are sufficient.

[Feb 02, 2021] Freedom From the Market- America s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand

Highly recommended!
Feb 02, 2021 | www.amazon.com

J. Edgar Mihelic, MA, MBA 5.0 out of 5 stars on January 18, 2021

Pushing Back on Neoliberalism

This is a good, short book laying out many of the ways that the market has crept up on us and made our lives smaller.

Konczal provides necessary pushback to the neoliberal project, showing just everything that we have lost as the forces of capital decided that the Great Society, the New Deal, and the Progressive Era were bridges too far against the corporate form. 8 people found this helpful

anonymous 5.0 out of 5 stars January 23, 2021
Ayn Rand would hate this book.

Konczal's book is a compact history of how Americans have tried to remove the constraints imposed on them by the market. Konczal questions the conventional idea that the market is solely a mechanism that expands choices and opportunity. As he shows, markets can, and have, achieved precisely the opposite outcomes -- restricting choices and preventing people from having options. In many instances, Americans successfully reclaimed the liberty they had lost to the market by organizing or taking state action. He thus makes a more general case for ensuring that societal outcomes are more consistent with Berlin's notion of positive liberty. Libertarians will not appreciate the book's conclusions.

The book starts with the Homestead Act and ends with the decision to terminate virtually free higher education in the 1960s and 1970s. In between, he covers a lot of historical ground -- the effort to reduce working hours in the 19th century, the Wagner Act and Social Security during the New Deal, and the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid, among other things. Despite the book's ambitious scope, you can read it in a sitting, which is quite a feat. Either Konczal is a naturally efficient writer, or he has a good editor.

There is one topic I would've liked to see treated in more detail -- finance. Konczal gives the best concise summary of the economic ideas behind the ideological shift toward neoliberalism I have read. Still, the liberalization of finance during the past 50 years and its farreaching implications receive a cursory discussion. In an interview, Konczal said he wanted to include more discussion of this topic and something on the gold standard but didn't see how to incorporate it. In my view, it would have fit quite naturally into the chapter "Free Economy."

But this is a quibble. Overall, the book is both well researched and well written. It sheds light on an important and timely question -- to what extent should Americans permit themselves to be subject to market-driven outcomes? The book shows that, historically, Americans have tried to implement changes that enabled them to live freer lives by organizing and taking political action. Not all those changes were successful but many were.

For a deeper dive into these and related questions, read this book along with Polanyi's "The Great Transformation," Robin's "The Reactionary Mind," and Slobodian's "The Globalists." 4 people found this helpful

Henry J. Farrell 5.0 out of 5 stars January 25, 2021
Freedom from the Market remakes our understanding of what is possible in American politics

Freedom from the Market remakes our understanding of American politics. By drawing intelligently on forgotten aspects of American history, Konczal makes it easier for Americans to understand that things they might not believe are possible in America must be, because they have been. He rescues moments such as the WWII government run daycare centers, or the use of the power of the federal state to bring through the integration of Southern hospitals, from the enormous condescension of posterity. And notably, although he doesn't dwell on this point, many of these changes began at moments that seem shittier and more despairing than our own.

So what Konczal is doing is neither to provide a standard linear history, nor yet a policy textbook. Instead, he is claiming an alternative American tradition, that has not looked to the market as its apotheosis, but instead has sought to free Americans from its random vagaries. His history explains how Americans have responded collectively to the real and expressed needs of publics, who have organized to fight for them. And it does so in the plain language that he mentions in passing was necessary to allow ordinary people to organize and understand who was trying to stop them.

Konczal's fundamental claim is that people who link freedom to markets miss out on much of the story. Equally important is a notion of freedom <em>from</em> markets, "rooted in public programs that genuinely serve people and checking market dependency." This notion goes back much further in time than the New Deal. The nineteenth century is sometimes depicted as a reign of laissez-faire, both by those who admired it and deplored it. Konczal argues instead that there was an emerging sense of public needs - and how the government might provide for them. For example, this helps us understand the provision of public land through the Homestead Act and the land grant universities.

The nineteenth century notion of the public was clearly horribly flawed and contradictory - it did not include slaves or Native Americans. Some, like Horace Greeley ended up fleeing these contradictions into the welcoming arms of free market absolutism. But within these contradictions lay possibilities that opened up in the twentieth century. Konczal builds, for example on Eric Schickler's work to argue that as the New Deal began to provide concrete benefits to African Americans, it created a new conduit between them and the Democratic Party, breaking up the old coalition that had held Jim Crow together.
Konczal explains how change happens - through social movements and the state:

While the Supreme Court can be effective at holding back change and enforcing already existing power structures, it is actually very weak at creating new reform itself. It controls no funding and is dependent on elite power structures to carry out its decisions. What really creates change is popular mobilization and legislative changes.

He also draws on historians like Quinn Slobodian, to describe how modern Hayekians have sought to "encase" the market order in institutions and practices that are hard to overturn. Property rights aren't the foundation of liberty, as both nineteenth century jurists and twentieth century economists would have it. They are a product of the choices of the state, and as such intensely political.

This allows Konczal to turn pragmatism against the Hayekians. Hayek's notion of spontaneous order is supposed to be evolutionary. But if there is a need to to provide collective goods for people that cannot be fulfilled through voluntarism, the Hayekian logic becomes a brutal constraint on adaptation.

The efforts of Hayekians to enforce binding legal constraints, to cripple the gathering of the collective knowledge that can guide collective action, to wink at legal doctrines intended to subvert social protections against the market; all these prevent the kinds of evolutionary change that are necessary to respond to changing circumstances. Konczal makes it clear that Oliver Wendell Holmes was no left-winger - but his criticisms of the rigid and doctrinaire laissez-faire precepts of his colleagues rings true. Their "willingness to use a very specific understanding of economics to override law writes a preferential understanding of economics into the constitution itself." Although Konczal wrote this book before the current crisis, he describes Holmes as mentioning compulsory vaccination laws as one of the ways in which government interference in private decisions can have general social benefits. The wretched contortions of libertarians over the last several months, and their consequences for human welfare in states such as North Dakota illustrate the point, quite brutally.

What Konczal presses for is a very different notion of freedom. This doesn't deny the benefits of markets, but it qualifies them. In Konczal's words, "markets are great at distributing things based on people's willingness to pay. But there are some goods that should be distributed by need." Accepting this point entails the necessity of keeping some important areas of life outside the determining scope of markets. Furthermore, people's needs change over time, as societies and markets change. Konczal's framework suggests the need for collective choice to figure out the best responses to these changes, and a vibrant democratic politics, in which the state responds to the expressed needs of mobilized publics as the best way to carry out these choices.

All this makes the book sound more like an exercise in political theory than it is. You need to read the book itself, if you really to get the good stuff - the stories, the examples, and the overall narrative that Konczal weaves together. <em>Freedom from the Market</em> has the potential to be a very important book, focusing attention on the contested, messy but crucially important intersection between social movements and the state. It provides a set of ideas that people on both sides of that divide can learn from, and a lively alternative foundation to the deracinated technocratic notions of politics, in which good policy would somehow, magically, be politically self supporting, that has prevailed up until quite recently. Recommended.

[Feb 01, 2021] Le Carre died from pneumonia on 12 December 2020, at age 89

Despite the fact that John le Carre was to his last day was MI6 asset and continue to spread the MI6 propaganda (he was adamantly anti-Russian and anti-Trump), he was entertaining story teller and some of his interviews are a real art.
Feb 01, 2021 | en.wikipedia.org

Le Carré feuded with Salman Rushdie over The Satanic Verses , stating that "nobody has a God-given right to insult a great religion and be published with impunity". [35]

In January 2003, two months prior to the invasion, The Times published le Carré's essay "The United States Has Gone Mad" criticising the buildup to the Iraq War and President George W. Bush 's response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks , calling it "worse than McCarthyism , worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War " and "beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams". [36] [37] Le Carré participated in the London protests against the Iraq War . He said the war resulted from the "politicisation of intelligence to fit the political intentions" of governments and "How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history". [38] [39]

He was critical of Tony Blair 's role in taking Britain into the Iraq War, saying "I can't understand that Blair has an afterlife at all. It seems to me that any politician who takes his country to war under false pretences has committed the ultimate sin. I think that a war in which we refuse to accept the body count of those that we kill is also a war of which we should be ashamed". [38]

Le Carré was critical of Western governments' policies towards Iran. He believed Iran's actions are a response to being "encircled by nuclear powers" and by the way in which "we ousted Mosaddeq through the CIA and the Secret Service here across the way and installed the Shah and trained his ghastly secret police force in all the black arts, the SAVAK ". [38]

In 2017, le Carré expressed concerns over the future of liberal democracy , saying "I think of all things that were happening across Europe in the 1930s, in Spain, in Japan, obviously in Germany. To me, these are absolutely comparable signs of the rise of fascism and it's contagious, it's infectious. Fascism is up and running in Poland and Hungary. There's an encouragement about". [40] He later wrote that the end of the Cold War had left the West without a coherent ideology, in contrast to the "notion of individual freedom , of inclusiveness, of tolerance – all of that we called anti-communism " prevailing during that time. [41]

... ... ...

Le Carré was an outspoken advocate of European integration and sharply criticised Brexit . [45] Le Carré criticised Conservative politicians such as Boris Johnson (whom he referred to as a "mob orator"), Dominic Cummings , and Nigel Farage in interviews, claiming that their "task is to fire up the people with nostalgia [and] with anger". He further opined in interviews that "What really scares me about nostalgia is that it's become a political weapon. Politicians are creating a nostalgia for an England that never existed, and selling it, really, as something we could return to", noting that with "the demise of the working class we saw also the demise of an established social order, based on the stability of ancient class structures". [44] [46]

On the other hand, he said that in the Labour Party "they have this Leninist element and they have this huge appetite to level society."

[Feb 01, 2021] Predator Nation- Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America by Charles Ferguson

Feb 01, 2021 | www.amazon.com

"As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel." ~Grover Cleveland (about that other gilded age)

"There is fraud at the heart of Wall Street -- deliberate intellectual, business, and political deception. Charles Ferguson is in hot pursuit. Inside Job shook up the cozy world of academic finance. Predator Nation should stir prosecutors into action. And if we fail to reform our political system, you can say goodbye to American democracy." -- Simon Johnson , coauthor of White House Burning and professor at MIT Sloan School of Management

"Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population.

Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups' willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of America's political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.

If allowed to continue, this process will turn the United States into a declining, unfair society with an impoverished, angry, uneducated population under the control of a small, ultrawealthy elite. Such a society would be not only immoral but also eventually unstable, dangerously ripe for religious and political extremism."

Charles Ferguson, Predator Nation, 2012

>

University Doc Top Contributor: Camping

Scary read. Frightening true! HIGHLY recommend!!

4.0 out of 5 stars Scary read. Frightening true! HIGHLY recommend!! Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2017 Verified Purchase Just finished this page turner. Wow! Talk about an enlightening read. Scary too and worse, yet it's so spot on. I always knew that most businesses, especially those dealing with money are crooked, selfish and good for nothing greedy souls. This book proves my point and more. Personally, I never heard of this book or the author until my brother recommended it to me in passing. It scared the hell out of him. Naturally, I had to see what book could do that. After reading it, I understand why.
Not only are the financial industries greedy and crooked but so is our governments and both Democrats and Republicans. The housing crash of 2008 wasn't the beginning of our problems but the culmination of years of greed, shady deals and lack of accountability for the financial industry. President George W. Bush was complicit in protecting the finance industry not the people of America. Worse yet was President Barack Obama. It's all in there: every dirty little detail. If you think your broker, banker or financial advisor has your best interest at heart, this couldn't show how very wrong you are. Is the book perfect? No. Is the U.S. Government or any other world government perfect? Hell no. should we be very afraid of how our bankers are? Yes.
This is a book I enjoyed reading because I already knew about most of it already just by observing and never trusting anyone anyway. I highly recommend it. I loved the fact that the author wasn't afraid to speak the truth. That is always refreshing. I look forward to reading more by Charles Ferguson.
Overall, an informative and compelling read. Everyone whether interested in finances or note needs to read this book. Seriously! Read less 2 people found this helpful Helpful Report abuse >

Orchid
OMG! You owe it to yourself to read what is really going on!

5.0 out of 5 stars OMG! You owe it to yourself to read what is really going on! Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2014 Verified Purchase Definitely an eye opener. If I was cynical before, this one pushed me over the edge. Banks and large corporations in collusion with the government and zero accountability. Our newspapers, again, did a disservice to the public. It is one thing to talk about the mortgage industry going under, it is quite another to understand what the banks did to facilitate a world-wide recession with NO prosecutions. I was particularly appalled that the corporations paid the politicians who voted to remove any restraints on the banks. Then the banks created derivative markets they knew would fail. Moreover, the bank made millions of dollars by betting the derivative market would fail. Yet, when the bubble burst, these same people were standing at the government door (that they paid for) with their hand out for a taxpayer bail-out. The CEOs were rewarded for their bad behavior with millions of dollars in bonuses and no repercussions for bilking millions of victims or for causing a world wide downward money spiral. 7 people found this helpful Helpful Report abuse >

petronmb
Long on diagnosis, short on solution

4.0 out of 5 stars Long on diagnosis, short on solution Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2012 Verified Purchase As a fan of "Inside Job" I was eager to read Predator Nation, which minces no words in designating the financial industry as "criminal" abetted by the political establishment, whether Republican or Democrat. The other reviews here lay out what this book accomplishes, to which I would only underscore the powerful and no-holds-barred approach of Ferguson to establishing responsibility and labeling it "criminal" as well as "predatory."

Beyond critique of Wall Street and the political "duopoly," the book widely supports the thesis that something is terribly wrong in America, a cultural malaise rooted in economic thievery and imbalance empowering the wealthy, and rendering today's America into the equivalent of what we used to call "a banana republic." Charles Ferguson pulls no punches in laying out his case here.

But, as another review has pointed out, the ending is disappointing. Charles has laid into Obama as part of the "duopoly" governing America, meaning diverging only on fractious social issues but essentially united in matters of finance and government, including war. At one point he labels Obama's weak commentary on controlling Wall Street "horse [manure]" and then at another point says "he [Obama] screwed us." In his concluding five page chapter which has an "oh, well" feel to it he tells us "hold your nose and vote for him [Obama], as I will."

With this and various commentaries we seem to be very long on laying out damages and ascribing responsibility, but have almost nothing to say on what to do other than repair to the lounge on the Titanic and have another whiskey, hoping somebody will come along with a bright idea or two at some point. If more energy were put into finding answers, as with ascribing blame, maybe we could be more hopeful. Read less 9 people found this helpful

[Jan 27, 2021] The new brave world is virtual, like most of Biden's inauguration. It is ruled by digital companies fronted by old senile politicians by Israel Shamir

Jan 27, 2021 | www.unz.com

At 78, after a prolonged illness and without recovering consciousness, Joe Biden succumbed to the Presidency. The last hopes of the last QAnon believers vanished like smoke in the night, with Biden assuming the mighty US throne. This is truly a dark day for America and for the world, as the US example will be followed by many. It is also a farewell to the real world we were brought up in. The new world is virtual, like most of the inauguration. It is virtual and dark, ruled by digital companies fronted by old and tired politicians.

[Jan 15, 2021] Wealth and Want- Foreword to -Brave New World-

Jan 15, 2021 | www.wealthandwant.com
Foreword to Brave New World, second edition -- circa 1947
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Here's my abridgement:
In the meantime, however, it seems worth while at least to mention the most serious defect in the story, which is this. The Savage is offered only two alternatives, an insane life in Utopia, or the life of a primitive in an Indian village, a life more human in some respects, but in others hardly less queer and abnormal. ... Today I feel no wish to demonstrate that sanity is impossible. ... If I were now to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative. Between the utopian and the primitive horns of his dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity -- a possibility already actualized, to some extent, in a community of exiles and refugees from the Brave New World, living within the borders of the Reservation. In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian , politics Kropotkinesque cooperative. Science and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more so in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them. Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man's Final End, the unitive knowledge of the immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman. And the prevailing philosophy of life would be a kind of Higher Utilitarianism, in which the Greatest Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End principle -- the first question to be asked and answered in every contingency of life being: "How will this thought or action contribute to, or interfere with, the achievement, by me and the greatest possible number of other individuals, of man's Final End?"

.... and here is the Foreword, in full:

Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrong-doing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.

Art also has its morality, and many of the rules of this morality are the same as, or at least analogous to, the rules of ordinary ethics. Remorse, for example, is as undesirable in relation to our bad art as it is in relation to our bad behaviour. The badness should be hunted out, acknowledged and, if possible, avoided in the future. To pore over the literary shortcomings of twenty years ago, to attempt to patch a faulty work into the perfection it missed at its first execution, to spend one's middle age in trying to mend the artistic sins committed and bequeathed by that different person who was oneself in youth -- all this is surely vain and futile. And that is why this new Brave New World is the same as the old one. Its defects as a work of art are considerable; but in order to correct them I should have to rewrite the book -- and in the process of rewriting, as an older, other person, I should probably get rid not only of some of the faults of the story, but also of such merits as it originally possessed. And so, resisting the temptation to wallow in artistic remorse, I prefer to leave both well and ill alone and to think about something else.

In the meantime, however, it seems worth while at least to mention the most serious defect in the story, which is this. The Savage is offered only two alternatives, an insane life in Utopia, or the life of a primitive in an Indian village, a life more human in some respects, but in others hardly less queer and abnormal. At the time the book was written this idea, that human beings are given free will in order to choose between insanity on the one hand and lunacy on the other, was one that I found amusing and regarded as quite possibly true. For the sake, however, of dramatic effect, the Savage is often permitted to speak more rationally than his upbringing among the practitioners of a religion that is half fertility cult and half Penitente ferocity would actually warrant. Even his acquaintance with Shakespeare would not in reality justify such utterances. And at the close, of course, he is made to retreat from sanity; his native Penitente -ism reasserts its authority and he ends in maniacal self-torture and despairing suicide. "And so they died miserably ever after" -- much to the reassurance of the amused, Pyrrhonic aesthete who was the author of the fable.

Today I feel no wish to demonstrate that sanity is impossible. On the contrary, though I remain no less sadly certain than in the past that sanity is a rather rare phenomenon, I am convinced that it can be achieved and would like to see more of it. For having said so in several recent books and, above all, for having compiled an anthology of what the sane have said about sanity and the means whereby it can be achieved, I have been told by an eminent academic critic that I am a sad symptom of the failure of an intellectual class in time of crisis. The implication being, I suppose, that the professor and his colleagues are hilarious symptoms of success. The benefactors of humanity deserve due honour and commemoration. Let us build a Pantheon for professors. It should be located among the ruins of one of the gutted cities of Europe or Japan, and over the entrance to the ossuary I would inscribe, in letters six or seven feet high, the simple words: SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE WORLD'S EDUCATORS. SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE.

But to return to the future . . . If I were now to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative. Between the utopian and the primitive horns of his dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity -- a possibility already actualized, to some extent, in a community of exiles and refugees from the Brave New World, living within the borders of the Reservation. In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian, politics Kropotkinesque cooperative. Science and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more so in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them. Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man's Final End, the unitive knowledge of the immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman. And the prevailing philosophy of life would be a kind of Higher Utilitarianism, in which the Greatest Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End principle -- the first question to be asked and answered in every contingency of life being: "How will this thought or action contribute to, or interfere with, the achievement, by me and the greatest possible number of other individuals, of man's Final End?"

Brought up among the primitives, the Savage (in this hypothetical new version of the book) would not be transported to Utopia until he had had an opportunity of learning something at first hand about the nature of a society composed of freely co-operating individuals devoted to the pursuit of sanity. Thus altered, Brave New World would possess artistic and (if it is permissible to use so large a word in connection with a work of fiction) a philosophical completeness, which in its present form it evidently lacks.

But Brave New World is a book about the future and, whatever its artistic or philosophical qualities, a book about the future can interest us only if its prophecies look as though they might conceivably come true. From our present vantage point, fifteen years further down the inclined plane of modern history, how plausible do its prognostications seem? What has happened in the painful interval to confirm or invalidate the forecasts of 1931?

One vast and obvious failure of foresight is immediately apparent. Brave New World contains no reference to nuclear fission. That it does not is actually rather odd, for the possibilities of atomic energy had been a popular topic of conversation for years before the book was written. My old friend, Robert Nichols, had even written a successful play about the subject, and I recall that I myself had casually mentioned it in a novel published in the late twenties. So it seems, as I say, very odd that the rockets and helicopters of the seventh century of Our Ford should not have been powered by disintegrating nuclei. The oversight may not be excusable; but at least it can be easily explained. The theme of Brave New World is not the advancement of science as such; it is the advancement of science as it affects human individuals. The triumphs of physics, chemistry and engineering are tacitly taken for granted. The only scientific advances to be specifically described are those involving the application to human beings of the results of future research in biology, physiology and psychology. It is only by means of the sciences of life that the quality of life can be radically changed. The sciences of matter can be applied in such a way that they will destroy life or make the living of it impossibly complex and uncomfortable; but, unless used as instruments by the biologists and psychologists, they can do nothing to modify the natural forms and expressions of life itself. The release of atomic energy marks a great revolution in human history, but not (unless we blow ourselves to bits and so put an end to history) the final and most searching revolution.

This really revolutionary revolution is to be achieved, not in the external world, but in the souls and flesh of human beings. Living as he did in a revolutionary period, the Marquis de Sade very naturally made use of this theory of revolutions in order to rationalize his peculiar brand of insanity. Robespierre had achieved the most superficial kind of revolution, the political. Going a little deeper, Babeuf had attempted the economic revolution. Sade regarded himself as the apostle of the truly revolutionary revolution, beyond mere politics and economics -- the revolution in individual men, women and children, whose bodies were henceforward to become the common sexual property of all and whose minds were to be purged of all the natural decencies, all the laboriously acquired inhibitions of traditional civilization. Between sadism and the really revolutionary revolution there is, of course, no necessary or inevitable connection. Sade was a lunatic and the more or less conscious goal of his revolution was universal chaos and destruction. The people who govern the Brave New World may not be sane (in what may be called the absolute sense of the word); but they are not madmen, and their aim is not anarchy but social stability. It is in order to achieve stability that they carry out, by scientific means, the ultimate, personal, really revolutionary revolution. But meanwhile we are in the first phase of what is perhaps the penultimate revolution. Its next phase may be atomic warfare, in which case we do not have to bother with prophecies about the future. But it is conceivable that we may have enough sense, if not to stop fighting altogether, at least to behave as rationally as did our eighteenth-century ancestors. The unimaginable horrors of the Thirty Years War actually taught men a lesson, and for more than a hundred years the politicians and generals of Europe consciously resisted the temptation to use their military resources to the limits of destructiveness or (in the majority of conflicts) to go on fighting until the enemy was totally annihilated. They were aggressors, of course, greedy for profit and glory; but they were also conservatives, determined at all costs to keep their world intact, as a going concern. For the last thirty years there have been no conservatives; there have been only nationalistic radicals of the right and nationalistic radicals of the left. The last conservative statesman was the fifth Marquess of Lansdowne; and when he wrote a letter to the the Times , suggesting that the First World War should be concluded with a compromise, as most of the wars of the eighteenth century had been, the editor of that once conservative journal refused to print it. The nationalistic radicals had their way, with the consequences that we all know --Bolshevism, Fascism, inflation, depression, Hitler, the Second World War, the ruin of Europe and all but universal famine.

Assuming, then, that we are capable of learning as much from Hiroshima as our forefathers learned from Magdeburg, we may look forward to a period, not indeed of peace, but of limited and only partially ruinous warfare. During that period it may be assumed that nuclear energy will be harnessed to industrial uses. The result, pretty obviously, will be a series of economic and social changes unprecedented in rapidity and completeness. All the existing patterns of human life will be disrupted and new patterns will have to be improvised to conform with the nonhuman fact of atomic power. Procrustes in modern dress, the nuclear scientist will prepare the bed on which mankind must lie; and if mankind doesn't fit -- well, that will be just too bad for mankind. There will have to be some stretching and a bit of amputation -- the same sort of stretching and amputations as have been going on ever since applied science really got into its stride, only this time they will be a good deal more drastic than in the past. These far from painless operations will be directed by highly centralized totalitarian governments. Inevitably so; for the immediate future is likely to resemble the immediate past, and in the immediate past rapid technological changes, taking place in a mass-producing economy and among a population predominantly propertyless, have always tended to produce economic and social confusion. To deal with confusion, power has been centralized and government control increased. It is probable that all the world's governments will be more or less completely totalitarian even before the harnessing of atomic energy; that they will be totalitarian during and after the harnessing seems almost certain. Only a large-scale popular movement toward decentralization and self-help can arrest the present tendency toward statism. At present there is no sign that such a movement will take place.

There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation, is not merely inhumane (nobody cares much about that nowadays), it is demonstrably inefficient and in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, news- paper editors and schoolteachers. But their methods are still crude and unscientific. The old Jesuits' boast that, if they were given the schooling of the child, they could answer for the man's religious opinions, was a product of wishful thinking. And the modern pedagogue is probably rather less efficient at conditioning his pupils' reflexes than were the reverend fathers who educated Voltaire. The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an "iron curtain" between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals. But silence is not enough. If persecution, liquidation and the other symptoms of social friction are to be avoided, the positive sides of propaganda must be made as effective as the negative. The most important Manhattan Projects of the future will be vast government-sponsored enquiries into what the politicians and the participating scientists will call "the problem of happiness" -- in other words, the problem of making people love their servitude. Without economic security, the love of servitude cannot possibly come into existence; for the sake of brevity, I assume that the all-powerful executive and its managers will succeed in solving the problem of permanent security. But security tends very quickly to be taken for granted. Its achievement is merely a superficial, external revolution. The love of servitude cannot be established except as the result of a deep, personal revolution in human minds and bodies. To bring about that revolution we require, among others, the following discoveries and inventions.

All things considered it looks as though Utopia were far closer to us than anyone, only fifteen years ago, could have imagined. Then, I projected it six hundred years into the future. Today it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us within a single century. That is, if we refrain from blowing ourselves to smithereens in the interval. Indeed, unless we choose to decentralize and to use applied science, not as the end to which human beings are to be made the means, but as the means to producing a race of free individuals, we have only two alternatives to choose from: either a number of national, militarized totalitarianisms, having as their root the terror of the atomic bomb and as their consequence the destruction of civilization (or, if the warfare is limited, the perpetuation of militarism); or else one supranational totalitarianism, called into existence by the social chaos resulting from rapid technological progress in general and the atomic revolution in particular, and developing, under the need for efficiency and stability, into the welfare-tyranny of Utopia. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

-O-

You might also want to look at somaweb's piece, Aldous Huxley: The Author and his Times - http://somaweb.org/w/huxbio.html

[Jan 15, 2021] Huxley's Warning- Totalitarianism in the 21st Century by T.R. Clancy

Jan 12, 2021 | www.americanthinker.com

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In the foreword to the 1946 edition of his novel, Brave New World , Aldous Huxley anticipated the continued emergence, perhaps in novel forms, of statist totalitarianism:

There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation, is not merely inhumane (nobody cares much about that nowadays), it is demonstrably inefficient and in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, news-paper editors and schoolteachers. But their methods are still crude and unscientific.

Because, in 1946, the world had yet to witness the horrors of Red China, North Korea, Cuba, and Cambodia, Huxley guessed wrong that artificial famines, mass imprisonment, and political executions would go out of fashion. Totalitarianism is impossible without brute violence. And, from our brave new world of 2021, where Big Tech's promiscuous deployment of tools like Machine Learning Fairness and shadow banning prevent users' exposure to wrongthink, his estimation of propaganda methods as "crude and unscientific" is badly out of date.

But how chilling is Huxley's prescience about propaganda ministers, news editors, and schoolteachers training generations of serfs to willingly obey "political bosses and their army of managers"?

https://lockerdome.com/lad/9371484590420070?pubid=ld-8832-1542&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanthinker.com&rid=www.americanthinker.com&width=610

Just like the truism that "generals always fight the last war," Huxley's point that there's "no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old" calls for both vigilance and imagination on our part; our next totalitarian enemy isn't limited to patterns of twentieth-century Nazism or Soviet-style Communism.

For instance, the suffocating blanket of censorship and suppression of free speech, which seems to defy any constitutional remedy because it's not directly traceable to government action, remains a problem without an obvious solution. Regardless, it's an open secret that the corporate executives in media, Big Tech, and Hollywood managing this suppression are acting on behalf of a single political party -- a party that, due in large part to that interference and suppression now have near total control of the federal government. Townhall's Matt Vespa quotes even a liberal reporter, Michael Tracey, warning that the "absolute authoritarian lunacy" of Twitter's decision to ban President Trump isn't about "'safety,' it's about purposely inflating a threat in order to assert political and cultural dominance." Warns Tracey, "The new corporate authoritarian liberal-left monoculture is going to be absolutely ruthless -- and in 12 days it is merging with the state ." [My italics].

Glenn Greenwald, another committed progressive, also complains " that political censorship has 'contaminated virtually every mainstream centre-left political organization, academic institution and newsroom.'" In October, Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept news site, resigned after they refused to publish his article about Joe Biden and Hunter's shocking influence-peddling, unless Greenwald first removed "critical points against the Democratic candidate."

In reality, standing alone with election fraud notwithstanding , last October's lockstep decision by an entire news industry to suppress the starkly headline-worthy scandals around Hunter Biden's laptop, along with all other negative stories about Joe Biden, accounts directly for 17% of Biden voters who would have abandoned him " had they known the facts about one or more of these news stories." Because those lost votes "would have changed the outcome in all six of the swing states won by Joe Biden," re-electing Trump, burying those stories was first-degree election interference.

Huxley foresaw this, too:

The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an "iron curtain" between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals.

In 2020 alone, news outlets systematically misinformed, or kept uninformed, scores of millions of voters whose only news sources are either mainstream media or the occasional de-contextualized sound bite. Corporate news, in addition to disappearing the Hunter Biden story:

But Fake News is only as powerful as its consumers are gullible. Knowing that, PJMedia's Stephen Kruiser was able to predict in advance that a Biden win would be "the complete triumph of decades of public education indoctrination ," which is no longer education, anyway, but "more of a leftist catechism class." Journalist William Haupt III reports that 12 years of Common Core "has resulted in 51 percent of our youth preferring socialism to democracy." It's also why "[t]wo thirds of the millennials believe America is a racist and sexist country and 40 percent agree America is 'the most unequal society in the world.'" In fact, in 2011 Chuck Rogér traced this decline to the sixties, when teachers' colleges began churning out "[s]ocial justice-indoctrinated teachers [who] instill resentment in 'non-dominant' (minority) children and guilt in 'dominant' (white) children. Judging by the abundance of guilt-ridden white Americans, the tactic is working its magic well." At present a reported 3,500 classrooms across fifty states are incorporating the New York Times ' specious 1619 Project , which teaches that every accomplishment in America's history came out of slavery . The purpose of this all this falsified history? Not education, but more generations of Americans "unable to discern fact from fiction ."

Now that progressives have complete control of Washington, they'll escalate their lies -- of commission, and especially of omission -- to gain a tighter and more permanent grip. Still, Truth remains their real enemy. It explains social media's current blitz of de-platforming conservatives, trying to drop an "iron curtain," just as Huxley predicted, to separate the people from undesirable facts.

Likewise, fidelity to truth is our best defense; that, and continuing to refuse their lies. That's one positive action Solzhenitsyn was able to offer his comrades who felt powerless against the repressive Soviet system, "the most perceptible of its aspects" being lies: "Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me."

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com .

Image: John Collier

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[Nov 22, 2020] Hedge Fund Modelling and Analysis Using Excel and VBA

Nov 22, 2020 | www.amazon.com

[Sep 26, 2020] From Conflict to Crisis - The Danger of U.S. Actions by Jeanne M. Haskin

A brilliant book !
Sep 26, 2020 | www.amazon.com

The rich understand that capitalism is a game of musical chairs. It's systemic class warfare conducted on a grand scale to discourage solidarity across lines that might otherwise threaten the system, and with each market re-set arranged by the Federal Reserve, more of the country's resources fall into wealthy hands.

Examining what happens when a society favors old money over new and breaks all the rules to make the world safe for finance, author Jeanne Haskin predicts increasing volatility and violence in the United States if we do not significantly change course.

For a preview of what lies ahead for the U.S., the author takes us for a quick exemplary trip through Central America.

A society that is reared on competition will face unsettling challenges to authority if it doesn't set certain functions outside the arena of battle, via systematic enrichment of the affluent minority that has always had the power to topple and ruin the system.

Today's preoccupation with America's revolutionary history is not just a piece of theater. At the heart of America's outrage is an inability to lash out and demand redemption from the source of its distress because the pain is inflicted, not by hatred, but by the fundamental lack of stability built into our way of life.

Now that a fifth of the population is suffering job loss, foreclosures, or exclusion from employment due to prejudice, poor credit, a lack of skills or education, a glut of competition and insufficient opportunity, the failure to provide for the helpless majority means the system is at an impasse. Because the system can't or won't perform, the Tea Party's rise was preemptive with all its implied violence and 'real' American theater as the means to channel our anger into voting out Obama so reform can proceed unimpeded...with all its inherent dangers.

After reviewing some foreign examples that erupted in the environments of colonialism and post-colonialism, neoliberalism, militarism and oligarchies, the author filters through the head-spinning social and political noise that stands in for responsible debate in America today. Ms. Haskin's richly documented essay sees a bonfire prepared as social tensions are increased and inter-group pressures are encouraged to mount. So much for "One nation..."

Title Pagev
Table of Contentsxi
Introduction1
Chapter One- Unearthing the Bones7
Chapter Two- Instilling the Illusion of Choice19
Chapter Three- Political Strategizing23
Chapter Four- Behavioral Economics27
Chapter Five- Favoring Old Money over New33
Chapter Six- Making the World Safe for Finance39
Chapter Seven- The Colonial History of Belize51
Chapter Eight- Belize -- Party Politics and Debt65
Chapter Nine- Belize -- Recommendations of the IMF83
Chapter Ten- Nicaragua 1522–193991
Chapter Eleven- Nicaragua -- The Somoza Dynasty107
Chapter Twelve- Nicaragua -- Opposition to the Sandinistas119
Chapter Thirteen- Nicaragua -- Implementing Neoliberalism133
Chapter Fourteen- El Salvador -- The Military and the Oligarchy151
Chapter Fifteen- El Salvador -- The War and Its Aftermath165
Chapter Sixteen- Honduras -- Land of Instability179
Chapter Seventeen- Honduras -- The Impact of the Contras191
Chapter Eighteen- Fast-Forward to a Volatile USA205
Bibliography227
Index25

[Jul 24, 2020] At Animal Farm, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

This all deflection from the oligarchy rule
Jul 24, 2020 | www.youtube.com
Tucker- There are two versions of the law - YouTube

America's shutdown exposed huge double standard.


I M , 1 month ago

I never understood why Americans are so protective of the Second Amendment and their right to bear arms. I get it now.

Victor Del Prete , 1 month ago

Tucker is the last best journalist in the U.S.A.

Stephen Tumlin , 1 month ago

If someone is treated special all the time, when they get treated normally, they feel oppressed.

blurglide , 1 month ago

At Animal Farm, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Metal Faced DOOM , 1 month ago

Tucker Carlson is vilified by leftists but his viewership is skyrocketing. Has to mean something

lil doe , 1 month ago

Trump didn't create the hate in the left. He exposed it

Tommy Brackett , 1 month ago

"To argue with someone who has renounced all reason, is like administering medicine to the dead"

See the Light , 1 month ago

When all else fails, there's still the Second Amendment. Why do we have a Second Amendment? In case all else fails.

Paul collins , 1 month ago

you talk from the heart and you never cave. Free speech is a rare thing these days and must be protected.

Lorry Camill , 1 month ago

No one ☝️ is above the law only Antifa and Pelosi and Maxine Watters 😂😂😂😂and there rioters

Casinoman , 1 month ago

The only truth teller on cable right now.

GutteralEviceration , 1 month ago

If we fall there will be "nowhere to escape to" - Ronald Reagan This is the last stand on earth.

danny adventurer , 1 month ago

I hope Tucker will be able to continue with his message. He's the only one left to communicate the truth.

Flamethrower82 , 1 month ago

The Democrats want their slaves back.

Martin Coté , 1 month ago

Am I the only one who hears the urgency in Tucker's voice, we are in real trouble and it's only going to get worse!!!

droneultimatum , 1 month ago

When a criminal shoots someone the left blames the gun. When a cop shoots a criminal the left blames the cop.

Loco Motives , 1 month ago

"No one is above the Law" Translation: 'You are not above the Law and... We, Are The Law'

Edward Oliver , 3 weeks ago

"All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others..." 🐖 🐕🐑 🐎🐄🐐🐓

Jackie Eastom , 1 month ago

ONCE AGAIN! THEY ARE "ELECTED " REPRESENTATIVES! NOT LEADERS!

FmnstsRDumb MAGAMAN , 1 month ago

It's hilarious hearing democrats say "no-one is above the law" as they cheat the system becoming multi millionaires via insider trading and selling their influence.

Andrey Kravets , 1 month ago

Over these last few weeks Tucker has been one of the few people to stand up to the mob and refuses to give in. Tremendous respect for people who refuse to give up their dignity.

[Jul 05, 2020] The American Plague- The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History- Crosby, Molly Caldwell- 9780425217757- Amazon.com- Books

Jul 05, 2020 | www.amazon.com

>

Gordon M. Verber

Mosquitoes, Fever, and America

4.0 out of 5 stars Mosquitoes, Fever, and America Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2009 Verified Purchase Over three generations ago Hans Zinsser wrote "Rats, Lice and History" telling the story of lice and men (sorry) and the typhus Rickettsia.

He founded the literary genre marked by the examination of disease, history, and having tripartite titles; Recent examples: Guns, Germs, and Steel; Viruses, Plagues, and History.

Though Ms. Crosby did not call her book "Mosquitoes, Fever, and America," "The American Plague" nicely continues the tradition of this fascinating venue.

The subtitle (why must books so often have subtitles now?) claims this to be "The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History", which is more than a bit of a reach - Especially, given the existence of the very similarly themed and titled adolescent's book "An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793" (2003) by Jim Murphy (which, whatever your age, is also worth reading).

It is arguable that the subtitle means only to refer to the Memphis outbreak, but that single event did not "shape our history," it was the repeated outbreaks of Yellow Jack beginning with those in the northeast ports in 1699 that truly did change the history of all of North America. The subtitle is simply annoying marketing hyperbole - though such an unfounded, untrue, claim did nearly make me put the book back on the shelf unopened. Which would have been a shame, as I enjoyed the book greatly.

"(The) American Plague" details the impact of an outbreak of Yellow Fever (YF) in Memphis, Tennessee (the author's home) in the year 1878, and follows with an in-depth examination of the subsequent discovery of the means of transmission, prevention, vaccination, cause, and sad lack of cure for the disease.

This book also traces the origin of the disease, and reviews how it likely came to the Americas from its home in Africa as a consequence of the slave trade. The occurrence of YF epidemics in Europe (perhaps even dating back to the mid 500's) is not discussed, which is forgivable given the focus of the book, though the fact that 300,000 people perished from YF in Spain in the 1800's makes it clear that YF was (is) a scourge far beyond America's shores.

The author brings to life the horror and uncertainly of epidemic disease at the dawn of scientific medicine. She recounts the difficulty of seeing the true nature of a disease though the conflicting overlay of current knowledge and cultural belief (a current example: autism).

Further, she points to the mendacity of businessmen who may have, in their efforts to prevent disruption of commerce by quarantine, allowed this outbreak to spread from New Orleans to Memphis in the first place. She briefly touches on the ethics of human, of animal, and of self, experimentation. It is not a simple book, though it is clearly, if at times unevenly, written.

Unlike most popular science books, she includes an extensive source bibliography that points to precisely where her material has come from. This is a very welcome addition. Over all, this is a solidly written, well researched and interesting book. I strongly recommend it.

I also strongly recommend that you consider that the World Health Organization estimates that YF still kills 30,000 people a year. Most of these deaths could be prevented by vaccination and by mosquito control. Over the past few years Yellow Jack has been re-emerging and spreading in the western hemisphere. This spread is, as Ms. Crosby shows that to a degree the Memphis epidemic was, a political failure marked by primacy of business interests and of underfunded and inadequate public health measures.

Pray that it does not return to America.

[Jun 20, 2020] 1984 -- The writer of Truth rewrites history to fit whatever they want. Read the book. That's the news media today.

Jun 20, 2020 | taibbi.substack.com

Sean Carson Jun 12

The toxicity that Matt writes about isn't just due to Trump - it's due to the left abandoning traditional liberal values in favor of political correctness and identity politics. This new Red Guard of ideological purity is the natural - shocking - evolution of that....

Lekimball Jun 13

1984 -- The writer of Truth rewrites history to fit whatever they want. Read the book. That's the news media today. A warning leftists: Stalin and Hitler controlled the media. It's not TRUMP controlling the media. Or ignoring the truth. And it should scare the hell out of every American.

Sherry Jun 13

The twitter lynch mobs have a great deal to answer for, except they never do answer for it.

TheMadKing59 Jun 13

Crazy times indeed. It is reminiscent of the Hollywood Terror. A tipping point will come when enough people are sickened of their arbitrary and capricious cultural fascism.

Horatio Flemm Jun 13

Mr. Taibbi fires a warning shot to alert us that the "instinct (in the American media) to shield audiences from views or facts deemed politically uncomfortable has been in evidence since Trump became a national phenomenon." I would say not "since" -- that vile instinct has merely been more in evidence. The media's fear and hatred for diversity of opinion, for the freedom of speech, has doubtless worsened ...

[Jun 14, 2020] America looks like a hybrid of Stephen King, Brave New World, and 1984 and the US elites and intel agencies love it.

Jun 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

AriusArmenian , Jun 13 2020 19:27 utc | 22

This is looking like another 1960's type insurrection that will end up the same way: it will be used by the rich and powerful elites (notice how the corporate controlled media has gone on one knee for BLM and has gone outright anti-white?), there will be a back lash that will crush it (right after the election), and its leaders will be either absorbed into the establishment or offed.

America looks like a hybrid of Stephen King, Brave New World, and 1984 and the rich and powerful US elites and intel agencies stroke it and love it. Notice that the US super rich have been raking it in since January 2020? While at the same time Trump is busy making the US a vassal state of Israel and accelerating the roll-out of Cold War v2 which is just fine with US elites that will not change with the election of moron Biden (if the people elect Biden they are electing his VP as Biden will not last long; he is a lot like Yeltsin that was pumped up on mental stimulants and nutriments to perform for short periods until the next treatment).

What a country, what a ship of fools.

[Jun 08, 2020] Global Crisis- The Convergence Of Marx, Kafka, Orwell, Huxley -

Notable quotes:
"... This is where Orwell enters the convergence , for the State masks its stripmining and power grab with deliciously Orwellian misdirections such as "the People's Party," "democratic socialism," and so on. ..."
"... Orwell understood the State's ontological imperative is expansion, to the point where it controls every level of community, markets and society. Once the State escapes the control of the citizenry, it is free to exploit them in a parasitic predation that is the mirror-image of Monopoly capital. For what is the State but a monopoly of force, coercion, data manipulation and the regulation of private monopolies? ..."
"... Aldous Huxley foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to "love their servitude" via propaganda, drugs, entertainment and information-overload. In his view, the energy required to force compliance exceeded the "cost" of persuasion, and thus the Powers That Be would opt for the power of suggestion. ..."
"... "My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World . ..."
"... As Marx explained, the dynamics of state-monopoly-capitalism lead to the complete dominance of capital over labor in both financial and political "markets," as wealth buys political influence which then protects and enforces capital's dominance. ..."
Jun 08, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Global Crisis: The Convergence Of Marx, Kafka, Orwell, & Huxley by Tyler Durden Mon, 06/08/2020 - 16:45 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The global crisis is not merely economic; it is the result of profound financial, sociological and political trends described by Marx, Kafka, Orwell and Huxley.

The unfolding global crisis is best understood as the convergence of the dynamics described by Marx, Kafka, Orwell and Huxley. Let's start with Franz Kafka , the writer (1883-1924) who most eloquently captured the systemic injustices of all-powerful bureaucratic institutions--the alienation experienced by the hapless citizen enmeshed in the bureaucratic web, petty officialdom's mindless persecutions of the innocent, and the intrinsic absurdity of the centralized State best expressed in this phrase: "We expect errors, not justice."

If this isn't the most insightful summary of the current moment in history, then what is? A lawyer by training and practice, Kafka understood that the the more powerful and entrenched the institution and its bureaucracy, the greater the collateral damage rained on the innocent, and the more extreme the perversion of justice.

We are living in a Kafkaesque nightmare where suspicion alone justifies the government stealing from its citizens, and an unrelated crime (possessing drug paraphernalia) is used to justify state theft.

As in a Kafkaesque nightmare, the state is above the law when it needs an excuse to steal your car or cash. There is no crime, no arrest, no due process--just the state threatening that you should shut up and be happy they don't take everything you own.

All these forms of civil forfeiture are well documented. While some would claim the worst abuses have been rectified, that is far from evident. What is evident is how long these kinds of legalized looting have been going on.

Taken: Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing? (2013)

Stop and Seize (six parts) (2013)

When the state steals our cash or car on mere suspicion, you have no recourse other than horrendously costly and time-consuming legal actions. So you no longer have enough money to prove your innocence now that we've declared your car and cash guilty?

Tough luck, bucko--be glad you live in a fake democracy with a fake rule of law, a fake judiciary, and a government with the officially sanctioned right to steal your money and possessions without any due process or court proceedings-- legalized looting .

They don't have to torture a confession out of you, like the NKVD/KGB did in the former Soviet Union, because your cash and car are already guilty.

This is where Orwell enters the convergence , for the State masks its stripmining and power grab with deliciously Orwellian misdirections such as "the People's Party," "democratic socialism," and so on.

Orwell understood the State's ontological imperative is expansion, to the point where it controls every level of community, markets and society. Once the State escapes the control of the citizenry, it is free to exploit them in a parasitic predation that is the mirror-image of Monopoly capital. For what is the State but a monopoly of force, coercion, data manipulation and the regulation of private monopolies?

What is the EU bureaucracy in Brussels but the perfection of a stateless State?

As Kafka divined, centralized bureaucracy has the capacity for both Orwellian obfuscation (anyone read those 1,300-page Congressional bills other than those gaming the system for their private benefit?) and systemic avarice and injustice.

The convergence boils down to this: it would be impossible to loot this much wealth if the State didn't exist to enforce the "rules" of parasitic predation.

Aldous Huxley foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to "love their servitude" via propaganda, drugs, entertainment and information-overload. In his view, the energy required to force compliance exceeded the "cost" of persuasion, and thus the Powers That Be would opt for the power of suggestion.

He outlined this in a letter to George Orwell :

"My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World .

Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience."

As prescient as he was, Huxley could not have foreseen the power of mobile telephony, gaming and social media hypnosis/addiction as a conditioning mechanism for passivity and self-absorption. We are only beginning to understand the immense addictive/conditioning powers of 24/7 mobile telephony / social media.

What would we say about a drug that caused people to forego sex to check their Facebook page? What would we say about a drug that caused young men to stay glued to a computer for 40+ hours straight, an obsession so acute that some actually die? We would declare that drug to be far too powerful and dangerous to be widely available, yet mobile telephony, gaming and social media is now ubiquitous.

... ... ...

Last but not least, we come to Marx. As Marx explained, the dynamics of state-monopoly-capitalism lead to the complete dominance of capital over labor in both financial and political "markets," as wealth buys political influence which then protects and enforces capital's dominance.

Marx also saw that finance-capital would inevitably incentivize over-capacity, stripping industrial capital of pricing power and profits. Once there's more goods and services than labor can afford to buy with earnings, financialization arises to provide credit to labor to buy capital's surplus production and engineer financial gains with leveraged speculation and asset bubbles.

But since labor's earnings are stagnant or declining, there's an end-game to financialization. Capital can no longer generate any gain at all except by central banks agreeing to buy capital's absurdly over-valued assets. Though the players tell themselves this arrangement is temporary, the dynamics Marx described are fundamental and inexorable: the insanity of central banks creating currency out of thin air to buy insanely over-priced assets is the final crisis of late-stage capitalism because there is no other escape from collapse.

Having stripped labor of earnings and political power and extracted every last scrap of profit from over-capacity (i.e. globalization) and financialization, capital is now completely dependent on money-spewing central banks buying their phantom capital with newly printed currency, a dynamic that will eventually trigger a collapse in the purchasing power of the central banks' phantom capital (i.e. fiat currencies).

When there is no incentive to invest in real-world productive assets and every incentive to skim profits by front-running the Federal Reserve, capitalism is dead. Paraphrasing Wallerstein, "Capitalism is no longer attractive to capitalists."

We can see this for ourselves in the real world: if "renewable energy" was as profitable as some maintain, private capital would have rushed in to fund every project to maximize their gains from this new source of immense profits. But as Art Berman explained in Why the Renewable Rocket Has Failed To Launch , this hasn't been the case. Rather, "green energy" remains dependent on government subsidies in one form or another. If hydropower is removed from "renewables," all other renewables (solar, wind, etc.) provide only 4% of total global energy consumption.

Japan's stagnation exemplifies Marx's analysis: Japan's central bank has created trillions of yen out of thin air for 30 years and used this phantom capital to buy the over-valued assets of Japan's politically dominant state-capitalist class, a policy that has led to secular stagnation and social decline. If it weren't for China's one-off expansion, Japan's economy would have slipped into phantom capital oblivion decades ago.

Kafka, Orwell, Huxley and Marx called it, and we're living in the last-gasp stage of the cruel and unsustainable system they described. So sorry, but investing your phantom capital in FANG stocks, Tik-Tok and virtual-reality games will not save phantom capital from well-deserved oblivion.

[May 23, 2020] The wristband and microchip sound fab for children under 18 so we monitor to ensure their safety

May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

fredmb , 11 Apr 2019 06:49

The wristband and microchip sound fab for children under 18 so we monitor to ensure their safety, especially in educational settings and on school trips. It would enable them to be located if lost or snatched. If it can be used to monitor language and aspects of behaviour then they could not be falsely accused of of antisocial actions. If they don't comply then child care benefits or access to higher education could be withdrawn as a sanction. It may even improve road safety if they drive illegally or badly. Any chance of a tiny electric shock feature to the microchip?

[May 21, 2020] Orwell's career was a lot more complicated than that. Basically, he came from a relatively prosperous middle-class family, which allowed him to play the game of the writer, when it worked, and to come back to the family when things were thin

May 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 20 2020 18:51 utc | 26

If you thought you knew everything about Eric Blair/George Orwell, I suggest reading this essay as a test. Hopefully, you'll discover many facets not known before as I did.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 21:40 utc | 33

Posted by: oldhippie | May 20 2020 20:23 utc | 30

Orwell's career was a lot more complicated than that. Basically, he came from a relatively prosperous middle-class family, which allowed him to play the game of the writer, when it worked, and to come back to the family when things were thin. Of course he exploited his own experiences, as every writer does. That doesn't detract from the great creations. Animal Farm and 1984 don't have direct origins.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 20 2020 21:39 utc | 32 @Posted by: karlof1 | May 20 2020 18:51 utc | 26

That essay is a real shame, an impossible intend of whitewashing and redime Orwell, just another intent on rewritting of history, and try to paint what is black as white. Neo-language
This intent could be inscribed along the rescues of Stepan Bandera and the Forest Brothers as new heroes of NATO world in their offensive against reviving socialist ideas.

That Orwell did not change even a bit after returning from Burma is proven by the fact that he came to Spain, and strolled around there with the Trotskyites of POUM, to elaborate black lists of communists which then were provided to Franco, at result of which many people was tortured and summarily executed. He, this way, contributed greatly to decimate the resistance in the side of the legitimate republican government, and thus, to help the fascists in their way to power, well supported by the US with arms and fuel and by the air forces of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

... ... ...

https://twitter.com/ciudadfutura/status/1263150511412346881

Orwell: Sneak sighting of British secret services in the Cold War (is declassified by MI-5 and documented). Its function: to expose communists. He even betrayed Charles Chaplin, exiled in his native England for FBI persecution. "Referrer". "Always loyal"

https://twitter.com/ciudadfutura/status/1262794482963091460

Albert Escusa: Who was George Orwell really? Orwellian myths: from the Spanish Civil War to the Soviet holocaust

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:08 utc | 36

@Posted by: H.Schmatz | May 20 2020 21:40 utc | 33

In the essay by Alert Escusa linked above, it is studied the historical context in which Orwell published his most famous works, at all innocent, debunking the legend on that he was kinda an outsider and was about to self-publish Animal Farm , being the checked reality that he had full support of the birgueoisie to publish his influential works when the time was more propice for the capitalists.

As a sample, a button:

What was happening that year of 1943, while Orwell was writing his Animal Farm? It was not exactly, as Pepe Gutiérrez says "the distribution of the world", but something quite different that he hides from us: the Nazis had invaded the USSR two years ago, exterminating millions of Russians and devastating much of the country. The greatest battle of the war, Stalingrad, had taken place, and it was not yet known who would win the conflict, whether Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. No one could safely predict that Nazism would be extirpated from Europe, the Nazi death camps had not yet been discovered, but Orwell was obsessed with his anti-Soviet writings. What did Orwell want to portray with his Farm Rebellion? Nothing more and nothing less than the following: "The specific purpose Orwell threw into it with a sense of urgency was the desire to exploit the "myth" of the Soviet Union, as a paradigm of the socialist state".

There are plenty of comments about it. It is only worth reflecting on who benefited from Orwell's position in 1943. The victory was precisely achieved by the Soviet people and the Red Army at the price of innumerable human sacrifices, also easily forgotten in the West, where the true character of the anti-fascist war is hidden. It is logical that the USSR, which had suffered a war of extermination unprecedented in history, and which also defeated the collaborationist and fascist regimes of Eastern Europe, along with the popular and communist guerrillas, was seen as a liberating power by broad sectors of local populations. In addition, the communist guerrillas, ideologically linked to the USSR, had come to have great prestige throughout Europe: so much so that, in the first French general elections after Nazism, the French Communist Party was the most voted party, achieving more out of 5 million votes representing 30% of the electorate [7]. As we will see later, the USSR had very well-founded reasons to believe that a new war was being prepared against him, this time with the country devastated, so it was logical and legitimate that he try to win allies against the possibility of a new world war. This is a long way from "distribution of the world" and trying to equate imperialism with socialism, as will be seen later.


karlof1 , May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42
I must say the replies to my 26 go in many directions. As to Martin Sieff's essay, it's fundamentally a well deserved critique of the BBC that segues into a discussion about how George Orwell would easily recognize its Fake News for what it is that draws on Finding George Orwell in Burma for some of its content. (A very short preview's available at the link and it can be borrowed if you're an Archive member, for which there's no excuse as it's free.) IMO, the comments fit Sieff's intent quite well. Judging from book excerpts offered here , the book's more a critique of Myanmar than Orwell, although the additional sources provided at page bottom leads to credibility questions. I also note that most websites promoting Finding lead with the NY Times jacket blurb which is more about dissing Myanmar than revealing what was found regarding Orwell. Sieff says he knows the author but doesn't speculate on why he chose a female nom de plume; I too wonder why as I don't see what purpose it could serve unless it's anti-Myanmar propaganda that Orwell would recognize or something similar.

Curious--an innocuous comment becomes a can of worms. Also curious how Orwell and his writing still generate an intense level of controversy.

karlof1 , May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42 H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:52 utc | 43
@Posted by: H.Schmatz | May 20 2020 22:08 utc | 36

A bit more from the must read essay linked, even related to current events...

2. THE HISTORICAL ENVIRONMENT OF "ANIMAL FARM" AND "1984"

What events were taking place in the western world at that time, which caused a favorable change of attitude towards Orwell's publications, of those who were previously reticent? Neither more nor less than the imminent offensive against socialism, which had already lost almost thirty million lives during the anti-fascist war and had suffered appalling material destruction.

While the first copies of Animal Farm were being printed and bound, some extremely disturbing events were taking place. Just at the end of the war, Nazi spies and war criminals were being recycled by the American spy services, such as the German SS General Reinhard Genhlen, whose spy network passed entirely to the Americans and was used in Eastern Europe to promote the anti-Soviet uprisings in East Berlin in 1953 and Hungary in 1956. Clandestine networks were created to evade thousands of Nazi criminals towards Latin America and the USA. Later, with Japan defeated, the operation was repeated with the Japanese scientists who are experts in bacteriological weapons, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of allied prisoners, but who were secretly brought to the United States. Meanwhile, during the 1945 Potsdam conference, which brought together Hitler's victorious allies - where the alleged "honeymoon" took place to "divide the world" - US President Truman and English Churchill had speculated before Stalin about the power the western allies had with a new secret weapon. On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. According to Ian Gray, Stalin's biographer: "Stalin and the majority of Russians immediately understood the terrible meaning of this fact ... Stalin realized that the Americans had used the bomb mainly to impress and threaten Russia". Stalin and the Soviets were right: the American Secretary of State, James Byrnes, recognized that the bomb was necessary not against Japan, but "to make Russia moldable to Europe".

As the historian Pauwels has explained, the initial will of the Soviets in Europe was not to have like-minded regimes and their own zone of influence, but to intervene in Germany to prevent it from engaging in a second war, this time together with its former allies against the USSR. This is demonstrated by the fact that until well into the post-war period, the Soviets did not help to make any political-social change in the liberated countries. It was Truman's nuclear policy that forced the Soviets to stand face to face with the Americans in Eastern Europe, thus deterring American aviation: from this way they would have to carry out a long trip until arriving at the Soviet cities where they had to drop their bombs. This caused the political and social changes in Eastern Europe to accelerate, which, however, were already taking place autonomously since the end of the war thanks to the triumph of the popular anti-fascist forces. This fact not only saved the USSR from a new war and enabled socialism to survive: stability in Eastern Europe laid the foundations for a development of national liberation struggles and for socialism throughout the world: in 1949 the victory of the Chinese Revolution heralded the triumph of many others, putting all capitalism in danger of death.

In parallel, just after the Cold War started by imperialism, the conservative British leader Churchill theorized about the need to build an Iron Curtain to contain the communists and allegedly asked the American President Truman to attack the USSR with the atomic bomb by means of a preemptive attack. Churchill was not just any character, but one of the most influential leaders of the British Empire, champion of English colonialism and the participation of his country in World War I, therefore responsible for many millions of deaths and suffering of peoples.

That was the real reason for the delay in publishing Animal Farm . Orwell, naturally, during the anti-fascist war could not see his anti-Soviet work published until the end of the conflict, since it would have been quite awkward for the Western governments allied to the USSR, who were risking their lives against the Nazis, to criminalize in this way a friendly government. On the other hand, at that time, from the Orwellian model, it would be difficult for western and world public opinion to understand how it was possible that the Soviet people fought with such a degree of sacrifice and heroism, expelling the Nazis from Europe: all the other bourgeois regimes, where there was freedom, had collapsed rapidly and had collaborated with the Nazis.
It was in connection with these events that the first copies of Animal farm were placed on the shelves of bookstores. Precisely the publication coincided with the end of World War II and the dissolution of the anti-fascist alliance between England, USA, and the USSR. The first edition is exactly from 1945 in England, published by Secker & Wargburg, from London, and from 1946 in the USA, published by Harcourt, from New York. The capitalist governments, which were imminently going to promote Animal Farm , were evaluating different options to attack the USSR: from rearming German units as shock brigades to attack the Soviets, to the launch of "preventive" atomic bombs. The prestige that the USSR had among all the workers of the world, fundamentally the Europeans who suffered the Nazi atrocities, was enormous, as well as among the intellectual and popular sectors, whose reflection could be followed in the great influence that some communist parties had. It was necessary to dismantle this prestige to sweep the opposition of the world public opinion to an armed aggression against those who liberated Europe from Nazism, and Orwell's novels came as a ring to a finger for this purpose, since they were a good instrument to spread among the so called mass culture, just as later were the film versions of his works.


H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:59 utc | 46
@Posted by: karlof1 | May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42

Albert Escusa, gives in his essay a good semblance of what kind of person could Orwell really be:

Orwell was above all a great individualist, with some important personal contradictions and prejudices that led him to oscillate along various paths without being able to commit himself in a stable and permanent way to anything that was not himself, in such a way that, when he became disenchanted with some social processes that he was unable to interpret correctly and scientifically, ended up ranting against what he believed to be the object of his anger.

We can see it in Corbière's sharp description: "Who was Orwell? A sniper, a skeptic who devoted his efforts to Manichean criteria describing the great social and political contradictions of our time. Anarchist, Semitrotskyist in Spain, Labor in England, free thinker, undercover anti-Semite, his real ideas reveal a kind of elitism.

He had an intense imagination but his methodology of thought was restricted, one-sided.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 23:05 utc | 47
@Posted by: Kerry | May 20 2020 22:44 utc | 38

No that I am aware, but, if interested, you could translate it with a translator.
Since the essay is quite long, you could translate paragraph by paragraph, then read the whol thing once assembled.

A bit complicated, but worth the effort, the essay is a well researched work, wu¡ith several referecnes as weel worth reading, like a disection of Orwell, his epoch and motives.

oldhippie , May 20 2020 23:13 utc | 48
Oh dear. Relatively prosperous middle class means descended from Earls of Westmorland, family tree of Fanes, de Veres, Grosvenors, at a little reach basically related to the entire peerage. True, Orwell's father was a bit of a dope, he did manage to contract a marriage to a very wealthy woman. Jacintha Buddicom's memoir, Eric and Us, about growing up living next door to the Blairs, will tell you what 'middle class' life was like.

Orwell maintained the friendships from St. Cyprians and Eton for life. Pretty much everyone on the roster could be considered as spooks and agents. All of them tied to old money, old family, government service. Government as MI6 and CIA.

I think he's a great writer. My copy of the four volumes of Collected Essays Letters & Journalism is still right here next to the fireplace. All the rest of it around here somewhere, even the minor novels from the 30s. But no illusions what team he is on or what station he was born to.

Winston Smith means 'maker of Winston', as in broadcasting from Room 101 and forging the myth of Winston Churchill. Orwell was a big boy when he did that and was far past having any illusions. He created the myth that Room 101 of Broadcasting House was the worst place in the world. And talked of how the war years were the best years of his life.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 23:31 utc | 49
@Posted by: oldhippie | May 20 2020 23:13 utc | 48
I think he's a great writer

Not even so, more proper a plagiarist and propagandist at the service of Western totalitarian imperialism.

Since we are in the task of deconstructing Orwell, let´s go to the end...

In addition to the Animal Farm , one of the works that most influenced the construction of Western totalitarianism against the Communists was 1984 . It shows an overview of socialism in the USSR similar to a delusional totalitarian and monstrous drama, with a Big Brother (Stalin) who had absolute social control over the individuals under his rule, through a sophisticated mind control mechanism. This work became a must-read for CIA officers and a dependent body called the Council for Psychological Strategies, in addition to the fact that NATO used the entire vocabulary of this novel during the 1950s in its anti-communist strategy.12 It is interesting to know how He conceived this book, since it was apparently a plagiarism Orwell did to another disenchanted of Bolshevism, in this case a Russian writer, in the opinion of the writer Emilio J. Corbière: "Orwell's was a conscious plagiarism, since he explained it himself in another of his works. The plot, the main characters, the symbols and the climate of its narration, belonged to a completely forgotten Russian writer of the beginning of the century: Evgeny Zamyatin. In his book We , the Russian disillusioned with socialism after the failure of the 1905 revolution, devoted his efforts to anathematizing the Social Democratic Workers Party founded by Jorge Plejanov. When the October revolution happened - in 1917 - Zamyatin went into exile in Paris, where he wrote his posthumous anti-communist work"

This opinion is also shared by the historian Isaac Deutscher in his work The Mysticism of Cruelty , an essay about 1984 , where he states that Orwell "borrowed the idea of ​​1984, the plot, the main characters, the symbols and the whole plot situation from the work We of Evgeny Zamyatin"

We see how behind the image of a great writer, lies the reality of a plagiarist of stories, which served to elaborate theoretical and academic models on the functioning of socialism in the Soviet Union totally adjusted to the requirements of imperialism in the anti-communist Cold War. The impact of 1984 was tremendous among the population, creating an atmosphere of anti-communist and anti-Soviet paranoia that was very effective among the masses, as the disturbing personal testimony of Isaac Deutscher demonstrates: "Have you read that book? You have to read it, sir. Then you will know why we have to drop the atomic bomb on the Bolsheviks! With those words, a miserable blind newspaper vendor recommended me in New York 1984 , a few weeks before Orwell's death".


arby , May 20 2020 23:45 utc | 50
H. Schmatz.
I am not a good book reader but I did read 1984 and it definitely seemed to be a veiled critique on Communism.
However it seems the story is now more fitting to capitalism.

[May 21, 2020] How the British Empire Created and Killed George Orwell by Martin Sieff

May 20, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), happily amplified by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the United States which carries its World News, continues to pump out its regular dreck about the alleged economic chaos in Russia and the imagined miserable state of the Russian people.

It is all lies of course. Patrick Armstrong 's authoritative regular updates including his reports on this website are a necessary corrective to such crude propaganda.

But amid all their countless fiascoes and failures in every other field (including the highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 in Europe, and one of the highest in the world) the British remain world leaders at managing global Fake News. As long as the tone remains restrained and dignified, literally any slander will be swallowed by the credulous and every foul scandal and shame can be confidently covered up.

None of this would have surprised the late, great George Orwell. It is fashionable these days to endlessly trot him out as a zombie (dead but alleged to be living – so that he cannot set the record straight himself) critic of Russia and all the other global news outlets outside the control of the New York and London plutocracies. And it is certainly true, that Orwell, whose hatred and fear of communism was very real, served before his death as an informer to MI-5, British domestic security.

But it was not the Soviet Union, Stalin's show trials or his experiences with the Trotskyite POUM group in Barcelona and Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War that "made Orwell Orwell" as the Anglo-America Conventional Wisdom Narrative has it. It was his visceral loathing of the British Empire – compounded during World War II by his work for the BBC which he eventually gave up in disgust.

And it was his BBC experiences that gave Orwell the model for his unforgettable Ministry of Truth in his great classic "1984."

George Orwell had worked in one of the greatest of all world centers of Fake News. And he knew it.

More profoundly, the great secret of George Orwell's life has been hiding in plain sight for 70 years since he died. Orwell became a sadistic torturer in the service of the British Empire during his years in Burma, modern Myanmar. And as a fundamentally decent man, he was so disgusted by what he had done that he spent the rest of his life not just atoning but slowly and willfully committing suicide before his heartbreakingly premature death while still in his 40s.

The first important breakthrough in this fundamental reassessment of Orwell comes from one of the best books on him. "Finding George Orwell in Burma" was published in 2005 and written by "Emma Larkin", a pseudonym for an outstanding American journalist in Asia whose identity I have long suspected to be an old friend and deeply respected colleague, and whose continued anonymity I respect.

"Larkin" took the trouble to travel widely in Burma during its repressive military dictatorship and her superb research reveals crucial truths about Orwell. According to his own writings and his deeply autobiographical novel "Burmese Days" Orwell loathed all his time as a British colonial policeman in Burma, modern Myanmar. The impression he systematically gives in that novel and in his classic essay "Shooting an Elephant" is of a bitterly lonely, alienated, deeply unhappy man, despised and even loathed by his fellow British colonialists throughout society and a ludicrous failure at his job.

This was not, however, the reality that "Larkin" uncovered. All surviving witnesses agreed that Orwell – Eric Blair as he then still was – remained held in high regard during his years in the colonial police service. He was a senior and efficient officer. Indeed it was precisely his knowledge of crime, vice, murder and the general underside of human society during his police colonial service while still in his 20s that gave him the street smarts, experience, and moral authority to see through all the countless lies of right and left, of American capitalists and British imperialists as well as European totalitarians for the rest of his life.

The second revelation to throw light on what Orwell had to do in those years comes from one of the most famous and horrifying scenes in "1984." Indeed, almost nothing even in the memoirs of Nazi death camp survivors has anything like it: That is the scene where "O'Brien", the secret police officer tortures the "hero" (if he can be called that) Winston Smith by locking his face to a cage in which a starving rat is ready to pounce and devour him if it is opened.

I remember thinking, when I was first exposed to the power of "1984" at my outstanding Northern Irish school, "What kind of mind could invent something as horrific as that?") The answer was so obvious that I like everyone else missed it entirely.

Orwell did not "invent" or "come up" with the idea as a fictional plot device: It was just a routine interrogation technique used by the British colonial police in Burma, modern Myanmar. Orwell never "brilliantly" invented such a diabolical technique of torture as a literary device. He did not have to imagine it. It was routinely employed by himself and his colleagues. That was how and why the British Empire worked so well for so long. They knew what they were doing. And what they did was not nice at all.

A final step in my enlightenment about Orwell, whose writings I have revered all my life – and still do – was provided by our alarmingly brilliant elder daughter about a decade ago when she too was given "1984" to read as part of her school curriculum. Discussing it with her one day, I made some casual obvious remark that Orwell was in the novel as Winston Smith.

My American-raised teenager then naturally corrected me. "No, Dad, " she said. "Orwell isn't Winston, or he's not just Winston. He's O'Brien too. O'Brien actually likes Winston. He doesn't want to torture him. He even admires him. But he does it because it's his duty."

She was right, of course.

But how could Orwell the great enemy of tyranny, lies and torture so identify with and understand so well the torturer? It was because he himself had been one.

"Emma Larkin's" great book brings out that Orwell as a senior colonial police officer in the 1920s was a leading figure in a ruthless war waged by the British imperial authorities against drug and human trafficking crime cartels every bit as vicious and ruthless as those in modern Ukraine, Columbia and Mexico today. It was a "war on terror" where anything and everything was permitted to "get the job done."

The young Eric Blair was so disgusted by the experience that when he returned home he abandoned the respectable middle class life style he had always enjoyed and became, not just an idealistic socialist as many in those days did, but a penniless, starving tramp. He even abandoned his name and very identity. He suffered a radical personality collapse: He killed Eric Blair. He became George Orwell.

Orwell's early famous book "Down and Out in London and Paris" is a testament to how much he literally tortured and humiliated himself in those first years back from Burma. And for the rest of his life.

He ate miserably badly, was skinny and ravaged by tuberculosis and other health problems, smoked heavily and denied himself any decent medical care. His appearance was always abominable. His friend, the writer Malcolm Muggeridge speculated that Orwell wanted to remake himself as a caricature of a tramp.

The truth clearly was that Orwell never forgave himself for what he did as a young agent of empire in Burma. Even his literally suicidal decision to go to the most primitive, cold, wet and poverty-stricken corner of creation in a remote island off Scotland to finish "1984" in isolation before he died was consistent with the merciless punishments he had inflicted on himself all his life since leaving Burma.

The conclusion is clear: For all the intensity of George Orwell's experiences in Spain, his passion for truth and integrity, his hatred of the abuse of power did not originate from his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. They all flowed directly from his own actions as an agent of the British Empire in Burma in the 1920s: Just as his creation of the Ministry of Truth flowed directly from his experience of working in the Belly of the Beast of the BBC in the early 1940s.

George Orwell spent more than 20 years slowly committing suicide because of the terrible crimes he committed as a torturer for the British Empire in Burma. We can therefore have no doubt what his horror and disgust would be at what the CIA did under President George W. Bush in its "Global War on Terror." Also, Orwell would identify at once and without hesitation the real fake news flowing out of New York, Atlanta, Washington and London today, just as he did in the 1930s and 1940s.

Let us therefore reclaim and embrace The Real George Orwell: The cause of fighting to prevent a Third World War depends on it.

[May 14, 2020] Interesting book "Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime " published in 2013 by PETER C G TZSCHE

May 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , May 12 2020 23:01 utc | 186

Interesting book "Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime " published in 2013 by PETER C GØTZSCHE

He points out "Science philosopher Karl Popper in "The Open Society and Its Enemies" depicts the totalitarian, closed society as a rigidly ordered state in which freedom of expression and discussion of crucial issues are ruthlessly suppressed. Most of the time, when I have tried to publish unwelcome truths about the drug industry, I have been exposed to the journal's lawyers, and even after I have documented that everything I say is correct and have been said before by others, I have often experienced that important bits have been removed or that my paper was rejected for no other reason than fear of litigation. This is one of the reasons I decided to write this book, as I have discovered that I have much more freedom when I write books. Popper would have viewed the pharmaceutical industry as an enemy of the open society.

Rigorous science should put itself at risk of being falsified and this practice should be protected against those who try to impede scientific understanding, as when the industry intimidates those who discover harms of its drugs. Protecting the hypotheses by ad hoc modifications, such as undeclared changes to the measured outcomes or the analysis plan once the sponsor has seen the results, or by designing trials that make them immune to refutation, puts the hypotheses in the same category as pseudoscience.

In healthcare, the open democratic society has become an oligarchy of corporations whose interests serve the profit motive of the industry and shape public policy, including that of weakened regulatory agencies. Our governments have failed to regulate an industry, which has become more and more powerful and almighty, and failed to protect scientific objectivity and academic curiosity from commercial forces."

Thats about it in a nutshell. Too bad the good scientists are all muzzled. Only the politicized fraudsters get the good press.

[May 11, 2020] What If The Crisis Is One Without End... Like George Orwell's Perpetual War by Luke Eastwood

May 10, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Submitted by Luke Eastwood Notions of Freedom

We are living in strange times indeed, this crisis raises many questions about the nature of freedom and what our expectations are, or should be. Everyone has their own notions about what freedom means and how far that should extend to oneself and indeed, to everyone else.

I want to start with a look at where we've come from before I look at where we are now, as I feel it gives a better understanding of our definitions of freedom and a better context for viewing where we are, at this moment in time.

Society probably started with the tribe – maybe not even having a leader if the numbers where small enough, say 10 people. Tribes of scores or more obviously became hard to manage and so, undoubtedly, this led to the idea of a leader or a group of leaders – a chief, or a council of chiefs. Such a system seems to have worked well, so long as the chiefs acted in the best interest of the tribe, and not in their own best interest. Tribes and early kingdoms often had a mechanism for dealing with a poor leader – the symbolic marriage of the leader to the land and the right to depose, or even execute, a leader that failed to live up to expectations.

Such concepts of leadership are ancient but have survived in various places into the modern era, including Ireland where I live. Although the practice associated with this custom is long gone, knowledge of it remains vaguely in the public consciousness and more definitively in the realms of scholarship and Celtic Neo-Paganism. However, societies across the globe began to move beyond this cherished accountability millenia ago – with the rise of despotic monarchy, something that still exists as an unfortunate anachronism even now.

As tribes grew into countries and countries grew into empires, monarchs became decreasingly accountable to their citizens, or rather subjects – those who are subjugated. While many monarchs felt an obligation, both 'divine' and moral to behave with care and responsibility, others acted in pure self interest, free of any accountability for their actions. With the backing a large army or, sizeable personal guard, it became increasing difficult to hold monarchs accountable and one had to rely on goodwill in most cases, rather than enforcement.

Of course, there have been countless deposing of monarchs, by the people or by rival claimants, although the latter didn't always turn out to be beneficial. Probably the most famous of these is that of Galus Julius Caesar, the Dictator for life of the final years of the Roman Republic, who gave his name to the title Caesar, Czar and Keiser. He was brutally murdered by Brutus (hence the word brutal) and we all know how that turned out the for Roman Republic.

The republic itself was a form of democracy, based on an earlier model from Greece, a civilization that had immense influence on Rome. Of course, Athenian democracy was nothing like what we now regard as democracy. The right to decide how government was organised and what it did fell to the hands of an elite group - demokratia , or "rule by the people" was only for citizens and of these, only the men could vote. At the time (507 BC) this meant 40,000 men, out of a much larger population, but in reality no more than about 5000 men could attend assemblies, due to other commitments. Still, it was a ground-breaking step, so long as you weren't a foreigner, criminal, woman, child or a slave.

It is from these Greek origins that we get the word democracy and the notion of rights and freedom for all. Over time there have been variations on this model that have been tried out – constitutional monarchies, republics, socialist states, fascist states and communist states, which have varying levels of input for the masses. The masses might also be referred to as 'plebeians' as the Romans liked to call ordinary folk, a corrupted form of which still exists as a minor insult - pleb.

However, through most of recorded history, the most common system has been monarchy, although one could hardly describe it as the most popular. Simpler than a democracy and easy to enforce – notions such as corruption, fairness and accountability do not come into play, as divine rule (e.g. the divine right of kings) gives the ruler carte blanche to do whatever they god-damn like, unless their despotism provokes a revolt. Of course, revolt has happened, from time to time, throughout history and one of the most famous ones is that of the barons in England against king John.

The Magna Carta (Great Charter, of 1215) is considered by many as the bedrock of Western civilization and democracy, despite the fact that it only gave limited concessions to a very small number of nobles. It was a start at least, and perhaps enabled further inroads into the monarchic monopoly on power. The Peasants' Revolt of 1381, against Richard II of England was a major shift. Led by a commoner (Wat Tyler) it was a great embarrassment for Richard, who did not have a standing army on hand. He was forced to pretend to negotiate with the rebels, who camped at Blackheath, while he secretly ordered the Mayor of London to raise an army to disperse and execute the protestors.

There are countless other examples of rebellion against monarchs across the world, but most of them are forgotten. Perhaps the best remembered rebellion is that of the French paupers, against the Bourbon monarchy and the entire aristocracy of France. This violent and bloodthirsty revolution sent shudders of terror across the monarchies of the world and precipitated a programme of reform, based on fear of similar events occurring.

Of course, some countries carried on regardless – Russia and America being particularly sad examples, as Russia only abolished serfdom in 1861, while USA only abolished slavery in 1865. One could justifiably say that the lives of these ordinary people, who were now 'citizens' hardly improved as their freedom was pretty much nominal. This, in Russia, led to the revolution of 1917, due to the intransigence of the Czar/Tsar (Caesar) Nicholai II Alexandrovich Romanov II. The overthrow of the Russian system, inspired by the ideas of Marx and Engels, led to a Bolshevik government headed by Vladimir Lenin. Whatever notions the Soviets had, Lenin was a de facto Tzar in waiting and Stalin was certainly that, if not an uncrowned heir to Ivan The Terrible.

Post World War II, we supposedly have a new age of democracy and freedom, but that only applies to some. In truth, almost the whole world collection of governments has learned the art of propaganda - thanks to the astounding upskilling efforts of the National Socialists (Nazis) of Germany, who took this to new heights (or lows rather), turning it almost into an artform. While we have been led to believe that we are free and democratic, we have never been more exposed to lies and propaganda than we are now. The biggest lie of all is that we live in a democracy, when in fact we actually only get to choose a new set of corrupt and self-serving narcissists, every 4 or 5 years.

Democracies, the world over, have been bought – lobbyists have far more power than the electorate could ever hope to achieve. What we in fact have is the illusion of democracy – state agencies act without oversight, individuals have no say over the manifesto and policies of parties in power and have no mechanism to undo or prevent undesirable actions by governments. The only mechanisms available are the occasional referenda (instigated under pressure), protest (peaceful or otherwise) and violent overthrow.

In most cases, the effort and risk of violent overthrow is considered too much for the majority of people – it takes dire poverty, starvation and horrific coercion before the 'plebs' are pushed to the brink. Governments are aware of this and generally apply the 'boiling frog' method of restricting people's freedoms and the removal of privacy and general rights. However, they do on occasion overstep the mark or fail to adequately conceal their stealthy nefarious actions – which inevitably leads to protest or insurrection.

History has proven that violent insurrection usually fails, but it is rather foolish of authoritarian governments to take a gamble on this not happening. What is far more effective for us 'plebs' is non-violent insurrection, in the form of non-compliance - this worked wonders for both Gandhi and for Martin Luther-King, two of the most inspirational leaders of the 20th century. Nelson Mandella is another fine example of someone who led a monumental change, in South Africa, while also avoiding a catastrophic bloodbath, again through advocating of non-violence and showing exceptional leadership skills.

At this moment in time, we are held hostage by a virus and the fear of what it might do to humanity. While public safety has to be a priority, one has to ask the question – what is this really about? Is this a manufactured crisis or is it is just opportunistic governments capitalizing on their best chance to roll out new draconian measures? Temporary emergency powers is one thing, but if there is no rollback after the crisis is over, what then? What if the crisis is one without end – like George Orwell's perpetual war in his novel 1984?

We have come to expect freedom, we are told that we live in the 'free world' yet we see our rights and freedoms and privacy being eroded by government legislation, corporate invasive technology and data collection. Where do we draw the line? When do we say enough is enough? Strangely, the same technology that enables our surveillance monitoring is also the most powerful tool at our disposal. Internet and telecommunications enables us to share information, just as the 'system' collects information about all of us. For many, it has opened our eyes about government agendas, methods and operations as we now have unprecedented access to worldwide information, often in real-time, or within minutes and hours of events happening.

Many believe that a new era of oppression is being rolled out, right now as we sit in our homes, enabled by the high-power, high-speed and low latency 5G network, worldwide by a hidden agency. Conspiracies aside, there are many questions to be asked about our rights, what our freedoms should consist of and what the limits of government and corporate actions should be. We need to ask those questions, we need to demand answers and show the 'powers that be' that the thirst for true democracy is still alive and kicking. If we volunteer to be imprisoned or to become our own jailors then there is no hope for humanity. As in the past, humanity needs to assert itself, in order to remain free of despotism and it has never been more urgent than now. Corny as it may be, the simplest way to express this is for me to repeat the words of the late Bob Marley - "Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!"

Read more work by Luke at lukeeastwood.com

[May 04, 2020] Death A Simple Idea with a Powerful Punch by Edward Curtin

Notable quotes:
"... There is little doubt that the modern cult of power worship is bound up with the modern man's feeling that life here and now is the only life there is. If death ends everything, it becomes much harder to believe that you can be in the right even if you are defeated . I would say that the decay in the belief in personal immortality has been as important as the rise of machine civilization. ..."
"... Since society is held together by this myth system – the beliefs and values people live for and live by – that sustains it, societies have always had to offer symbolic "answers" to death. For without a meaningful symbolic for coming to terms with death, human action would be stymied and people would be reduced to what the psychiatrist Allan Wheelis termed "intense, preoccupying yearning." ..."
"... When leaders speak, the children hear the inner voices of their parents telling them to be careful, be very careful, the bogeyman is everywhere, so listen and obey. Freud, the Jewish atheist, and Dostoevsky, the Russian Orthodox Christian, were in agreement about people's desire to give up their freedom to authority figures who would allegedly shelter them within their warm embrace. ..."
"... The easiest way to do this is to convince people that death is stalking them, for the bogeyman is always death in one form or another. ..."
"... It works to get people to support the terrifying sadism of wars against fabricated "others, ..."
"... It works to get people to give up their freedoms out of fear of "terrorists," who are said to slide and hide in the interstices of everyday life, ready to pounce and kill at any moment. ..."
"... For the Grand Inquisitor represents those power elites across the world who wish to cower people into accepting their dicta on Covid-19 as truth without questioning its logic or rationale. ..."
"... The use of technology to control behaviour by denying holidays to people, denying promotions etc all based on credit scores and similar monitoring has to be seen by the wealthy as a model of what can be achieved by the combination of ruthless force and control over information. ..."
"... All are brainwashed from birth. Its not "capitalism" its is a parasitic banking cabals economy . ..."
"... When the education system has been designed to eliminate the use of critical thinking and the purveyors of propaganda control the vast majority of the MSM, academia plus the creation of a veneer of democracy, it is little wonder so many people have swallowed this lie. ..."
"... many who call themselves atheists worship science( but not science as knowledge as it originally meant) ..."
"... The cabal wants only their narrative( lies as the truth) they want the truth of who we are and that we are co creators in this world unknown to us . ..."
May 03, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Since death is one idea that has no history except as an idea and not a reality any of us have experienced, it is the most frightening idea there is and also quite simple. It is the ultimate unknown. It has always haunted human beings, whether consciously or unconsciously.

It lies at the root of war, violence, religion, art, love, and civilization. The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, why we like to win and not lose, pass and not fail, "pass on" and not die. It is so funny and so sad. We would be lost without it, even when we feel lost when thinking about it. And it is fundamental for understanding the action and reaction to Covid-19.

Societies have always been people banded together in the face of death. And since people are not just physical beings but symbolic creatures who can think and imagine the past and the future, societies are necessarily mythic symbol systems whose job is not only to protect people physically, but symbolically as well.

Sometimes, however, the protection is a protection racket with racketeers holding people hostage to fabricated fears that keep them locked in a living-death.

Thus death, this most potent imaginative idea and reality that doesn't exist except as a mystery about which anything we say is speculation, can be used for good and evil, depending on who controls society.

Death is the great fear, the human haunting that hangs by a thread over life like the sword of Damocles.

In 1944 in a newspaper column, George Orwell made an astute remark:

There is little doubt that the modern cult of power worship is bound up with the modern man's feeling that life here and now is the only life there is. If death ends everything, it becomes much harder to believe that you can be in the right even if you are defeated . I would say that the decay in the belief in personal immortality has been as important as the rise of machine civilization.

Beliefs, of course, like "personal immortality" and all others, such as the recent rise in the belief in atheism, which is as much a belief as belief in God, are, partially at least, relative to time and place, and develop out of social storytelling. The "hard facts" on which many feel their lives and security rest are themselves dependent upon the symbols which give them legitimacy.

Reality is indeed precarious with society suspended by a web of myths and symbols. It is through cultural and social symbol systems that society's meaning is transmitted to individuals, and it is within the symbol systems that the control and release of action resides.

In today's electronic mass media world, those who control the mass media that control the narrative flow – the storytelling – control the majority's beliefs and actions.

Since society is held together by this myth system – the beliefs and values people live for and live by – that sustains it, societies have always had to offer symbolic "answers" to death. For without a meaningful symbolic for coming to terms with death, human action would be stymied and people would be reduced to what the psychiatrist Allan Wheelis termed "intense, preoccupying yearning."

Today we can hear such yearning everywhere.

Shortly after Orwell made his prescient comment in The Tribune, nuclear weapons were developed and used by the United States to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians. With those weapons and their use, the ages-old symbolic narrative of life and death was transformed in a flash.

"The significance of the possibility of nuclear death is that it radically affects the meaning of death, of immortality, of life itself," wrote Hans Morgenthau.

The traditional symbolic sources that once served to allow humans to transcend death were fundamentally undercut, and the search for new modes of death transcendence was carried on beneath the portentous covering of the nuclear umbrella.

A qualitative transformation in the meaning of human existence was thus brought about as humans, who had the weapons, replaced the belief in God as the holder of the power over life and death, since nuclear war could result in the extinction of human life, leaving no one left to die.

This is our world today, and it is where the Covid-19 story takes place. A world not just of nuclear fear, but a host of other fears constantly inflamed by the mass media that hypnotize people through the conjuring of death-fear.

In his great work on group psychology, Freud showed us how it was not just mental contagion and the herd instinct that got people to join in group behavior. People could be induced to become little children and obey their leaders because they have "an extreme passion for authority."

When leaders speak, the children hear the inner voices of their parents telling them to be careful, be very careful, the bogeyman is everywhere, so listen and obey. Freud, the Jewish atheist, and Dostoevsky, the Russian Orthodox Christian, were in agreement about people's desire to give up their freedom to authority figures who would allegedly shelter them within their warm embrace.

The easiest way to do this is to convince people that death is stalking them, for the bogeyman is always death in one form or another.

It works to get people to support the terrifying sadism of wars against fabricated "others," who are always portrayed as aliens who are out to kill the good people.

It works to get people to give up their freedoms out of fear of "terrorists," who are said to slide and hide in the interstices of everyday life, ready to pounce and kill at any moment.

And it works to get people to obey orders to protect themselves from terrifying viruses that are lying in wait everywhere to strike them dead.

In his novel The Brothers Karamazov , Dostoevsky said that people want miracles, mystery, and authority, not freedom. His Grand Inquisitor, while a fictional creation, lives on in reality.

For the Grand Inquisitor represents those power elites across the world who wish to cower people into accepting their dicta on Covid-19 as truth without questioning its logic or rationale.

To question has become an act of insubordination deserving death by censorship or the defiling of one's name via the term "conspiracy theorist," a name used by the CIA to dismiss anyone questioning its murder of President Kennedy. Death comes in many forms, and the fear of it has always been used by the powerful to render the common people speechless and obedient.

How can any thinking person, anyone not totally crippled by fear, not question what is going on with the coronavirus disaster when reading what Peter Koenig, a thirty-year veteran economist of the World Bank and World Health Organization, writes in his article The Farce and Diabolical Agenda of a 'Universal Lockdown' :

The pandemic was needed as a pretext to halt and collapse the world economy and the underlying social fabric.

There is no coincidence. There were a number of preparatory events, all pointing into the direction of a worldwide monumental historic disaster. It started at least 10 years ago – probably considerably earlier – with the infamous 2010 Rockefeller Report, which painted the first phase of a monstrous Plan, called the "Lock Step" scenario. Among the last preparatory moves for the "pandemic" was Event 201, held in NYC on 18 October 2019.

The event was sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the World Economic Forum (WEF), the club of the rich and powerful that meets every January in Davos, Switzerland. Participating were a number of pharmaceuticals (vaccine interest groups), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s of the US and – of China.

One of the objectives of Event 201 was a computer simulation of a corona virus pandemic. The simulated virus was called SARS-2-nCoV, or later 2019-nCoV. The simulation results were disastrous, killing 65 million people in 18 months and plunging the stock market by more than 30% -- causing untold unemployment and bankruptcies. Precisely the scenario of which we are now living the beginning.

The Lock Step scenario foresees a number of ghastly and disturbing events or components of The Plan to be implemented by the so called Agenda ID2020, a Bill Gates creation, fully integrated into the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – target date for completion – 2030 (also called Agenda 2030, the hidden agenda unknown to most of the UN members), the same target date for completion of the Agenda ID02020.

I ask the question but I am afraid I know the answer: miracle, mystery, and authority usually defeat evidence and simple logic. Fear of death and free thought scare children. The Grand Inquisitor lives on:

But man seeks to bow before that only which is recognized by the greater majority, if not by all his fellow-men, as having a right to be worshipped; whose rights are so unquestionable that men agree unanimously to bow down to it.

Death: A simple idea with such a powerful punch.


JoeC ,

It isn't just about the fear of death. It's also the fear of being responsible for the death of others. It's no accident that they've chosen a contagion as our imaginary enemy. We become the visible enemy if we refuse to wear face masks, abide social distance, wash our hands every 30 seconds or refuse a vaccine when it comes to it etc etc. Hence the laws that will follow. We will soon be public enemy number one. The new terrorists. I'm not scared of dying but I'm petrified of being persecuted for not believing this shit. What sort of life is that?

a belief. The author adds his on baggage to an otherwise lucid article, which rather diminishes the other truths he mentions ?

BigB ,

Excellent stuff, with plenty to think about as usual. As a proviso: Ed's sociology and ethnography needs tightening up though.

The big cultural repertoire of myths and symbols has a name; several names actually nomos, Weltanschauung, Weltansicht (cosmographic worldview or wide world sight), and *sensus communis* (the consensual common sense). Which is the consensus of views everyone shares.

The last is from Giambattista Vico: who also said: "Verum esse ipsum factum" ("What is true is precisely what is made [up]"). Which is the verum-factum principle of worldviews. The ideal eternal cosmological history is subjectively made up, culturally constructed, as a consensually maintained worldbuilding and world-maintaining mythological storytelling.

To which the individual is socialised not once – from birth through education – not twice – in the workforce – but continually as a process of cultural individuality making. Which is not all one way, top-down traffic of obedience and control – but a reflexive and causal circularity. The big bunch of historically specific myths and symbols make and maintain the person: just as the person makes and maintains the big bunch of historically specific myths as a consensually maintained worldbuilding and world-maintaining mythological storytelling. The individual self is itself a cultural constructivism.

It cannot be any other way: otherwise there can be no common ground for communication and there is only communication. Or participatory sense-making: no one can have their own language or behavioural repertoire maintained far from the socially regulated consensus and continue to make sense. Maintaining the dictionary definition of words (intension) and the encyclopaedic repertoire of social norms and modes of behaviour is critical to the meaning of the overall order. And there is only the order. Very uneasy order.

The individual finds themselves historically situated in the ordinate nexus of thinking, speaking, and acting in a constrained, shared, and lawfully regulated landscape of language, culture, society, state and market economy. There is no 'outside': except for the retreat into solipsism and ahistoric flights of imagination. We make our own history: but not autonomously and not in circumstances of our own choosing.

Cultural construction and reproduction – and the worldview maintainence of socially constructed reality – is a permanent process. Following the basic processes of social constructivism – as laid out by Berger and Luckman. Which are: habitualisation by subjectivated externalisation and reification by objectivated internalisation as a recurrent, resonant, and reflexive lifelong process.

We are part of the tissue and fabric of socially constructed reality. And socially constructed reality is part of the tissue and fabric of us: the flesh of the cultural worldview.

http://perflensburg.se/Berger%20social-construction-of-reality.pdf

Of course: the biggest lie of the principle of cultural constructivist storytelling is that what is told is naturally objective, true, and real. And some of it is lawfully authoritative (like this old computer epidemiology model I had lying around). Which is what gives the story its universal regulative ordinate control and constative overpower.

I mean, who would want to self-admit they were regurgitating institutionalised and habitualised false beliefs and mistaken abstractive assumptions about the objective nature of things that were just a bunch of made up and recycled socialisation and pacification rites of a cultural constructivist performance?

Truth, self, and social reality itself is constructed by such rites.

And what if the nomos – the ordered and naturalised ordinate principle – which is a cultures own talisman against chaos, indiscipline, and made up shite about virology turns out to be chaotic, restrictive, petrifying and rapidly fossilising as a permanent order of fascising bollox and corporatist control?

If the fossilising order is worse than the disorder it symbolically wards off and guards against: and the culturally created fear of death worse than the natural process of dying then what?

Is it better that the institutionalised and institutionalising lawful ordering is in principle false and an unjust draconian social realism? Or that it is objective, rational, and scientifically real? And eternally and universally valid?

What if a society had been rationalised and institutionalised into a universal analytical reasoning, an empiric objectivity, a historically contingent subjectivity, and a nomological scientific principle that were in fact falsely constructed? And just habitually and consensually maintained as a lawful, juridical, and regulatory idealism of an eternally natural cosmological order? Which just happened to turn out to be totalitarian fascistic co-participatory dumbfuckerry?

That culture would find itself in a headfuck situation of a nomological breakdown of its worldview and its interwoven individual identities most of which would want to shelter in the pretence of being ahistorically situated outside of language, culture, and thought in a nomological no mans land. Which is exactly the abnegation of cultural creativity that precipitated the meaning crisis and breakdown of order.

I'm so glad I do not live in such a culture. That would indeed be terrifying.

😱 😱 😱 😱 😱

aspnaz ,

An interesting article that reminds me of the difference between westerners and the mainland Chinese whom I believe are the model that will used to create the future world.

I am not talking about communism, the Chinese gave up communism ages ago, they are now the world's premier imperialists, using capitalism to drive their influence across the globe. But their control over people is surely the model aspired to by any person wanting to rule the world.

The use of technology to control behaviour by denying holidays to people, denying promotions etc all based on credit scores and similar monitoring has to be seen by the wealthy as a model of what can be achieved by the combination of ruthless force and control over information.

The response of the Chinese to the virus – the lockdown – was seen in the west as China caring for its people, but here in HK it is still commonly seen as China panicking because it thought that the people would be afraid and would turn on the government for not protecting them. It was riot control, not virus control, hence the arrest of people spreading virus rumours.

tonyopmoc ,

Edward Curtin, what you wrote is completely brilliant, in the few minutes it took me to read it, you took me through the vastness of time, and my entire physical and spiritual existence. thank you. tony

Hugh O'Neill ,

Another thought-provoking article, Ed. I was reminded of four quotes:

1. G.K. Chesterton: "When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing; he believes in anything"
2. On the dropping of the first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer quoted from Hindu scripture: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"
3. JFK's favourite poem was Alan Seeger's "I have a rendezvous with death". Seeger died in 1916
4. Whatever the merits of the poem, JFK was no stranger to death. Likewise, he had adopted Lincoln's prayer: "I know there is a God – and I see a storm coming. If he has a place for me, I believe that I am ready."

RobG ,

Edward, how people can be so easily fooled is an age old question. One hundred years ago they queued up to be slaughtered in the trenches. It was all so senseless it was beyond belief.

"Over the top lads, for King and Country" (the Black Adder comedy programme really captured this).

I'm not sure what else I can say about the stupidity of the human race.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH3-Gt7mgyM

We are at this point again, and people need to fecking wake-up.

Richard Le Sarc ,

People in the West are brainwashed from birth. They have NO idea that the capitalist system is incompatible with Life on Earth, that it is a form of cancer, that the USA is the greatest force for Evil in history and that businessmen, politicians, MSM presstitutes are psychopaths at best, dullards and ignoramuses at best. And the worst are those that deny death in belief in various 'Gods' who all hate each other and compel them to kill and destroy in his name. The system is collapsing, and that is finally dawning on the brain-dead 'consumers', who will now proceed to consume one another.

Calamity Jane ,

All are brainwashed from birth. Its not "capitalism" its is a parasitic banking cabals economy .
Its a monopoly you've just always believed as a debt slave its capitalism and you're free.
They are resetting it, those that understand the minds of the manchild.

charming ,

best book on life i've read https://www.amazon.co.uk/Denial-Death-Ernest-Becker/dp/0285638971

Dungroanin ,

Good stuff Edward,
Most of the 'plan' has been on these boards for months- the one missing is Whitney Webbs latest which exposes the dumb fucks plan to close the 'AI Gap with China'.

'THEY' have never let a good crises go to waste to further their agenda and plans.

Another old adage is about not being able to fool all of the people all of the time.

Death and politicians and media narrative control can also lose their grip. It starts by laughing at them. It's started:

https://twitter.com/altmann_tim/status/1256690738294857731?s=20

THEY will not succeed this time – the narrative is a shattering mirror, that reveals their plans – the BS isn't sticking any more.

crank ,

Confronting our exaggerated fear of dying is the only way out of this prison. Thanks for this article Edward.

John Deehan ,

When the education system has been designed to eliminate the use of critical thinking and the purveyors of propaganda control the vast majority of the MSM, academia plus the creation of a veneer of democracy, it is little wonder so many people have swallowed this lie.

Doug Stillborn ,

The cabal beleives that the truth is irrelevant and that whatever appears to you as truth is what is true to you and the only truth. This is false. The truth is not relative. Einstein knew this and said, time is an illusion albeit a persistent one. If you propagate the idea of atheism and science what you are actually doing is you are relinquishing any responsibility/accountability.

Calamity Jane ,

I don't think so Doug . The ideas of " atheism and science " are out there.
But what has happened is that many who call themselves atheists worship science( but not science as knowledge as it originally meant) so its mostly theories taken a facts, pseudoscience. Agree though that time is an illusion.

The cabal wants only their narrative( lies as the truth) they want the truth of who we are and that we are co creators in this world unknown to us .

[Apr 24, 2020] Orwellian fiction is steeped deeply in the actual ways that WASP Empire operates to grind its own citizens and ue them as mindless pawns to make Anglo-Zionist Elites ever richer, ever more entrenched in power.

Apr 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Jake , says: Show Comment April 23, 2020 at 12:52 pm GMT

Let's place a couple of things together:

1. "The US political culture is that 99.99% of Americans will believe literally ANY lie, no matter how self-evidently stupid, about the rest of the world rather than accepting any unpleasant truth about the US. "

2. "Eventually, and inevitably, this strategic PSYOP upped the ante and FOXnews (logically) aired this true masterpiece: "Sen. Hawley: Let coronavirus victims sue Chinese Communist Party". Truly, this is brilliant. "I lost my job, let the evil Chinese commies pay me back" is music to the ears of most Americans."

This is what Anglo-Zionist religious/political culture produces. And it is not restricted to jingoistic blaming of the peoples of other nations; it also features blaming those who are citizens of the nation but are more outsiders to the WASP Elites that the group doing the blaming. That pattern keeps the non-Elites from ever seeing that their enemy is the national/imperial Elite they serve.

For example, the horrors the Brit WASP Elites and their system inflicted on Lancashire factory workers would have made any real life Simon Legree giddy at the possibilities. And those abused masses could be counted on at every turn to retard their own demands any time the Elites could turn the conversation to how the Irish or Highlanders would come in and take their jobs for even less and ruin their delightful communities. Or how the evil empires on the Continent were causing trouble and to save lives of British soldiers the factory workers must be reasonable.

Orwellian fiction is steeped deeply in the actual ways that WASP Empire operates to grind its own citizens and ue them as mindless pawns to make Anglo-Zionist Elites ever richer, ever more entrenched in power.

[Apr 19, 2020] It was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies -- unless one counts journalists

Apr 19, 2020 | twitter.com


Alex Berenson ‏ 4:33 PM - 18 Apr 2020

1984 and Animal Farm get the attention, but Homage to Catalonia - Orwell's non-fiction on the Spanish Civil War - might be his best. Wow, did he hate reporters: "It was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies -- unless one counts journalists..."

Alex Berenson ‏ 4:34 PM - 18 Apr 2020

2/ And this: "I do not suppose I should exaggerate if I said that nine-tenths of it is untruthful. Nearly all the newspaper accounts published at the time were manufactured by journalists at a distance, and were not only inaccurate in their facts but intentionally misleading..."

Alex Berenson ‏ 4:37 PM - 18 Apr 2020

3/ I guess one might say that the groupthink and lies Orwell saw in Spain *informed* his writing in 1984 - which was published in 1949, 11 years after Homage to Catalonia. Apropos of nothing, of course.

Cú Chulainn ‏ 4:36 PM - 18 Apr 2020

sounds like media coverage of NATO war on Syria, or the Yugoslav war as depicted here: https://www. imdb.com/title/tt028350 9/

Moron Rehab ‏ 4:38 PM - 18 Apr 2020

Wow! Not much has changed.

ScottyG ‏ 4:39 PM - 18 Apr 2020

Well, then, at least they've been consistent over the years 🤷‍♂️

Rob ‏ 4:42 PM - 18 Apr 2020

"inaccurate in their facts but intentionally misleading" inaccurate in facts: misinformation intentionally misleading: disinformation

Todd the Californian Conservative ‏ 4:47 PM - 18 Apr 2020

Okay, I'll be adding this book to my list of books to read after I graduate and take my big exam.

B Ekdahl ‏ 5:06 PM - 18 Apr 2020

❤️ ❤️ ❤️The part of that book that I've thought of with hope during this chillling time is how Orwell noted that the Spanish were incompetent even with fascism. Let's hope that US is even more incompetent.

R.R. Reno ‏ 5:30 PM - 18 Apr 2020

I don't think we can underestimate how many reporters have been so panicked that only a few are outside their homes in New York reporting on what's actually happening.

Will ‏ 6:21 PM - 18 Apr 2020

https:// twitter.com/GKCdaily/statu s/1224368540049821697

Alex Berenson ‏ 4:33 PM - 18 Apr 2020

1984 and Animal Farm get the attention, but Homage to Catalonia - Orwell's non-fiction on the Spanish Civil War - might be his best. Wow, did he hate reporters: "It was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies--unless one counts journalists..."

Will ‏ 6:27 PM - 18 Apr 2020

If you haven't heard of Udo Ulfkotte's story, you should check it out: https://www. paulcraigroberts.org/2019/10/14/jou rnalists-are-prostitutes/ His initiation into big time media was watching fellow reporters pour gasoline on burnt up tanks & film it, replete w/ soldier actors, like war was happening. Audio tracks added later.

[Apr 01, 2020] This is the problem with the Democrats: people are more interested in class issues, and economic equality then identity politics by Rod Dreher

Notable quotes:
"... This is the problem with the Democrats. You might be interested in class issues, and economic equality, and not at all interested in wokeness. But what you're going to get is wokeness, because that is what the power-holding class in the Democratic Party really cares about. As James Lindsay, the left-liberal professor who does heroic work fighting wokeness, told me in our recent interview: ..."
"... Of course [Social Justice Warriors] going to find ways to use this crisis to their advantage. They go around inventing problems or dramatically exaggerating or misinterpreting small problems to push their agenda; why wouldn't they do the same in a situation where there's so much chaos and thus so much going wrong. My experience so far is that people are really underestimating how much of this there will be and how much of it will be institutionalized while we're busy doing other things like tending to the sick and dying and trying not to lose our livelihoods and/or join them ourselves. ..."
"... It's very important to understand that "Critical Social Justice" isn't just activism and some academic theories about things. It's a way of thinking about the world, and that way is rooted in critical theory as it has been applied mostly to identity groups and identity politics ..."
Mar 31, 2020 | The American Conservative
George Scialabba has a wonderful essay about Orwell in Commonweal . Though Scialabba writes in it about Orwell's criticism of the right, this passage jumped out:

Might Orwell's sensitive nose have detected a whiff of cant anywhere on the contemporary left? I suspect he would have cast a baleful eye on identity politics. He would, I think, be dubious about "diversity." Why do every college and corporation in America have a fleet of "diversity" officers? What is gained by ensuring -- at enormous expense -- that every student or employee is proud of his/her culture and that every other student or employee respects it? According to Walter Benn Michaels in The Trouble with Diversity, what is gained is the avoidance of class conflict. "The commitment to diversity is at best a distraction and at worst an essentially reactionary position . We would much rather celebrate cultural diversity than seek to establish economic equality."

Orwell was moderately obsessed with class. He would probably have noted that the explosive growth of inequality in the United States over the past four decades has closely paralleled the explosive growth of the diversity industry, and would have drawn some conclusions. He might have asked: If there were two societies with the same Gini coefficient, but in one of them, the proportion of billionaires by race and gender matched that of the general population, would that society be morally better than the other? Or: If the ratio of CEO to median employee earnings was the same in two societies, but in one of them the proportion of CEOs by race and gender matched that of the general population, would that society be morally better than the other? I'm pretty sure that most diversity bureaucrats would answer "yes" to both questions, and that Orwell would have answered "no."

Orwell was fearless, so a tribute to him shouldn't pull any punches. I think he would suggest that there was something irrational about the way we enforce our most sensitive taboo: the N-word. From the wholesale banning of Huckleberry Finn to the many times teachers and civil servants have been censured, and in one case fired, for using the word "niggardly" (which has no etymological relation to the N-word) to the resignation under pressure recently of a Cambridge, Massachusetts, school committeewoman for using the N-word in a discussion of a proposed high-school course about the N-word, we have often made fools of ourselves and done disadvantaged African Americans no good. As the school superintendent summarized the Cambridge case: the committeewoman "made a point about racist language and used the full N-word instead of the common substitute, 'N-word.' Although said in the context of a classroom discussion, and not directed to any student or adult present, the full pronunciation of the word was upsetting to a number of students and adults who were present or who have since heard about the incident." No one, however, as far as I am aware, has publicly expressed hurt feelings over the fact that the average net worth of African Americans in the Boston area is $8. (Eight, no zeros.) As Benn Michaels observes: "As long as the left continues to worry about [respect], the right won't have to worry about inequality."

Read it all.

I wrote earlier today about actually existing conservatism being more of a "folk libertarianism" than anything resembling philosophical conservatism. But what about actually existing liberalism?

The surprising triumph of Joe Biden, the most normie Democrat in America, tells us something about actually existing liberalism. Illiberal progressivism dominates in academia, the media, and in corporate America's human resources departments. A reader sends in this abstract from a paper published by a Penn professor at the Ivy League university's Wharton School of Business (Trump's alma mater!) in which she argues that the state should

forbid identity-based discrimination but permit refusals of service for projects that foster hate toward protected groups, even where the hate-based project is intimately linked to a protected characteristic (as with religious groups that mandate white supremacy). Far from perpetuating discrimination, these refusals instead promote anti-discrimination norms, and they help realize the vision of the morally inflected marketplace that the Article defends.

You could say that Biden's (not yet assured) victory in the Democratic primaries shows that actually existing liberalism is much less interested in wokeness than in bread-and-butter issues. After all, the more self-consciously woke candidates in the Democratic race didn't get anywhere. I would like to read it that way. But would Biden actually stand up to any wokeness? After all, this is the man who tweeted:

Let's be clear: Transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time. There is no room for compromise when it comes to basic human rights.

-- Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 25, 2020

This is the problem with the Democrats. You might be interested in class issues, and economic equality, and not at all interested in wokeness. But what you're going to get is wokeness, because that is what the power-holding class in the Democratic Party really cares about. As James Lindsay, the left-liberal professor who does heroic work fighting wokeness, told me in our recent interview:

Of course [Social Justice Warriors] going to find ways to use this crisis to their advantage. They go around inventing problems or dramatically exaggerating or misinterpreting small problems to push their agenda; why wouldn't they do the same in a situation where there's so much chaos and thus so much going wrong. My experience so far is that people are really underestimating how much of this there will be and how much of it will be institutionalized while we're busy doing other things like tending to the sick and dying and trying not to lose our livelihoods and/or join them ourselves.

It's very important to understand that "Critical Social Justice" isn't just activism and some academic theories about things. It's a way of thinking about the world, and that way is rooted in critical theory as it has been applied mostly to identity groups and identity politics. Thus, not only do they think about almost nothing except ways that "systemic power" and "dominant groups" are creating all the problems around us, they've more or less forgotten how to think about problems in any other way. The underlying assumption of their Theory–and that's intentionally capitalized because it means a very specific thing–is that the very fabric of society is built out of unjust systemic power dynamics, and it is their job (as "critical theorists") to find those, "make them visible," and then to move on to doing it with the next thing, ideally while teaching other people to do it too. This crisis will be full of opportunities to do that, and they will do it relentlessly. So, it's not so much a matter of them "finding a way" to use this crisis to their advantage as it is that they don't really do anything else.

To be honest, I don't have a lot of confidence in predictions about what valence wokeness (or right-wing culture war themes) will have in this fall's election, given the economic destruction upon us now. I do have confidence, though, that if the left gets into power, this professional class of woke activists will march triumphantly through the institutions of government, and implement their identity-politics utopianism. Do I think that most Democratic voters do, or would, favor that? No, probably not. I imagine they would be voting Democratic primarily to oust Trump, and secondarily because they are more interested in income inequality...

If Orwell were alive today and writing with his superlative critical pen about them, he would struggle to find publication in one of our major liberal journals.

UPDATE: Just now:

I'm sure Critical Social Justice isn't quietly reorganizing things that might matter because of the pandemic Or so I keep being told. https://t.co/LEzvjqbu2B

-- James Lindsay, staying home (@ConceptualJames) March 31, 2020

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative . He has written and edited for the New York Post , The Dallas Morning News , National Review , the South Florida Sun-Sentinel , the Washington Times , and the Baton Rouge Advocate . Rod's commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal , Commentary , the Weekly Standard , Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming , Crunchy Cons , How Dante Can Save Your Life , and The Benedict Option

[Mar 24, 2020] Coronovirus and Yevgeny Zamyatin dystopian novel We

See We (novel) - Wikipedia
Mar 24, 2020 | off-guardian.org

We is set in the future. D-503, a spacecraft engineer, lives in the One State,[3] an urban nation constructed almost entirely of glass, which assists mass surveillance. The structure of the state is Panopticon-like, and life is scientifically managed F. W. Taylor-style. People march in step with each other and are uniformed. There is no way of referring to people except by their given numbers. The society is run strictly by logic or reason as the primary justification for the laws or the construct of the society.[4][5] The individual's behaviour is based on logic by way of formulas and equations outlined by the One State.[6]

Francis Lee ,

Sounds very much like Yevgeny Zamyatin – We . But we never thought it would happen!

[Mar 23, 2020] Dystopian books and coronavirus

Mar 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jay , Mar 23 2020 18:34 utc | 14

In the case of "Brave New World", the establishment knows how to cure pretty much any conventional disease. Then if you're in approved society you die around age 60 because of everything that's kept you alive and looking like 40.

I just read the book last month for the first time in 30+ years. It does belong on that diagram. And "1984" doesn't either, since it really doesn't deal with anything like infectious diseases--reread that about 2 years ago.


I've not read the other 2 outer books ever, but the movie of "Fahrenheit 451", which I just watched and Bradbury certainly had a hand in writing, has nothing to do with infectious disease.

There might be something in Camus' "The Plague" though. Haven't read that since the 1980s.

There aren't food shortages so not sure about the "Soylent Green" reference, yet at least. "Long's Run" is about killing people off at age 35, which I guess overlaps with "kill 80% of the poor workers", something the likes of Charles Koch certainly supports. So indirectly there could be a "Logan's Run" connection.

Gattica is just about favored people with the right genes, so an update of "Brave New World", without the highly literate "savage" as the main character.

I don't see how "The Matrix" relates, that's more about the material world's completeness being an illusion.

"Clockwork Orange?" A thug suppressed with mind control?

Haven't read "Lord of the Flies", but don't the kids worship a god of the island, and justify the horrors they commit based on that conception of god or a god?

[Mar 15, 2020] Roaming Charges: Going Viral by Jeffrey St. Clair

Mar 13, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

From Albert Camus's The Plague , which is once again on my nightstand: "There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise."

[Mar 12, 2020] UNZ site has h undreds of books in html for free download:

Mar 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Wukchumni , March 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm

I'm re-reading A Confederacy of Dunces in keeping with the theme of our leadership.

farragut , March 12, 2020 at 2:37 pm

I tried reading that about 20 years ago, but it never engaged me. I'll have to give it another try.

Currently, I'm reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon for the third time. One of his best, in my opinion. But, I'd also recommend the System of the World trilogy. Slower-paced, but also tremendously satisfying.

lyman alpha blob , March 12, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Stay away from Stephenson's latest, Fall, or Dodge in Hell . I've loved everything else I've read by him, but this last one was truly execrable. I slogged through the whole thing, thinking there must be some point to it all, and there never was.

Sastun , March 12, 2020 at 7:18 pm

Stephenson can be incredibly hit or miss. I loved Anathem, Cryptonomicon, Zodiac, and Diamond Age, thought that anything Stephenson touched: cyberpunk, alt-history, sprawling world building, etc was pure gold. Then I read Reamde What a waste of a thousand pages.

Librarian Guy , March 12, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Confederacy is great, and I say that as a former New Orleanian . . .

If you like humor around absurd characters and their doings, I would recommend Charles Portis' works, all are good. He's best known for True Grit , but additionally both Dog of the South, Masters of Atlantis are also outstanding. The latter is a lot of fun with secret societies, Theosophy & Masonry, that kind of social stew.

A bit more gentle in his absurdity than the over-the-top characters in Confederacy, but lots of fun.

Amfortas the hippie , March 12, 2020 at 5:32 pm

I picked up Anathem at random several years ago and it gave me a Nerdwoody.
I love constructed universes(LOTR, Dune) but that one was so subtle it was almost implied that there's all this s^^t going on.
you had to grow into it.

Given EITC, I just had a haul:
Harvey's "Neoliberalism", Mr Hudson's "Forgive them ", Ruskin's" Unto this Last"(currently involved), Frank's"Listen Liberal"(similarly involved), and EP Thompson's "The Making of the English Working Class" this latter of which i've wanted to read for a long while.
All of them due to suggestions or mentions on NC in the last couple of years.
the first two and the last will hafta wait till all i'm doing is harvesting.

EITC + Spring Break + General Spingtime = Sudden Flurry of Activity.
2 sheds in progress sheep/goat and woodshed gigantic telephone poles set, ready for me to wander by and frame it in then another Barnraising Day(ribs, tater salad, beer, etc) to put the r-panel up(already pained red with yellow stripes(everything else is blue and green and purple) then the next however long for me to finish it up.
and i've planted more this year than i have in 20.
including around 80 black gallon+ pots with seeds/acorns i've picked up all over, or rooted cuttings of everything else i've come across.
and tons of manure.

so, only Light Reading for now.
for i am not worth shootin'.

Janie , March 12, 2020 at 6:04 pm

Amfortas, try that masterpiece article of social anthropology, The Nacirema, from about 1950. It's online.

AbateMagicThinking But Not Money , March 12, 2020 at 5:36 pm

A Conferacy of Dunces:

is one my "reference" books for hilarity with the added bonus that the title can be applied to so many situations (mainly political).

Pip-Pip!

ps Try "Puckoon" by the late, great Spike Milligan.

Fox Blew , March 12, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Wukchumni

A Confederacy of Dunces spoke to me! Funniest book I have ever read. And like you, I've re-read several times. Just seeing the title makes me laugh. :-)

russell1200 , March 12, 2020 at 2:44 pm

Anatomy of a Campaign: The British Fiasco in Norway, 1940 – John Kiszely
The British underfunded their military until too late. Which would have been o.k. up to a point, except they seemed to have no realization at this point how disparate the Nazi German capabilities were compared to their own.

When We Were Vikings – Andrew David MacDonald
A very nice coming of age tail of an adult mentally challenged young woman who is into Vikings and dealing with a family crisis.

Dune Navigator , March 12, 2020 at 3:09 pm

#Library-of-Psychohistory,_for_times_of_plague_and_famine (TM)____________
Anabasis by Xenophon
Muqaddimmah: an Introduction to History by ibn Khaldun
Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time by Johanna Nichols
Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend
The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas
Models of Discovery by Herbert Simon
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
Unifying the Mind by David Danks
Targeted Learning in Data Science: Causal Inference for Complex Longitudinal Studies by Mark Vanderlaan and Sherri Rose
Vladimir Propp and the Study of Structure in Hebrew Biblical Narrative by Pamela J. Milne
Washington Babylon by Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein

Ignacio , March 12, 2020 at 7:58 pm

Albert Camus-The Plague is again a best-seller.

Billy , March 12, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Hundreds of books in html for free download:

https://www.unz.com/book/

Algernon Blackwood Anthony Hope Anthony Trollope Anton Chekhov Arthur Conan Doyle Arthur Quiller-Couch Baroness Orczy Benjamin Disraeli Charles Dickens Dinah Craik E. Phillips Oppenheim Edith Wharton Elizabeth Gaskell Eugene Sue F. Marion Crawford G.A. Henty G.K. Chesterton George Gissing George Meredith Gertrude Atherton H. Rider Haggard H.G. Wells Hamlin
Garland Henry James Honore de Balzac etc

[Mar 07, 2020] Looking for a Good Pandemic Story to Soothe Your Coronavirus Anxieties? Try Katherine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Rebecca Onion

Mar 07, 2020 | slate.com
Photo illustration by Slate
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Counterintuitive as it may sound, people fearing the coronavirus are buying up copies of Albert Camus' The Plague , Stephen King's The Stand , and Dean Koontz's The Eyes of Darkness . If you're one of those who finds consuming pandemic stories to be palliative for your anxiety, I recommend the addition of one of the only pieces of American fiction about the 1918–19 flu pandemic that was written by a survivor: Katherine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider . This short novel, published in 1939, is a story of two doomed lovers caught up in the gears of world war and a deadly virus; somehow, it manages to be romantic and bitter, all at once.

The story is semi-autobiographical. Porter was 28 during the 1918–19 pandemic and working for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. She was dating a young soldier, who was readying for deployment overseas. When she fell sick, he nursed her at her boarding house, until her editor finally pulled strings to get her admitted to a hospital. That hospital was so overcrowded that Porter was left on a gurney in a hallway for nine days, running a fever of 105. When she recovered, she found out that the soldier had died of the flu. Pale Horse, Pale Rider gives the bones of this experience to its protagonist, Miranda Gay.

Miranda bristles at jingoistic homefront culture, which Porter depicts as a mind virus that rivals the flu. A couple of unctuous war bond salesmen try to guilt Miranda into purchasing a bond she cannot afford; she and the other female reporter at her paper worry that they will lose their jobs if they can't scrape together the money to buy one. The novel shows how the expectation of support for the war colors everyone's daily interactions. Miranda describes how everyone reacts in a particular way when they hear the words "the war": "It was habitual, automatic, to give that solemn, mystically uplifted grin when you spoke the words or heard them spoken."

The war and the flu mingle together as threats to a good thing that's happening in Miranda's life. In this fictionalization of Porter's experience, the soldier Miranda is in love with is named Adam, and he's from Texas. They've been dating about 10 days, but they both feel like this is something real. They've spent those 10 days in the frenzy of early romance: dancing to jazz, going to see plays she needs to write about for the paper, poking around geological museums, skipping out of town to take hikes. They both know that their mutual affection will be short-lived, since he'll be going to France soon. What they don't know is that it will be the virus that gets them first.

While Miranda admits to herself how much she would love him if he weren't bound for the war, between them, they keep everything light by policy; the flu is no exception. "It seems to be a plague, something out of the Middle Ages," Miranda says to Adam, who is about to be sent back to training, about the sickness. "Did you ever see so many funerals, ever?" "Never did," he replies. "Well, let's be strong minded and not have any of it. I've got four days more straight from the blue and not a blade of grass must grow under our feet." With that, they make plans to go dancing.

Slowly, the flu makes its presence known in her body, even as her mind continues to dwell on the war. On the night she collapses from the sickness she's been feeling inklings of for days, Adam and Miranda go to a play together, so she can review it. It's a boring play, but before the third act, a fundraiser comes onstage to implore people to buy war bonds. It's this endless speech, which hits all the patriotic high notes, that catalyzes Miranda's illness, making her head ache and spin.

At a restaurant after the play, she passes out; when she comes to, Adam is nursing her in her boardinghouse room. That's the last time she has with him. After she's taken to the hospital and suffers through days of pain and fever dreams, Miranda wakes up, finds out he's dead, and feels profoundly alienated from her body and her life. "Can this be my face?" Miranda asks when she looks in the mirror after finally regaining consciousness. "Are these my own hands?" she asks a nurse, "holding them up to show the yellow tint like melted wax glimmering between the closed fingers."

The book's small story of one person's tragedy reminds us that illness is a personal trauma, and a pandemic is a million personal traumas in one. Porter said of the flu pandemic in an interview in 1963: "It simply divided my life, cut across it like that. So that everything before that was just getting ready, and after that I was in some strange way altered." Pale Horse, Pale Rider isn't a book about secretly released bioweapons or an epic struggle between good and evil or a metaphor about Nazism; it's just a story about people coming to terms with their own mortality. "The body is a curious monster, no place to live in, how could anyone feel at home there?" Miranda asks. How, indeed?

[Feb 22, 2020] I understand "social media" literally in the Orwellian sense, it is "social" media just like war is peace. The true meaning is "asocial media" which prevents real interaction, and is under complete control by big brother: you can become a non-person at any moment.

Feb 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Norwegian , Feb 22 2020 19:12 utc | 66

Posted by: Bemildred | Feb 22 2020 13:41 utc | 20
The "social" is "social media" is in contrast to "professional" or "business" or "commercial" media, i.e. the MSM and other commercial media.

I understand "social media" literally in the Orwellian sense, it is "social" media just like war is peace. The true meaning is "asocial media" which prevents real interaction, and under complete control by big brother, you can become a non-person at any moment.

[Jan 12, 2020] Sandworm A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers Andy Greenberg

Junk. Avoid it
Jan 12, 2020 | www.amazon.com

Not recommended for anybody with a college education, especially in STEM. The author's writing is entertaining, but that's the only positive feature of the book. All-in-all this is a collection of cyber-rumors. Thus one star.

The content is simply yet another "Russians under each bed" fearmongering transposed into cyberspace. The magic abbreviation GRU sells such sensationalist nonsense really well. What is funny is that the organization referred as GRU does not exist under this name since I think 1991; after the dissolution of the USSR it was renamed GU (Wikipedia GRU_(G.U.)), but I heard that now Russians in view of the popularity of the name in the West plan to restore the original name ;-).

So much for the non-technical competence of the author in this area. The guy clearly can't shoot straight and belongs to the category of journalists whose news coverage is considered to be inappropriately influenced by business interests, political motives, and trumpeted by the corporate media. There is an appropriate slang name for this category; you can Google it.

In a way, the book can serve as a classic example of Russophobia in the narrow area of cybersecurity. He presents little or no legitimate facts, preferring to retell rumors and using eye-catching phrases like a "dark room with glowing monitors". For example, "Working on computers whose glowing monitors were the room's only light source, the reverse engineers began by running the Ukrainians' malware-infected PowerPoint attachment again and again inside a series of virtual machines."

It is absurd to have a dark room to investigate malware ;-)

Techniques of category of journalists include exaggerations of news events, misrepresentation of facts, sensationalism, scandal-mongering, and . They usually politicized facts and treat them in an unprofessional and/or unethical fashion.

The author is clearly is not a programmer, just a reasonably gifted snake cyber oil seller. He would be better off if he tries to distill the content of Vault 7 based on Wikileak's information. In this case, I think both source code (archive of malware ) and descriptions and user manuals are available in the public domain; so with enough tech skills and time in hand one can write a really fascinating book. But that's too hard for the guy. So he just decided to milk the public by rehashing and spreading unsubstantiated cyber rumors.

The technical level of the author can be illustrated by the following paragraph

When Robinson finally cracked those layers of obfuscation after a week of trial and error, he was rewarded with a view of the BlackEnergy samples millions of ones and zeros -- a collection of data that was, at a glance, still entirely meaningless. This was, after all, the program in its compiled form, translated into machine-readable binary rather than any human-readable programming language. To understand the binary, Robinson would have to watch it execute
step-by-step on his computer, unraveling it in real-time with a common reverse-engineering tool called IDA Pro that translated the function of its commands into code as they ran. "It's almost like you're trying to determine what someone might look like solely by looking at their DNA," Robinson said. "And the god that created that person was trying to make the process as hard as possible."

So trivial step-by-step tracing of the code using a non-standard (more suitable for the specific purpose) binary debugger (IDA) is in the author's opinion close to decoding DNA. Nice try but no cigar ;-) .

Actually, the debugger does not necessarily process machine binary code. It can be some VM code like Java VM. For example, parts of Flame malware (2012) were written in LUA. Along with Stuxnet this was another groundbreaking malware, which unfortunately was omitted by the author.

Similar incompetent techno-blabbing fills the rest of the book.

Unless this is a pre-paid part of a disinformation campaign by usual suspects, the book is really weak and should be avoided at prices above one dollar plus shipping. But it is OK effort, if we view it as a part of the disinformation campaign and the attempt to revive McCarthyism.

Ukrainian part of his story fully correlates with the State Department talking points, and as such, it is stupid to pay money for it. All other Russophobia based cyber-entertainment and fearmongering is available for free, including multiple good quality videos on YouTube (look for Crowdstrike :-)

This propaganda honcho was too lazy even to collect relevant information about the Stuxnet -- the groundbreaking worm, which really opened a new changer in cyberwafare. It is covered in just a dozen pages (96-109) -- less then the length is less of a free good quality magazine article on this important subject (for example, from Mark Russinovich).

But on the level of qualification of the author all worms looks the same :-) In reality this was a real, very sophisticated act of cyberwafare, not some Ukrainian hallucinations.

I fully agree with the assessment of "val s golovskoy" (the only other one star reviewer so far):

1.0 out of 5 stars Readers: do not waste your time. December 30, 2019
Tones of rumors, zero facts. The book is following the fashionable trend to dump everything happens in America/UK to the Kremlin. Easy and comfortable but far from reality.

The author [is] full of fears and see enemy's computers even under his bed. This book creating another legend: how Russian hackers tried (but did not) to crash Ukrainian system.

Absolutely false and extremely boring. Low intellectual level - do not waste your time.

Here is the contents of the book:

313 - In 2010, Michael Hayden, the former director of the NSA and CIA, made a darkly prescient point in a keynote at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, speaking to a crowd of programmers, security engineers, and hackers. "You guys made the cyber domain look like the north German plain. Then you bitch and moan when you get invaded," he said. "On the Internet, we arc all Poland. We all get invaded on the Web. The inherent geography of this domain is that everything plays to the offense."

317- In an era marked by those in positions of power telling shameless, blatantly self-promotional lies, that sort of selfless truth telling is more admirable and important than ever.


CONTENTS

Introduction

Prologue

PART I EMERGENCE

PART II ORIGINS

PART III EVOLUTION

PART IV APOTHEOSIS

~*8 Afrrrmirb 2iLi

79 ГНмапсе 112

PART V IDENTITY

30 GRU 221

31 Defectors 227

32 hifbmuttsioimoye Protivoborstvo 233

33 The Penalty 243

34 Bad Rabbit. Olympic Destroyer 247

33 False Flags 254

36 74455 260

37 The Tower 266

38 Russia 111

.39 The Elephant and the Insurgent 277

PART VI LESSONS

40 ( ii'nn j IS2

41 Rlai к Stun 2il£i

42 Rfsilit-ntt- Ш

Epilogue 311

Appendix: Sandworm's Connection

to French Election Hacking 315

Acknowledgments 317

Smtirr Notn 121)

Bibliography 335

Index lib

Page 7

Working on computers whose glowing monitors were the room's only
light source, the reverse engineers began by running the Ukrainians'
malware-infected PowerPoint attachment again and again inside a
scries of virtual machines -- ephemeral simulations of a computer
housed within a real, physical one, each one of them as scaled oft
from the rest of the computer as the black room was from the rest
of the iSight offices.

In those sealed containers, the code could be studied like a scor-
pion under an aquarium's glass. They'd allow it to infect its virtual
victims repeatedly, as the reverse engineers spun up simulations of
different digital machines, running varied versions of Windows and
Microsoft Office, to study the dimensions and flexibility of the attack.
When they'd determined that the code could extract itself from the
PowerPoint file and gain full control of even the latest, fully patched
versions of the software, they had their confirmation: It was indeed
a zero day, as rare and powerful as the Ukrainians and Hultquist
had suspected. By late in the evening -- a passage of time that went
almost entirely unmarked within their work space -- they'd produced
a detailed report to share with Microsoft and their customers and
coded their own version of it, a proof-of-concept rewrite that dem-
onstrated its attack, like a pathogen in a test tube.

>

val s golovskoy

Readers: do not waste your time

1.0 out of 5 stars Readers: do not waste your time December 30, 2019 Format: Hardcover Tones of rumors, zero facts. The book is following the fashionable trend to dump everything happens in America/UK to the Kremlin. Easy and comfortable but far from reality. The author full of fears and see enemy's computers even under his bed. This book creating another legend: how Russian hackers tried (but did not) to crash Ukrainian system. Absolutely false and extremely boring. Low intellectual level- do not waste your time.

[Jan 11, 2020] William Greider Knew What Ailed the Democratic Party by Katrina vanden Heuvel

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "When the party of activist government, faced with an epic crisis, will not use government's extensive powers to reverse the economic disorders and heal deepening social deterioration, then it must be the end of the line for the governing ideology inherited from Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson." ..."
"... Bill's frustration with what he referred to as "the rightward-drifting Democrats" ran deep. While his books often explored economic themes -- with particular brilliance in One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (1997) and Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (1987) -- he was at his finest when he wrote about the awful intersection of money and politics, in books such as Who Will Tell the People? The Betrayal of American Democracy (1992). ..."
"... Bill believed Wall Street money was corrupting American politics in general, and the Democratic Party in particular. Decades ago, during the Reagan interregnum, he warned that if the Democrats did not renew the robust commitment to economic justice that characterized FDR's tenure at its best, then surely right-wing populists would seize the opening. As always, whether he was writing for The Washington Post , Rolling Stone or The Nation (where he served as the ablest of all national affairs correspondents), Bill was right. ..."
"... The power arrangement resembles a shared monopoly, in which two companies have tacitly ceded territories to each other to avoid costly competition. ..."
"... Furthermore, the permanent hierarchy of both parties is dominated at the top by a network of pricey Washington lawyers and lobbyists who represent business interests and collaborate with one another on lobbying the government -- while pretending to be opponents. These inside players channel their corporate clients' money to the elected politicians. In effect, everyone is on the same side. ..."
Jan 01, 2020 | www.thenation.com

I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans. This son of the Depression era bemoaned the failure of the Democratic Party to make a New Deal–style response to the financial meltdown of 2008,

I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans.

This son of the Depression era bemoaned the failure of the Democratic Party to make a New Deal–style response to the financial meltdown of 2008, This son of the Depression era bemoaned the failure of the Democratic Party to make a New Deal–style response to the financial meltdown of 2008, explaining after the devastating Republican victories of 2010 , "When the party of activist government, faced with an epic crisis, will not use government's extensive powers to reverse the economic disorders and heal deepening social deterioration, then it must be the end of the line for the governing ideology inherited from Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson."

And, anticipating the rise of Donald Trump, he counseled that the void left by Democrats who pulled their punches would be filled by Republicans who would not hesitate to practice the crudest divide-and-conquer politics. And, anticipating the rise of Donald Trump, he counseled that the void left by Democrats who pulled their punches would be filled by Republicans who would not hesitate to practice the crudest divide-and-conquer politics.

Bill's frustration with what he referred to as "the rightward-drifting Democrats" ran deep. While his books often explored economic themes -- with particular brilliance in One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (1997) and Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (1987) -- he was at his finest when he wrote about the awful intersection of money and politics, in books such as Who Will Tell the People? The Betrayal of American Democracy (1992).

Bill believed Wall Street money was corrupting American politics in general, and the Democratic Party in particular. Decades ago, during the Reagan interregnum, he warned that if the Democrats did not renew the robust commitment to economic justice that characterized FDR's tenure at its best, then surely right-wing populists would seize the opening. As always, whether he was writing for The Washington Post , Rolling Stone or The Nation (where he served as the ablest of all national affairs correspondents), Bill was right.

More than 30 years ago, he recognized that "the two-party rivalry is not nearly as significant as it's made to appear" and counseled that

The power arrangement resembles a shared monopoly, in which two companies have tacitly ceded territories to each other to avoid costly competition.

Furthermore, the permanent hierarchy of both parties is dominated at the top by a network of pricey Washington lawyers and lobbyists who represent business interests and collaborate with one another on lobbying the government -- while pretending to be opponents. These inside players channel their corporate clients' money to the elected politicians. In effect, everyone is on the same side.

The parties have begun to delineate themselves a bit more in recent years. But not sufficiently, as Bill explained in scorchingly honest articles for The Nation . He spoke inconvenient truths about the roots of our current politics, especially when he explained that "the Democratic Party's crude betrayal of the working class was carried out by Bill Clinton and Al Gore when those 'New Democrats' won power in 1992. The Clinton-Gore administration swiftly enacted NAFTA, with Republican votes, sealing the deal with Republican policy-makers and selling out the remnants of organized labor." Bill recognized the necessity of understanding this history in order to explain the rise of Trump and Trumpism.

Above all, Bill argued that for Democrats to seize the high ground, morally and electorally, they had to stop being a "managerial party" and reacquaint themselves with the message FDR delivered during an epically successful 1936 reelection run. That was the year when Roosevelt declared that

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace -- business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred.

I don't know if Bill had that FDR speech memorized. But he carried its spirit in his heart and soul. And he taught the rest of us to do the same. He appreciated the history, as all great journalists do. But there was a point to its recollection. He wanted people to think about how a genuine two-party system might work in the 21st century.

The better part of two decades ago, Bill pointed to the way out when he wrote, for The Nation , on Republican scheming to roll back the economic and social advances initiated by progressives during the 20th century. It was sound advice then. It is sounder advice now, as a great wrestling for the soul of the Democratic Party plays out in the fight for the 2020 nomination to take on Trump.

"Most elected Democrats, I think, now see their role as managerial rather than big reform, and fear that even talking about ideology will stick them with the right's demon label: 'liberal,'" he suggested. But, he continued,

If a new understanding of progressive purpose does get formed, one that connects to social reality and describes a more promising future, the vision will not originate in Washington but among those who see realities up close and are struggling now to change things on the ground. We are a very wealthy (and brutally powerful) nation, so why do people experience so much stress and confinement in their lives, a sense of loss and failure? The answers, I suggest, will lead to a new formulation of what progressives want.

The first place to inquire is not the failures of government but the malformed power relationships of American capitalism -- the terms of employment that reduce many workers to powerless digits, the closely held decisions of finance capital that shape our society, the waste and destruction embedded in our system of mass consumption and production. The goal is, like the right's, to create greater self-fulfillment but as broadly as possible. Self-reliance and individualism can be made meaningful for all only by first reviving the power of collective action.

My own conviction is that a lot of Americans are ready to take up these questions and many others. Some are actually old questions -- issues of power that were not resolved in the great reform eras of the past. They await a new generation bold enough to ask if our prosperous society is really as free and satisfied as it claims to be. When conscientious people find ideas and remedies that resonate with the real experiences of Americans, then they will have their vision, and perhaps the true answer to the right wing.

This was how Bill Greider told the people of the politics that must be. He wrote truthfully, boldly, consistently, without fear or favor, and without the empty partisanships of these awkward times. He was our North Star.

[Jan 02, 2020] The Ministry of Minority-Worship Gay Rights and Goals of Globohomo by Tobias Langdon

Aug 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

Totalitarian ideologies live by lies and contradiction. For example, the slave-state of North Korea , ruled by a hereditary dictatorship, proclaims itself a Democratic People's Republic when it is neither democratic, popular, nor a republic.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four , Orwell wrote of how "the names of the four Ministries by which [the oppressed population is] governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.

These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink ."

Defending the death-machine

You could, then, call GCHQ and the NSA part of the Ministry of Morality. While breaking laws against surveillance and trying to destroy freedom of expression and enquiry, they pretend that they're caring, ethical organizations who defend the oppressed and want to build a better world. In fact, of course, GCHQ and the NSA are defending the death-machine of the military-industrial complex , which has been wrecking nations and slaughtering civilians in the Middle East (and elsewhere ) for decades.

They're also defending the traitorous Western governments that first import millions of Third-Worlders , then use the resultant crime, terrorism and racial conflict to justify mass surveillance and harsh laws against free speech .


OzzyBonHalen , says: August 29, 2019 at 6:54 am GMT

Quote: Orwell didn't foresee the celebration of homosexuality by totalitarians, but he did explain it.

If you read Anthony Burgess' The Wanting Seed he writes about the roles of gays in dystopia. He also talks about race, two things that Orwell and Huxley didn't. The Wanting Seed is just as important in the world of dystopia as Brave New World or 1984.

Reg Cæsar , says: August 29, 2019 at 7:49 am GMT

one way George Orwell got the future completely wrong

That assumes he was writing about the future. He was mocking the Soviet "justice" system in the recent past. The man was a satirist, after all. How did Stalin's men treat sexual deviation?

... ... ...

Walter , says: August 29, 2019 at 9:40 am GMT
NSA needs to revisit their grammar studies. They may benefit from attention to the correct use of commas.

"At NSA, talented individuals of all backgrounds, contribute to something bigger than themselves: national security. #PrideMonth."

The globo-sodomy is one thing, but the torture of grammar! Ye gods!

MarkU , says: August 29, 2019 at 2:03 pm GMT
A few points.

1) The iniquities of the members of one skyfairy cult are not evidence for the virtues of another such organisation and never will be.

2) It seems likely to me that homosexuality is a feature of overpopulation and may be a natural population control mechanism. Experiments have shown that rats kept in overcrowded conditions exhibit homosexual tendencies and also become more violent towards other rats. I doubt that it is purely a coincidence that homosexuality first became notable round about the time that humans started living in cities.

Other species have means of controlling their populations, rabbits for example can reabsorb their embryos if the population count is too high, seals can freeze the development of their foetuses etc.

I see no rational purpose in demonising homosexuals and I am certainly not going to let the purveyors of ancient superstitious claptrap do my thinking for me. Cue howls of outrage from both skyfairy cultists and from queers (if they are happy to use the word I don't see why I shouldn't)

3) It seems to me that the Zionist bankers have essentially bankrupted the western world in an attempt to bring the rest of the world under their control, they have failed. They are now attempting to mobilise any and all sections of the population that identify as minorities as allies against the majorities in those countries, importing as many more as they can get away with. What sense does it make to reinforce their narrative that it is heterosexual whites v everyone else? because that is exactly what some people are doing. The Zionists are making their following as broad as possible while attempting to narrow ours, why play into their hands? Opposition to immigration for example does not have to be presented as a racial issue, many people here in the UK were opposed to mass immigration from eastern Europe on purely economic grounds, Poles and Lithuanians are not a different race and hardly even a different culture. Do you really think that Blacks and Latinos that have been in the US for generations are uniformly delighted about a new influx of cheap labour? Do you really believe that Muslims are the natural allies of Jews or of homosexuals? If you actually put some thought into the struggle rather than relying on superstitious claptrap and bigotry you might be able to start pushing back.

Liza , says: August 29, 2019 at 3:50 pm GMT
@Bardon Kaldian

So, Western civilization is going to collapse because of a few fairies & fag hags?

Yes, it looks as if it will collapse. Not because the fairies and fag hags are all-powerful, but because we have had it so good & easy for so long that we've gotten weaker than any determined, focused fairy or hag.

Astonished , says: August 29, 2019 at 4:00 pm GMT
@MarkU I agree.

Leftism in general, which I characterize as a mass adoption of a "mental map" (the gross oversimplification of infinite reality people use to navigate their lives) highly estranged from underlying reality, is Nature's "suicide switch" for an organism that has grossly overgrown its ecological niche.

Today people believe palpably unreal things, in incredibly large numbers, with incredibly deep fervor. The poster-child is the belief in the efficacy of magical incantations (statute legislation) to change Actual Reality. If "we" want to end racism (however we define it in the Newspeak Dictionary) then we just pass a law and "pow!" it's gone. (When that doesn't work, we pass another law, and another and another and another, always expecting a different result.)

Ditto the banking (and monetary) system. Money used to be basically a "receipt" for actually having something IN HAND to take to the market and engage in trade. This was the essence of Say's Law, "in order to consume (buy something) you must first produce."

Some clever Machiavellians figured out that if you could "complexify" and obscure the monetary system enough, you could obtain the legal right to create from thin air the ability to enter that market and buy something, which stripped to its essence is the crime of fraud.

Banking has been an open fraud for a very long time, certainly since the era of naked fiat money was introduced in the 1960's. But as long as everyone went along with the gag, and especially once Credit Bubble Funny Money started fueling a debt orgy and rationalizing an asset price mania, everyone thought "we could all get rich."

Today we have vast claims on real wealth (real wealth is productive land, productive plant & equipment and capital you can hold in your hands, so to speak.) But we have uncountable claims on each unit of real capital. The Machiavellians think that they will end up holding title to it all, when the day comes to actually make an honest accounting. I suspect that they lack the political power to pull that off, but only time will tell.

When this long, insane boom is reconciled, a lot of productive capital will turn out to be nothing but vaporware and rusting steel. Entire industries arose to cater to credit-bubble-demand, and when the bubble eventually ceases to inflate, demand in (and the capital applied to) those industries will collapse. How many hospitals do you need when no one has the money to pay for their services, and the tax base has burned to the ground?

Nature's suicide switch.

gwynedd1 , says: August 29, 2019 at 5:36 pm GMT
Simple formula. Liberalism was the defense of the individual against the group.

All one needs to do is a simple substitution. Minorities , environment , animals etc are a means by witch one can make individuals into the institutionalized oppressor. Even better is the so called intersectional mini oppressions which make nearly all victims which in turns makes all guilty. State intervention must increase .Guilty people , as all religions of the world understand, are easily dominated and controlled.

The power the individual is destroyed by its own momentum.

Ris_Eruwaedhiel , says: August 29, 2019 at 10:25 pm GMT
@Digital Samizdat The Bolsheviks first pushed "free love" – easy divorce, abortion and homosexuality. There even was serious discussion about whether or not to abolish marriage. They reversed themselves and by the time WWII broke out, the official culture of the Soviet Union was more socially conservative than that of the US. Even in the 1980s, the Commies were tough on gays, lesbians and druggies.

[Dec 29, 2019] The Great Democracy How to Fix Our Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America by Ganesh Sitaraman

Dec 29, 2019 | www.amazon.com
  1. Introduction: The Edge of a New Era i
  2. The Origins and Meaning of Neoliberalism я
  3. The Neoliberal Ideology 37-45
  4. The Last Days of Neoliberalism
  5. Alter Neoliberalism
  6. Toward a Great Democracy 8
  7. United Democracy
  8. Economic Democracy
  9. Political Democracy
  10. Defending Democracy
  11. Conclusion: The Politics of Achieving s great Democracy 205
  12. Acknowledgments 211
  13. Notes 215
  14. Index 243
>

skeptic , December 27, 2019

The first part of the book is the best primier of neoliberlism the money can buy

This author is brilliant. He gave a comprehensive yet very compact overview of neoliberalism the first part of the book. An overview which IMHO is very difficult to match. Here are the key ideas and periods that he outlined:

== quote ==
This is not an ordinary political moment. Everywhere around us, the old order is collapsing. The golden age of postwar economic growth is over, replaced by a new Gilded Age of inequality and stagnation... People once united by common culture and information are now fractured into social media echo chambers.

The [neo]liberal international order is cracking as nationalism grows in strength and global institutions decay. The United States' role as a global superpower is challenged by the rising strength of China and a new era of Russian assertiveness.

Optimists hope that generational and demographic change will restore inexorable progress. Pessimists interpret the current moment as the decline and fall of democracy.

.. we are currently in the midst of one of these epochal transitions. We live on the edge of a new era in politics -- the third since the Great Depression and World War II. The first era is probably best described as liberal.... from the 1940s through the 1970s, a version of political liberalism provided the paradigm for politics. Charting a path between the state control of communists and fascists and the laissez-faire market that dominated before the Great Depression, liberals adopted a form of regulated capitalism. Government set the rules of the road for the economy, regulated finance, invested to create jobs and spark consumer demand, policed the bad behavior of businesses, and provided a social safety net for Americans. Big institutions -- big government, big corporations, big labor -- cooperated to balance the needs of stakeholders in society. In the United States, it was called New Deal Liberalism. In Europe, social democracy. There were differences across countries, of course, but the general approach was similar. ...even the conservatives of the time were liberal. Republican president Dwight Eisenhower championed the national highway system and warned of the military-industrial complex. President Richard Nixon said, "I am now a Keynesian in economics." His administration created the EPA and expanded Social Security by indexing benefits to inflation.

...since the 1980s, we have lived in a second era -- that of neoliberalism. In economic and social policy, neoliberalism's tenets are simple: deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity. Under neoliberalism, individuals are on their own and should be responsible for themselves. Instead of governments, corporations, and unions balancing the interests of all stakeholders, the primary regulator of social interests should be the marketplace. Neoliberals opposed unions and unionization, they wanted to pursue vouchers instead of public provision of services, and they sought to shrink the size and functioning of government, even if it meant a less effective government. Markets worked like magic, and market logic would be applied to all aspects of life. Around the world, the neoliberal era came with an aggressive emphasis on expanding democracy and human rights, even by military force. Expanding trade and commerce came with little regard for who the winners and losers were -- or what the political fallout might be. ...It was President Bill Clinton who said that the "era of big government is over" and who celebrated the legislation deregulating Wall Street.

...With the election of Donald Trump, the neoliberal era has reached its end. While in control of the House, Senate, and presidency, Republicans neither repealed the Affordable Care Act nor privatized Social Security and Medicare. Their party is increasingly fractured between Trumpist conservatives, who are far more nationalist, and the never-Trump old-line conservatives like Bill Kristol or Jeb Bush. An increasing number of people recognize that neoliberalism's solutions are unsuited to the challenges of our time.
== end ==
The most valuable part of the book IMHO are two chapters devoted to the collapse of neoliberalism

The author also proposes a very interesting approach to evaluation of the identity politics as a political strategy:

== quote ==
To be sure, race, gender, culture, and other aspects of social life have always been important to politics. But neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. Self-government requires uniting through our commonalities and aspiring to achieve a shared future.

When individuals fall back onto clans, tribes, and us-versus-them identities, the political community gets fragmented. It becomes harder for people to see each other as part of that same shared future.

Demagogues [more correctly neoliberals] rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society.

The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy.

Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity.

Of course, the result is to leave in place political and economic structures that harm the very groups that inclusionary neoliberals claim to support. The foreign policy adventures of the neoconservatives and liberal internationalists haven't fared much better than economic policy or cultural politics. The U.S. and its coalition partners have been bogged down in the war in Afghanistan for 18 years and counting. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is a liberal democracy, nor did the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq lead to a domino effect that swept the Middle East and reformed its governments for the better. Instead, power in Iraq has shifted from American occupiers to sectarian militias, to the Iraqi government, to Islamic State terrorists, and back to the Iraqi government -- and more than 100,000 Iraqis are dead.

Or take the liberal internationalist 2011 intervention in Libya. The result was not a peaceful transition to stable democracy but instead civil war and instability, with thousands dead as the country splintered and portions were overrun by terrorist groups. On the grounds of democracy promotion, it is hard to say these interventions were a success. And for those motivated to expand human rights around the world, it is hard to justify these wars as humanitarian victories -- on the civilian death count alone.

Indeed, the central anchoring assumptions of the American foreign policy establishment have been proven wrong. Foreign policymakers largely assumed that all good things would go together -- democracy, markets, and human rights -- and so they thought opening China to trade would inexorably lead to it becoming a liberal democracy. They were wrong. They thought Russia would become liberal through swift democratization and privatization. They were wrong.

They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. And to be clear, Donald Trump had nothing to do with them. All of these failures were evident prior to the 2016 election.
== end ==

In other words identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party (aka "soft neoliberals".)

Along with Neo-McCarthyism it represents a mechanism to compensate for the loss by Clinton Democrats of their primary voting block: trade union members, who in 2016 "en mass" defected to Trump.

Initially Clinton calculation was that trade union voters has nowhere to go anyways, and it was correct for first decade or so of his betrayal. But gradually trade union members and lower middle class started to leave Dems in droves (Demexit; compare with Brexit) and that where identity politics was invented to compensate for this loss.

We also can identity politics as a double edge sword, which the second edge being the political strategy of the "soft neoliberals " directed at discrediting and the suppression of the rising nationalism.

The author correctly argues that the resurgence of nationalism is the inevitable byproduct of the dominance of neoliberalism, resurgence which I think is capable to bury neoliberalism as it lost the popular support (which now is limited to financial oligarchy and high income professional groups, such as we can find in corporate and military brass, (shrinking) IT sector, upper strata of academy, upper strata of medical professionals, etc.)

In other words, if you are interested in this topic (as well as the most probable outcome of 2020 elections which would be the second referendum on neoliberalism held in the USA) , please buy the book; you will never regret this decision ;-)

That means that the structure of the current system isn't just flawed which imply that most problems are relatively minor and can be fixed by making some tweaks. It is unfixable, because the "Identity wars" reflect a deep moral contradictions within neoliberal ideology. And they can't be solved within this framework.

[Dec 11, 2019] Mr. Putin Operative in the Kremlin (Geopolitics in the 21st Century) - Kindle edition by Fiona Hill, Clifford G. Gaddy. Politi

Dec 11, 2019 | www.amazon.com

NEW AND EXPANDED

MR. PUTIN

OPERATIVE IN

THE KREMLIN

Fiona Hill

Clifford G. Gaddy

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PRESS

Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2013

Paperback edition © 2015

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

www.brookings.edu

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the Brookings Institution Press.

The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to research, education, and publication on important issues of domestic and foreign policy. Its principal purpose is to bring the highest quality independent research and analysis to bear on current and emerging policy problems. Interpretations or conclusions in Brookings publications should be understood to be solely those of the authors.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

Hill, Fiona, 1965–

Mr. Putin : operative in the Kremlin / Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy.

pages ; cm. -- (Brookings focus book)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-8157-2376-9 (hardcover : alk. paper)

1. Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1952– 2. Presidents -- Russia (Federation) 3. Russia (Federation) -- Politics and government -- 1991– I. Gaddy, Clifford G. II. Title. III. Series: Brookings focus books.

DK510.766.P87H55 2012

947.086'2092 -- dc23

[B] 2012041470

ISBN 978-0-8157-2617-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)

ISBN 978-0-8157-2618-0 (e-book)

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed on acid-free paper

Typeset in Sabon

Composition by Cynthia Stock

Silver Spring, Maryland
CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

PART I. THE OPERATIVE EMERGES

1 Who Is Mr. Putin?

2 Boris Yeltsin and the Time of Troubles

3 The Statist

4 The History Man

5 The Survivalist

6 The Outsider

7 The Free Marketeer

8 The Case Officer

9 The System

PART II. THE OPERATIVE ENGAGES

10 The Stakeholders' Revolt

11 Putin's World

12 The American Education of Mr. Putin

13 Russia Resurgent

14 The Operative Abroad

CODA

The Operative in Action

Chronology

Notes on Translation, Transliteration, Nomenclature, Style, and Sources

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Notes

Bibliography

Index
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

THIS BOOK IS THE REVISED and considerably expanded version of the first edition of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin , which we finished writing in September 2012 and was published in 2013. The original manuscript was the result of a long-standing collaboration between Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy as colleagues at the Brookings Institution, dating to the beginning of Mr. Putin's presidency in 2000. The background for the authors' research work (individually and jointly) was outlined in the acknowledgments to the 2013 edition. These acknowledgments also thanked all the colleagues and contacts who assisted in fleshing out specific ideas and identifying source material.

Fiona Hill researched and wrote the additional material for this second edition, which moves the narrative frame of the original book from its focus on the Russian domestic scene to the international arena. Between the launch of the first edition in early 2013 and September 2014, Fiona Hill collected and analyzed new source material and embarked on a series of international research trips to conduct supplemental interviews with analysts, policymakers, government officials, and private sector representatives on the key themes of the book. Some of these trips were sponsored by external organizations, including the Embassy of the United States in Berlin and the U.S. consulates in Germany (through the U.S. Department of State's Strategic Speaker Program); the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (through its official visitors and speakers program); and the Department of National Defence of Canada (through the National Defence, Defence Engagement Program). Other trips and interviews were facilitated through meetings and conferences arranged by partner organizations, including the Aspen Institute, Chatham House, the Council on the United States and Italy, the Ditchley Foundation, the European Council on Foreign Relations, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies, the German Marshall Fund, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), the Körber Stiftung, the London School of Economics, and the Munich Security Conference. Participation in numerous Brookings Institution conferences, seminars, and private meetings in Washington, D.C., and Europe also provided opportunities to engage in one-on-one or small-group discussions with a range of U.S., European, and Russian officials, as well as U.S. and international business figures active in Russia.

Other interviews with officials were conducted in Washington, D.C. (as indicated in the endnotes), with the assistance of the embassies of many foreign countries, including Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the Delegation of the European Union.

Clifford Gaddy contributed new material and conclusions from two separate research projects: on the reform of the Russian military and the evolution of Russia's new military doctrine (conducted with Michael O'Hanlon), and on the state of the Russian economy (conducted with Barry Ickes). Some of this material will also be reflected in Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes's forthcoming book: Russia's Addiction. The Political Economy of Resource Dependence.

The book was written between June and September 2014 with the help and hard work of Brookings senior research assistant Hannah Thoburn. Hannah was a genuine collaborator on both editions of the book, carrying out painstaking work on Russian source material and playing an essential role in all aspects of the manuscript preparation.

Irina Angelescu played a critical role in the final stages of completing the manuscript, checking sources, editing, and thinking through the organization of concepts and material. Bilyana Lilly, Jan Malaskowski, and Catherine Trainor also assisted with the identification of Russian language source material.

Jill Dougherty, Michael O'Hanlon, Robert Otto, and Angela Stent all reviewed the text and gave invaluable editorial, conceptual, and organizational suggestions for the final manuscript. Also at Brookings, Andrew Moffatt provided moral support, kept everything on track, and made sure that time and the necessary funding were carved out so the work could get done. Other colleagues shared sources and ideas, and offered critiques, including Strobe Talbott, Tim Boersma, Charley Ebinger, Kai Eide, Michael Doran, Erica Downs, Bruce Jones, Kenneth Lieberthal, Tanvi Madan, Suzanne Maloney, Ted Piccone, Natan Sachs, Mireya Solis, Harold Trinkunas, and Thomas Wright.

Colleagues at the Center on the United States and Europe -- Riccardo Alcaro, Pavel Baev, Carlo Bastasin, Caitlyn Davis, Jutta Falke-Ischinger, Richard Kauzlarich, Kemal Kirişci, Steven Pifer, and Jeremy Shapiro -- all generously took the time to brainstorm on core concepts.

Valentina Kalk, Janet Walker, and other colleagues at Brookings Institution Press embraced the idea of an expanded second edition of the book and assisted the project all along the way. The Brookings Institution Press also covered the new editorial and production costs for the book. Independent editor John Felton gave editorial support and suggestions for improving the final manuscript. Laura Mooney and other colleagues at the Brookings library helped with difficult sourcing. Gail Chalef and Tina Trenkner pitched in with a range of ideas on outreach as the new version of the book moved toward completion.

As the second phase of research moved along, several people who had read the first edition raised important questions about core ideas, flagged articles in the Russian and international press, suggested individuals for interviews (or offered themselves for interview), and very generously sent their own and other publications for reference. These included Hannes Adomeit, Ellen Barry, Samuel Bendett, Lynn Berry, J. D. Bindenagel, Samuel Charap, William Courtney, Igor Danchenko, Jaba Devdariani, William Drozdiak, John Evans, Florence Fee, Katja Gloger, Paul Goble, Tomas Gomart, Charles Grant, Zuhra Halimova, Michael Haltzel, Andrej Heinke, Marc Hujer, Shinji Hyodo, Shoichi Ito, Akihiro Iwashita, Barbara Junge, Alisher Khamidov, Nina Khrushcheva, Hiroshi Kimura, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, Martin Klingst, John Kornblum, Ivan Krastev, Johann Legner, Bobo Lo, Jenny Lo, Alexander Lukin, Georg Mascolo, Steven Lee Myers, James Nixey, Rene Nyberg, Craig Oliphant, Tim Oliver, Bruce Parrott, William Partlett, Volker Perthes, Simon Saradzhyan, Yukio Satoh, Zachary Shore, Mary Springer, Holger Stark, Constanze Steltzenmüller, Stephen Szabo, Michael Thumann, Kazuhiko Togo, Mikhail Troitsky, Charles Undeland, David Du Vivier, Thomas de Waal, Kyle Wilson, Igor Zevelev, and Nikolai Zlobin.

Finally, our dear friend and colleague Clara O'Donnell was a great source of inspiration and ideas at the beginning of the new edition. Clara passed away in January 2014 and did not see the project completed. Her loss is keenly felt, and perhaps this second edition of the book may serve in some small measure as a testament to her accomplishments and memory.

We are grateful for the generous support of Stephen and Barbara Friedman, whose contributions to the Brookings Foreign Policy program made this book possible. This revised edition is part of Foreign Policy's project, Order from Chaos. The book's findings are in keeping with Brookings's mission: to conduct high-quality and independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public. The conclusions and recommendations of any Brookings research are solely those of its authors and do not reflect the views of the Institution, its management, or its other scholars.
PART ONE THE OPERATIVE EMERGES
CHAPTER ONE WHO IS MR. PUTIN?

ON MARCH 18, 2014 , still bathed in the afterglow of the Winter Olympics that he had hosted in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian president Vladimir Putin stepped up to a podium in the Kremlin to address the nation. Before an assembly of Russian officials and parliamentarians, Putin signed the documents officially reuniting the Russian Federation and the peninsular republic of Crimea, the home base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Crimea had seceded from Ukraine only two days earlier, on March 16. The Russian president gave what was intended to be a historic speech. The events were fresh, but his address was laden with references to several centuries of Russian history.

Putin invoked the origins of Orthodox Christianity in Russia. He referenced military victories on land and sea that had helped forge the Russian Empire. He noted the grievances that had festered in Russia since the 1990s, when the state was unable to protect its interests after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. At the center of his narrative was Crimea. Crimea "has always been an inseparable part of Russia," Putin declared. Moscow's decision to annex Crimea was rooted in the need to right an "outrageous historical injustice." That injustice began with the Bolsheviks, who put lands that Russia had conquered into their new Soviet republic of Ukraine. Then, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made the fateful decision in 1954 to transfer Crimea from the Russian Federation to Ukraine. When the Soviet state fell apart in 1991, Russian-speaking Crimea was left in Ukraine "like a sack of potatoes," Putin said. 1 The Russian nation was divided by borders.

Vladimir Putin's speech and the ceremony reuniting Russia with its "lost province" came after several months of political upheaval in Ukraine. Demonstrations that had begun in late November 2013 as a protest against Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's decision to back out of the planned signing of an association agreement with the European Union soon turned into a large-scale protest movement against his government. By February 2014, protesters were engaged in clashes with Ukrainian police that left over 100 people dead on both sides. 2 On February 21, 2014, talks between Yanukovych and the opposition were brokered by outside parties, including Russia. A provisional agreement, intended to end the violence and pave the way for new presidential elections at the end of 2014, was upended when Yanukovych abruptly fled the country. After several days of confusion, Yanukovych resurfaced in Russia. Meanwhile, the opposition in Ukraine formed an interim government and set presidential elections for May 25, 2014.

At about the same time that Yanukovych left Ukraine, unidentified armed men began to seize control of strategic infrastructure on the Crimean Peninsula. On March 6, the Crimean parliament voted to hold a snap referendum on independence and the prospect of joining Russia. On March 16, the results of the referendum indicated that 97 percent of those voting had opted to unite with Russia. It was this referendum that Putin used to justify Russia's reincorporation, its annexation, of Crimea. He opened his speech with a reference to the referendum and how more than 82 percent of eligible voters had turned out to make this momentous and overwhelming choice in favor of becoming part of Russia. The people of Crimea had exercised their right -- the right of all nations -- to self-determination. They had chosen to restore the unity of the Russian world and historical Russia. But by annexing the Crimean Peninsula, immediately after the referendum, Putin had dealt the greatest blow to European security since the end of the Cold War. In the eyes of most external observers, Putin's Russia was now a definitively revisionist power. In a short span of time, between February 21 and March 18, 2014, Russia had moved from brokering peace to taking a piece of Ukraine.

As Western leaders deliberated how to punish Putin for seizing Crimea and deter him from similar actions in the rest of Ukraine and elsewhere, questions arose: Why did Putin do this? What does he want? Many commentators turned back to questions that had been asked nearly 15 years earlier, when Vladimir Putin first emerged from near-obscurity to become the leader of Russia: "Who is Mr. Putin?" For some observers, the answer was easy: Putin was who he had always been -- a corrupt, avaricious, and power-hungry authoritarian leader. What Putin did in Ukraine was just a logical next step to what he had been doing in Russia since 2000: trying to tighten his grip on power. Annexing Crimea and the nationalist rhetoric Putin used to justify it were merely ploys to bolster his flagging public support and distract the population from problems at home. Other commentators saw Putin's shift toward nationalist rhetoric and his decision to annex Crimea as evidence of new "imperial" thinking, and as dangerously genuine. Putin's goal, they proposed, was to restore the Soviet Union or the old Russian Empire. But if that was true, where were the patterns and key indicators of neo-imperialist revisionism in Putin's past behavior? Many world leaders and analysts wondered what they had missed. Unable to reconcile their old understanding of Putin with his behavior in Ukraine, some concluded that Putin himself had changed. A "new Putin" must have appeared in the Kremlin.

If, in fact, Putin's behavior in the Ukraine crisis was really different from the past, it could provide an opportunity to understand him better. In his 2014 book, A Sense of the Enemy: The High-Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind, Zachary Shore argues that it is precisely when people break with previous patterns of behavior that we can begin to gain an understanding of their real character. Patterns of past behavior are a poor predictor of how a person will act in the future. Contexts change and alter people's actions. Pattern breaks are key for analyzing individual behavior. They push us to focus on the invariant aspects of the person's self. They help reveal the hidden drivers, the underlying motivations, and what an actor, a leader, values most. 3

This is the essence of our approach in this book. The book is an effort to figure out who Mr. Putin is in terms of his motivations -- what drives him to act as he does? Rather than present a chronicle of events in which Putin played a role, we concentrate on events that shaped him. We look at formative experiences of Putin's past. And where we do examine his actions, we focus on the circumstances in which he acted. Our reasoning is that if Putin's actions and words differed during the crisis in Ukraine in 2014 from what we might have expected in the past, it is likely that the circumstances changed. Indeed, as we will lay out and describe in the two parts of this book, Vladimir Putin's behavior is driven by the imperative to adapt and respond to changing -- especially, unpredicted -- circumstances.

This book is not intended to be a definitive biography or a comprehensive study of everything about Vladimir Putin. Although personal and even intimate life experiences shape the way an individual thinks and views the world, we do not delve into Putin's family life or close friendships. We also do not critique all the different stories about him, and we try to avoid retreading ground that has been covered extensively in other analyses and biographies. Our purpose is to look for new insights in all the material we have on Vladimir Putin.

THE ELUSIVE NATURE OF FACTS

It is remarkable -- almost hard to believe -- that for 15 years there has not been a single substantive biography published in Russian, by a Russian, of President Putin. It is true that a few very incomplete books -- limited in their scope -- appeared in his first months as president. There is also, of course, Putin's own autobiography, Ot pervogo litsa (First person), which appeared in early 2000. 4 Arguably the only other true biography with wide circulation in Russia is a translation of Alexander Rahr's Wladimir Putin: Der "Deutsche" im Kreml (Vladimir Putin: the "German" in the Kremlin). 5 By contrast, there have been a number of serious biographies of Putin in English. The West, particularly the United States, is used to a steady flow of memoirs, and tell-alls, from former associates of our leaders. There has been nothing like that in Russia. Rather than the flow of information about the man who has led the country for a decade and a half growing stronger, it has actually declined over time. Above all, the information that does emerge has been increasingly controlled and manipulated. Instead of independently verifiable new facts from identified sources, there are only "stories" about Putin from unidentified sources, sources who are -- we are invariably assured by those who tell the stories -- "close to the Kremlin." There is also the phenomenon of old stories being recycled as astonishing new revelations.

Attempting to write about Vladimir Putin is thus a challenge for many reasons. One that we ourselves never imagined until we were well into this venture is that, like it or not, when you delve into his hidden aspects, whether in the past or present, you are playing a game with Putin. It is a game where he is in charge. He controls the facts and the "stories." For that reason, every apparent fact or story needs to be regarded with suspicion. It has to be traced back to original sources. If that turns out to be impossible, or the source seems unreliable, what does one do with the information? As the reader will soon find out, we too use stories about Putin. But we do so with caution. We have tested the sources. When we were unable to do so to the fullest extent, we make that clear. Most important, we have learned to ask the question, "Why has this story been circulated?"

The most obvious reason we cannot take any story or so-called fact at face value when it comes to Vladimir Putin is that we are dealing with someone who is a master at manipulating information, suppressing information, and creating pseudo-information. In the course of studying Putin, and Putin's Russia, we have learned this the hard way. In today's world of social media, the public has the impression that we know, or easily can know, everything about everybody. Nothing, it seems, is private or secret. And still, after 15 years, we remain ignorant of some of the most basic facts about a man who is arguably the most powerful individual in the world, the leader of an important nation. When there is no certifiably real and solid information, any tidbit becomes precious.

THE PUTIN BIOGRAPHY

Where then do we start? The basic biographical data, surely, are beyond dispute. Vladimir Putin was born in the Soviet city of Leningrad in October 1952 and was his parents' only surviving child. His childhood was spent in Leningrad, where his youthful pursuits included training first in sambo (a martial art combining judo and wrestling that was developed by the Soviet Red Army) and then in judo. After school, Putin studied law at Leningrad State University (LGU), graduated in 1975, and immediately joined the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB. He was posted to Dresden in East Germany in 1985, after completing a year of study at the KGB's academy in Moscow. He was recalled from Dresden to Leningrad in 1990, just as the USSR was on the verge of collapse.

During his time in the KGB, Putin worked as a case officer (the "operative" of our title) and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1990–91, he moved into the intelligence service's "active reserve" and returned to Leningrad State University as a deputy to the vice rector. He became an adviser to one of his former law professors, Anatoly Sobchak, who left the university to become chairman of Leningrad's city soviet, or council. Putin worked with Sobchak during Sobchak's successful electoral campaign to become the first democratically elected mayor of what was now St. Petersburg. In June 1991, Putin became a deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and was put in charge of the city's Committee for External Relations. He officially resigned from the KGB in August 1991.

In 1996, after Mayor Sobchak lost his bid for reelection, Vladimir Putin moved to Moscow to work in the Kremlin in the department that managed presidential property. In March 1997, Putin was elevated to deputy chief of the presidential staff. He assumed a number of other responsibilities within the Kremlin before being appointed head of the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB, the successor to the KGB) in July 1998. A year later, in August 1999, Vladimir Putin was named, in rapid succession, one of Russia's first deputy prime ministers and then prime minister by President Boris Yeltsin, who also indicated Putin was his preferred successor as president. Finally, on December 31, 1999, Putin became acting president of Russia after Yeltsin resigned. He was officially elected to the position of president in March 2000. Putin served two terms as Russia's president from 2000 to 2004 and from 2004 to 2008, before stepping aside -- in line with Russia's constitutional prohibition against three consecutive presidential terms -- to assume the position of prime minister. In March 2012, Putin was reelected to serve another term as Russia's president until 2018, thanks to a constitutional amendment pushed through by then President Dmitry Medvedev in December 2008 extending the presidential term from four to six years.

These basic facts have been covered in books and newspaper articles. Yet there is some uncertainty in the sources about specific dates and the sequencing of Vladimir Putin's professional trajectory. This is especially the case for his KGB service, but also for some of the period when he was in the St. Petersburg mayor's office, including how long he was technically part of the KGB's "active reserve." Personal information, including on key childhood events, his 1983 marriage to his wife, Lyudmila (whom he divorced in 2014), the birth of two daughters in 1985 and 1986 (Maria and Yekaterina), and his friendships with politicians and businessmen from Leningrad/St. Petersburg is remarkably scant for such a prominent public figure. His wife, daughters, and other family members, for example, are conspicuously absent from the public domain. Information about him that was available at the beginning of his presidency has also been suppressed, distorted, or lost in a morass of competing and often contradictory versions swirling with rumor and innuendo. Some materials -- related to a notorious 1990s food scandal in St. Petersburg, which almost upended Putin's early political career -- have been expunged, along with those with access to them. When it comes to Mr. Putin, very little information is definitive, confirmable, or reliable.

As a result, there are many important and enduring mysteries about Vladimir Putin that we will not address in detail in this book. Take something so fundamental as his initial rise to power as Russian president. In less than two-and-a-half years from 1997 to 99, Vladimir Putin was promoted to increasingly lofty positions, from deputy chief of the presidential staff, to head of the FSB, to prime minister, then to acting president. How could this happen? Who facilitated Putin's rise? Putin does not have a story about that in his official biographical interviews. He leaves it to others to spin their versions. The fact that there are multiple competing answers to such a basic question as who chose Putin to be Boris Yeltsin's successor in 1999 is one of the reasons we decided to write this book and to adopt the specific approach we have. All the versions of who made this important decision are based on retrospective accounts, including from Boris Yeltsin himself in his memoir Midnight Diaries. Almost nothing comes from real-time statements or reliable accounts of actions taken. Even then -- if this kind of information were available -- we would not know what really happened behind the scenes. It is clear that many of the after-the-fact statements are self-serving. None of them seem completely credible. They are from people trying to claim credit, or avoid blame, for a set of decisions that proved monumental for Russia.

Rather than spending time parsing the course of events in this period and analyzing the various people who may or may not have influenced the decision to install Vladimir Putin as Boris Yeltsin's successor, we parse and analyze Putin himself. We focus on a series of vignettes from his basic biography that form part of a more coherent, larger story. We also emphasize Putin's own role in getting where he did. We stress the one thing we are certain about: Putin shaped his own fate. We do not deny there was an element of accident or chance in his ultimate rise to power. Nor do we deny there were real people who acted on his behalf -- people who thought at a particular time that he was "their man" who would promote their interests. But, for us, it was what Mr. Putin did that is the most critical element in his biography.

As a good KGB operative, Vladimir Putin kept his own ambitions tightly under wraps. Like most ambitious people, he took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves. Mr. Putin paid close attention to individuals who might further his career. He studied them, strengthened his personal and professional ties to them, did favors for them, and manipulated them. He allowed -- even actively encouraged -- people to underestimate him even as he maneuvered himself into influential positions and quietly accumulated real power. Instead of providing a "Who's Who" of Vladimir Putin's political circle, we highlight some of the people who played important roles for Putin at different junctures. These include Russian historical figures whose biographies and ideas Putin appropriated and tailored to suit his own personal narrative. They also include a few people from his inner circle whose relationships and roles illuminate the connections Putin developed to put himself in a position to become Russian president and, more important, to become a president with the power to implement his goals. None of Vladimir Putin's personal ties, however, made his rise to power inevitable.

To understand our approach, it might be useful to present a couple of examples of the specious "stories" that have circulated about Putin and have been taken at face value by some authors. One is the story of Putin's alleged personal fortune. The other relates to an apparent KGB assessment of Putin as a dangerously risk-prone individual who likes to gamble.

PUTIN'S PERSONAL WEALTH

In the wake of Putin's actions in Ukraine in the spring of 2014 and the search by politicians in the West for effective levers to "punish Putin," one tempting option was to focus on the Russian president's personal wealth. Over the years, there have been repeated stories about how Mr. Putin had accumulated a vast fortune thanks to massive corruption within the inner circle of what we call Russia, Inc. 6 Early on, it was rumored that Putin's net worth was $20 billion. With each retelling, the number grew -- $30 billion, $40 billion, $70 billion, up (at last count) to $100 billion. These stories date back to Putin's time in the St. Petersburg mayor's office, they implicate his family and close associates, and they have been frequently featured in Russian as well as Western media. There is, however, little hard documentary evidence to back up even the most credible reporting. 7

Some of the world's top financial institutions have conducted serious research on how the corrupt hide their stolen assets. 8 We did not have the means to undertake the kind of detailed and laborious technical work necessary to pursue Mr. Putin's purported ill-gotten gains, nor did we want to engage in further conjecture on this subject. As we indicate in the book, there is notable circumstantial evidence -- including expensive watches and suits -- of Mr. Putin's supposedly luxurious lifestyle beyond the official trappings of the Russian presidency. These extravagances on their own do not make the case that he has amassed a fortune in the tens of billions of dollars. There are competing narratives that Putin's day-to-day lifestyle is ascetic rather than luxurious. It is certainly true that individuals with close and long-standing personal ties to Vladimir Putin now occupy positions of great responsibility within the Russian economy and are some of Russia's (and the world's) richest men. In interviews, they are remarkably frank in discussing the links between their political connections, their economic roles, and their money.

There might also be political reasons for Putin to accumulate and flaunt personal wealth. Indeed, some of the stories in the Russian press, and some related to us by Russian colleagues, suggest that Mr. Putin himself might even encourage rumors that he is the richest of the rich to curb political ambitions among Russia's billionaire businessmen, the so-called oligarchs. They cannot even compete in the realm of personal wealth with Vladimir Putin, and it is he who has supreme power in Russia. But this is all speculation about facts that remain, for now, unproven.

The problem arises when this so-called fact of huge personal wealth leads to the conclusion that greed must necessarily be Vladimir Putin's principal motivation, or that somehow the fear of losing his personal fortune, or his associates' fortunes, would restrain his actions in the international arena. Even if Vladimir Putin has enriched himself and those around him, we do not believe a quest for personal wealth is primarily what drives him. We need to understand what else motivates Putin's actions as head of the Russian state.

A "DIMINISHED SENSE OF DANGER"

One idea that gained currency during the crisis in Ukraine is that Putin is a reckless gambler who takes dangerous risks. 9 This argument is based on the alleged fact that Putin's KGB trainers deemed that he suffered from a "diminished sense of danger" ( ponizhennoye chuvstvo opasnosti ). Although presented in a couple of recent books about Putin as if it were a new revelation, this is a story familiar to anyone who has read Putin's 2000 book, Ot pervogo litsa. 10 There, Putin describes how, when he was studying at the KGB academy, one characteristic ascribed to him as a "negative trait" was a "diminished" or "lowered sense of danger" -- a deficiency that was considered very serious, he noted. 11

In fact, the Putin book turns out to be the only source for this story, something that ought to have set off alarm bells. Ot pervogo litsa was intended to be a campaign biography, or "semi-autobiography." The publication of the book was orchestrated by Putin's staff in the spring of 2000 based on a series of one-on-one interviews with a carefully selected troika of Russian journalists. Putin's team's task was to stage-manage the initial presentation, to all of Russia, of this relatively unknown person who was now standing for election as president of the country. It was crafted as a set of conversations with Putin himself, his wife, and other people close to him in his childhood and early life. Every vignette, every new fact presented in the book was chosen for a specific political purpose. The journalists who interviewed Putin also used some of the material for articles in their own newspapers and other publications.

What, then, could Putin's purpose have been in revealing such a character flaw? The answer becomes evident when one reflects on the curious ending of the book. Ot pervogo litsa ends with the interviewers noting that Putin seems, after all the episodes in his life that they have gone through, to be a predictable and rather boring person. Had he never done anything on a whim perhaps? Putin responded by recounting an incident when he risked his own life and that of his passenger, his martial arts coach, while driving on a road outside Leningrad (in fact when he was at university). He tried to grab a piece of hay through his open car window from a passing farm truck and very nearly lost control of the car. At the end of the harrowing ride, his white-faced (and presumably furious) coach turned to Putin and said, "You take risks." Why did Putin do that? "I guess I thought the hay smelled good" ( Navernoye, seno vkusno pakhlo ), said Putin. 12 This is the last line in the book. The reader clearly is meant to identify with Putin's coach and ask: "Wait! What was that all about? Just who is this guy?"

This story offers a classic case of Putin and his team imparting and spinning information in a confusing manner so that it can be interpreted in multiple ways. Putin tells contradictory versions of the story in the same passages of his book. Immediately after stating that the characteristic was ascribed to him during his KGB studies, Putin then suggests that his "lowered sense of danger" was well-known to him and all his friends already in his university days (that is, before he was ever in the KGB). 13 Putin wants people to see him in certain ways, and yet be confused. He promotes the idea of himself both as a risk-taker and as someone who takes calculated risks and always has a fallback option. Which version is the real one? Both have a certain power and useful effect. The end result of Putin's misinformation and contradictory information is to create the image that he is unknowable and unpredictable and therefore even dangerous. It is part of his play in the domestic and international political game -- to keep everyone guessing about, and in some cases fearing, how he might react.

Putin is hardly the first world leader to engage in this sort of conscious image manipulation to create doubts about their rationality or even sanity. Richard Nixon's notorious "Madman Theory" during the Vietnam War is a case in point. In 1972, believing he had a chance to bluff the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table to end the war, Nixon instructed his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, to convey the message to the North Vietnamese, via their Soviet backers, that Nixon was prepared to use a nuclear weapon. As James Rosen and Luke Nichter write in a recent article, "Nixon wanted to impress upon the Soviets that the president of the United States was, in a word, mad: unstable, erratic in his decision-making, and capable of anything." 14 In a memoir, former White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman wrote that Nixon had carefully scripted it all. According to Haldeman, Nixon told him, "I call it the Madman Theory . I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, 'for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry -- and he has his hand on the nuclear button,' and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace." 15

In reality, Putin's goal in planting stories about himself is more complicated than Nixon's. He is not simply trying to project a specific image of himself or even to sow confusion about the "real" Putin. He also wants to track how the initial seeding of an idea is carried forward, and by whom. Putin wants to see how the original version is embellished and then how it ultimately is played back to him again. This is an exercise. It is Putin's own version of an American children's game, "telephone" (known in the United Kingdom as "Chinese whispers," where it was also called, in earlier versions, "Russian scandal"). In seeding intrigue, Putin wants to see how others interpret what he says and then how they react. The focus is on people's perceptions rather than reality. Figuring out how others think and act, when they know nothing about him or how he operates, gives Mr. Putin a tactical political advantage.

As we have concluded over the course of writing this book, for Vladimir Putin the main thing about information is not whether it is true or not. It is how words and deeds are perceived by others. Putin is less interested in presenting a particular version of reality than in seeing how others react to the information. For him, others are participants in a game he directs. He chooses inputs, they react. He judges. Their responses to his input tell him who they think he is -- but by responding they also tell him who they are, what they want, what they care about. For his part, Vladimir Putin reveals very little in return. Indeed, he goes to great, often elaborate, lengths to throw other participants off track. As president and prime minister, he has presented himself as a myriad of different personas. Since 2000, Mr. Putin has been the ultimate international political performance artist.

THE KREMLIN SPECIAL PROPS DEPARTMENT: STAGING THE PRESIDENT

Over the last several years, Vladimir Putin's public relations team has pushed his image in a multiplicity of directions, pitching him as everything from big game hunter and conservationist to scuba diver to biker -- even nightclub crooner. Leaders of other countries have gained notoriety for their flamboyant or patriotic style of dressing to appeal to and rally the masses -- like Fidel Castro's and Hugo Chávez's military fatigues, Yasser Arafat's ubiquitous keffiyeh scarf, Muammar Qaddafi's robes (and tent), Hamid Karzai's carefully calculated blend of traditional Afghan tribal dress, and Yulia Tymoshenko's ultra-chic Ukrainian-peasant blonde braids -- but Vladimir Putin has out-dressed them all. He has appeared in an endless number of guises for encounters with the press or Russian special interest groups, or at times of crisis, as during raging peat bog fires around Moscow in 2010, when he was transformed into a fire-fighting airplane pilot. All this theatricality is done with the assistance, it would seem, of the Kremlin's inexhaustible wardrobe and special props department.

On the surface, Mr. Putin's antics are reminiscent of a much-beloved children's book and animated cartoon series in the United Kingdom, "Mr. Benn." Each morning, Mr. Benn, a nondescript British man in a standard issue bowler hat and business suit, strolls down his street and is beckoned into a mysterious costume shop by a mustachioed, fez-wearing shopkeeper. The shopkeeper whisks Mr. Benn into a changing room. Mr. Benn puts on a costume that has already been laid out by the shopkeeper, walks out a secret door, and assumes a new costume-appropriate identity, as if by magic. In every episode, Mr. Benn solves a problem for the people he encounters during his adventure, until summoned back to reality by the shopkeeper. 16 Like his cartoon analogue, Mr. Putin, with the assistance of his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov (mustachioed but without the fez), and a coterie of press people, as if by magic embarks on a series of adventures (some of which oddly enough overlap with Mr. Benn's). In the course of his adventures, Mr. Putin pulls off every costume and performance with aplomb, a straight face, and a demonstration of skill.

Vladimir Putin and his PR team -- which closely monitors the public reactions to the Mr. Putin episodes -- are aware that these performances lack universal appeal and have sparked amusement at home and abroad because of their elaborate and very obvious staging. This has led people to depict him as a shallow, cartoonish figure, or a man with no face, no substance, no soul. Putin is often seen as a "man from nowhere," who can appear to be anybody to anyone. 17

But Russian intellectual elites, the Russian political opposition to Mr. Putin, and overseas commentators are not his target audiences. Each episode of Mr. Putin has a specific purpose. They are all based on feedback from opinion polls suggesting the Kremlin needs to reach out and create a direct personal connection to a particular group among the Russian population. Press Secretary Peskov admitted this directly in a meeting with the press in August 2011 after Mr. Putin dove to the bottom of the Black Sea to retrieve some suspiciously immaculate amphorae. 18 Putin himself has asserted in biographical interviews that one of his main skills is to get people -- in this case the Russian people, his audience(s) -- to see him as what they want him to be, not what he really is. These performances portray Putin as the ultimate Russian action man, capable of dealing with every eventuality.

THE SERIOUS SIDE: SHOWING RESPECT

It is important to realize that there is something deeper, more complicated, at work beneath the façade of the "Mr. Putin" performances, something that an outside observer will always find hard to grasp. Each of the guises that Putin adopts, and the actions he undertakes, pays a degree of respect to a certain group and validates that group's place in Russian society. If the Russian president pulls on a leather jacket and rides off on a motorcycle with Russia's equivalent of the "Hell's Angels" or dresses up in a white suit to fly a microlight aircraft directing the migration of endangered birds, Russian bikers and Russian conservationists both get their time in the spotlight. Bikers and conservationists can believe they are equally worthy of presidential attention. They have inspired presidential action. They have their role to play in Russian society, just like everyone else. The performances create a sense of commonality and unity.

Western politicians routinely set out to convince voters that they are one of them, downing beers and snacks they would never normally eat in bars and restaurants they would not otherwise frequent. But Putin is not out to win votes. He is running a country. His actions have more in common with the leaders of traditional societies than Western leaders. Hamid Karzai, when leader of Afghanistan from 2004 to 2014, for example, frequently told his Western interlocutors that contrary to their interpretations of democracy, he understood democracy to be rule by consensus, not by majority. Without consensus, Afghan society would quickly descend into fragmentation, conflict, and violent strife. To bring reform to Afghanistan there had to be a broad consensus. Consensus created unity. Traditional Afghan methods of forging consensus, like the shura, a formalized consultation with societal leaders and elders, were more effective in reaching consensus, Karzai argued, than Western parliamentary innovations. The most important element of a shura, a consultation, Karzai emphasized, was not reaching some kind of decision, but showing respect in a credible way and validating the views of others. Karzai's adoption of traditional dress was one way of establishing credibility. Showing up in person and sitting for hours at a shura, or inviting Afghan tribal leaders to meetings in his own home, and simply listening to the discussions were important ways of showing respect. In Afghanistan, societal leaders wanted to feel they had been listened to by the Afghan president, not just informed of executive decisions after the fact. 19

Similarly, Putin has stressed on several occasions that he considers listening to the Russian people and hearing what they have to say in person as part of his duty as head of the Russian state. 20 He has traveled extensively to Russia's far-flung regions over the course of his presidencies and during his time as prime minister and devised an array of forums for meeting with and hearing from the public. In an impromptu 2012 meeting with Russian-American journalist and author Masha Gessen, Putin also claimed that most of the costumed stunts were his own idea and not his staff's. He wanted personally to draw attention to certain people and places and issues that he thought were being neglected or, in other words, not given sufficient respect by the rest of society. 21 Collectively, these small but elaborately staged and highly publicized acts of respect have been one of the reasons why Vladimir Putin has consistently polled as Russia's most popular politician for a decade and a half.

Putin's stage performances have the double advantage not only of ensuring his domestic popularity but also of keeping outside analysts confused about his true identity. He benefits from leaving people guessing about how accurately his various PR versions reflect his real persona. But if we do not accept these stage performances as even partly reflecting his identity, then the question remains: Who is Mr. Putin? In fact, Putin hints that he is like Russia itself in the famous poem of Fyodor Tyutchev:

With the mind alone Russia cannot be understood,

No ordinary yardstick spans her greatness:

She stands alone, unique –

In Russia one can only believe. 22

THE REAL MR. PUTINS

In this book, we pick up the idea of a multiplicity of Mr. Putins from his PR stunts in creating a portrait that attempts to provide some answers to the question "Who is Mr. Putin?" We argue that uncovering the multiple "real Putins" requires looking beyond the staged performances and the deliberately assumed guises that constitute the Putin political brand. For most of the first decade of the 2000s, Putin displayed remarkable strength as a political actor in the Russian context. This strength was derived from the combination of six individual identities we discuss and highlight in this book, not from his staged performances. We term these identities the Statist, the History Man, the Survivalist, the Outsider, the Free Marketeer, and the Case Officer. In Part I of this book, which focuses on the period up until 2012, we discuss each of the identities in detail, looking at their central elements and evolution, and their roots in Russian history, culture, and politics. We then explain how Russia's current political system can be seen as a logical result of the combination of Putin's six identities, along with the set of personal and professional relationships he formed over several decades in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

We begin Part I with an initial set of three identities: the Statist, the History Man, and the Survivalist. These are the most generic, in the sense that they characterize a larger group of Russians than just Mr. Putin, especially Russian politicians in Putin's general age cohort who began their careers during the Soviet period and launched themselves onto the national political stage in the 1990s. These first three identities provide the foundation for Mr. Putin's views about the Russian state, his political philosophy, and his conception of his first presidential terms in the 2000s. The decade of the 1990s -- the Russian Federation's first decade as a stand-alone, independent country after the dissolution of the USSR -- is a central element in the Statist, History Man, and Survivalist identities. This was the decade when Russia fell into economic and political crisis, and Moscow lost its direct authority over the rest of the former Soviet republics, including lands that had previously been part of the Russian Empire. This period also provides the overarching context for the identities as well as for Vladimir Putin's personal political narrative. Putin began his tenure as acting Russian president by publishing a December 1999 treatise, which we refer to as his "Millennium Message," on the lessons from Russia's experience in the 1990s and how he would address them. During his 2012 presidential election campaign, Putin returned to the themes of this earlier treatise. He made frequent explicit reference to what he described as the chaos of Russia in the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin. He sharply contrasted this to the decade of political and economic stability he believes that he, personally, brought to the country after taking office in 1999. Putin essentially ran his 2012 campaign against the past, specifically the 1990s, rather than against another candidate. Mr. Putin clearly sees his presidency as the product of, as well as the answer to, the Russia of the 1990s.

The first three identities help explain Mr. Putin's goals, while the next three -- the Outsider, the Free Marketeer, and the Case Officer -- are more personal. They are primarily about the means he has been able to employ to achieve his ends. Putin's childhood experiences in a working class neighborhood of Leningrad, his years in the KGB at home and abroad, and his activities in the local government of post-Soviet St. Petersburg and then in a series of below-the-radar positions in the Kremlin in the late 1990s, all left him with a unique combination of skills and experience that helped propel him into the presidency in 1999–2000. They allowed him to build up and maintain the political and economic system that has been in place in Russia ever since.

That system, and Mr. Putin personally, has faced major challenges, both at home and abroad, in recent years. Part II of the book attempts to explain Putin's responses to those challenges in terms of the framework developed in Part I . At home, beginning with a political crisis in 2011–12, it seemed that some of Mr. Putin's core identities had ceased being strengths and had become sources of weakness for him, as well as a fundamental vulnerability for the personalized system of governance he had created within the Kremlin. As we will show, key elements of his identities prevented Mr. Putin from relating and connecting to thousands of Russian citizens who took to the streets in protest after Russia's 2011 parliamentary and 2012 presidential elections. In the end, however, Putin prevailed over the protesters. We will argue that he did so by going back to his core identities.

Our final chapters in Part II examine Mr. Putin in the context of his views of and interactions with the outside world, culminating with the crisis in Ukraine in 2013–14. Our objective is to understand Putin's motivations and his behavior by again drawing upon the insights of Part I . We first trace the evolution of his thinking about Russia's relations with the outside world and then show how Mr. Putin, the Operative in the Kremlin, translated that thinking into action as the Operative Abroad.

A CONTEXTUAL PORTRAIT

The ultimate purpose of our analysis is to provide a portrait of Mr. Putin's mental outlook, his worldview, and the individual aspects, or identities, that comprise this worldview. Like everyone else, Putin is an amalgam, a composite, of his life experiences. Putin's identities are parallel, not sequential. They blend into each other and are not mutually exclusive. In many respects they could be packaged differently from the way we present them. The most generic identities -- the Statist, the History Man, and the Survivalist -- could be merged together. They overlap in some obvious ways and have some themes in common. Nonetheless, there are key distinctions in each of them that we seek to tease out. Putin's outlook has been shaped by many influences: a combination of the Soviet and Russian contexts in which he grew up, lived and worked; a personal interest in Russian history and literature; his legal studies at Leningrad State University (LGU); his KGB training; his KGB service in Dresden in East Germany; his experiences in 1990s St. Petersburg; his early days in Moscow in 1996–99; and his time at the helm of the Russian state since 2000. Instead of trying to track down all the Putin stories to fit with these experiences, we have built a contextual narrative based on the known parts of Putin's biography, a close examination of his public pronouncements over more than a decade, and, not least, our own personal encounters with Mr. Putin. 23

Just as we do not know who exactly selected Mr. Putin to be Boris Yeltsin's successor in 1999, we do not know specifically what Putin did during his 16 years in the KGB. We do, however, know the context of the KGB during the period when Vladimir Putin operated in it. So, for example, we have examined the careers, published writings, and memoirs of leading KGB officials such as Yury Andropov and Filipp Bobkov -- the people who shaped the institution and thus Putin's role in it. Similarly, Putin constantly refers to Russia's "time of troubles" in the 1990s as the negative reference point for his presidency and premiership. Although we do not know exactly what Putin was thinking about in the 1990s, we know a great deal about the events and debates of this decade in which people around him were closely involved. We also have ample evidence in Mr. Putin's own writings and speeches from 1999 to 2014, of his appropriation of the core concepts and language of an identifiable body of political and legal thought from the 1990s. In short, we know what others around Mr. Putin said or did in a certain timeframe, even if we cannot always prove what Putin himself was up to. We focus on what seems the most credible in a particular context to draw out information relevant to Putin's specific identities.

But before we turn to Mr. Putin's six identities, we begin with the context of his emergence onto the political scene -- Russia of the 1990s. Putin did not appear out of the blue or from "nowhere" when he arrived in Moscow in 1996 to take up a position in the Russian presidential administration. He most demonstrably came from St. Petersburg. He also came from a group around Mayor Anatoly Sobchak to whom he had first gravitated in the 1970s when he was a student in LGU's law faculty and Sobchak was a lecturer there. Vladimir Putin's KGB superiors later assigned him to work at LGU in 1990, bringing him back into Anatoly Sobchak's orbit. Features of Mr. Putin's personality then drew him into the center of Sobchak's team as the former law professor campaigned to become mayor of St. Petersburg. Because of his real identities -- and particular (often unsavory) skills associated with his role as a former KGB case officer -- Vladimir Putin was subsequently determined by the St. Petersburg mayor and his close circle of associates to be uniquely well-suited for the task of enforcing informal rules and making corrupt businesses deliver in the freewheeling days of the 1990s. Putin became widely known as "Sobchak's fixer," and some of the activities he engaged in while in St. Petersburg helped pave his way to power in Moscow.
CHAPTER TWO BORIS YELTSIN AND THE TIME OF TROUBLES

SOME COMMENTATORS HAVE DEPICTED THE story of how Mr. Putin came to be prime minster and then president of Russia as something akin to a tragedy that ruptured what appeared to be a generally positive trajectory of post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s toward the development of a more pluralistic democratic state and market economy. Vladimir Putin views the trajectory of 1990s in a very different way. For him, the Russian state was in a downward spiral. His elevation to the presidency at the end of 1999 was the logical culmination of, as well as the response to, a series of sometimes fatal (not just fateful) mistakes made by Russian political figures over the course of this tumultuous decade. The agenda of his presidency was an explicit response to the 1990s. His goal, as he himself often states, was to address the mistakes that were made and put Russia back on track.

The early part of the 1990s was framed by the great upheaval of the Soviet collapse, attempts at radical economic reform, and a declaration of hostilities between an ambitious Russian parliament and a weak presidency. In the years before Mr. Putin came to Moscow, factional squabbling within the Russian leadership, and endless changes in top personnel and the composition of the Russian government, created a strong sense that President Boris Yeltsin had allowed events to spin out of control. In 1993, President Yeltsin laid siege to the Russian parliamentary building to force a recalcitrant legislature to its knees and back into line with the executive branch, thus inaugurating a period of rule by presidential decree that would last for several years. In 1994, Yeltsin launched a brutal and unsuccessful domestic war to suppress an independence drive in the republic of Chechnya, sparking two decades of brutal conflict and ongoing insurgency in Russia's North Caucasus region. In 1996, Yeltsin's team ran a dirty election campaign to keep their, by now, ailing and unpopular leader in the Kremlin. They made a deal for political support with the oligarchs -- the leading figures in Russia's new private business sectors -- that resulted in the supposed pioneers of Russia's market economy manipulating politics and fighting among themselves over the purchase of former state assets. In the same timeframe, repeated setbacks to Russia's foreign policy goals in the Balkans and elsewhere in the former Soviet space compounded a public perception of disorder verging on chaos.

One narrative among the Russian political and intellectual elite in this period -- both inside and outside government -- was that the Russian state had fallen into another time of troubles ( smutnoye vremya ). This is the narrative that Putin adopted when he embarked on his presidency in 1999–2000. Russia's infamous smutnoye vremya was the historical period that marked the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century. The death of the last tsar of the Rurikid dynasty was followed by uprisings, invasions, and widespread famine before the establishment and consolidation of the new Romanov dynasty. Boris Yeltsin's critics compared him unfavorably with Boris Godunov, the notorious de facto Russian regent during the time of troubles. Similar evocations were made to other historical periods of insurgency and uncertainty in the eighteenth century under Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, to the aftermath of the Decembrist revolt in the 1820s–30s, and to the long span of episodic revolutionary turmoil from the 1860s up to World War I that culminated in the Revolution of 1917. 1

On January 1, 1992, President Yeltsin launched an ambitious economic reform program intended to transform Russia's inherited Soviet economy into a modern market economy. The approach, labeled "shock therapy," was modeled on the recent experience of transition in Poland and other former communist countries. The key steps included the abolition of central planning for manufacturing and other production, the privatization of government enterprises, rapid liberalization of prices, and stark budget cuts aimed at restoring fiscal balance. For a Russian population that for decades had known only fixed prices, lifetime employment guarantees, and a cradle-to-grave welfare system, there was no doubt about the shock. Since virtually all prices were deregulated at the same time, they predictably jumped to unprecedented levels in one single leap. Accumulated household savings were rendered worthless. There were no provisions for compensation by the government. Enterprises were left without government orders. Their directors had neither the time nor the skills to find alternative customers before they had to simply shut down production. 2 Unemployment soared.

The austerity measures did not lead to any immediate improvement in government finances. Deficits ballooned while government services collapsed. Yeltsin's team of academic policymakers, headed by Yegor Gaidar, reassured the president and the public that all this had been expected but that the painful period would be brief. Recovery was around the corner. The result would be much greater prosperity than ever before under the Soviet system. The recovery -- the therapy part of shock therapy -- did not come. Inflation raged: prices rose on average by 20 percent a month throughout 1993. 3 Unemployment continued to grow. The economy as a whole shifted from a growth and development orientation to pure survival. On a private level, Russian households did the same. But publicly there was outrage.

From the outset, Gaidar and his group of young economists bore the brunt of the criticism for the economic and political consequences of the program. They became the target of conservative factions in the Russian parliament and industrial circles who had vested interests in Soviet-style business as usual. By the end of 1992, they were out of the cabinet and Boris Yeltsin had appointed Viktor Chernomyrdin, former head of the Russian gas industry and a member of the industrial lobby, as prime minister. Although parliament viewed Chernomyrdin as a proponent of a slower pace of reform, the conservative factions maintained their pressure on President Yeltsin. With Gaidar no longer overseeing economic policy, the Russian parliament moved to challenge Yeltsin on other political issues, including the process for passing a new Russian constitution. Both the parliament and the presidential administration set about creating their own competing drafts to replace the defunct Soviet-era constitution.

PRESIDENT VERSUS PARLIAMENT

The political standoff between the Russian legislative and executive branches degenerated to the point where effective governance was virtually impossible. In September 1993, Yeltsin abolished the existing parliament and announced that there would be elections for a new lower house in December 1993. He declared that the new lower house would now be called the State Duma, the name of the late imperial Russian legislature. The Russian parliament countered by naming its own acting president -- Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, who had moved into open political opposition to Yeltsin. Rutskoi set up an alternative cabinet in the "White House," the Russian parliamentary building. The confrontation came to a bloody end on October 3–4, 1993. Supporters of the parliament marched on Ostankino, the Moscow television tower, and a number of protesters were killed in a skirmish with interior ministry forces. On the morning of October 4, Yeltsin ordered Russian military tanks to fire on the White House to force his erstwhile vice president and the deputies to surrender. One hundred forty-five people were killed and 800 wounded in the assault and associated street fighting, according to official statements.

The events of October 1993 were (at that point) the most violent political confrontation in the Russian capital since the Revolution of 1917. 4 They left their mark on many Russian political figures of the period, including Mr. Putin. After the fighting was over and new elections were held, President Yeltsin stripped the new State Duma of many legislative oversight functions. He relocated parliament from the charred remnants of the White House to an old Soviet building symbolically in the shadow of the Kremlin walls. The scorch marks on the White House were washed off, the building was cleaned up and renovated, and it was handed off to become the seat of the Russian government. In a January 2012 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Gleb Pavlovsky -- a former Kremlin adviser and political strategist who worked closely with Putin during his tenure as president and prime minister before being fired in 2011 -- observed that the 1993 standoff between Yeltsin and the parliament had a profound effect on Vladimir Putin. The assault on the White House shaped Putin's views about what tended to happen when the balance of power shifted in Russia. The losers in a political confrontation would be put against the wall and shot. "Putin always said, we know ourselves we know that as soon as we move aside, you will destroy us. He said that directly, you'll put us to the wall and execute us. And we don't want to go to the wall that was a very deep belief and was based on [the] very tough confrontations of 1993 when Yeltsin fired on the Supreme Soviet [parliament] and killed a lot more people -- Putin knows -- than was officially announced ." 5

A NEW PRESIDENTIAL CONSTITUTION

Fortunately for Putin, he was nowhere near either the Kremlin or the White House walls in 1993. He was a bystander to Yeltsin's showdown with the parliament, sitting on the sidelines in the mayor's office in St. Petersburg. Putin's then boss, Anatoly Sobchak, however, was one of the key drafters of the new Russian constitution. 6 This would prove to be one of the most consequential documents for defining Putin's future presidency. Having shelled the parliament into submission, Yeltsin pushed through a draft of the constitution that granted the Russian president and the executive branch extensive powers over domestic and foreign policy. In effect, Yeltsin's new constitution retroactively legitimized many of the steps he had taken (excluding the military action) to curb the powers of parliament. It was a potentially powerful tool for any president, like Mr. Putin, trying to secure the preeminent position in Russian political life.

The 1993 Russian constitutional process was deeply rooted in earlier historical attempts to create a constitution. Although there was a good deal of discussion of other international conceptual sources and constitutional models, the document that emerged drew heavily from ideas put forward in Russia's late tsarist era. One of the creators of the 1993 Russian constitution, Sergei Shakhrai, would later claim that it was a "myth" that the Russian constitution had drawn any inspiration whatsoever from any Western constitutional models -- except, perhaps, for the fact that the Russian president was conceived as the "Russian equivalent of the British Queen." 7 (Great Britain, of course, does not have a constitution in the modern sense of a single written document, nor does the British monarch have real political power.) The Russian presidency enshrined in the constitution far exceeded even the U.S. and French equivalents in its sweep of authority.

DEBACLE IN THE DUMA

In spite of the bloodletting and his new quasi-monarchical powers, President Yeltsin found the Russian State Duma no easier to work with than the old parliament. The 1993 December elections produced a parliament split between generally anti-reform parties, including the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), and pro-reform parties such as Russia's Choice and the Russian United Democratic Party, Yabloko ("apple"). Among the parties, the nationalist LDPR secured almost a quarter (22.9 percent) of the popular vote, outstripping the second-place Russia's Choice with 15 percent. 8 The Duma subsequently fell upon itself in a series of factional and personal squabbles. Parties and blocs formed and reformed with dizzying frequency, and some parliamentary sessions were disrupted by fistfights. 9 Similar scenes played out in regional legislatures, including in St. Petersburg. A decade later, Putin would refer to the legislative rough and tumble with considerable distaste, noting that the repeated brawls had given him a very low opinion of politics. 10

In spring 1995, after much debate, a new election law was passed setting parliamentary elections for December 1995 and presidential elections for June 1996. As would happen again in 2011, the Kremlin had an unpleasant "December surprise" in the 1995 parliamentary election. The opposition Communist Party trounced the ruling party of the period, Nash dom Rossiya (NDR), or Our Home Is Russia, which had been formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to try to unify the range of pro-reform or "democratic" parties. 11 As we will discuss later, Putin had his own role to play in this debacle, leading NDR's local campaign in St. Petersburg, an experience that put him off electoral politics even further.

YELTSIN, THE OLIGARCHS, AND THE JUNE 1996 ELECTION

The subsequent 1996 presidential election -- which like other Russian presidential elections consisted of two rounds to reduce the pool of candidates to two if no one got a clear majority of the vote -- was transformed into an apparent head-to-head contest between Yeltsin and Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader. Zyuganov made it clear that he would end Yeltsin's economic reforms and return to a modified Soviet-style system if he won the presidency. At this fateful juncture, Yeltsin was undergoing his own personal time of troubles. The Russian president was in poor health. He would in fact have a serious heart attack between the electoral rounds and disappear from public view for a substantial period of time. These troubles compounded his government's political difficulties. They also set the scene for Putin's subsequent move to Moscow. Just before the presidential election, Yeltsin's approval ratings fell to an all-time low of 3 percent. Yeltsin risked forfeiting the election to Zyuganov unless the team around him could pull off a political miracle, but the team lacked the resources for a full-scale national electoral campaign. The Kremlin's coffers were empty, and new independent media outlets had eclipsed the stale programming and content of the old state television, newspapers, and radio. 12

Yeltsin's team reached out to a set of business people who had benefitted directly from the government's reform program. They had amassed fortunes in new financial institutions and acquired stakes in the new media. Among them were Boris Berezovsky, head of Logovaz, one of Russia's largest holding companies, which had controlling shares or interests in media outlets, including the Russian television station ORT, the newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta, and the weekly magazine Ogonyok ; Vladimir Potanin, the president of Uneximbank, Russia's third-largest bank in terms of assets; Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of the Menatep-Rosprom financial industrial group; Vladimir Gusinsky, the founder of the Most Bank and media group; Pyotr Aven, a former Russian minister turned banker; Mikhail Fridman, the president of Alfa Bank; and Alexander Smolensky, the head of Stolichny Savings Bank. 13 In return for campaign contributions on a massive scale and preferential media access, Yeltsin promised this group of seven oligarchs privileged bidding positions for controlling shares in some of Russia's most important state companies in the oil and gas, metallurgy, and other industrial sectors when they were privatized. This notorious "loans-for-shares" agreement has been thoroughly parsed and widely documented. 14 It brought the titans of Russian business, the oligarchs, who bankrolled the campaign into the business of deciding who would run Russia. It also laid the ground for clashes between the Yeltsin "Family" (Boris Yeltsin's family members and his closest associates) and some of the businessmen -- with serious political consequences for Russia in the period leading up to 1999 -- as their respective sets of interests inevitably diverged. 15

The 1996 Russian presidential campaign prefigured the political tools, components, and principal actors of the Putin era in the 2000s. The heavy use of Western-style PR, the negative campaigning, discrediting of opponents, the rise of both independent reformed communist and Russian nationalist political movements, and massive infusions of campaign capital from vested private business interests paved the way for the politics of the subsequent decade. Gennady Zyuganov became the main political pretender to the Russian presidency. He was also Putin's primary putative opponent in the March 2012 presidential election, reprising his 1996 role. Russian general and Afghan war hero Alexander Lebed, a strong nationalist candidate who came in third place in the first round of the 1996 election, died in a helicopter crash in April 2002. He was succeeded on the national stage at various points by his colleague and co-founder of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) nationalist movement, Dmitry Rogozin. 16 Other political figures -- like nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the LDPR, which Yeltsin's team in 1996 portrayed in the domestic and international media as the stalking horse for fascism -- also became permanent fixtures of the Russian political scene. After that election, some of the "magnificent seven" oligarchs were given positions in the Russian government, including Boris Berezovsky as deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council and Vladimir Potanin as first deputy prime minister. Berezovsky, along with Vladimir Gusinsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, would later become the dramatis personae of Putin's clashes with the oligarchs in the early 2000s. Berezovsky and Gusinsky ended up in exile and Khodorkovsky was dispatched to a Siberian jail. 17

WAR IN CHECHNYA: DOUBLE-DEALING WITH RUSSIA'S REGIONS

In the midst of the political machinations around the parliament and the presidency, Yeltsin was embroiled in another struggle to forge a new political relationship between Moscow and the individual regions of the Russian Federation. This struggle unleashed a war in the Russian North Caucasus that would also prove instrumental in Putin's rise to the presidency in 1999. Like its dealings with parliament, the Yeltsin government's engagement with the regions was ad hoc and contradictory. It vacillated among legislative measures, police action, military intervention, repression, and conciliatory bilateral treaties that granted different regions varying concessions. The policies Yeltsin initiated provided the frame for contentious center-periphery relations that have dogged Vladimir Putin's time in office.

Protests against central government policies -- including changes in internal administrative borders and Moscow's high-level political appointments at the regional and local level -- had been an enduring feature of politics in the Soviet periphery since the late 1950s. 18 After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Russian Federation, Russia's own regions continued to demand territorial and political changes. The Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya declared its independence and seceded, even before the end of the USSR, in November 1991. In February 1992, Yeltsin tried to push through a new Federal Treaty to resolve all the contested issues. Chechnya and the republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Volga region rejected it -- raising fears that Russia would unravel like the USSR. Tatarstan and a number of other Russian regions then rejected the provisions in the new 1993 Russian constitution that delineated regional powers. As a stop-gap effort, the Yeltsin government concluded a bilateral treaty with Tatarstan in February 1994. As far as Chechnya was concerned, Yeltsin made a half-hearted effort to negotiate the republic's return to the Federation. He then threw Moscow's support behind forces opposed to the independent Chechen government. A botched effort in summer 1994 to overthrow the Chechen government ended with Chechen government forces capturing Russian operatives, who were paraded in front of the media to humiliate Moscow and Yeltsin.

In December 1994, the Russian government launched a full-scale military assault on Chechnya. The assault became the largest military campaign on Russian soil since World War II, with mass civilian and military casualties and the almost complete destruction of Chechnya's principal city, Grozny. In August 1996, just after the presidential election and simultaneous with Putin's arrival in Moscow, the over-extended Russian military essentially collapsed as an effective fighting force. The military's morale was sapped by high casualties, as well as by shortages of critical armaments that forced commanders to dip into stocks of vintage World War II ordnance. Even some of the most basic supplies for the predominantly conscript soldiers ran out -- with appeals sent out during one part of the winter campaign for the Russian population to knit thick socks for Russian forces fighting in the cold and unforgiving mountainous regions of Chechnya. The war in Chechnya resulted in Russia's most significant military defeat since Afghanistan the previous decade, but this time on its own territory. 19 Partly at the instigation of General Lebed -- who was now a power to be reckoned with in Russian politics after his strong showing in the June presidential election -- the Yeltsin government was forced to conclude a truce with the Chechen government. In a subsequent peace agreement, Moscow agreed to end the military intervention and then conclude a bilateral treaty on future relations with Chechnya. Many prominent figures in the Russian political and military elite bristled at this humiliation and stressed that the arrangements hammered out with Chechnya in 1996–97 would be temporary. 20

The war between Moscow and Chechnya emboldened other regions to demand bilateral treaties. Instead of a stopgap measure, the treaties became the primary mechanism for regulating Moscow's relations with its entire periphery. 21 Over a two-year period, the Yeltsin government was forced to negotiate agreements with Bashkortorstan, a major oil-producing region next to Tatarstan; republics neighboring Chechnya in the North Caucasus; Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Perm, and Irkutsk, all predominantly ethnic Russian regions stretching from Russia's heartland into the Urals and the Lake Baikal region of Siberia; the Siberian republic of Sakha-Yakutiya, which is the heart of Russia's diamond industry; the exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea; and even St. Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad oblast. 22 The treaties proved a useful tool for avoiding further ruinous conflict. They also resulted in the piecemeal, asymmetric decentralization of the Russian state and a confounding set of overlapping responsibilities.

The bilateral treaties were extremely unpopular in central government and parliamentary circles. By the end of the 1990s, as Putin rose to the top of the Russian government, they had become one of the most enduring symbols of the administrative chaos and weakness of the Russian state. Politicians in Moscow demanded they be overturned. With the treaties in place, leaders of republics vaulted from the status of regional functionaries to presidents and national-level political figures. Regional politicians reinterpreted Moscow's decrees to suit local concerns. They refused to implement Russian federal legislation. They created their own economic associations. They withheld tax revenues from the federal government. They openly criticized central government policy. 23 Beyond Chechnya, this weakness found perhaps its best expression in the Russian far east, in Primorsky Krai. There, at the furthest edge of the Russian Federation, Moscow engaged in what seemed like a never-ending political battle with the region's obstinate governor, Yevgeny Nazdratenko. From his political perch in Vladivostok, the governor assailed the Yeltsin government's attempts to reach a border agreement with China. He accused Moscow of cutting off Primorsky Krai's access to the Pacific Ocean. He stationed his own paramilitary Cossack forces on the border, diverted federal funds for his personal pet projects, and generally harangued Yeltsin for creating the region's chronic economic problems. 24 Putin would later find a creative way of dealing with Governor Nazdratenko that would become a hallmark of his efforts to deal with other difficult personalities in the 2000s.

THWARTED ABROAD

In the meantime, as the Yeltsin government waged war with Chechnya and engaged in a tug-of-war with Primorsky Krai, Moscow's foreign policy faltered. Russia's internecine conflicts and economic weakness constrained its ability to exert influence on consequential developments abroad. In the late 1980s USSR, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze had drawn a direct link between domestic and foreign policy. To secure international financial support for restructuring and revitalizing the Soviet economy, they abandoned the USSR's traditional confrontational posture toward the West and focused instead on reducing international tensions. 25 Boris Yeltsin initially continued the same foreign policy line with Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. During the early stages of shock therapy, relations with international financial and political institutions and the United States were prioritized. On February 1, 1992, President Yeltsin and U.S. president George Herbert Walker Bush issued a joint declaration that Russia and the United States were no longer adversaries. They proclaimed a new era of strategic partnership.

Optimism for this partnership rapidly faded as Russia's relations with the West became mired in a series of international crises. After the break-up of Yugoslavia, full-scale fighting erupted in Sarajevo, the capital of the new state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. United Nations (UN) sanctions were slapped against Serbia -- Yugoslavia's primary successor state and one of imperial Russia's traditional regional allies -- which openly supported ethnic Serbian forces in what soon became a civil war. In July 1992, UN and other international peacekeeping forces intervened, provoking a backlash from Moscow. Conservative and nationalist factions in the Russian parliament protested that Russia had not been suitably consulted in spite of its historic interests in the Balkans. Russia's relations with its neighborhood immediately took on a harsher tone.

The term "near abroad" was introduced by Foreign Minister Kozyrev and other Russian officials to describe the former Soviet states on Russia's borders. Government reports were produced on ways of safeguarding Russian interests in these states. 26 At an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Stockholm in December 1992, Kozyrev offered a version of a speech to his counterparts that clearly captured a new mood in Moscow. He outlined an assertive Russian foreign policy, reaffirming Russia's traditional support for Serbia, laying claim to the entire former Soviet space, and reserving Russia's right to exert influence through military as well as economic means. 27 By this time, the Russian parliament's backlash to shock therapy was in full swing. There was a general perception, in both the Yeltsin government and parliament, that Russia was being treated as a developing or second-tier country by the West. Despite repeated promises of substantial financial aid, the United States and international financial institutions had been unable to provide sufficient assistance to alleviate the most severe effects of Russia's economic reforms. 28 The disillusioned Yeltsin government increasingly turned its foreign policy attention away from the West and toward the new states of the former Soviet Union -- trying to salvage what was left of Moscow's previous regional authority.

REBUFFED IN THE NEAR ABROAD

Yeltsin's overtures for closer relations were soon rebuffed in the near abroad. After the collapse of the USSR, the Yeltsin team thought it had created a mechanism for some form of post-Soviet regional reintegration under Russian leadership through the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Nothing went quite according to plan. Most CIS member states saw the organization either as a means for heading off nasty Yugoslav-style conflicts, or as the beginning of a mutual civilized divorce. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- which the USSR had annexed during World War II in an act that the UN declared illegal -- refused to join the CIS. They set their sights instead on membership in the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Georgia also initially refused. Moldova and Azerbaijan agreed only to associate membership. Ukraine, the most important of the other former Soviet republics, joined the CIS but clashed with Russia over dividing the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet -- based in Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula. 29

Then fighting broke out between several new states and various separatist territorial entities, pulling Moscow into the fray. Armed clashes flared between Azerbaijan and the ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. Across the border from Azerbaijan, Georgia fought with two of its autonomous regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In Moldova, violence erupted between forces loyal to the new government and the secessionist Transnistria region. Troops from the Soviet 14th Army stationed in Transnistria intervened. General Alexander Lebed, commander of the 14th Army, burst into the national spotlight with his efforts to separate the sides and secure Russian military installations and weapons stockpiles. Further afield, in Central Asia, Tajikistan fell into civil war. 30

The ethno-political violence in the Soviet successor states was exacerbated by Moscow's confrontation with Estonia and Latvia over the status of post-war Russian-speaking immigrants. Both states introduced legislation demanding that those immigrants fulfill residence and language requirements before they could apply for citizenship. In November 1992, the UN adopted a resolution calling for Moscow to withdraw all former Soviet troops from the Baltic states, given their illegal annexation. The Yeltsin government tried to link the troop withdrawal demanded by the UN to its dispute with the Baltic states. If the immigrants were given citizenship, the troops would be withdrawn; otherwise they would stay until the issue was resolved. In September 1993 at the United Nations General Assembly, Foreign Minister Kozyrev dug in Moscow's heels even further. He declared Russia's "special responsibility" for protecting Russian language speakers (including in Transnistria and the Baltic states) and demanded the UN grant Russia primacy in future peacekeeping missions sent into former Soviet republics. 31 These efforts were to no avail. Sustained Western pressure, including specific threats to withhold loans vital for Russia's economic reform program, ultimately forced Moscow's hand. The last former Soviet soldier was out of the Baltic states by August 31, 1994. 32

Elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, Moscow did its best to retain whatever leverage it could. In the Caucasus, Russian operatives and weaponry were used in conflicts and coups against perceived anti-Russian leaders. Economic pressure was deployed against Ukraine and the Central Asian states in a variety of disputes. A Moscow-encouraged Crimean independence movement impinged on Ukraine's claims to the Black Sea Fleet. By September 1995, the CIS and the near abroad had become the priority area for Russian foreign policy and the focal point of its principal vital interests. President Yeltsin signed a decree on the integration of the CIS, which set ambitious goals for enhancing economic, political, and military ties. 33 When he came into office in 1999–2000, Putin would continue to emphasize the importance of Russia's relations with the former Soviet republics and of maintaining Moscow's grip on the various levers of influence over them. He also took away some critical lessons from Russia's experience of being ousted (in his view) ignominiously from the Baltic states in August 1994.

VEERING FROM WEST TO EAST

At the time, none of the Yeltsin government's actions were seen by the political and military elite in Moscow to have appreciably improved Russia's international standing. The conflicts dominated Russia's domestic and foreign policy agenda. Relations with the United States and the West degenerated. In 1994, the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina escalated, culminating in punitive actions against Serbia by the EU and the United States, and then NATO air strikes. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and President Yeltsin were informed of the air attacks after the NATO allies had already made the decision. Although NATO later worked out an arrangement for Russian troops to serve in a NATO peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia under their own command, Russia's parliament was, once again, infuriated. Concurrent with the action in the Balkans, NATO's 1994 decision to expand the alliance to the new democracies of Eastern Europe, and by extension to former Soviet republics such as the Baltic states, was protested by all Russian political factions. Between 1994 and 1997, the expansion of NATO dominated Russia's interactions with the West.

In an interview in the Moscow News in September 1995, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev summed up the general elite consensus in Moscow. 34 The West had taken advantage of Russia's weakness. The West's policy in Europe, the Balkans, and within the former Soviet Union, he asserted, "is marked by a clear disrespect for Russia, as is shown by its failure to consult Russia on the issue of NATO bombings [in Yugoslavia] . All this proves that some Western politicians would have liked to see Russia play second fiddle in world politics . Whatever Russia's domestic problems, it will never reconcile itself to such a humiliating position." 35

Gorbachev insisted that Russia "badly need[ed] a meaningful policy on the international scene, a policy aimed at restoring the security system in Europe and Russia's role as a top player in world politics." He also urged a change in Western policies in Russia's former spheres of influence, warning that "an arrogant attitude towards Russia and her interests is deeply insulting to the Russian people, and that is fraught with grave consequences." 36

Not long after Gorbachev's interview, President Yeltsin replaced Foreign Minister Kozyrev in January 1996 with the former head of Russian foreign intelligence and Middle East specialist Yevgeny Primakov. Humiliated and insulted in the West, Moscow made foreign policy overtures toward former Soviet allies in Asia and the Middle East -- again with the urging of factions within the parliament and government. Primakov's appointment marked the beginning of initiatives aimed at rebuilding Russia's relations with China, India, Iraq, Iran, and other powers the USSR had previously courted. There was little further talk of partnership with the United States.

MOUNTING DEMANDS FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE STATE: PUTIN COMES TO MOSCOW

This is when Putin came to Moscow to join the Russian presidential administration. Between 1991 and 1996, Russian domestic and foreign policy had endured a long series of humiliating setbacks. Russian politicians were at each other's throats. Yeltsin had shelled the Russian parliament but had not forced it into complete submission. New political opposition forces and the oligarchs had been emboldened by their roles in the June 1996 presidential election campaign. The government's progressive economic reform program was in tatters, and its team of economic reformers was in disarray. The economy was in full-blown recession. Tens of thousands had taken to the streets to demand unpaid wages and pensions and to protest rising prices. War had ravaged Chechnya and pulled it even further away from Moscow's orbit. Regional leaders were picking apart the Russian Federation, treaty by treaty. NATO had denied Russia its traditional role in the Balkan conflicts. The West had pushed Russia out of the Baltic states. Ukraine and other putative allies in the near abroad were fighting over the Soviet spoils -- with Moscow and among themselves. Relations with the United States were on a downward trajectory.
CHAPTER THREE THE STATIST

WHEN PUTIN ARRIVED IN MOSCOW in August 1996, few in Russian elite circles had any illusions about the depth of the state's domestic crisis and the loss of its previous great-power status internationally. Many internal observers feared Russia was in danger of total collapse. They bristled at Western commentators constantly regurgitating a description of the country during the late Soviet period as "Upper Volta with missiles." 1 Russian politics was focused on preserving what was left and avoiding further humiliations. Practically every political group and party across the Russian political spectrum, from right to left, felt that the post-Soviet dismantling of the state had gone too far and advocated the restoration of Russian "state power." Even some of the liberal economists around Yegor Gaidar who were at the forefront of pulling apart the old Soviet economy in 1992–93 had moved in this direction. 2

Everything Putin has said on the subject of saving Russia from chaos since he came to power is consistent with the general elite consensus in the late 1990s on the importance of restoring order. Most of the Russian domestic and foreign policy priorities that Putin would adopt when he became president were already identified by the Russian political elite in the same period. All Vladimir Putin had to do in the 2000s was to channel and synthesize the various ideas percolating through newspaper columns and political manifestos about how to address Russia's crisis of statehood to produce what has loosely been referred to as "Putinism." This included the re-creation of a more authoritative centralized state apparatus -- the so-called vertikal vlasti or "vertical of power" -- and greater assertiveness in foreign policy, especially in the near abroad and other areas where Russia had experienced its greatest setbacks under Boris Yeltsin. 3 Although Putin was short on the specifics of what he would actually do at the outset of his presidency, he would ultimately derive most of his ideas for action from some of the more conservative factions in the 1990s political debates.

THE "MILLENNIUM MESSAGE"

The first key to Vladimir Putin's personality is his view of himself as a man of the state, his identity as a statist ( gosudarstvennik in Russian). Putin sees himself as someone who belongs to a large cohort of people demanding the restoration of the state. Vladimir Putin publicly presented himself as a statist and offered his vision for the restoration of the Russian state in one of his first major political statements and presentations just before he became acting Russian president. This statement sets the scene for Putin's time as both president and prime minister. As a result, we need to examine the specific connotations of being a statist in the Russian context of the 1990s.

On December 29, 1999, the website of the Russian government posted a 5,000-word treatise under the signature of then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Its title was "Russia on the Threshold of the New Millennium." Two days later, the president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, appeared on national television to declare that he was resigning and handing over power to Putin. The Internet treatise became known as the "Millennium Message." It was Vladimir Putin's political mission statement or manifesto for the beginning of his presidency, and it provides the overall framework for understanding the system of governance he has created around him.

One of Putin's main points in his manifesto was that throughout history, the Russian state lost its status when its people were divided, when Russians lost sight of the common values that united them and distinguished them from all others. Since the fall of communism, Putin asserted, Russians had embraced personal rights and freedoms, freedom of personal expression, freedom to travel abroad. These universal values were fine, but they were not "Russian." Nor would they be enough to ensure Russia's survival. There were other, distinctly Russian values that were at the core of what Putin called the "Russian Idea." Those values were patriotism, collectivism, solidarity, derzhavnost' -- the belief that Russia is destined always to be a great power ( derzhava ) exerting its influence abroad -- and the untranslatable gosudarstvennichestvo .

Russia is not America or Britain with their historical liberal traditions, Putin went on:

For us, the state and its institutions and structures have always played an exceptionally important role in the life of the country and the people. For Russians, a strong state is not an anomaly to fight against. Quite the contrary, it is the source and guarantor of order, the initiator and the main driving force of any change . Society desires the restoration of the guiding and regulating role of the state. 4

Putin promised to restore that role. He declared himself to be a gosudarstvennik , a builder of the state, a servant of the state. A gosudarstvennik , a person who believes that Russia must be and must have a strong state, has a particular resonance in Russia. It does not imply someone who engages in politics. A gosudarstvennik is not a politician driven by a set of distinct beliefs who represents a certain group or constituency and jumps into the fray to run for political office. Instead, the term refers to someone who is selected or self-selects to serve the country on a permanent basis and who believes only in the state itself.

*

[Dec 10, 2019] The revealed face of the the USA ruling class during Trump impeachment is Neo-Orwellian.

Dec 10, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

clarky90 , , December 9, 2019 at 7:06 pm

The MSM is reporting the "impeachment" as if it was a serious (approved by expert academics) endeavor. However, the veil is lifting. The revealed face of the ruling class is Neo-Orwellian.

"Nadler's committee will likely vote to impeach Trump. In a report defining what it considers impeachable offenses, the committee states that even if Trump did not actually break any laws in his supposed "quid pro quo" dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he can still be impeached for his unstated motives.

"The question is not whether the president's conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the president's real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate, " it stated."

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980918000328

Certainly they are working on mind wave tech, to scan us for "unstated motives" as we live our day to day lives?

[Dec 06, 2019] Mastering Blockchain Distributed ledger technology, decentralization, and smart contracts explained, 2nd Edition

Dec 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Copyright © 2018 Packt Publishing

About the author Imran Bashir has an M.Sc. in Information Security from Royal Holloway, University of London, and has a background in software development, solution architecture, infrastructure management, and IT service management. He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the British Computer Society (BCS). Imran has sixteen years' of experience in the public and financial sectors.

He worked on large scale IT projects in the public sector before moving to the financial services industry. Since then, he has worked in various technical roles for different financial companies in Europe's financial capital, London. He is currently working for an investment bank in London as Vice President in the Technology department.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright and Credits
    1. Mastering Blockchain Second Edition
  3. Packt Upsell
    1. Why subscribe?
    2. PacktPub.com
  4. Contributors
    1. About the author
    2. About the reviewer
    3. Packt is searching for authors like you
  5. Preface
    1. Who this book is for
    2. What this book covers
    3. To get the most out of this book
      1. Download the example code files
      2. Download the color images
      3. Conventions used
    4. Get in touch
      1. Reviews
  6. Blockchain 101
    1. The growth of blockchain technology
    2. Distributed systems
    3. The history of blockchain and Bitcoin
      1. Electronic cash
      2. Blockchain
        1. Blockchain defined
          1. Peer-to-peer
          2. Distributed ledger
          3. Cryptographically-secure
          4. Append-only
          5. Updateable via consensus
      3. Generic elements of a blockchain
        1. How blockchain works
        2. How blockchain accumulates blocks
      4. Benefits and limitations of blockchain
      5. Tiers of blockchain technology
      6. Features of a blockchain
    4. Types of blockchain
      1. Distributed ledgers
      2. Distributed Ledger Technology
      3. Public blockchains
      4. Private blockchains
        1. Semiprivate blockchains
        2. Sidechains
        3. Permissioned ledger
      5. Shared ledger
      6. Fully private and proprietary blockchains
      7. Tokenized blockchains
      8. Tokenless blockchains
    5. Consensus
      1. Consensus mechanism
      2. Types of consensus mechanisms
      3. Consensus in blockchain
    6. CAP theorem and blockchain
    7. Summary
  7. Decentralization
    1. Decentralization using blockchain
    2. Methods of decentralization
      1. Disintermediation
      2. Contest-driven decentralization
    3. Routes to decentralization
      1. How to decentralize
      2. The decentralization framework example
    4. Blockchain and full ecosystem decentralization
      1. Storage
      2. Communication
      3. Computing power and decentralization
    5. Smart contracts
    6. Decentralized Organizations
      1. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
      2. Decentralized Autonomous Corporations
      3. Decentralized Autonomous Societies
      4. Decentralized Applications (DApps)
      5. Requirements of a Decentralized Application
      6. Operations of a DApp
        1. DApp examples
          1. KYC-Chain
          2. OpenBazaar
          3. Lazooz
    7. Platforms for decentralization
      1. Ethereum
      2. MaidSafe
      3. Lisk
    8. Summary
  8. Symmetric Cryptography
    1. Working with the OpenSSL command line
    2. Introduction
      1. Mathematics
        1. Set
        2. Group
        3. Field
        4. A finite field
        5. Order
        6. An abelian group
        7. Prime fields
        8. Ring
        9. A cyclic group
        10. Modular arithmetic
      2. Cryptography
      3. Confidentiality
      4. Integrity
      5. Authentication
        1. Entity authentication
        2. Data origin authentication
      6. Non-repudiation
      7. Accountability
    3. Cryptographic primitives
      1. Symmetric cryptography
        1. Stream ciphers
        2. Block ciphers
          1. Block encryption mode
          2. Electronic Code Book
          3. Cipher Block Chaining
          4. Counter mode
          5. Keystream generation mode
          6. Message authentication mode
          7. Cryptographic hash mode
      2. Data Encryption Standard
      3. Advanced Encryption Standard
        1. How AES works
    4. Summary
  9. Public Key Cryptography
    1. Asymmetric cryptography
      1. Integer factorization
      2. Discrete logarithm
      3. Elliptic curves
    2. Public and private keys
      1. RSA
        1. Encryption and decryption using RSA
        2. Elliptic Curve Cryptography
          1. Mathematics behind ECC
          2. Point addition
          3. Point doubling
      2. Discrete logarithm problem in ECC
        1. RSA using OpenSSL
        2. RSA public and private key pair
          1. Private key
          2. Public key
          3. Exploring the public key
        3. Encryption and decryption
          1. Encryption
          2. Decryption
        4. ECC using OpenSSL
          1. ECC private and public key pair
          2. Private key
          3. Private key generation
      3. Hash functions
        1. Compression of arbitrary messages into fixed-length digest
        2. Easy to compute
        3. Preimage resistance
        4. Second preimage resistance
        5. Collision resistance
        6. Message Digest
        7. Secure Hash Algorithms
          1. Design of Secure Hash Algorithms
          2. Design of SHA-256
          3. Design of SHA-3 (Keccak)
          4. OpenSSL example of hash functions
          5. Message Authentication Codes
          6. MACs using block ciphers
          7. Hash-based MACs
        8. Merkle trees
        9. Patricia trees
        10. Distributed Hash Tables
        11. Digital signatures
      4. RSA digital signature algorithm
        1. Sign then encrypt
        2. Encrypt then sign
      5. Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm
        1. How to generate a digital signature using OpenSSL
        2. ECDSA using OpenSSL
        3. Homomorphic encryption
        4. Signcryption
        5. Zero-Knowledge Proofs
        6. Blind signatures
        7. Encoding schemes
    3. Financial markets and trading
      1. Trading
      2. Exchanges
        1. Orders and order properties
        2. Order management and routing systems
        3. Components of a trade
        4. The underlying instrument
        5. General attributes
        6. Economics
        7. Sales
        8. Counterparty
      3. Trade life cycle
      4. Order anticipators
      5. Market manipulation
    4. Summary
  10. Introducing Bitcoin
    1. Bitcoin
      1. Bitcoin definition
      2. Bitcoin&#xA0;&#x2013; a bird's-eye view
        1. Sending a payment to someone
    2. Digital keys and addresses
      1. Private keys in Bitcoin
      2. Public keys in Bitcoin
      3. Addresses in Bitcoin
        1. Base58Check encoding
        2. Vanity addresses
          1. Multisignature addresses
    3. Transactions
      1. The transaction life cycle
        1. Transaction fee
        2. Transaction pools
      2. The transaction data structure
        1. Metadata
        2. Inputs
        3. Outputs
        4. Verification
        5. The script language
        6. Commonly used opcodes
      3. Types of transactions
        1. Coinbase transactions
        2. Contracts
      4. Transaction veri&#xFB01;cation
        1. Transaction malleability
    4. Blockchain
      1. The structure of a block
      2. The structure of a block header
      3. The genesis block
    5. Mining
      1. Tasks of the miners
      2. Mining rewards
      3. Proof of Work (PoW)
      4. The mining algorithm
      5. The hash rate
      6. Mining systems
        1. CPU
        2. GPU
        3. FPGA
        4. ASICs
      7. Mining pools
    6. Summary
  11. Bitcoin Network and Payments
    1. The Bitcoin network
    2. Wallets
      1. Non-deterministic wallets
      2. Deterministic wallets
      3. Hierarchical Deterministic wallets
      4. Brain wallets
      5. Paper wallets
      6. Hardware wallets
      7. Online wallets
      8. Mobile wallets
    3. Bitcoin payments
    4. Innovation in Bitcoin
      1. Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs)
      2. Advanced protocols
      3. Segregated Witness (SegWit)
      4. Bitcoin Cash
      5. Bitcoin Unlimited
      6. Bitcoin Gold
      7. Bitcoin investment and buying and selling bitcoins
    5. Summary
  12. Bitcoin Clients and APIs
    1. Bitcoin installation
      1. Types of Bitcoin Core clients
        1. Bitcoind
        2. Bitcoin-cli
        3. Bitcoin-qt
      2. Setting up a Bitcoin node
      3. Setting up the source code
      4. Setting up bitcoin.conf
      5. Starting up a node in testnet
      6. Starting up a node in regtest
      7. Experimenting with Bitcoin-cli
      8. Bitcoin programming and the command-line interface
    2. Summary
  13. Alternative Coins
    1. Theoretical foundations
      1. Alternatives to Proof of Work
        1. Proof of Storage
        2. Proof of Stake (PoS)
      2. Various stake types
        1. Proof of coinage
        2. Proof of Deposit (PoD)
        3. Proof of Burn
        4. Proof of Activity (PoA)
        5. Nonoutsourceable puzzles
      3. Difficulty adjustment and retargeting algorithms
        1. Kimoto Gravity Well
        2. Dark Gravity Wave
        3. DigiShield
        4. MIDAS
    2. Bitcoin limitations
      1. Privacy and anonymity
        1. Mixing protocols
        2. Third-party mixing protocols
        3. Inherent anonymity
      2. Extended protocols on top of Bitcoin
        1. Colored coins
        2. Counterparty
      3. Development of altcoins
        1. Consensus algorithms
        2. Hashing algorithms
        3. Difficulty adjustment algorithms
        4. Inter-block time
        5. Block rewards
        6. Reward halving rate
        7. Block size and transaction size
        8. Interest rate
        9. Coinage
        10. Total supply of coins
    3. Namecoin
      1. Trading Namecoins
      2. Obtaining Namecoins
      3. Generating Namecoin records
    4. Litecoin
    5. Primecoin
      1. Trading Primecoin
      2. Mining guide
    6. Zcash
      1. Trading Zcash
      2. Mining guide
        1. Address generation
        2. GPU mining
          1. Downloading and compiling nheqminer
      3. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
      4. ERC20 tokens
    7. Summary
  14. Smart Contracts
    1. History
    2. Definition
    3. Ricardian contracts
      1. Smart contract templates
      2. Oracles
      3. Smart Oracles
      4. Deploying smart contracts on a blockchain
      5. The DAO
    4. Summary
  15. Ethereum 101
    1. Introduction
      1. The yellow paper
        1. Useful mathematical symbols
      2. Ethereum blockchain
    2. Ethereum &#x2013; bird's eye view
    3. The Ethereum network
      1. Mainnet
      2. Testnet
      3. Private net
    4. Components of the Ethereum ecosystem
      1. Keys and addresses
      2. Accounts
        1. Types of accounts
      3. Transactions and messages
        1. Contract creation transaction
        2. Message call transaction
        3. Messages
        4. Calls
        5. Transaction validation and execution
        6. The transaction substate
        7. State storage in the Ethereum blockchain
        8. The world state
        9. The account state
        10. Transaction receipts
      4. Ether cryptocurrency / tokens (ETC and ETH)
      5. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)
        1. Execution environment
        2. Machine state
        3. The iterator function
      6. Smart contracts
        1. Native contracts
    5. Summary
  16. Further Ethereum
    1. Programming languages
      1. Runtime bytecode
        1. Opcodes and their meaning
        2. Arithmetic operations
        3. Logical operations
        4. Cryptographic operations
        5. Environmental information
        6. Block information
        7. Stack, memory, storage, and &#xFB02;ow operations
        8. Push operations
        9. Duplication operations
        10. Exchange operations
        11. Logging operations
        12. System operations
      2. Blocks and blockchain
        1. The genesis block
        2. The block validation mechanism
          1. Block finalization
        3. Block difficulty
        4. Gas
      3. Fee schedule
        1. Forks in the blockchain
        2. Nodes and miners
          1. The consensus mechanism
        3. Ethash
          1. CPU mining
          2. GPU mining
          3. Benchmarking
          4. Mining rigs
          5. Mining pools
        4. Wallets and client software
          1. Geth
          2. Eth
          3. Pyethapp
          4. Parity
          5. Light clients
          6. Installation
          7. Eth installation
          8. Mist browser
          9. Geth
          10. The geth console
          11. Funding the account with bitcoin
          12. Parity installation
          13. Creating accounts using the parity command line
        5. APIs, tools, and DApps
          1. Applications (DApps and DAOs) developed on Ethereum
          2. Tools
      4. Supporting protocols
        1. Whisper
        2. Swarm
      5. Scalability, security, and other challenges
      6. Trading and investment
    2. Summary
  17. Ethereum Development Environment
    1. Test networks
    2. Setting up a private net
      1. Network ID
      2. The genesis file
      3. Data directory
        1. Flags and their meaning
        2. Static nodes
    3. Starting up the private network
      1. Running Mist on private net
      2. Deploying contracts using Mist
      3. Block explorer for private net / local Ethereum block explorer
    4. Summary
  18. Development Tools and Frameworks
    1. Languages
      1. Compilers
        1. Solidity compiler (solc)
          1. Installation on Linux
          2. Installation on macOS
        2. Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
          1. Remix
        3. Tools and libraries
          1. Node version 7
          2. EthereumJS
        4. Ganache
        5. MetaMask
        6. Truffle
          1. Installation
        7. Contract development and deployment
          1. Writing
          2. Testing
    2. Solidity language
      1. Types
        1. Value types
          1. Boolean
          2. Integers
          3. Address
        2. Literals
          1. Integer literals
          2. String literals
          3. Hexadecimal literals
        3. Enums
        4. Function types
          1. Internal functions
          2. External functions
        5. Reference types
          1. Arrays
          2. Structs
          3. Data location
          4. Mappings
        6. Global variables
        7. Control structures
          1. Events&#xA0;
          2. Inheritance
          3. Libraries
          4. Functions
        8. Layout of a Solidity source code &#xFB01;le
          1. Version pragma
          2. Import
          3. Comments
    3. Summary
  19. Introducing Web3
    1. Web3
      1. Contract deployment
      2. POST requests
      3. The HTML and JavaScript frontend
        1. Installing web3.js
          1. Example
          2. Creating a web3 object
          3. Checking availability by calling any web3 method
          4. Contract functions
      4. Development frameworks
        1. Truffle
          1. Initializing Truffle
          2. Interaction with the contract
          3. Another example
          4. An example project&#xA0;&#x2013; Proof of Idea
        2. Oracles
        3. Deployment on decentralized storage using IPFS
          1. Installing IPFS
        4. Distributed ledgers
    2. Summary
  20. Hyperledger
    1. Projects under Hyperledger
      1. Fabric
      2. Sawtooth Lake
      3. Iroha
      4. Burrow
      5. Indy
      6. Explorer
      7. Cello
      8. Composer
      9. Quilt
    2. Hyperledger as a protocol
    3. The reference architecture
      1. Requirements and design goals of Hyperledger Fabric
        1. The modular approach
        2. Privacy and confidentiality
        3. Scalability
        4. Deterministic transactions
        5. Identity
        6. Auditability
        7. Interoperability
        8. Portability
        9. Rich data queries
    4. Fabric
      1. Hyperledger Fabric
        1. Membership services
        2. Blockchain services
        3. Consensus services
        4. Distributed ledger
          1. The peer to peer protocol
          2. Ledger storage
          3. Chaincode services
          4. Components of the fabric
          5. Peers
          6. Orderer nodes
          7. Clients
          8. Channels
          9. World state database
          10. Transactions
          11. Membership Service Provider (MSP)
          12. Smart contracts
          13. Crypto service provider
          14. Applications on blockchain
          15. Chaincode implementation
          16. The application model
          17. Consensus in Hyperledger Fabric
          18. The transaction life cycle in Hyperledger Fabric
      2. Sawtooth Lake
        1. PoET
        2. Transaction families
        3. Consensus in Sawtooth
        4. The development environment&#xA0;&#x2013; Sawtooth Lake
      3. Corda
        1. Architecture
          1. State objects
          2. Transactions
          3. Consensus
          4. Flows
        2. Components
          1. Nodes
          2. The permissioning service
          3. Network map service
          4. Notary service
          5. Oracle service
          6. Transactions
          7. Vaults
          8. CorDapp
        3. The development environment&#xA0;&#x2013; Corda
    5. Summary
  21. Alternative Blockchains
    1. Blockchains
      1. Kadena
      2. Ripple
        1. Transactions
          1. Payments related
          2. Order related
          3. Account and security-related
        2. Interledger
          1. Application layer
          2. Transport layer
          3. Interledger layer
          4. Ledger layer
      3. Stellar
      4. Rootstock
        1. Sidechain
        2. Drivechain
      5. Quorum
        1. Transaction manager
        2. Crypto Enclave
        3. QuorumChain
        4. Network manager
      6. Tezos
      7. Storj
      8. MaidSafe
      9. BigchainDB
      10. MultiChain
      11. Tendermint
        1. Tendermint Core
        2. Tendermint Socket Protocol (TMSP)
    2. Platforms and frameworks
      1. Eris
    3. Summary
  22. Blockchain &#x2013; Outside of Currencies
    1. Internet of Things
      1. Physical object layer
      2. Device layer
      3. Network layer
      4. Management layer
      5. Application layer
      6. IoT blockchain experiment
        1. First node setup
        2. Raspberry Pi node setup
          1. Installing Node.js
        3. Circuit
      7. Government
        1. Border control
        2. Voting
        3. Citizen identification (ID cards)
        4. Miscellaneous
      8. Health
      9. Finance
        1. Insurance
        2. Post-trade settlement
        3. Financial crime prevention
      10. Media
    2. Summary
  23. Scalability and Other Challenges
    1. Scalability
      1. Network plane
      2. Consensus plane
      3. Storage plane
      4. View plane
      5. Block size increase
      6. Block interval reduction
      7. Invertible Bloom Lookup Tables
      8. Sharding
      9. State channels
      10. Private blockchain
      11. Proof of Stake
      12. Sidechains
        1. Subchains
        2. Tree chains (trees)
        3. Block propagation
        4. Bitcoin-NG
        5. Plasma
    2. Privacy
      1. Indistinguishability Obfuscation
      2. Homomorphic encryption
      3. Zero-Knowledge Proofs
      4. State channels
      5. Secure multiparty computation
      6. Usage of hardware to provide confidentiality
      7. CoinJoin
      8. Confidential transactions
      9. MimbleWimble
      10. Security
        1. Smart contract security
          1. Formal verification and analysis
          2. Oyente tool
    3. Summary
  24. Current Landscape and What&#x27;s Next
    1. Emerging trends
      1. Application-specific blockchains (ASBCs)
      2. Enterprise-grade blockchains
      3. Private blockchains
      4. Start-ups
      5. Strong research interest
      6. Standardization
      7. Enhancements
      8. Real-world implementations
      9. Consortia
      10. Answers to technical challenges
      11. Convergence
      12. Education of blockchain technology
      13. Employment
      14. Cryptoeconomics
      15. Research in cryptography
      16. New programming languages
      17. Hardware research and development
      18. Research in formal methods and security
      19. Alternatives to blockchains
      20. Interoperability efforts
      21. Blockchain as a Service
      22. Efforts to reduce electricity consumption
    2. Other challenges
      1. Regulation
      2. Dark side
    3. Blockchain research
      1. Smart contracts
      2. Centralization issues
      3. Limitations in cryptographic functions
      4. Consensus algorithms
      5. Scalability
      6. Code obfuscation
    4. Notable projects
      1. Zcash on Ethereum
      2. CollCo
      3. Cello
      4. Qtum
      5. Bitcoin-NG
      6. Solidus
      7. Hawk
      8. Town-Crier
      9. SETLCoin
      10. TEEChan
      11. Falcon
      12. Bletchley
      13. Casper
    5. Miscellaneous tools
      1. Solidity extension for Microsoft Visual Studio
      2. MetaMask
      3. Stratis
      4. Embark
      5. DAPPLE
      6. Meteor
      7. uPort
      8. INFURA
    6. Convergence with other industries
    7. Future
    8. Summary
  25. Another Book You May Enjoy
    1. Leave a review&#xA0;&#x2013; let other readers know what you think
Preface This book has one goal, to introduce theoretical and practical aspects of the blockchain technology. This book contains all material that is necessary to become a blockchain technical expert. Since the publication of the first edition of this book, a lot has changed and progressed further with regards to blockchain; therefore, a need to update the book has arisen. The multitude of benefits envisaged by the implementation of blockchain technology has sparked profound interest among researchers from academia and industry who are tirelessly researching this technology. As a result, many consortia, working groups, projects, and professional bodies have emerged, which are involved in the development and further advancement of this technology. The second edition of this book will provide in-depth insights into decentralization, smart contracts, and various blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Hyperledger Fabric. After reading this book, readers will be able to develop a deep understanding of inner workings of the blockchain technology and will be able to develop blockchain applications. This book covers all topics relevant to the blockchain technology, including cryptography, cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and various other platforms and tools used for blockchain development. It is recommended that readers have a basic understanding of computer science and basic programming experience to benefit fully from this book. However, if that is not the case then still this book can be read easily, as relevant background material is provided where necessary. Who this book is for This book is for anyone who wants to understand blockchain in depth. It can also be used as a reference by developers who are developing applications for blockchain. Also, this book can be used as a textbook for courses related to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. It can also be used as a learning resource for various examinations and certifications related to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. What this book covers Chapter 1 , Blockchain 101 , introduces the basic concepts of distributed computing on which blockchain technology is based. It also covers history, definitions, features, types, and benefits of blockchains along with various consensus mechanisms that are at the core of the blockchain technology. Chapter 2 , Decentralization , covers the concept of decentralization and its relationship with blockchain technology. Various methods and platforms that can be used to decentralize a process or a system have also been introduced. Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography , introduces the theoretical foundations of symmetric cryptography, which is necessary to understand that how various security services such as confidentiality and integrity are provided. Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography , introduces concepts such as public and private keys, digital signatures and hash functions with practical examples. Finally, an introduction to financial markets is also included as there are many interesting use cases for blockchain technology in the financial sector. Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin , covers Bitcoin, the first and largest blockchain. It introduces technical concepts related to bitcoin cryptocurrency in detail. Chapter 6 , Bitcoin Network and Payments , covers Bitcoin network, relevant protocols and various Bitcoin wallets. Moreover, advanced protocols, Bitcoin trading and payments is also introduced. Chapter 7 , Bitcoin Clients and APIs , introduces various Bitcoin clients and programming APIs that can be used to build Bitcoin applications. Chapter 8 , Alternative Coins , introduces alternative cryptocurrencies that were introduced after the invention of Bitcoin. It also presents examples of different altcoins, their properties, and how they have been developed and implemented. Chapter 9 , Smart Contracts , provides an in-depth discussion on smart contracts. Topics such as history, the definition of smart contracts, Ricardian contracts, Oracles, and the theoretical aspects of smart contracts are presented in this chapter. Chapter 10 , Ethereum 101 , introduces the design and architecture of the Ethereum blockchain in detail. It covers various technical concepts related to the Ethereum blockchain that explains the underlying principles, features, and components of this platform in depth. Chapter 11 , Further Ethereum , continues the introduction of Ethereum from pervious chapter and covers topics related to Ethereum Virtual Machine, mining and supporting protocols for Ethereum. Chapter 12 , Ethereum Development Environment , covers the topics related to setting up private networks for Ethereum smart contract development and programming. Chapter 13 , Development Tools and Frameworks , provides a detailed practical introduction to the Solidity programming language and different relevant tools and frameworks that are used for Ethereum development. Chapter 14 , Introducing Web3 , covers development of decentralized applications and smart contracts using the Ethereum blockchain. A detailed introduction to Web3 API is provided along with multiple practical examples and a final project. Chapter 15 , Hyperledger , presents a discussion about the Hyperledger project from the Linux Foundation, which includes different blockchain projects introduced by its members. Chapter 16 , Alternative Blockchains , introduces alternative blockchain solutions and platforms. It provides technical details and features of alternative blockchains and relevant platforms. Chapter 17 , Blockchain – Outside of Currencies , provides a practical and detailed introduction to applications of blockchain technology in fields others than cryptocurrencies, including Internet of Things, government, media, and finance. Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges , is dedicated to a discussion of the challenges faced by blockchain technology and how to address them. Chapter 19 , Current Landscape and What's Next , is aimed at providing information about the current landscape, projects, and research efforts related to blockchain technology. Also, some predictions based on the current state of blockchain technology have also been made. To get the most out of this book Download the example code files You can download the example code files for this book from your account at www.packtpub.com . If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit www.packtpub.com/support and register to have the files emailed directly to you. You can download the code files by following these steps:
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Once the file is downloaded, please make sure that you unzip or extract the folder using the latest version of: The code bundle for the book is also hosted on GitHub at https://github.com/PacktPublishing/Mastering-Blockchain-Second-Edition . In case there's an update to the code, it will be updated on the existing GitHub repository. We also have other code bundles from our rich catalog of books and videos available at https://github.com/PacktPublishing/ . Check them out! Download the color images We also provide a PDF file that has color images of the screenshots/diagrams used in this book. You can download it here: http://www.packtpub.com/sites/default/files/downloads/MasteringBlockchainSecondEdition_ColorImages.pdf . Conventions used There are a number of text conventions used throughout this book. CodeInText : Indicates code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions, pathnames, dummy URLs, user input, and Twitter handles. Here is an example: "After executing the command, a file named privatekey.pem is produced, which contains the generated private key as follows." A block of code is set as follows:
pragma solidity ^0.4.0;

contract TestStruct {

struct Trade

{

uint tradeid;

uint quantity;

uint price;

string trader;

}

//This struct can be initialized and used as below

Trade tStruct = Trade({tradeid:123, quantity:1, price:1, trader:"equinox"});

}

When we wish to draw your attention to a particular part of a code block, the relevant lines or items are set in bold:
pragma solidity ^0.4.0;

contract TestStruct {

struct Trade

{

uint tradeid;

uint quantity;

uint price;

string trader;

}

//This struct can be initialized and used as below

Trade tStruct = Trade({tradeid:123, quantity:1, price:1, trader:"equinox"});

}

Any command-line input or output is written as follows:
$ sudo apt-get install solc
Bold : Indicates a new term, an important word, or words that you see onscreen. For example, words in menus or dialog boxes appear in the text like this. Here is an example: "Enter the password and click on SEND TRANSACTION to deploy the contract."
Warnings or important notes appear like this.
Tips and tricks appear like this.
Get in touch Feedback from our readers is always welcome. General feedback : Email feedback@packtpub.com and mention the book title in the subject of your message. If you have questions about any aspect of this book, please email us at questions@packtpub.com . Errata : Although we have taken every care to ensure the accuracy of our content, mistakes do happen. If you have found a mistake in this book, we would be grateful if you would report this to us. Please visit www.packtpub.com/submit-errata , selecting your book, clicking on the Errata Submission Form link, and entering the details. Piracy : If you come across any illegal copies of our works in any form on the Internet, we would be grateful if you would provide us with the location address or website name. Please contact us at copyright@packtpub.com with a link to the material. If you are interested in becoming an author : If there is a topic that you have expertise in and you are interested in either writing or contributing to a book, please visit authors.packtpub.com . Reviews Please leave a review. Once you have read and used this book, why not leave a review on the site that you purchased it from? Potential readers can then see and use your unbiased opinion to make purchase decisions, we at Packt can understand what you think about our products, and our authors can see your feedback on their book. Thank you! For more information about Packt, please visit packtpub.com . Blockchain 101 If you are reading this book, it is very likely that you already have heard about blockchain and have some fundamental appreciation of its enormous potential. If not, then let me tell you that this is a technology that has promised to positively alter the existing paradigms of nearly all industries including, but not limited to IT, finance, government, media, medical, and law. This chapter serves an introduction to blockchain technology, its technical foundations, the theory behind it, and various techniques that have been combined together to build what is known today as blockchain. In this chapter, we first describe the theoretical foundations of distributed systems. Next, we address the precursors of Bitcoin by which blockchain technology was introduced to the world. Finally, we introduce you to blockchain technology. This approach is a logical way to understanding blockchain technology, as the roots of blockchain are in distributed systems. We will cover a lot of ground quickly here, but don't worry -- we will go over a great deal of this material in much greater detail as you move through the book. The growth of blockchain technology With the invention of Bitcoin in 2008, the world was introduced to a new concept, which is now likely to revolutionize the whole of society. It is something that promises to have an impact on every industry, including but not limited to the financial sector, government, media, law, and arts. Some describe blockchain as a revolution, whereas another school of thought believes that it is going to be more evolutionary, and it will take many years before any practical benefits of blockchain reach fruition. This thinking is correct to some extent, but in my opinion, the revolution has already begun. Many prominent organizations all around the world are already writing proofs of concept using blockchain technology, as its disruptive potential has now been fully recognized. However, some organizations are still in the preliminary exploration stage, though they are expected to progress more quickly as the technology matures. It is a technology that has an impact on current technologies too and possesses the ability to change them at a fundamental level. If we look at the last few years, we notice that in 2013 some ideas started to emerge that suggested usage of blockchain in other areas than cryptocurrencies. Around that time the primary usage of blockchain was cryptocurrencies, and many new coins emerged during that time. The following graph shows a broad-spectrum outline of year wise progression and adaption trend of blockchain technology. Years shown on the x axis indicate the range of time in which a specific phase of blockchain technology falls. Each phase has a name which represents the action and is shown on the x axis starting from the period of IDEAS & THOUGHTS to eventually MATURITY & FURTHER STANDARDIZATION . The y axis shows level of activity, involvement and adoption of blockchain technology. The graph shows that eventually, roughly around 2025 blockchain technology is expected to become mature with a high number of users. Blockchain technology adoption and maturity The preceding graph shows that in 2013 IDEAS & THOUGHTS emerged related to other usages of blockchain technology apart from cryptocurrencies. Then in 2014 some RESEARCH & EXPERIMENTATION started which led to PROOF OF CONCEPTS , FURTHER RESEARCH , and full-scale TRIAL PROJECTS between 2015 and 2017. In 2018 we will see REAL WORLD IMPLEMENTATIONS . Already many projects are underway and set to replace existing systems, for example, Australian Securities Exchange ( ASX ) is soon to become the first organization to replace its legacy clearing and settlement system with blockchain technology.
More information on this topic can be found at https://www.asx.com.au/services/chess-replacement.htm .
It is expected that during 2019 more research will be carried out along with some interest towards regulation and standardization of blockchain technology. After this, production ready projects and off the shelf products utilizing blockchain technology will be available from 2020 and by 2021 mainstream usage of blockchain technology is expected to start. Progress in blockchain technology almost feels like the internet dot-com boom of the late 1990s. More research is expected to continue along with adaption and further maturity of blockchain technology, and finally, in 2025 it is expected that the technology will be mature enough to be used on day to day basis. Please note that the timelines provided in the chart are not strict and can vary as it is quite difficult to predict that when exactly blockchain technology will become mature. This graph is based on the progress made in the recent years and the current climate of research, interest and enthusiasm regarding this technology which suggests that by 2025 blockchain technology is expected to become mature. Interest in blockchain technology has risen quite significantly over the last few years. Once dismissed as simply geek money from a cryptocurrency point of view, or as something that was just not considered worth pursuing, blockchain is now being researched by the largest companies and organizations around the world. Millions of dollars are being spent to adapt and experiment with this technology. This is evident from recent actions taken by European Union where they have announced plans to increase funding for blockchain research to almost 340 million euros by 2020.
Interested readers can read more about this at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/boost-for-blockchain-research-as-eu-increases-funding-four-fold-1.3383340 .
Another report suggests that global spending on blockchain technology research could reach 9.2 billion dollars by 2021.
More information regarding this can be found at https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/report-suggests-global-spending-blockchain-tech-could-reach-92-billion-2021/ .
There are various consortiums such as Enterprise Ethereum Alliance ( EEA ), Hyperledger , and R3 , which have been established for research and development of blockchain technology. Moreover, a large number of start-ups are providing blockchain-based solutions already. A simple trend search on Google reveals the immense scale of interest in blockchain technology over the last few years. Especially, since early 2017 the increase in the search term blockchain is quite significant, as shown in the following graph: Google trend graph for blockchain Various benefits of this technology are envisioned, such as decentralized trust, cost savings, transparency, and efficiency. However, there are multiple challenges too that are an area of active research on blockchain, such as scalability and privacy. In this book, we are going to see how blockchain technology can help bring about the benefits mentioned earlier. You are going to learn about what exactly is blockchain technology, and how it can reshape businesses, multiple industries, and indeed everyday life by bringing about a plenitude of benefits such as efficiency, cost saving, transparency, and security. We will also explore what is distributed ledger technology, decentralization, and smart contracts and how technology solutions can be developed and implemented using mainstream blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, and Hyperledger. We will also investigate that what challenges need to be addressed before blockchain can become a mainstream technology. Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges , is dedicated to a discussion of the limitations and challenges of blockchain technology. Distributed systems Understanding distributed systems is essential to the understanding of blockchain technology, as blockchain is a distributed system at its core. It is a distributed ledger which can be centralized or decentralized. A blockchain is originally intended to be and is usually used as a decentralized platform. It can be thought of as a system that has properties of both decentralized and distributed paradigms. It is a decentralized-distributed system. Distributed systems are a computing paradigm whereby two or more nodes work with each other in a coordinated fashion to achieve a common outcome. It is modeled in such a way that end users see it as a single logical platform. For example, Google's search engine is based on a large distributed system, but to a user, it looks like a single, coherent platform. A node can be defined as an individual player in a distributed system. All nodes are capable of sending and receiving messages to and from each other. Nodes can be honest, faulty, or malicious, and they have memory and a processor. A node that exhibits irrational behavior is also known as a Byzantine node after the Byzantine Generals Problem.
The Byzantine Generals problem

In 1982, a thought experiment was proposed by Lamport and others in their research paper, The Byzantine Generals Problem which is available at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/byzantine-generals-problem/ whereby a group of army generals who lead different parts of the Byzantine army are planning to attack or retreat from a city. The only way of communicating among them is via a messenger. They need to agree to strike at the same time in order to win. The issue is that one or more generals might be traitors who could send a misleading message. Therefore, there is a need for a viable mechanism that allows for agreement among the generals, even in the presence of the treacherous ones, so that the attack can still take place at the same time. As an analogy to distributed systems, the generals can be considered nodes, the traitors as Byzantine (malicious) nodes, and the messenger can be thought of as a channel of communication among the generals.

This problem was solved in 1999 by Castro and Liskov who presented the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance ( PBFT ) algorithm, where consensus is reached after a certain number of messages are received containing the same signed content.

This type of inconsistent behavior of Byzantine nodes can be intentionally malicious, which is detrimental to the operation of the network. Any unexpected behavior by a node on the network, whether malicious or not, can be categorized as Byzantine. A small-scale example of a distributed system is shown in the following diagram. This distributed system has six nodes out of which one ( N4 ) is a Byzantine node leading to possible data inconsistency. L2 is a link that is broken or slow, and this can lead to partition in the network. Design of a distributed system: N4 is a Byzantine node, L2 is broken or a slow network link The primary challenge in distributed system design is coordination between nodes and fault tolerance. Even if some of the nodes become faulty or network links break, the distributed system should be able to tolerate this and continue to work to achieve the desired result. This problem has been an active area of distributed system design research for many years, and several algorithms and mechanisms have been proposed to overcome these issues. Distributed systems are so challenging to design that a hypothesis known as the CAP theorem has been proven, which states that a distributed system cannot have all three of the much-desired properties simultaneously; that is, consistency, availability, and partition tolerance. We will dive into the CAP theorem in more detail later in this chapter. The history of blockchain and Bitcoin Blockchain was introduced with the invention of Bitcoin in 2008. Its practical implementation then occurred in 2009. For the purposes of this chapter, it is sufficient to review Bitcoin very briefly, as it will be explored in great depth in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin . However, it is essential to refer to Bitcoin because, without it, the history of blockchain is not complete. Electronic cash The concept of electronic cash or digital currency is not new. Since the 1980s, e-cash protocols have existed that are based on a model proposed by David Chaum. Just as understanding the concept of distributed systems is necessary to comprehend blockchain technology, the idea of electronic cash is also essential in order to appreciate the first and astonishingly successful application of blockchain, Bitcoin, or more broadly cryptocurrencies in general. Two fundamental e-cash system issues need to be addressed: accountability and anonymity. Accountability is required to ensure that cash is spendable only once (double-spend problem) and that it can only be spent by its rightful owner. Double spend problem arises when same money can be spent twice. As it is quite easy to make copies of digital data, this becomes a big issue in digital currencies as you can make many copies of same digital cash. Anonymity is required to protect users' privacy. As with physical cash, it is almost impossible to trace back spending to the individual who actually paid the money. David Chaum solved both of these problems during his work in 1980s by using two cryptographic operations, namely blind signatures and secret sharing . These terminologies and related concepts will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography and Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . For the moment, it is sufficient to say that blind signatures allow for signing a document without actually seeing it, and secret sharing is a concept that enables the detection of double spending, that is using the same e-cash token twice (double spending). In 2009, the first practical implementation of an electronic cash (e-cash) system named Bitcoin appeared. The term cryptocurrency emerged later. For the very first time, it solved the problem of distributed consensus in a trustless network. It used public key cryptography with a Proof of Work ( PoW ) mechanism to provide a secure, controlled, and decentralized method of minting digital currency. The key innovation was the idea of an ordered list of blocks composed of transactions and cryptographically secured by the PoW mechanism. This concept will be explained in greater detail in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin . Other technologies used in Bitcoin, but which existed before its invention, include Merkle trees, hash functions, and hash chains. All these concepts are explained in appropriate depth in Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . Looking at all the technologies mentioned earlier and their relevant history, it is easy to see how concepts from electronic cash schemes and distributed systems were combined to create Bitcoin and what now is known as blockchain. This concept can also be visualized with the help of the following diagram: The various ideas that supported the invention of Bitcoin and blockchain Blockchain In 2008, a groundbreaking paper entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was written on the topic of peer-to-peer electronic cash under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto . It introduced the term chain of blocks . No one knows the actual identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. After introducing Bitcoin in 2009, he remained active in the Bitcoin developer community until 2011. He then handed over Bitcoin development to its core developers and simply disappeared. Since then, there has been no communication from him whatsoever, and his existence and identity are shrouded in mystery. The term chain of blocks evolved over the years into the word blockchain . As stated earlier, blockchain technology incorporates a multitude of applications that can be implemented in various economic sectors. Particularly in the finance sector, significant improvement in the performance of financial transactions and settlements is seen as resulting in desirable time and cost reductions. Additional light will be shed on these aspects of blockchain in Chapter 17 , Blockchain – Outside of Currencies where practical use cases will be discussed in detail for various industries. For now, it is sufficient to say that parts of nearly all economic sectors have already realized the potential and promise of blockchain and have embarked, or will do so soon, on the journey to capitalize on the benefits of blockchain technology. Blockchain defined
Layman's definition : Blockchain is an ever-growing, secure, shared record keeping system in which each user of the data holds a copy of the records, which can only be updated if all parties involved in a transaction agree to update.

Technical definition : Blockchain is a peer-to-peer, distributed ledger that is cryptographically-secure, append-only, immutable (extremely hard to change), and updateable only via consensus or agreement among peers.

Now let's examine the preceding definitions in more detail. We will look at all keywords in the definitions one by one. Peer-to-peer The first keyword in the technical definition is peer-to-peer . This means that there is no central controller in the network, and all participants talk to each other directly. This property allows for cash transactions to be exchanged directly among the peers without a third-party involvement, such as by a bank. Distributed ledger Dissecting the technical definition further reveals that blockchain is a distributed ledger , which simply means that a ledger is spread across the network among all peers in the network, and each peer holds a copy of the complete ledger. Cryptographically-secure Next, we see that this ledger is cryptographically-secure , which means that cryptography has been used to provide security services which make this ledger secure against tampering and misuse. These services include non-repudiation, data integrity, and data origin authentication. You will see how this is achieved later in Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography which introduces the fascinating world of cryptography. Append-only Another property that we encounter is that blockchain is append-only , which means that data can only be added to the blockchain in time-ordered sequential order . This property implies that once data is added to the blockchain, it is almost impossible to change that data and can be considered practically immutable. Nonetheless, it can be changed in rare scenarios wherein collusion against the blockchain network succeeds in gaining more than 51 percent of the power. There may be some legitimate reasons to change data in the blockchain once it has been added, such as the right to be forgotten or right to erasure (also defined in General Data Protection ( GDPR ) ruling, https://gdpr-info.eu/art-17-gdpr/ ). However, those are individual cases that need to be handled separately and that require an elegant technical solution. For all practical purposes, blockchain is indeed immutable and cannot be changed. Updateable via consensus Finally, the most critical attribute of a blockchain is that it is updateable only via consensus. This is what gives it the power of decentralization. In this scenario, no central authority is in control of updating the ledger. Instead, any update made to the blockchain is validated against strict criteria defined by the blockchain protocol and added to the blockchain only after a consensus has been reached among all participating peers/nodes on the network. To achieve consensus, there are various consensus facilitation algorithms which ensure that all parties are in agreement about the final state of the data on the blockchain network and resolutely agree upon it to be true. Consensus algorithms are discussed later in this chapter and throughout the book as appropriate. Blockchain can be thought of as a layer of a distributed peer-to-peer network running on top of the internet, as can be seen in the following diagram. It is analogous to SMTP, HTTP, or FTP running on top of TCP/IP. The network view of a blockchain At the bottom layer in the preceding diagram, there is the internet, which provides a basic communication layer for any network. In this case, a peer-to-peer network runs on top of the internet, which hosts another layer of blockchain. That layer contains transactions, blocks, consensus mechanisms, state machines, and blockchain smart contracts. All of these components are shown as a single logical entity in a box, representing blockchain above the peer-to-peer network. Finally, at the top, there are users or nodes that connect to the blockchain and perform various operations such as consensus, transaction verification, and processing. These concepts will be discussed in detail later in this book. From a business standpoint, a blockchain can be defined as a platform where peers can exchange value / electronic cash using transactions without the need for a centrally-trusted arbitrator. For example, for cash transfers, banks act as a trusted third party. In financial trading, a central clearing house acts as an arbitrator between two trading parties. This concept is compelling, and once you absorb it, you will realize the enormous potential of blockchain technology. This disintermediation allows blockchain to be a decentralized consensus mechanism where no single authority is in charge of the database. Immediately, you'll see a significant benefit of decentralization here, because if no banks or central clearing houses are required, then it immediately leads to cost savings, faster transaction speeds, and trust. A block is merely a selection of transactions bundled together and organized logically. A transaction is a record of an event, for example, the event of transferring cash from a sender's account to a beneficiary's account. A block is made up of transactions, and its size varies depending on the type and design of the blockchain in use. A reference to a previous block is also included in the block unless it is a genesis block. A genesis block is the first block in the blockchain that is hardcoded at the time the blockchain was first started. The structure of a block is also dependent on the type and design of a blockchain. Generally, however, there are just a few attributes that are essential to the functionality of a block: the block header, which is composed of pointer to previous block, the timestamp, nonce, Merkle root, and the block body that contains transactions. There are also other attributes in a block, but generally, the aforementioned components are always available in a block. A nonce is a number that is generated and used only once. A nonce is used extensively in many cryptographic operations to provide replay protection, authentication, and encryption. In blockchain, it's used in PoW consensus algorithms and for transaction replay protection. Merkle root is a hash of all of the nodes of a Merkle tree. Merkle trees are widely used to validate the large data structures securely and efficiently. In the blockchain world, Merkle trees are commonly used to allow efficient verification of transactions. Merkle root in a blockchain is present in the block header section of a block, which is the hash of all transactions in a block. This means that verifying only the Merkle root is required to verify all transactions present in the Merkle tree instead of verifying all transactions one by one. We will elaborate further on these concepts in Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . The generic structure of a block. This preceding structure is a simple block diagram that depicts a block. Specific block structures relative to their blockchain technologies will be discussed later in the book with greater in-depth technical detail. Generic elements of a blockchain Now, let's walk through the generic elements of a blockchain. You can use this as a handy reference section if you ever need a reminder about the different parts of a blockchain. More precise elements will be discussed in the context of their respective blockchains in later chapters, for example, the Ethereum blockchain. The structure of a generic blockchain can be visualized with the help of the following diagram: Generic structure of a blockchain Elements of a generic blockchain are described here one by one. These are the elements that you will come across in relation to blockchain: To facilitate arbitrary program development on a blockchain, Turing complete programming language is needed, and it is now a very desirable feature of blockchains. Think of this as a computer that allows development of any program using programming languages. Nevertheless, the security of such languages is a crucial question and an essential and ongoing research area. We will discuss this in greater detail in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin , Chapter 9 , Smart Contracts , and Chapter 13 , Development Tools and Frameworks , later in this book. How blockchain works We have now defined and described blockchain. Now let's see how a blockchain actually works. Nodes are either miners who create new blocks and mint cryptocurrency (coins) or block signers who validates and digitally sign the transactions. A critical decision that every blockchain network has to make is to figure out that which node will append the next block to the blockchain. This decision is made using a consensus mechanism . The consensus mechanism will be described later in this chapter. Now we will look at the how a blockchain validates transactions and creates and adds blocks to grow the blockchain. How blockchain accumulates blocks Now we will look at a general scheme for creating blocks. This scheme is presented here to give you a general idea of how blocks are generated and what the relationship is between transactions and blocks:
  1. A node starts a transaction by first creating and then digitally signing it with its private key. A transaction can represent various actions in a blockchain. Most commonly this is a data structure that represents transfer of value between users on the blockchain network. Transaction data structure usually consists of some logic of transfer of value, relevant rules, source and destination addresses, and other validation information. This will be covered in more detail in specific chapters on Bitcoin and Ethereum later in the book.
  2. A transaction is propagated (flooded) by using a flooding protocol, called Gossip protocol, to peers that validate the transaction based on preset criteria. Usually, more than one node are required to verify the transaction.
  1. Once the transaction is validated, it is included in a block, which is then propagated onto the network. At this point, the transaction is considered confirmed.
  2. The newly-created block now becomes part of the ledger, and the next block links itself cryptographically back to this block. This link is a hash pointer. At this stage, the transaction gets its second confirmation and the block gets its first confirmation.
  3. Transactions are then reconfirmed every time a new block is created. Usually, six confirmations in the Bitcoin network are required to consider the transaction final.
It is worth noting that steps 4 and 5 are considered non-compulsory, as the transaction itself is finalized in step 3; however, block confirmation and further transaction reconfirmations, if required, are then carried out in step 4 and step 5. This completes the basic introduction to blockchain. In the next section, you will learn about the benefits and limitations of this technology. Benefits and limitations of blockchain Numerous advantages of blockchain technology have been discussed in many industries and proposed by thought leaders around the world who are participating in the blockchain space. The notable benefits of blockchain technology are as follows: As with any technology, some challenges need to be addressed in order to make a system more robust, useful, and accessible. Blockchain technology is no exception. In fact, much effort is being made in both academia and industry to overcome the challenges posed by blockchain technology. The most sensitive blockchain problems are as follows: All of these issues and possible solutions will be discussed in detail in Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges . Tiers of blockchain technology In this section, various layers of blockchain technology are presented. It is thought that due to the rapid development and progress being made in blockchain technology, many applications will evolve. Some of these advancements have already been realized, while others are anticipated in the near future based on the current rate of advancement in blockchain technology. The three levels discussed here were initially described in the book Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy by Melanie Swan , O'Reilly Media , 2015 as blockchain tiers categorized by applications in each category. This is how blockchain is evolving, and this versioning shows different tiers of evolution and usage of blockchain technology. In fact, all blockchain platforms, with limited exceptions, support these functionalities and applications. This versioning is just a logical segregation of various blockchain categories based on the way that they are currently being used, are evolving, or predicted to evolve. Also note that this versioning is being presented here for completeness and for historic reasons, as these definitions are somewhat blurred now, and with the exception of Bitcoin (Blockchain 1.0), all newer blockchain platforms that support smart contract development can be programmed to provide the functionalities and applications mentioned in all blockchain tiers: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and beyond. In addition to Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, or Tier X in the future, the following represents my own vision of what blockchain technology eventually could become as this technology advances: Machina Economicus is a concept which comes from the field of Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) and computational economics. It can be defined as a machine that makes logical and perfect decisions. There are various technical challenges that need to be addressed before this dream can be realized.
Discussion of Machina Economicus is beyond the scope of this book, interested readers can refer to https://www.infosys.com/insights/purposeful-ai/Documents/machina-economicus.pdf , for more information.
This concept in the context of blockchain and its convergence with AI will be elaborated on in Chapter 19 , Current Landscape and What's Next . Features of a blockchain A blockchain performs various functions which are supported by various features. These functions include but are not limited to transfer of value, managing assets and agreements. All of the blockchain tiers described in the previous section perform these functions with the help of features offered by blockchain, but with some exceptions. For example, smart contracts are not supported by all blockchain platforms, such as Bitcoin. Another example is that not all blockchain platforms produce cryptocurrency or tokens, such as Hyperledger Fabric, and MultiChain. The features of a blockchain are described here:
Smart Contracts

Blockchain technology provides a platform for running smart contracts. These are automated, autonomous programs that reside on the blockchain network and encapsulate the business logic and code needed to execute a required function when certain conditions are met. For example, think about an insurance contract where a claim is paid to the traveler if the flight is canceled. In the real world, this process normally takes a significant amount of time to make the claim, verify it, and pay the insurance amount to the claimant (traveler). What if this whole process were automated with cryptographically-enforced trust, transparency, and execution so that as soon as the smart contract received a feed that the flight in question has been canceled, it automatically triggers the insurance payment to the claimant? If the flight is on time, the smart contract pays itself.

This is indeed a revolutionary feature of blockchain, as it provides flexibility, speed, security, and automation for real-world scenarios that can lead to a completely trustworthy system with significant cost reductions. Smart contracts can be programmed to perform any actions that blockchain users need and according to their specific business requirements.


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William Slater III , June 13, 2018

If you want to learn Blockchain or if you think you really understand Blockchain, check out this excellent book.

If you want to learn Blockchain or if you think you really understand Blockchain, check out this excellent book.

I bought Imran Bashir's Mastering Blockchain, 2nd Edition because I knew it was a complete update to his first edition, and because I wanted to keep up with what's happening in the rapidly moving world of Blockchain Development. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of Blockchain and the promise it has for trusted, decentralized distributed computing transactions.

I have been pleasantly surprised and extremely satisfied with this invaluable tome. It could have been titled "The Bible of Blockchain", because that's basically what it is. No serious Blockchain Developer or Blockchain Project Manager should be without this book. With its wealth of information on every facet of Blockchain, it is easily worth more than 10 times the purchase price. That is not an exaggeration and here's why:

1. The author, who is clearly a great author and a very experienced practitioner of all areas Blockchain development.

2. It is authoritative.

3. Easy to read.

4. Extremely thorough.

5. Provides useful Blockchain knowledge that is immediately useful to all Blockchain professionals from the novice to the journeyman and master.

What really stands out:

The author's explanation of Blockchain, what it is, its components, and how it works is some of the clearest and most thorough I have seen.

His incredible explanations of the details about Ethereum and the Ethereum Development environment works. And his explanations of the Ethereum Virtual Machine and Ethereum Messaging are the best and clearest I have seen.

The author is such a great teacher that he suggests tricks like installing Wireshark so that the Blockchain engineer can actually see the network events between clients and servers happening in real-time.

The author generously defines and suggests a full spectrum of Blockchain tools from Wallet Managers to Blockchain Browsers to development environments and that is much appreciated.

His though coverage of major cryptocurrencies shows that he his fair, knowledgeable, passionate about providing as much information as possible to the reader.

In Summary:

I love this book and have recommended it to everyone I know who is interested in Blockchain. I also teach Blockchain at the graduate school level and have used this book in my course development and teaching, for my students and the interns I am working with this summer of 2018. Quite simply, there is nothing better on the market.

Special thanks to the author, Imran Bashir, for his tireless work that produced this masterpiece, and to everyone at PACKT for publishing it. It is the best Blockchain Book of 2018.

Amazon Customer , July 3, 2018
This was the best book I found out there for Blockchain

As a non-developer, I was able to understand 80% of this book. The information was thorough and concise. This was the best book I found out there for Blockchain. Read more 10 people found this helpful

Torben Worm , December 1, 2018
Practical hands-on book

This book touches a lot of subjects from distribution over cryptography to blockchain and smart contracts with many practical examples and pointers to further resources. If you are interested in getting started with blockchain and related technologies it's a good starting point, but if you are interested in the more theoretical aspects and deeper insights you will probably find that the book does not fulfil your needs.

Ele Liao , July 4, 2019
a good first book for blockchain

an easy read for a very comprehensive context in the blockchain. Read more Helpful

ST , October 22, 2019
comprehensive text on blockchain

I have read a number of popular books on blockchain. This is the first book that serves as a text on blockchain. Excellent, clear presentation. Read more Helpful

Muriel , June 23, 2018
Thorough and accessible

I am a developer currently building a Solidity DApp. I acquired an advanced reader's copy of this book. "Mastering Blockchain" by Imran Bashir does a thorough job explaining the foundational concepts behind blockchain programming. I like how the book contains both high-level descriptions and diagrams as well as examples of implementation at the code level. I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the writing is. This book helped me understand the differences between various types of blockchain technologies. For example, my Bitcoin developer friends asked me how the Ethereum Patricia Merkle Tries I use are different from the regular Merkle Trees they use in their work. This book gave very clear and concise explanations of that particular difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum data structures.

Victor , July 30, 2018
It covers the essential and a bit more.

There are several books regarding the topic and it's quite complicate to find a good one among all the noise. I would say that this is a good one. It's quite concise to go direct to the topic but at the same time it provides a complete view. Quite interesting, and this is something that almost all other publications miss is the cryptography side. There are several chapters focused on the topic and these provides a complete background that let you to understand better the blockchain mechanism. Is a really good book for people with some technical background that want to understand blockchain.

Rami Kudmani , June 20, 2018
Comprehensive and Enjoyable

I have read the first edition of this book. The book is well-structured and it covers a broad spectrum of knowledge around blockchain technology. What is interesting about this book is that it is one of the rare blockchain books that you could read the majority of it by non-tech people. The other thing is that it covers many important aspects about Blockchain starting from digital currencies, alt-coins down to non-financial applications.

I liked that book and would recommend it for newbies who are looking to understand blockchain and crypto-currencies, for for someone who understands bits and pieces here and there and wants to fill knowledge gaps about this interesting topic.

[Nov 21, 2019] The Origins Of Thought Police... And Why They Should Scare Us

Notable quotes:
"... Finally, the Thought Police were also inspired by the human struggle for self-honesty and the pressure to conform. "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe," Rudyard Kipling once observed. ..."
"... The struggle to remain true to one's self was also felt by Orwell, who wrote about "the smelly little orthodoxies" that contend for the human soul. Orwell prided himself with a "power of facing unpleasant facts" -- something of a rarity in humans -- even though it often hurt him in British society. ..."
"... In a sense, 1984 is largely a book about the human capacity to maintain a grip on the truth in the face of propaganda and power. ..."
"... The new Thought Police may be less sinister than the ThinkPol in 1984 , but the next generation will have to decide if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. FEE's Dan Sanchez recently observed that many people today feel like they're "walking on eggshells" and live in fear of making a verbal mistake that could draw condemnation. ..."
"... When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around." ..."
"... Movies like the Matrix actually helped people to question everything. What is real and not. Who is the enemy, and can we be sure. And when Conspiracy theories become fact, people learn. The problem is in later generations who get indoctrinated at school and college to not think, not question. Rational examination is forbidden. ..."
Nov 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Origins Of Thought Police... And Why They Should Scare Us by Tyler Durden Thu, 11/21/2019 - 20:25 0 SHARES

Authored by Jon Miltimore via The Foundation for Economic Education,

There are a lot of unpleasant things in George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 . Spying screens. Torture and propaganda. Victory Gin and Victory Coffee always sounded particularly dreadful. And there is Winston Smith's varicose ulcer, apparently a symbol of his humanity (or something), which always seems to be "throbbing." Gross.

None of this sounds very enjoyable, but it's not the worst thing in 1984 . To me, the most terrifying part was that you couldn't keep Big Brother out of your head.

Unlike other 20th-century totalitarians, the authoritarians in 1984 aren't that interested in controlling behavior or speech. They do, of course, but it's only as a means to an end. Their real goal is to control the gray matter between the ears.

"When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will," O'Brien (the bad guy) tells the protagonist Winston Smith near the end of the book.

We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him.

Big Brother's tool for doing this is the Thought Police, aka the ThinkPol, who are assigned to root out and punish unapproved thoughts. We see how this works when Winston's neighbor Parsons, an obnoxious Party sycophant, is reported to the Thought Police by his own child, who heard him commit a thought crime while talking in his sleep.

"It was my little daughter," Parsons tells Winston when asked who it was who denounced him.

"She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?"

Who Are These Thought Police?

We don't know a lot about the Thought Police, and some of what we think we know may actually not be true since some of what Winston learns comes from the Inner Party, and they lie.

What we know is this: The Thought Police are secret police of Oceania -- the fictional land of 1984 that probably consists of the UK, the Americas, and parts of Africa -- who use surveillance and informants to monitor the thoughts of citizens. The Thought Police also use psychological warfare and false-flag operations to entrap free thinkers or nonconformists.

Those who stray from Party orthodoxy are punished but not killed. The Thought Police don't want to kill nonconformists so much as break them. This happens in Room 101 of the Ministry of Love, where prisoners are re-educated through degradation and torture. (Funny sidebar: the name Room 101 apparently was inspired by a conference room at the BBC in which Orwell was forced to endure tediously long meetings.)

The Origins of the Thought Police

Orwell didn't create the Thought Police out of thin air. They were inspired to at least some degree by his experiences in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), a complicated and confusing affair. What you really need to know is that there were no good guys, and it ended with left-leaning anarchists and Republicans in Spain crushed by their Communist overlords, which helped the fascists win.

Orwell, an idealistic 33-year-old socialist when the conflict started, supported the anarchists and loyalists fighting for the left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, which received most of its support from the Soviet Union and Josef Stalin. (That might sound bad, but keep in mind that the Nazis were on the other side.) Orwell described the atmosphere in Barcelona in December 1936 when everything seemed to be going well for his side.

The anarchists were still in virtual control of Catalonia and the revolution was still in full swing ... It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle,

he wrote in Homage to Catalonia.

[E]very wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle ... every shop and café had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized.

That all changed pretty fast. Stalin, a rather paranoid fellow, was bent on making Republican Spain loyal to him . Factions and leaders perceived as loyal to his exiled Communist rival, Leon Trotsky , were liquidated. Loyal Communists found themselves denounced as fascists. Nonconformists and "uncontrollables" were disappeared.

Orwell never forgot the purges or the steady stream of lies and propaganda churned out from Communist papers during the conflict. (To be fair, their Nationalist opponents also used propaganda and lies .) Stalin's NKVD was not exactly like the Thought Police -- the NKVD showed less patience with its victims -- but they certainly helped inspire Orwell's secret police.

The Thought Police were not all propaganda and torture, though. They also stem from Orwell's ideas on truth. During his time in Spain, he saw how power could corrupt truth, and he shared these reflections in his work George Orwell: My Country Right or Left, 1940-1943 .

...I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened.

In short, Orwell's brush with totalitarianism left him worried that "the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world."

This scared him. A lot. He actually wrote, "This kind of thing is frightening to me."

Finally, the Thought Police were also inspired by the human struggle for self-honesty and the pressure to conform. "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe," Rudyard Kipling once observed.

The struggle to remain true to one's self was also felt by Orwell, who wrote about "the smelly little orthodoxies" that contend for the human soul. Orwell prided himself with a "power of facing unpleasant facts" -- something of a rarity in humans -- even though it often hurt him in British society.

In a sense, 1984 is largely a book about the human capacity to maintain a grip on the truth in the face of propaganda and power.

It might be tempting to dismiss Orwell's book as a figment of dystopian literature. Unfortunately, that's not as easy as it sounds. Modern history shows he was onto something.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around.

Nor did the use of state spies to prosecute thoughtcrimes end with the fall of the Soviet Union. Believe it or not, it's still happening today. The New York Times recently ran a report featuring one Peng Wei, a 21-year-old Chinese chemistry major. He is one of the thousands of "student information officers" China uses to root out professors who show signs of disloyalty to President Xi Jinping or the Communist Party.

The New Thought Police?

The First Amendment of the US Constitution, fortunately, largely protects Americans from the creepy authoritarian systems found in 1984 , East Germany, and China; but the rise of "cancel culture" shows the pressure to conform to all sorts of orthodoxies (smelly or not) remains strong.

The new Thought Police may be less sinister than the ThinkPol in 1984 , but the next generation will have to decide if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. FEE's Dan Sanchez recently observed that many people today feel like they're "walking on eggshells" and live in fear of making a verbal mistake that could draw condemnation.

That's a lot of pressure, especially for people still learning the acceptable boundaries of a new moral code that is constantly evolving. Most people, if the pressure is sufficient, will eventually say "2+2=5" just to escape punishment. That's exactly what Winston Smith does at the end of 1984 , after all. Yet Orwell also leaves readers with a glimmer of hope.

"Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad," Orwell wrote.

"There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad."

In other words, the world may be mad, but that doesn't mean you have to be.


Cardinal Fang , 40 minutes ago link

Frank Zappa asked this very question decades ago...

Who Are The Brain Police?

https://youtu.be/DuABc9ZNtrA

sbin , 1 hour ago link

Was raised reading

Nice that an author referenced Orwell but if you do not understand the original works then the authors reference is meaningless.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 1 hour ago link

" When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around."

Confidential informants should be illegal.

How many people are employed by the various Federal intelligence agencies, of which there are 17 the last time I heard. Hundreds of thousands of Federal employees, protected by strong government employee unions.

When this shitshow goes live, it will only take a small team to shut off the water that is necessary to keep the NSA servers cool in Utah.

New_Meat , 2 hours ago link

"Unlike other 20th-century totalitarians, ..."

I offer DPRK and in many ways PRC as counter-examples.

Thom Paine , 2 hours ago link

Movies like the Matrix actually helped people to question everything. What is real and not. Who is the enemy, and can we be sure. And when Conspiracy theories become fact, people learn. The problem is in later generations who get indoctrinated at school and college to not think, not question. Rational examination is forbidden.

[Oct 09, 2019] George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in Nineteen Eighty-Four come into being there will be several super states. These super states will naturally be in opposition to each other or (a novel point) will pretend to be much more in opposition than in fact they are

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation. ..."
"... Specifically the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on Liberal capitalist communities by the necessity to prepare for total war with the U.S.S.R. and the new weapons, of which of course the atomic bomb is the most powerful and the most publicized. But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours. ..."
"... Two of the principal super states will obviously be the Anglo-American world and Eurasia. If these two great blocks line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents and will not dramatize themselves on the scene of history as Communists. Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the U.S.A. the phrase "Americanism" or "hundred per cent Americanism" is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish. ..."
"... Pretty much explains the SDP and NuLabourInc and his name sake Blair and our political landscape of the last 50 years, don't you think? ..."
"... Also pay attention to the 'parody phrase. ' ..."
Oct 09, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Dungroanin -> MikeE Oct 9, 2019 12:46 AM

That is my down tick.

Because i feel that some agenda is at play. I'm not going to accuse you of trolling, or even a bit of gas lighting, but it seems like a slide into classic red scaring and recasting of Eric Blair

By way of explaining my emotion and since you mention Warburg, here is an example of Orwellian post humous attribution. He never said "imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever."

'from a post-publication press release directed by publisher Fredric Warburg toward readers who "had misinterpreted [Orwell's] aim, taking the novel as a criticism of the current British Labour Party, or of contemporary socialism in general." The quotation from the press release was "soon given the status of a last statement or deathbed appeal, given that Orwell was hospitalized at the time and dead six months later."

You can read more at georgeorwellnovels.com, which provides a great deal of context on this press release, which runs, in full, as follows:

It has been suggested by some of the reviewers of Nineteen Eighty-Four that it is the author's view that this, or something like this, is what will happen inside the next forty years in the Western world. This is not correct. I think that, allowing for the book being after all a parody, something like Nineteen Eighty-Four could happen. This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation.

Specifically the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on Liberal capitalist communities by the necessity to prepare for total war with the U.S.S.R. and the new weapons, of which of course the atomic bomb is the most powerful and the most publicized. But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours.

The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don't let it happen. It depends on you.

George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in Nineteen Eighty-Four come into being there will be several super states. This is fully dealt with in the relevant chapters of Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is also discussed from a different angle by James Burnham in The Managerial Revolution. These super states will naturally be in opposition to each other or (a novel point) will pretend to be much more in opposition than in fact they are.

Two of the principal super states will obviously be the Anglo-American world and Eurasia. If these two great blocks line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents and will not dramatize themselves on the scene of history as Communists. Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the U.S.A. the phrase "Americanism" or "hundred per cent Americanism" is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish.

If there is a failure of nerve and the Labour party breaks down in its attempt to deal with the hard problems with which it will be faced, tougher types than the present Labour leaders will inevitably take over, drawn probably from the ranks of the Left, but not sharing the Liberal aspirations of those now in power. Members of the present British government, from Mr. Attlee and Sir Stafford Cripps down to Aneurin Bevan will never willingly sell the pass to the enemy, and in general the older men, nurtured in a Liberal tradition, are safe, but the younger generation is suspect and the seeds of totalitarian thought are probably widespread among them. It is invidious to mention names, but everyone could without difficulty think for himself of prominent English and American personalities whom the cap would fit.'
http://www.openculture.com/2014/11/george-orwells-final-warning.html

-- -- -- -

Pretty much explains the SDP and NuLabourInc and his name sake Blair and our political landscape of the last 50 years, don't you think?

Also pay attention to the 'parody phrase. '
'
As i wrote earlier, perhaps Blair of Eton ultimately saw how clearly hist talents had been misused by the 'totalitarians' before he died.

I understand that some of his works are still censored and others never published. As are his state employment in propaganda on which he probably based his 'parody' on.

[Oct 05, 2019] Summary of Eric Hoffer's, The True Believer Reason and Meaning

Oct 05, 2019 | reasonandmeaning.com

Summary of Eric Hoffer's, The True Believer September 4, 2017 Book Reviews - Politics , Politics - Tyranny John Messerly

Eric Hoffer in 1967, in the Oval Office, visiting President Lyndon Baines JohnsonEric Hoffer in 1967, in the Oval Office , visiting President Lyndon Baines Johnson

" Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil. " ~ Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, October 19, 2017.)

Eric Hoffer (1898 – 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher who worked for more than twenty years as longshoremen in San Francisco. The author of ten books, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. His first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), is a work in social psychology which discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism. It is widely considered a classic.

Overview

The first lines of Hoffer's book clearly state its purpose:

This book deals with some peculiarities common to all mass movements, be they religious movements, social revolutions or nationalist movements. It does not maintain that all movements are identical, but that they share certain essential characteristics which give them a family likeness.

All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance

The assumption that mass movements have many traits in common does not imply that all movements are equally beneficent or poisonous. The book passes no judgments, and expresses no preferences. It merely tries to explain (pp. xi-xiii)

Part 1 – The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer says that mass movements begin when discontented, frustrated, powerless people lose faith in existing institutions and demand change. Feeling hopeless, such people participate in movements that allow them to become part of a larger collective. They become true believers in a mass movement that "appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation." (p. 12)

Put another way, Hoffer says: "Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the loss of faith in ourselves." (p. 14) Leaders inspire these movements, but the seeds of mass movements must already exist for the leaders to be successful. And while mass movements typically blend nationalist, political and religious ideas, they all compete for angry and/or marginalized people.

Part 2 – The Potential Converts

The destitute are not usually converts to mass movements; they are too busy trying to survive to become engaged. But what Hoffer calls the "new poor," those who previously had wealth or status but who believe they have now lost it, are potential converts. Such people are resentful and blame others for their problems.

Mass movements also attract the partially assimilated -- those who feel alienated from mainstream culture. Others include misfits, outcasts, adolescents, and sinners, as well as the ambitious, selfish, impotent and bored. What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless.

A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves -- and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole. (p. 41)

Hoffer emphasizes that creative people -- those who experience creative flow -- aren't usually attracted to mass movements. Creativity provides inner joy which both acts as an antidote to the frustrations with external hardships. Creativity also relieves boredom, a major cause of mass movements:

There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society's ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and
support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed. To a deliberate fomenter of mass upheavals, the report that people are bored still should be at least as encouraging as that they are suffering from intolerable economic or political abuses. (pp. 51-52)

Part 3 – United Action and Self-Sacrifice

Mass movements demand of their followers a "total surrender of a distinct self." (p. 117) Thus a follower identifies as "a member of a certain tribe or family." (p. 62) Furthermore, mass movements denigrate and "loathe the present." (p. 74) By regarding the modern world as worthless, the movement inspires a battle against it.

What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as the decry the present and all its works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so. Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance. There must be something more -- and there is. By expiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation (p. 75)

Mass movements also promote faith over reason and serve as "fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world." (p. 79)

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. (pp. 80-81).

So believers ignore truths that contradict their fervent beliefs, but this hides the fact that,

The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure. He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual sources but finds it only by clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace. The passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the sources of all virtue and strength He sacrifices his life to prove his worth The fanatic cannot be weaned away from his cause by an appeal to reason or his moral sense. He fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause. (p. 85).

Thus the doctrines of the mass movement must not be questioned -- they are regarded with certitude -- and they are spread through "persuasion, coercion, and proselytization." Persuasion works best on those already sympathetic to the doctrines, but it must be vague enough to allow "the frustrated to hear the echo of their own musings in impassioned double talk." (p. 106) Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels : "a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective." (p. 106) The urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to "strengthen his own faith by converting others." (p. 110)

Moreover, mass movements need an object of hate which unifies believers, and "the ideal devil is a foreigner." (p. 93) Mass movements need a devil. But in reality, the "hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing " and "the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure." (p. 85) Through their fanatical action and personal sacrifice, the fanatic tries to give their life meaning.

Part 4 – Beginning and End

Hoffer states that three personality types typically lead mass movements: "men of words", "fanatics", and "practical men of action." Men of words try to "discredit the prevailing creeds" and creates a "hunger for faith" which is then fed by "doctrines and slogans of the new faith." (p. 140) (In the USA think of the late William F. Buckley.) Slowly followers emerge.

Then fanatics take over. (In the USA think of the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, Alex Jones, etc.) Fanatics don't find solace in literature, philosophy or art. Instead, they are characterized by viciousness, the urge to destroy, and the perpetual struggle for power. But after mass movements transform the social order, the insecurity of their followers is not ameliorated. At this point, the "practical men of action" take over and try to lead the new order by further controlling their followers. (Think Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, Steve Miller, etc.)

In the end mass movements that succeed often bring about a social order worse than the previous one. (This was one of Will Durant's findings in The Lessons of History . ) As Hoffer puts it near the end of his work: "All mass movements irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance." (p. 141)

__________________________________________________________________________

Quotes from Hoffer, Eric (2002). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements . Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 978-0-060-50591-2 .

[Sep 28, 2019] Orwell vs Jack London

The Iron Heel is a dystopian[1] novel by American writer Jack London, first published in 1908.[2] Generally considered to be "the earliest of the modern dystopian" fiction,[3] it chronicles the rise of an oligarchic tyranny in the United States.
In The Iron Heel, Jack London's socialist views are explicitly on display. A forerunner of soft science fiction novels and stories of the 1960s and '70s, the book stresses future changes in society and politics while paying much less attention to technological changes.
The novel is based on the fictional "Everhard Manuscript" written by Avis Everhard... The Manuscript itself covers the years 1912 through 1932 in which the Oligarchy (or "Iron Heel") arose in the United States. In Asia, Japan conquered East Asia and created its own empire, India gained independence, and Europe became socialist. Canada, Mexico, and Cuba formed their own Oligarchies and were aligned with the U.S. (London remains silent as to the fates of South America, Africa, and the Middle East.)
In North America, the Oligarchy maintains power for three centuries until the Revolution succeeds and ushers in the Brotherhood of Man. During the years of the novel, the First Revolt is described and preparations for the Second Revolt are discussed. From the perspective of Everhard, the imminent Second Revolt is sure to succeed but from Meredith's frame story , the reader knows that Ernest Everhard's hopes would go unfulfilled until centuries after his death.
The Oligarchy is the largest monopoly of trusts (or robber barons ) who manage to squeeze out the middle class by bankrupting most small to mid-sized business as well as reducing all farmers to effective serfdom . This Oligarchy maintains power through a "labor caste " and the Mercenaries . Laborers in essential industries like steel and rail are elevated and given decent wages, housing, and education. Indeed, the tragic turn in the novel (and Jack London's core warning to his contemporaries) is the treachery of these favored unions which break with the other unions and side with the Oligarchy. Further, a second, military caste is formed: the Mercenaries. The Mercenaries are officially the army of the US but are in fact in the employ of the Oligarchs.
Jack London ambitiously predicted a breakdown of the US republic starting a few years past 1908, but various events have caused his predicted future to diverge from actual history. Most crucially, though London placed quite accurately the time when international tensions will reach their peak (1913 in "The Iron Heel", 1914 in actual history ), he (like many others at the time) predicted that when this moment came, labor solidarity would prevent a war that would include the US, Germany and other nations.
The Iron Heel is cited by George Orwell 's biographer Michael Shelden as having influenced Orwell's most famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four . [4] Orwell himself described London as having made "a very remarkable prophecy of the rise of Fascism ", in the book and believed that London's understanding of the primitive had made him a better prophet "than many better-informed and more logical thinkers." [5] ( The Iron Heel - Wikipedia )
Sep 28, 2019 | www.unz.com

As writer or thinker, Jack London can't touch George Orwell, but he's nearly the Brit's equal when it comes to describing society's bottom. To both, being a writer is as much a physical as an intellectual endeavor. Wading into everything, they braved all discomforts and dangers. This attitude has become very rare, and not just among writers. Trapped in intensely mediated lives, we all think we know more as we experience less and less.

At age 14, London worked in a salmon cannery. At 16, he was an oyster pirate. At 17, he was a sailor on a sealing schooner that reached Japan. At 18, London crossed the country as a hobo and, near Buffalo, was jailed for 30 days for vagrancy. At 21, he prospected for gold in the Klondike. London was also a newsboy, longshoreman, roustabout, window washer, jute mill grunt, carpet cleaner and electrician, so he had many incidents, mishaps and ordeals to draw from, and countless characters to portray.

London's The Road chronicles his hobo and prison misadventure. Condemned to hard labor, the teenager nearly starved, "While we got plenty of water, we did not get enough of the bread. A ration of bread was about the size of one's two fists, and three rations a day were given to each prisoner. There was one good thing, I must say, about the water -- it was hot. In the morning it was called 'coffee,' at noon it was dignified as 'soup,' and at night it masqueraded as 'tea.' But it was the same old water all the time."

London quickly worked his way up the clink's hierarchy, to become one of 13 enforcers for the guards. This experience alone should have taught him that in all situations, not just dire ones, each man will prioritize his own interest and survival, and that there's no solidarity among the "downtrodden" or whatever. Orwell's Animal Farm is a parable about this. Since man is an egoist, power lust lurks everywhere.

During the Russo-Japanese War a decade later, London would approvingly quote a letter from Japanese socialists to their Russian comrades, but this pacific gesture was nothing compared to the nationalistic fervor engulfing both countries. Like racism, nationalism is but self love. Though clearly madness if overblown, it's unextinguishable.

Jailed, London the future socialist stood by as his gang disciplined a naïf, "I remember a handsome young mulatto of about twenty who got the insane idea into his head that he should stand for his rights. And he did have the right of it, too; but that didn't help him any. He lived on the topmost gallery. Eight hall-men took the conceit out of him in just about a minute and a half -- for that was the length of time required to travel along his gallery to the end and down five flights of steel stairs. He travelled the whole distance on every portion of his anatomy except his feet, and the eight hall-men were not idle. The mulatto struck the pavement where I was standing watching it all. He regained his feet and stood upright for a moment. In that moment he threw his arms wide apart and omitted an awful scream of terror and pain and heartbreak. At the same instant, as in a transformation scene, the shreds of his stout prison clothes fell from him, leaving him wholly naked and streaming blood from every portion of the surface of his body. Then he collapsed in a heap, unconscious. He had learned his lesson, and every convict within those walls who heard him scream had learned a lesson. So had I learned mine. It is not a nice thing to see a man's heart broken in a minute and a half."

Jailed, you immediately recover your racial consciousness, but London apparently missed this. In any case, a lesser writer or man wouldn't confess to such complicity with power. Elsewhere, London admits to much hustling and lying, and even claims these practices made him a writer, "I have often thought that to this training of my tramp days is due much of my success as a story-writer. In order to get the food whereby I lived, I was compelled to tell tales that rang true [ ] Also, I quite believe it was my tramp-apprenticeship that made a realist out of me. Realism constitutes the only goods one can exchange at the kitchen door for grub."

Informed by hard-earned, bitter experience, London's accounts resonate and convince, even when outlandish, for they are essentially true about the human condition.

London on a fellow prisoner, "He was a huge, illiterate brute, an ex-Chesapeake-Bay-oyster-pirate, an 'ex-con' who had done five years in Sing Sing, and a general all-around stupidly carnivorous beast. He used to trap sparrows that flew into our hall through the open bars. When he made a capture, he hurried away with it into his cell, where I have seen him crunching bones and spitting out feathers as he bolted it raw."

Though London often uses "beast" or "beastly" to describe how humans are treated, this fellow appears to be congenitally bestial, with his all-around stupidity. As for the other prisoners, "Our hall was a common stews, filled with the ruck and the filth, the scum and dregs, of society -- hereditary inefficients, degenerates, wrecks, lunatics, addled intelligences, epileptics, monsters, weaklings, in short, a very nightmare of humanity." Though many are wrecked, others are born deficient, addled or weak, but in our retarded days, morons must be smart in other ways, and raging monsters are merely oppressed into mayhem or murder.

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But of course, society does oppress, then and now. Remember that an 18-year-old London was sentenced to 30 days of hard labor for merely being in a strange city without a hotel reservation. Another inmate was doing 60 for eating from a trash can, "He had strayed out to the circus ground, and, being hungry, had made his way to the barrel that contained the refuse from the table of the circus people. 'And it was good bread,' he often assured me; 'and the meat was out of sight.' A policeman had seen him and arrested him, and there he was." Well, at least Americans are no longer locked up for dumpster diving, so there's progress for you, but then many must still feed from the garbage, with that number rapidly rising.

Though London was a worldwide celebrity at his death in 1916, his fame faded so fast that Orwell could comment in 1944, "Jack London is one of those border-line writers whose works might be forgotten altogether unless somebody takes the trouble to revive them."

London's most enduring book may turn out to be The People of the Abyss, his 1903 investigation into the abjectly impoverished of London's East End.

Dressed accordingly, London joined its homeless to see how they survived. With a 58-year-old carter and a 65-year-old carpenter, London wandered the cold streets, "From the slimy, spittle-drenched, sidewalk, they were picking up bits of orange peel, apple skin, and grape stems, and, they were eating them. The pits of greengage plums they cracked between their teeth for the kernels inside. They picked up stray bits of bread the size of peas, apple cores so black and dirty one would not take them to be apple cores, and these things these two men took into their mouths, and chewed them, and swallowed them; and this, between six and seven o'clock in the evening of August 20, year of our Lord 1902, in the heart of the greatest, wealthiest, and most powerful empire the world has ever seen."

Having mingled with many homeless in cities across America, I can attest that the food situation is not as bad in that unraveling empire, but the squalor is just as appalling, if not worse. A Wall Street Journal headline, "California's Biggest Cities Confront a 'Defecation Crisis'." There's no need to import public shitting from shitholes, since there's already plenty of it, homegrown and well-fertilized with smirkingly cynical policies.

Trump, "We can't let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what's happening," but he's only talking about the unsightliness of it all, not its root cause, which is a deliberately wrecked economy that, over decades, has fabulously enriched his and our masters. This, too, is a controlled demolition.

Ensconced in some leafy suburb, you might be missing this beastly, raving, zonked out and shitty transformation. Jack London, though, never recoiled from society's diarrhea. My favorite passage of The People of the Abyss is his account of bathing, so to speak, in a workhouse:

We stripped our clothes, wrapping them up in our coats and buckling our belts about them, and deposited them in a heaped rack and on the floor -- a beautiful scheme for the spread of vermin. Then, two by two, we entered the bathroom. There were two ordinary tubs, and this I know: the two men preceding had washed in that water, we washed in the same water, and it was not changed for the two men that followed us. This I know; but I am also certain that the twenty-two of us washed in the same water.

I did no more than make a show of splashing some of this dubious liquid at myself, while I hastily brushed it off with a towel wet from the bodies of other men. My equanimity was not restored by seeing the back of one poor wretch a mass of blood from attacks of vermin and retaliatory scratching.

If other men had to endure that, why shouldn't London, especially since he was trying to understand these wretches?

Many moons, suns and saturns ago, I taught a writing course at UPenn, and for one assignment, I asked students to take the subway to a strange stop, get off, walk around and observe, but don't do it in the dark, I did warn them. Frightened, one girl couldn't get off, so simply wrote about her very first ride. At least she got a taste of an entirely alien world beyond campus. Considering that her parents had to cough up over 60 grands annually to consign her to the Ivy League, they'd probably want to murder me for subjecting their precious to such needless anxieties.

Cocooned, Americans are oblivious to their own destruction. Screwed, they're fixated by Pornhub.

London insisted a worldwide class revolution was the answer. A century and several gory nightmares later, there are those who still cling to this faith, but only in the West. In the East, even the most ignorant know the survival of his identity and dignity is conterminous with his nation's. Orwell understood this well. It is the biggest crime to wreck anyone's heritage in a flash.

In each society, you can begin to right the ship by prosecuting the biggest criminals, with existing laws, but first, you must have the clarity and courage to identify them.

In the US, at least, this shouldn't be too complicated, for their crimes are mostly out in the open, and their enforcers appear nightly in your living room, not unlike 1984. As you watch, they cheerfully lie, silence witnesses, mass murder, squander your last cent and dismantle, brick by brick, the house your forefathers built and died defending. Even if all they saw was its basement, it was still their everything.

Linh Dinh's latest book is Postcards from the End of America . He maintains a regularly updated photo blog .


AmRusDebate , says: September 26, 2019 at 3:33 pm GMT

Lexicologically, Jack London far surpasses Orwell. He mixes erudite and argot. Stylistically London far surpassed anything Orwell ever came up with. Orwell is a man of unum librum.

Nor would I say Orwell was a better thinker than London. 1984 is partly inspired by the Iron Heel, an image coined by London in a namesake book.

Reducing London to being a mere "socialist" is moronic.

Bardon Kaldian , says: September 26, 2019 at 5:21 pm GMT
London is one of those authors whom aesthetes despise, but who- against all odds- stubbornly refuse to go away. When he wrote about "serious" topics, London was a failure (Burning Daylight, Martin Eden, ); on the other hand, when he wrote about animals, primitives, mentally impaired, (white) underclass & quasi-fascist-Darwinian fantasies (most stories & short novels) -he was an unavoidable writer, one that will be read long after most canonized authors are just a footnote.

By the way, he was extremely popular even in Czarist Russia, something along the lines of American vitalism & energy.

Top Hat , says: September 27, 2019 at 12:24 am GMT
Jack London's "The Iron Heel" is another of his fictional stories about the working classes and in the book he attacks capitalism and promotes socialism while presenting the story of the US turned into an oligarchy in 1913 (the book was written in 1907). What's interesting about "The Iron Heel" is that by 1900 it must have been quite obvious as to how the world's more powerful nations were planning on parceling up the world, and London makes reference to this in his novel about the future military campaigns that will take place in the book's dystopian future, and his fiction was not far wrong from what actually transpired in WW1 and WW2.

After Jack London gained fame he did not work alone, he hired aspiring writers to "fill-in" his fiction, much like famous painters painting large commissions would hire subordinates to "fill-in" their canvas after the outline was drawn. The plot and subplots would come from London, but his underlings would write the stories. At this point in time I can't remember the names but as I recall a few famous authors got their start working for Jack London.

London was also cursed with the writer's nemesis, he was an alcoholic, and his autobiographical novel "John Barleycorn" treats the "demon drink" as one of the world's great ills. The book being published in 1913, it is noteworthy that the eighteenth amendment banning alcohol was passed by congress a few years later in 1919, so it could be that London was at least a minor fulcrum in giving a push to the moral crusade against alcohol being sold in the US.

Much of Jack London's work is classic like his short story fiction placed in Alaska, "To Start a Fire" about a man exposed to the elements and slowly freezing to death, or his fictional tales about being a constable sailing a schooner chasing pirates off the coast of California. Also unique and thrilling is the short story "A Piece of Steak" about an aging boxer hoping to win one last fight. These were tough and gritty stories about men at their extremity, and not tales for children.

London wrote a good tale and he understood human nature, and perhaps that's what motivated him to become an alcoholic socialist.

durd , says: September 27, 2019 at 1:26 am GMT
@Bardon Kaldian I enjoyed much of London's works. Although I read many of his books when young,and I don't remember them too much, they helped inspire me to head north in the very backyard of Burning Daylight, a best seller in it's day. His portrayal of characters of the North seem quite believable and his description of the land and it's peculiar traits are also accurate. The short story 'All Gold Canyon' is spot on for how a prospector prospects.

I read the Jack London Reader (for sale in Chicken, ak) a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely as I did the Sea Wolf.

Martin Eden is a depressing read. I have only read Animal Farm so I really can't compare. Depends how much one 'likes' to get disgruntled.

Nancy Pelosi's Latina Maid , says: September 27, 2019 at 8:05 am GMT

Cocooned, Americans are oblivious to their own destruction. Screwed, they're fixated by Pornhub.

Funny, all I ever read on the Internet these days are articles about America's destruction. This article's another one. Yet according to some pouty guy on the other side of the planet, we're oblivious.

And Pornhub is #32 according to Alexa. That's really high, but 31 websites precede it. I've never visited Pornhub, and I'd bet neither have 9 out of 10 Americans. Eliminate kids under 10, adults over 80, most women, and all those without Internet access, and you're left with a core of certain primetime lusty guys who are comfortable with pornography. Couldn't be more than 10%.

It'd be wonderful if we could have a single calendar day, say October 21, when everyone declares a moratorium on blithely shitting on America. Or is this part of the Jewish strategy to keep us divided and unhappy?

swamped , says: September 27, 2019 at 9:16 am GMT
"London was also a newsboy, longshoreman, roustabout, window washer, jute mill grunt, carpet cleaner and electrician" and – not least – SPORTSWRITER!John Griffith Chaney packed a lot of experience into his short forty year span on this wretched earth but his stint on the Oakland Herald & later sports writing – especially about surfing – are some of his best & consistent with his own fiery enjoyment of active outdoor sports. Perhaps best summed up in his aphorism:"I would rather be ashes than dust." London was not known for being a soccer fan but nonetheless, he would probably still be pleased to know that there is in his hometown today a very large & thriving Jack London Youth Soccer League. Anybody's guess how long it will be before the Woke Folk in town try to shut it down for being named after a 'white supremacist'.
Eric Arthur Blair had a similarly short stay in this world – only seven more years than London – but didn't much share his enthusiasm for the sporting life. Orwell was quite candid in his rejection of the world's favorite past time, explaining in an essay: "I loathed the game, and since I could see no pleasure or usefulness in it, it was very difficult for me to show courage at it. Football, it seemed to me, is not really played for the pleasure of kicking a ball about, but is a species of fighting." Orwell was even more pointed in a London Tribune op-ed during his early newspaper days, commenting on a recent series of matches between a Russian & English clubs, " the games cult did not start till the later part of the last century. Dr Arnold, generally regarded as the founder of the modern public school, looked on games as simply a waste of time. Then, chiefly in England and the United States, games were built up into a heavily-financed activity, capable of attracting vast crowds and rousing savage passions, and the infection spread from country to country. It is the most violently combative sports, football and boxing, that have spread the widest. There cannot be much doubt that the whole thing is bound up with the rise of nationalism -- that is, with the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige."

"Orwell understood this well. It is the biggest crime to wreck anyone's heritage in a flash."
Or beat their national team. Go Golden Dragons!

TKK , says: September 27, 2019 at 11:19 am GMT
When I read about a woman dying from a rooster attack, or people falling to their death to take selfies, or the growing number of hikers who venture out into semi- wilderness with their cell phones but not adequate water, I always think of London's "To Build a Fire."

If London observed man's diminished capacity to measure and survive nature in his era, what would he make of any airport or street today? Like the parasite creature in "Alien", phones are stuck to every face encountered. Most people are not "present" in any sense when in the public sphere now, let alone taking note of the world around them.

6dust6 , says: September 27, 2019 at 11:52 am GMT
Great essay. I made it a point to visit Jack London's ranch on a California visit. The ranch was a huge unfulfilled project with the sad burnt out ruins of his dream house reminding us of his grand plans. The condition of his grown-over untended grave startled me. I find it interesting that many men of that time viewed socialism as a panacea; however, the intellect, ambition and energy of a man like Jack London would never have survived the ideology he espoused.
follyofwar , says: September 27, 2019 at 2:46 pm GMT
@Paul Did you see the "Trotsky" miniseries on Netflix? It was in Russian with English subtitles, but I enjoyed reading them all and found it riveting. It appeared to be historically accurate to someone like me who knows little of Russian history. Trotsky (born Lev Bronstein) was a Ukrainian Jew who cared little for how many Russians he killed. I guess Ukies hated Russians even back then.
follyofwar , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:01 pm GMT
@6dust6 Who knows, if London had lived longer he might have been a fascist supporter of Mussolini (as was Ezra Pound) and Hitler.
Emslander , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:03 pm GMT

In each society, you can begin to right the ship by prosecuting the biggest criminals, with existing laws, but first, you must have the clarity and courage to identify them.

This is why I don't get your disgust at President Trump. He has the will and the position to do just as you recommend and he would do it if the ruling class weren't trying to cut him off at the knees 24-7. Trump is the people's first successful attempt to drive the destroyers from the forum. I fear for coming generations if he doesn't.

Bardon Kaldian , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:17 pm GMT
@simple_pseudonymic_handle Nathaniel Hawthorne
Herman Melville
Walt Whitman
Mark Twain
Stephen Crane
T.S. Eliot
Henry James
Tennessee Williams
Saul Bellow
John Updike
pyrrhus , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:29 pm GMT
Jack London also wrote the classic short story 'To Build a Fire', and the novel 'The Call of the Wild', both set in Alaska ..He was a talented writer.
Zagonostra , says: September 27, 2019 at 4:13 pm GMT
I wish the author would have done an analysis of London's "Iron Heel." I just read it for the first time, and what he was writing about 100 years ago on the dominance of the "oligarchs", i.e., the "iron heel" rings as true today as it did back then.

Curious also how he died so suddenly. There is a YouTube video of him at his ranch looking as healthy as can be only a couple of days before he mysteriously died.

Jeff Stryker , says: September 27, 2019 at 4:25 pm GMT
@Anonymous Snanonymous Sir, you have made a remarkably prescient point.

USA today is like Britain in the late Victorian age. A Superpower of vast divides.

In those days, a serial killer called Jack the Ripper stalked the streets.

There is no difference. The class system has been replaced by rich Wall Street sharks and tech billionaires but the plutocracy is a plutocracy.

Gin has given way to Opoids.

But it is strangely similar.

Linh Dinh , says: Website September 27, 2019 at 9:23 pm GMT
@AaronB An empire exploits and abuses all natives, including those of its host nation. Just think of how they must send these natives to foreign lands, not just to kill, but die. It's better to be a house slave than a field one, however, so many far flung subjects of the empire will try to sneak into the house. It's also safer there, generally. Except for rare instances, as in 9/11, the empire won't blow up natives inside its borders.

[Sep 24, 2019] George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s and discovered that the true facts in Spain were radically different from what he had been led to believe by the British media of his day

Sep 24, 2019 | www.unz.com

Originally from: American Pravda Understanding World War II, by Ron Unz - The Unz Review

World War II ended nearly three generations ago, and few of its adult survivors still walk the earth. From one perspective the true facts of that conflict and whether or not they actually contradict our traditional beliefs might appear rather irrelevant. Tearing down the statues of some long-dead historical figures and replacing them with the statues of others hardly seems of much practical value.

But if we gradually conclude that the story that all of us have been told during our entire lifetimes is substantially false and perhaps largely inverted, the implications for our understanding of the world are enormous. Most of the surprising material presented here is hardly hidden or kept under lock-and-key. Nearly all the books are easily available at Amazon or even freely readable on the Internet, many of the authors have received critical and scholarly acclaim, and in some cases their works have sold in the millions.

Yet this important material has been almost entirely ignored or dismissed by the popular media that shapes the common beliefs of our society. So we must necessarily begin to wonder what other massive falsehoods may have been similarly promoted by that media, perhaps involving incidents of the recent past or even the present day. And those latter events do have enormous practical significance. As I pointed out several years ago in my original American Pravda article :

Aside from the evidence of our own senses, almost everything we know about the past or the news of today comes from bits of ink on paper or colored pixels on a screen, and fortunately over the last decade or two the growth of the Internet has vastly widened the range of information available to us in that latter category. Even if the overwhelming majority of the unorthodox claims provided by such non-traditional web-based sources is incorrect, at least there now exists the possibility of extracting vital nuggets of truth from vast mountains of falsehood.

We must also recognize that many of the fundamental ideas that dominate our present-day world were founded upon a particular understanding of that wartime history, and if there seems good reason to believe that narrative is substantially false, perhaps we should begin questioning the framework of beliefs erected upon it.

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George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s and discovered that the true facts in Spain were radically different from what he had been led to believe by the British media of his day. In 1948 these past experiences together with the rapidly congealing "official history" of the Second World War may have been uppermost in his mind when he published his classic novel 1984, which famously declared that "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."


historicus , says: September 23, 2019 at 4:22 am GMT

Great article, thank you. The WWII legend is sacrosanct because it is the founding myth of the empire that replaced our republic, just as the Founders predicted would be the result of choosing sides in foreign conflicts. Is seems credible to think that FDR enabled Churchill's blood lust because encouraging the seriously weakened British empire to finish committing suicide by engaging in another ground war in Europe would clear the way for the US to finally replace the hated mother country as the world's great power- just as another faction of the Founders dreamed. The motto on our National Seal "Novus Ordo Seclorum" is quoted from Virgil's Eclogues, where it is the prophecy of the Cumaean Sybil that Rome was destined to rule the world.

Historian Murray Rothbard best described the impact of the war in this obituary he wrote for fellow popular historian Harry Elmer Barnes, "Our entry into World War II was the crucial act in foisting a permanent militarization upon the economy and society, in bringing to the country a permanent garrison state, an overweening military-industrial complex, a permanent system of conscription. It was the crucial act in expanding the United States from a republic into an Empire, and in spreading that Empire throughout the world, replacing the sagging British Empire in the process. It was the crucial act in creating a Mixed Economy run by Big Government, a system of State-Monopoly-Capitalism run by the central government in collaboration with Big Business and Big Unionism. It was the crucial act in elevating Presidential power, particularly in foreign affairs, to the role of single most despotic person in the history of the world. And, finally, World War II is the last war-myth left, the myth that the Old Left clings to in pure desperation: the myth that here, at least, was a good war, here was a war in which America was in the right. World War II is the war thrown into our faces by the war-making Establishment, as it tries, in each war that we face, to wrap itself in the mantle of good and righteous World War II."

Carlton Meyer , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 4:25 am GMT
For those who lack the time to read these books, or even this great essay, here is a 13-minute video summary. For those shocked by this information, return and read this entire essay, then the books if you still fail to understand that history has been distorted.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lXHxiKDTHfU?feature=oembed

Carlton Meyer , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 5:02 am GMT
Mr Unz began with:

"Although Saddam Hussein clearly had no connection to the attacks, his status as a possible regional rival to Israel had established him as their top target, and they soon began beating the drums for war, with America finally launching its disastrous invasion in February 2003."

I agree that replacing a progressive Arab leader with an Anglo-American puppet government was an important factor, but the return of Iraqi oil fields to Anglo-American control was the main objective. Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total, and British Petroleum are now the biggest producers of Iraqi oil.:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/z1Z5qUTFqew?feature=oembed

Franz , says: September 23, 2019 at 6:53 am GMT
Thank You to Mr. Unz for mentioning the long-forgotten hero of the America First Committee, John T. Flynn.

His biography, by Michele Stenehjem Gerber, is called An American First: John T. Flynn and the America First Committee and has not yet been banned on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/American-first-Flynn-America-Committee/dp/0870003399

Nonetheless I read it years ago, and it confirmed my suspicion that Lillian Gish, pioneering film actress, was on a blacklist of some sort, and indeed she was. And this was years before her name was removed from a college building here in Ohio. It is short, not hard to read, less a full biography of Flynn than an interesting look at that filthy period in US history when non-interventionists were slimed as "isolationists" and had their reputations ruined. Or at least dinged quite a bit.

From an Amazon review:

This book inspires the broadening of the America First discussion, making references to Lillian Gish, who proved she was blacklisted , Charlie Chaplin, whose The Great Dictator was itself attacked as propaganda, and the charges of anti-Semitism from some names not already researched, like Brooklyn Dodgers' president Larry MacPhail, S. H. Hauk, Laura Ingalls, and Wilhelm Kunze of the German-American Bund (but still no Walt Disney

mark green , says: September 23, 2019 at 7:13 am GMT
Riveting. Eye-opening. Brilliantly formulated. Ron Unz has tossed another reality grenade into the matrix of fabricated historiography.

On behalf of the millions of mangled, murdered and maligned victims who receive no pity and who have no voice- Thank you, Ron Unz.

Winter Watch , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 7:53 am GMT
William Langer's 'Newest History,' the OSS and the Frankfurt School (aka New School)

https://www.winterwatch.net/2019/09/william-langers-newest-history-the-oss-and-the-frankfurt-school-aka-new-school/

Germanicus , says: September 23, 2019 at 7:53 am GMT
An issue so often overlooked, yet it is known in precisely the media and politics circus. It is the masonic hand in the two wars.
Tom Welsh , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:04 am GMT
I went to Cambridge University in 1966 to study history. Two things I recall very distinctly: the powerful impression Taylor's books made on me; and the very subtle but unmistakable deprecation my tutors and lecturers applied to him and his work.

Taylor was certainly very talented, they said, but prone to "bees in his bonnet"; over-enthusiastic; sometimes unreliable.

Looking back, I can see how very effective this treatment was. As a rebellious and iconoclastic 18-year-old, if I had been told that Taylor was wicked and wrong and I must ignore his books, I would have hurried to study them deeply. But since I was cleverly informed that he was just mildly eccentric and prone to unjustified speculation, I neglected him in order to concentrate on the many other writers we had to read.

Mr McKenna , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:05 am GMT

Most of the surprising material presented here is hardly hidden or kept under lock-and-key. Nearly all the books are easily available at Amazon or even freely readable on the Internet, many of the authors have received critical and scholarly acclaim, and in some cases their works have sold in the millions. Yet this important material has been almost entirely ignored or dismissed by the popular media that shapes the common beliefs of our society. So we must necessarily begin to wonder what other massive falsehoods may have been similarly promoted by that media, perhaps involving incidents of the recent past or even the present day. And those latter events do have enormous practical significance.

Coincidentally enough, today the Guardian has published its own lengthy, soul-searching essay entitled, "Why can't we agree on what's true any more?"

Being the Guardian, of course, their prescription is that people should make a more sincere effort to support the Reporters of Truth, such as the Guardian. In their retrograde Left vs Right world, it's still up to the 'goodthinkers' to preserve our liberties from the Boris Johnsons and Donald Trumps of the world. Never in a million years would they entertain the possibility that Johnsons and Trumps come about because the Establishment–most certainly including its MSM lackeys–is corrupt to its core.

As the Washington Post has it, "Democracy Dies in Darkness" -- neglecting to add, "We supply the Darkness."

Nick Kollerstrom , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:20 am GMT
Wonderful stuff, Mr Unz.
For a short, easy to read account of this topic, see my How Britain Initiated both world wars .
http://www.amazon.com/Britain-Initiated-both-World-Wars/dp/1530993180
Flint Clint , says: September 23, 2019 at 10:32 am GMT
Simply magnificent. Simply infuriating.

It's bone chilling to read this.

It must be an enormous burden for Mr Unz to possess this knowledge.

It feels demoralising to simply be the recipient of it – knowing full well the price of telling the truth, even now, even today.

onebornfree , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 12:50 pm GMT
So now, instead of now [erroneously] believing, as we were all , er, "taught", that the allies were the good guys of WW2, and that the Japs and Germans were the bad guys, we are now supposed to believe the exact opposite, right, Mr Unz ? Jap and German governments now"good"- WW2 allies governments now "bad"?

Reality fact: before, during and after WW2 and all the way up to this present moment in time, the US, Soviet, French , Polish, Brit [etc. etc. ad infinitum] governments lied; the German government lied, the Jap government lied. They ALL lied [and lie]!

Reality fact: It [lying] is what all governments everywhere all do – , all of the time!

Reality fact: It's what they _must_ do to maintain power over their slave populations [ see the Bernays quote below].

Regarding the fundamental nature of all governments, past, present, or future – this "just" in :

"Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [via central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be "reformed","improved", nor "limited" in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature." onebornfree

" The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of." Edward Bernays
http://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Bernays_Propaganda_in_english_.pdf

"The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan." ~ Adolf Hitler

"My first rule- I don't believe anything the government tells me- nothing!- ZERO!" George Carlin

Regards, onebornfree

George F. Held , says: September 23, 2019 at 1:24 pm GMT
To get the low-down on the two world wars, read Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof's 1939 – The War That Had Many Fathers: The Long Run-Up to the Second World War which I translated.
https://www.amazon.com/1939-War-That-Many-Fathers/dp/144668623X
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11448682-1939 -- the-war-that-had-many-fathers
Johnny Walker Read , says: September 23, 2019 at 1:24 pm GMT
@Tom67 Thank God we American's were pillars morality. LOL

Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he followed the progress of the American eugenics movement. "I have studied with great interest," he told a fellow Nazi, "the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock."

Hitler even wrote a fan letter to American eugenic leader Madison Grant calling his race-based eugenics book, The Passing of the Great Race his "bible."

https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1796

[Sep 07, 2019] 9-11 The Road To America's Orwellian Hell by James Bovard

Those measures are nothing special. They are typical for any war or any coup d'état to install totalitarian regime in the country. Fritened people are easily manipulated. . The only question against whom the war was launched and what was real origin of 9/11. Here 1984 instantly comes to mind.
Sep 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by James Bovard via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

Next week will be the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Politicians and bureaucrats wasted no time after that carnage to unleash the Surveillance State on average Americans, treating every person like a terrorist suspect. Since the government failed to protect the public, Americans somehow forfeited their constitutional right to privacy. Despite heroic efforts by former NSA staffer Edward Snowden and a host of activists and freedom fighters, the government continues ravaging American privacy.

Two of the largest leaps towards "1984" began in 2002. Though neither the Justice Department's Operation TIPS nor the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program was brought to completion, parcels and precedents from each program have profoundly influenced subsequent federal policies.

In July 2002, the Justice Department unveiled plans for Operation TIPS -- the Terrorism Information and Prevention System. According to the Justice Department website, TIPS would be "a nationwide program giving millions of American truckers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity." TIPSters would be people who, "in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to serve as extra eyes and ears for law enforcement." The feds aimed to recruit people in jobs that "make them uniquely well positioned to understand the ordinary course of business in the area they serve, and to identify things that are out of the ordinary." Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said that observers in certain occupations "might pick up a break in the certain rhythm or pattern of a community." The feds planned to enlist as many as 10 million people to watch other people's "rhythms."

The Justice Department provided no definition of "suspicious behavior" to guide vigilantes. As the public began to focus on the program's sweep, opposition surfaced; even the U.S. Postal Service briefly balked at participating in the program. Director Ridge insisted that TIPS "is not a government intrusion." He declared, "The last thing we want is Americans spying on Americans. That's just not what the president is all about, and not what the TIPS program is all about." Apparently, as long as the Bush administration did not announce plans to compel people to testify about the peccadilloes of their neighbors and customers, TIPS was a certified freedom-friendly program.

When Attorney General John Ashcroft was cross-examined by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on TIPS at a Judiciary Committee hearing on July 25, he insisted that "the TIPS program is something requested by industry to allow them to talk about anomalies that they encounter." But, when George W. Bush first announced the program, he portrayed it as an administration initiative. Did thousands of Teamsters Union members petition 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over "anomalies"? Senator Leahy asked whether reports to the TIPS hotline would become part of a federal database with millions of unsubstantiated allegations against American citizens. Ashcroft told Leahy, "I have recommended that there would be none, and I've been given assurance that the TIPS program would not maintain a database." But Ashcroft could not reveal which federal official had given him the assurance.

The ACLU's Laura Murphy observed, "This is a program where people's activities, statements, posters in their windows or on their walls, nationality, and religious practices will be reported by untrained individuals without any relationship to criminal activity." San Diego law professor Marjorie Cohn observed, "Operation TIPS will encourage neighbors to snitch on neighbors and won't distinguish between real and fabricated tips. Anyone with a grudge or vendetta against another can provide false information to the government, which will then enter the national database."

On August 9, the Justice Department announced it was fine-tuning TIPS, abandoning any "plan to ask thousands of mail carriers, utility workers, and others with access to private homes to report suspected terrorist activity," the Washington Post reported. People who had enlisted to be TIPSters received an email notice from Uncle Sam that "only those who work in the trucking, maritime, shipping, and mass transit industries will be eligible to participate in this information referral service." But the Justice Department continued refusing to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee who would have access to the TIPS reports.

After the proposal created a fierce backlash across the political board, Congress passed an amendment blocking its creation. House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Tex.) attached an amendment to homeland security legislation that declared, "Any and all activities of the federal government to implement the proposed component program of the Citizen Corps known as Operation TIPS are hereby prohibited." But the Bush administration and later the Obama administration pursued the same information roundup with federally funded fusion centers that encouraged people to file "suspicious activity reports" for a wide array of innocuous behavior -- reports that are dumped into secret federal databases that can vex innocent citizens in perpetuity.

Operation TIPS illustrated how the momentum of intrusion spurred government to propose programs that it never would have attempted before 9/11. If Bush had proposed in August 2001 to recruit 10 million Americans to report any of their neighbors they suspected of acting unusual or being potential troublemakers, the public might have concluded the president had gone berserk.

Total Information Awareness: 300 million dossiers

The USA PATRIOT Act created a new Information Office in the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In January 2002, the White House chose retired admiral John Poindexter to head the new office. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer explained, "Admiral Poindexter is somebody who this administration thinks is an outstanding American, an outstanding citizen, who has done a very good job in what he has done for our country, serving the military." Cynics kvetched about Poindexter's five felony convictions for false testimony to Congress and destruction of evidence during the investigation of the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages exchange. Poindexter's convictions were overturned by a federal appeals court, which cited the immunity Congress granted his testimony.

Poindexter committed the new Pentagon office to achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA). TIA's mission is "to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists -- and decipher their plans -- and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts," according to DARPA. According to Undersecretary of Defense Pete Aldridge, TIA would seek to discover "connections between transactions -- such as passports; visas; work permits; driver's licenses; credit cards; airline tickets; rental cars; gun purchases; chemical purchases -- and events -- such as arrests or suspicious activities and so forth." Aldridge agreed that every phone call a person made or received could be entered into the database. With "voice recognition" software, the actual text of the call could also go onto a permanent record.

TIA would also strive to achieve "Human Identification at a Distance" (HumanID), including "Face Recognition," "Iris Recognition," and "Gait Recognition." The Pentagon issued a request for proposals to develop an "odor recognition" surveillance system that would help the feds identify people by their sweat or urine -- potentially creating a wealth of new job opportunities for deviants.

TIA's goal was to stockpile as much information as possible about everyone on Earth -- thereby allowing government to protect everyone from everything. New York Times columnist William Safire captured the sweep of the new surveillance system: "Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book, and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual, centralized grand database.'" Columnist Ted Rall noted that the feds would even scan "veterinary records. The TIA believes that knowing if and when Fluffy got spayed -- and whether your son stopped torturing Fluffy after you put him on Ritalin -- will help the military stop terrorists before they strike."

Phil Kent, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, an Atlanta-based public-interest law firm, warned that TIA was "the most sweeping threat to civil liberties since the Japanese-American internment." The ACLU's Jay Stanley labeled TIA "the mother of all privacy invasions. It would amount to a picture of your life so complete, it's equivalent to somebody following you around all day with a video camera." A coalition of civil-liberties groups protested to Senate leaders, "There are no systems of oversight or accountability contemplated in the TIA project. DARPA itself has resisted lawful requests for information about the Program pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act."

Bush administration officials were outraged by such criticisms. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared, "The hype and alarm approach is a disservice to the public . I would recommend people take a nice deep breath. Nothing terrible is going to happen." Poindexter promised that TIA would be designed so as to "preserve rights and protect people's privacy while helping to make us all safer." (Poindexter was not under oath at the time of his statement.) The TIA was defended on the basis that "nobody has been searched" until the feds decide to have him arrested on the basis of data the feds snared. Undersecretary Aldridge declared, "It is absurd to think that DARPA is somehow trying to become another police agency. DARPA's purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility of this technology. If it proves useful, TIA will then be turned over to the intelligence, counterintelligence, and law-enforcement communities as a tool to help them in their battle against domestic terrorism." In January 2003, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) learned that the FBI was working on a memorandum of understanding with the Pentagon "for possible experimentation" with TIA. Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Security Paul McHale confirmed, in March 2003 testimony to Congress, that the Pentagon would turn TIA over to law-enforcement agencies once the system was ready to roll.

DARPA responded to the surge of criticism by removing the Information Awareness Office logo from the website. The logo showed a giant green eye atop a pyramid, covering half the globe with a peculiar yellow haze, accompanied by the motto "Scientia est Potentia" (Knowledge is Power).

Shortly after DARPA completed a key research benchmark for TIA, Lt. Col. Doug Dyer, a DARPA program manager, publicly announced in April 2003 that Americans are obliged to sacrifice some privacy in the name of security: "When you consider the potential effect of a terrorist attack against the privacy of an entire population, there has to be some trade-off." But nothing in the U.S. Constitution entitles the Defense Department to decide how much privacy or liberty American citizens deserve.

In September 2003, Congress passed an amendment abolishing the Pentagon's Information Office and ending TIA funding. But by that point, DARPA had already awarded 26 contracts for dozens of private research projects to develop components for TIA. Salon.com reported, "According to people with knowledge of the program, TIA has now advanced to the point where it's much more than a mere 'research project.' There is a working prototype of the system, and federal agencies outside the Defense Department have expressed interest in it." The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is already using facial recognition systems at 20 airports and the Transportation Security Administration is expected to quickly follow suit.

Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo sent a secret memo to the White House declaring that the Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable searches was null and void: "If the government's heightened interest in self-defense justifies the use of deadly force, then it also certainly would justify warrantless searches." That memo helped set federal policy until it was publicly revealed after Barack Obama took office in 2009. Unfortunately, that anti-Constitution, anti-privacy mindset unleashed many federal intrusions that continue to this day, from the TSA to the National Security Agency to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

[Sep 06, 2019] The only conceivable answer is that The New York Times is somehow complicit in these monstrous crimes

Sep 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

David Erickson , says: September 5, 2019 at 6:17 pm GMT

"The only conceivable answer is that The New York Times is somehow complicit in these monstrous crimes." – Bingo!
Robjil , says: September 5, 2019 at 6:23 pm GMT
...Soma the drug of the Brave New World gives one pleasure. Aldous Huxley died the same day as JFK, and CS Lewis....

Here are some quotes from Aldous Huxley...

http://www.globalistagenda.org/download/HuxleyTranscript.txt

In our time, we are endlessly brainwashed to love all the things that we can buy. Meanwhile, people are being bombed, terrorized, sanctioned, etc. across the world ... We can't complain since we got lots of toys to play with.

And here I think one has an enormous area in which the ultimate revolution could function very well indeed, an area in which a great deal of control could be used by not through terror, but by making life seem much more enjoyable than it normally does. Enjoyable to the point, where as I said before, Human beings come to love a state of things by which any reasonable and decent human standard they ought not to love and this I think is perfectly possible.

"Happiness" with our toys is being used to keep us quiet.

"The dictatorships of tomorrow will deprive men of their freedom, but will give them in exchange a happiness none the less real, as a subjective experience, for being chemically induced. The pursuit of happiness is one of the traditional rights of man; unfortunately, the achievement of happiness may turn out to be incompatible with another of man's rights -- namely, liberty."

...press has complete control to filter everything to look rosey for them, demonize any dissidents, and the masses fall for it. Why? They do not allow any counter arguments...

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.

...bread and circus propaganda. They want to keep that way. Any one who dissents is a "hater".

What I may call the messages of Brave New World, but it is possible to make people contented with their servitude. I think this can be done. I think it has been done in the past. I think it could be done even more effectively now because you can provide them with bread and circuses and you can provide them with endless amounts of distractions and propaganda.

...Pleasure trick keeps one from looking at what our rulers are doing.

As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends correspondingly to increase. And the dictator will do well to encourage that freedom it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.

...using their MSM to make massive herds of humans all over the earth to love their servitude to Zion uber alles.

The question of the next generation will not be one of how to liberate the masses, but rather, how to make them love their servitude

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/848465-the-lord-s-prayer-is-less-than-fifty-words-long-and

...rulers are using temptation to the max to rule us now.

"The Lord's Prayer is less than fifty words long, and six of those words are devoted to asking God not to lead us into temptation."

[Aug 27, 2019] What Is Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... Defensive programming is a method of prevention, rather than a form of cure. Compare this to debugging -- the act of removing bugs after they've bitten. Debugging is all about finding a cure. ..."
"... Defensive programming saves you literally hours of debugging and lets you do more fun stuff instead. Remember Murphy: If your code can be used incorrectly, it will be. ..."
"... Working code that runs properly, but ever-so-slightly slower, is far superior to code that works most of the time but occasionally collapses in a shower of brightly colored sparks ..."
"... Defensive programming avoids a large number of security problems -- a serious issue in modern software development. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | Amazon.com

Originally from: Code Craft The Practice of Writing Excellent Code Pete Goodliffe 0689145711905 Amazon.com Gateway

Okay, defensive programming won't remove program failures altogether. But problems will become less of a hassle and easier to fix. Defensive programmers catch falling snowflakes rather than get buried under an avalanche of errors.

Defensive programming is a method of prevention, rather than a form of cure. Compare this to debugging -- the act of removing bugs after they've bitten. Debugging is all about finding a cure.

WHAT DEFENSIVE PROGRAMMING ISN'T

There are a few common misconceptions about defensive programming . Defensive programming is not:

Error checking
If there are error conditions that might arise in your code, you should be checking for them anyway. This is not defensive code. It's just plain good practice -- a part of writing correct code.
Testing
Testing your code is not defensive . It's another normal part of our development work. Test harnesses aren't defensive ; they can prove the code is correct now, but won't prove that it will stand up to future modification. Even with the best test suite in the world, anyone can make a change and slip it past untested.
Debugging
You might add some defensive code during a spell of debugging, but debugging is something you do after your program has failed. Defensive programming is something you do to prevent your program from failing in the first place (or to detect failures early before they manifest in incomprehensible ways, demanding all-night debugging sessions).

Is defensive programming really worth the hassle? There are arguments for and against:

The case against
Defensive programming consumes resources, both yours and the computer's.
  • It eats into the efficiency of your code; even a little extra code requires a little extra execution. For a single function or class, this might not matter, but when you have a system made up of 100,000 functions, you may have more of a problem.
  • Each defensive practice requires some extra work. Why should you follow any of them? You have enough to do already, right? Just make sure people use your code correctly. If they don't, then any problems are their own fault.
The case for
The counterargument is compelling.
  • Defensive programming saves you literally hours of debugging and lets you do more fun stuff instead. Remember Murphy: If your code can be used incorrectly, it will be.
  • Working code that runs properly, but ever-so-slightly slower, is far superior to code that works most of the time but occasionally collapses in a shower of brightly colored sparks.
  • We can design some defensive code to be physically removed in release builds, circumventing the performance issue. The majority of the items we'll consider here don't have any significant overhead, anyway.
  • Defensive programming avoids a large number of security problems -- a serious issue in modern software development. More on this follows.

As the market demands software that's built faster and cheaper, we need to focus on techniques that deliver results. Don't skip the bit of extra work up front that will prevent a whole world of pain and delay later.

[Aug 26, 2019] Example of correctable error

Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Good Habits for Great Coding Improving Programming Skills with Examples in Python Michael Stueben 9781484234587 Amazon.com

There is one danger to defensive coding: It can bury errors. Consider the following code:

def drawLine(m, b, image, start = 0, stop = WIDTH):
    step = 1
    start = int(start)
    stop =  int(stop)
    if stop-start < 0:
       step = -1
       print('WARNING: drawLine parameters were reversed.')
    for x in range(start, stop, step):
        index = int(m*x + b) * WIDTH + x
        if 0 <= index < len(image):
           image[index] = 255 # Poke in a white (= 255) pixel.

This function runs from start to stop . If stop is less than start , it just steps backward and no error is reported .

Maybe we want this kind of error to be "fixed " during the run -- buried -- but I think we should at least print a warning that the range is coming in backwards. Maybe we should abort the program .

[Aug 26, 2019] Being Defensive About Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... Code installed for defensive programming is not immune to defects, and you're just as likely to find a defect in defensive-programming code as in any other code -- more likely, if you write the code casually. Think about where you need to be defensive , and set your defensive-programming priorities accordingly. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Code Complete, Second Edition II. Creating High-Quality Code

8.3. Error-Handling Techniques

Too much of anything is bad, but too much whiskey is just enough. -- Mark Twain

Too much defensive programming creates problems of its own. If you check data passed as parameters in every conceivable way in every conceivable place, your program will be fat and slow.

What's worse, the additional code needed for defensive programming adds complexity to the software.

Code installed for defensive programming is not immune to defects, and you're just as likely to find a defect in defensive-programming code as in any other code -- more likely, if you write the code casually. Think about where you need to be defensive , and set your defensive-programming priorities accordingly.

Defensive Programming

General

Exceptions

Security Issues

[Aug 26, 2019] Creating High-Quality Code

Assertions as special statement is questionable approach unless there is a switch to exclude them from the code. Other then that BASH exit with condition or Perl die can serve equally well.
The main question here is which assertions should be in code only for debugging and which should be in production.
Notable quotes:
"... That an input parameter's value falls within its expected range (or an output parameter's value does) ..."
"... Many languages have built-in support for assertions, including C++, Java, and Microsoft Visual Basic. If your language doesn't directly support assertion routines, they are easy to write. The standard C++ assert macro doesn't provide for text messages. Here's an example of an improved ASSERT implemented as a C++ macro: ..."
"... Use assertions to document and verify preconditions and postconditions. Preconditions and postconditions are part of an approach to program design and development known as "design by contract" (Meyer 1997). When preconditions and postconditions are used, each routine or class forms a contract with the rest of the program . ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Code Complete A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition Steve McConnell 0790145196705 Amazon.com Books

Assertions

An assertion is code that's used during development -- usually a routine or macro -- that allows a program to check itself as it runs. When an assertion is true, that means everything is operating as expected. When it's false, that means it has detected an unexpected error in the code. For example, if the system assumes that a customerinformation file will never have more than 50,000 records, the program might contain an assertion that the number of records is less than or equal to 50,000. As long as the number of records is less than or equal to 50,000, the assertion will be silent. If it encounters more than 50,000 records, however, it will loudly "assert" that an error is in the program .

Assertions are especially useful in large, complicated programs and in high-reliability programs . They enable programmers to more quickly flush out mismatched interface assumptions, errors that creep in when code is modified, and so on.

An assertion usually takes two arguments: a boolean expression that describes the assumption that's supposed to be true, and a message to display if it isn't. Here's what a Java assertion would look like if the variable denominator were expected to be nonzero:

Example 8-1. Java Example of an Assertion

assert denominator != 0 : "denominator is unexpectedly equal to 0.";

This assertion asserts that denominator is not equal to 0 . The first argument, denominator != 0 , is a boolean expression that evaluates to true or false . The second argument is a message to print if the first argument is false -- that is, if the assertion is false.

Use assertions to document assumptions made in the code and to flush out unexpected conditions. Assertions can be used to check assumptions like these:

Of course, these are just the basics, and your own routines will contain many more specific assumptions that you can document using assertions.

Normally, you don't want users to see assertion messages in production code; assertions are primarily for use during development and maintenance. Assertions are normally compiled into the code at development time and compiled out of the code for production. During development, assertions flush out contradictory assumptions, unexpected conditions, bad values passed to routines, and so on. During production, they can be compiled out of the code so that the assertions don't degrade system performance.

Building Your Own Assertion Mechanism

Many languages have built-in support for assertions, including C++, Java, and Microsoft Visual Basic. If your language doesn't directly support assertion routines, they are easy to write. The standard C++ assert macro doesn't provide for text messages. Here's an example of an improved ASSERT implemented as a C++ macro:

Cross-Reference

Building your own assertion routine is a good example of programming "into" a language rather than just programming "in" a language. For more details on this distinction, see Program into Your Language, Not in It .

Example 8-2. C++ Example of an Assertion Macro

#define ASSERT( condition, message ) {       \
   if ( !(condition) ) {                     \
      LogError( "Assertion failed: ",        \
          #condition, message );             \
      exit( EXIT_FAILURE );                  \
   }                                         \
}

Guidelines for Using Assertions

Here are some guidelines for using assertions:

Use error-handling code for conditions you expect to occur; use assertions for conditions that should. never occur Assertions check for conditions that should never occur. Error-handling code checks for off-nominal circumstances that might not occur very often, but that have been anticipated by the programmer who wrote the code and that need to be handled by the production code. Error handling typically checks for bad input data; assertions check for bugs in the code.

If error-handling code is used to address an anomalous condition, the error handling will enable the program to respond to the error gracefully. If an assertion is fired for an anomalous condition, the corrective action is not merely to handle an error gracefully -- the corrective action is to change the program's source code, recompile, and release a new version of the software.

A good way to think of assertions is as executable documentation -- you can't rely on them to make the code work, but they can document assumptions more actively than program -language comments can.

Avoid putting executable code into assertions. Putting code into an assertion raises the possibility that the compiler will eliminate the code when you turn off the assertions. Suppose you have an assertion like this:

Example 8-3. Visual Basic Example of a Dangerous Use of an Assertion

Debug.Assert( PerformAction() ) ' Couldn't perform action

Cross-Reference

You could view this as one of many problems associated with putting multiple statements on one line. For more examples, see " Using Only One Statement Per Line " in Laying Out Individual Statements .

The problem with this code is that, if you don't compile the assertions, you don't compile the code that performs the action. Put executable statements on their own lines, assign the results to status variables, and test the status variables instead. Here's an example of a safe use of an assertion:

Example 8-4. Visual Basic Example of a Safe Use of an Assertion

actionPerformed = PerformAction()
Debug.Assert( actionPerformed ) ' Couldn't perform action

Use assertions to document and verify preconditions and postconditions. Preconditions and postconditions are part of an approach to program design and development known as "design by contract" (Meyer 1997). When preconditions and postconditions are used, each routine or class forms a contract with the rest of the program .

Further Reading

For much more on preconditions and postconditions, see Object-Oriented Software Construction (Meyer 1997).

Preconditions are the properties that the client code of a routine or class promises will be true before it calls the routine or instantiates the object. Preconditions are the client code's obligations to the code it calls.

Postconditions are the properties that the routine or class promises will be true when it concludes executing. Postconditions are the routine's or class's obligations to the code that uses it.

Assertions are a useful tool for documenting preconditions and postconditions. Comments could be used to document preconditions and postconditions, but, unlike comments, assertions can check dynamically whether the preconditions and postconditions are true.

In the following example, assertions are used to document the preconditions and postcondition of the Velocity routine.

Example 8-5. Visual Basic Example of Using Assertions to Document Preconditions and Postconditions

Private Function Velocity ( _
   ByVal latitude As Single, _
   ByVal longitude As Single, _
   ByVal elevation As Single _
   ) As Single

   ' Preconditions
   Debug.Assert ( -90 <= latitude And latitude <= 90 )
   Debug.Assert ( 0 <= longitude And longitude < 360 )
   Debug.Assert ( -500 <= elevation And elevation <= 75000 )
   ...
   ' Postconditions Debug.Assert ( 0 <= returnVelocity And returnVelocity <= 600 )

   ' return value
   Velocity = returnVelocity
End Function

If the variables latitude , longitude , and elevation were coming from an external source, invalid values should be checked and handled by error-handling code rather than by assertions. If the variables are coming from a trusted, internal source, however, and the routine's design is based on the assumption that these values will be within their valid ranges, then assertions are appropriate.

For highly robust code, assert and then handle the error anyway. For any given error condition, a routine will generally use either an assertion or error-handling code, but not both. Some experts argue that only one kind is needed (Meyer 1997).

Cross-Reference

For more on robustness, see " Robustness vs. Correctness " in Error-Handling Techniques , later in this chapter.

But real-world programs and projects tend to be too messy to rely solely on assertions. On a large, long-lasting system, different parts might be designed by different designers over a period of 5–10 years or more. The designers will be separated in time, across numerous versions. Their designs will focus on different technologies at different points in the system's development. The designers will be separated geographically, especially if parts of the system are acquired from external sources. Programmers will have worked to different coding standards at different points in the system's lifetime. On a large development team, some programmers will inevitably be more conscientious than others and some parts of the code will be reviewed more rigorously than other parts of the code. Some programmers will unit test their code more thoroughly than others. With test teams working across different geographic regions and subject to business pressures that result in test coverage that varies with each release, you can't count on comprehensive, system-level regression testing, either.

In such circumstances, both assertions and error-handling code might be used to address the same error. In the source code for Microsoft Word, for example, conditions that should always be true are asserted, but such errors are also handled by error-handling code in case the assertion fails. For extremely large, complex, long-lived applications like Word, assertions are valuable because they help to flush out as many development-time errors as possible. But the application is so complex (millions of lines of code) and has gone through so many generations of modification that it isn't realistic to assume that every conceivable error will be detected and corrected before the software ships, and so errors must be handled in the production version of the system as well.

Here's an example of how that might work in the Velocity example:

Example 8-6. Visual Basic Example of Using Assertions to Document Preconditions and Postconditions

Private Function Velocity ( _
   ByRef latitude As Single, _
   ByRef longitude As Single, _
   ByRef elevation As Single _
   ) As Single

   ' Preconditions
   Debug.Assert ( -90 <= latitude And latitude <= 90 )       <-- 1
   Debug.Assert ( 0 <= longitude And longitude < 360 )         |
   Debug.Assert ( -500 <= elevation And elevation <= 75000 )       <-- 1
   ...

   ' Sanitize input data. Values should be within the ranges asserted above,
   ' but if a value is not within its valid range, it will be changed to the
   ' closest legal value
   If ( latitude < -90 ) Then       <-- 2
      latitude = -90                  |
   ElseIf ( latitude > 90 ) Then      |
      latitude = 90                   |
   End If                             |
   If ( longitude < 0 ) Then          |
      longitude = 0                   |
   ElseIf ( longitude > 360 ) Then       <-- 2
   ...

(1) Here is assertion code.

(2) Here is the code that handles bad input data at run time.

[Aug 26, 2019] Defensive Programming in C++

Notable quotes:
"... Defensive programming means always checking whether an operation succeeded. ..."
"... Exceptional usually means out of the ordinary and unusually good, but when it comes to errors, the word has a more negative meaning. The system throws an exception when some error condition happens, and if you don't catch that exception, it will give you a dialog box that says something like "your program has caused an error -- –goodbye." ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Amazon.com C++ by Example UnderC Learning Edition (0029236726768) Steve Donovan Gateway

There are five desirable properties of good programs : They should be robust, correct, maintainable, friendly, and efficient. Obviously, these properties can be prioritized in different orders, but generally, efficiency is less important than correctness; it is nearly always possible to optimize a well-designed program , whereas badly written "lean and mean" code is often a disaster. (Donald Knuth, the algorithms guru, says that "premature optimization is the root of all evil.")

Here I am mostly talking about programs that have to be used by non-expert users. (You can forgive programs you write for your own purposes when they behave badly: For example, many scientific number-crunching programs are like bad-tempered sports cars.) Being unbreakable is important for programs to be acceptable to users, and you, therefore, need to be a little paranoid and not assume that everything is going to work according to plan. ' Defensive programming ' means writing programs that cope with all common errors. It means things like not assuming that a file exists, or not assuming that you can write to any file (think of a CD-ROM), or always checking for divide by zero.

In the next few sections I want to show you how to 'bullet-proof' programs . First, there is a silly example to illustrate the traditional approach (check everything), and then I will introduce exception handling.

Bullet-Proofing Programs

Say you have to teach a computer to wash its hair. The problem, of course, is that computers have no common sense about these matters: "Lather, rinse, repeat" would certainly lead to a house flooded with bubbles. So you divide the operation into simpler tasks, which return true or false, and check the result of each task before going on to the next one. For example, you can't begin to wash your hair if you can't get the top off the shampoo bottle.

Defensive programming means always checking whether an operation succeeded. So the following code is full of if-else statements, and if you were trying to do something more complicated than wash hair, the code would rapidly become very ugly indeed (and the code would soon scroll off the page):


Code View: Scroll / Show All
void wash_hair()
{
  string msg = "";
  if (! find_shampoo() || ! open_shampoo()) msg = "no shampoo";
  else {
    if (! wet_hair()) msg = "no water!";
    else {
      if (! apply_shampoo()) msg = "shampoo application error";
      else {
        for(int i = 0; i < 2; i++)  // repeat twice
          if (! lather() || ! rinse()) {
                msg = "no hands!";
                break;  // break out of the loop
          }
          if (! dry_hair())  msg = "no towel!";
      }
    }
  }
  if (msg != "") cerr << "Hair error: " << msg << endl;
  // clean up after washing hair
  put_away_towel();
  put_away_shampoo();
}                                        

Part of the hair-washing process is to clean up afterward (as anybody who has a roommate soon learns). This would be a problem for the following code, now assuming that wash_hair() returns a string:

string wash_hair()
{
 ...
  if (! wet_hair()) return "no water!"
  if (! Apply_shampoo()) return "application error!";
...
}

You would need another function to call this wash_hair() , write out the message (if the operation failed), and do the cleanup. This would still be an improvement over the first wash_hair() because the code doesn't have all those nested blocks.

NOTE

Some people disapprove of returning from a function from more than one place, but this is left over from the days when cleanup had to be done manually. C++ guarantees that any object is properly cleaned up, no matter from where you return (for instance, any open file objects are automatically closed). Besides, C++ exception handling works much like a return , except that it can occur from many functions deep. The following section describes this and explains why it makes error checking easier.
Catching Exceptions

An alternative to constantly checking for errors is to let the problem (for example, division by zero, access violation) occur and then use the C++ exception-handling mechanism to gracefully recover from the problem.

Exceptional usually means out of the ordinary and unusually good, but when it comes to errors, the word has a more negative meaning. The system throws an exception when some error condition happens, and if you don't catch that exception, it will give you a dialog box that says something like "your program has caused an error -- –goodbye."

You should avoid doing that to your users -- at the very least you should give them a more reassuring and polite message.

If an exception occurs in a try block, the system tries to match the exception with one (or more) catch blocks.

try {  // your code goes inside this block
  ... problem happens - system throws exception
}
catch(Exception) {  // exception caught here
  ... handle the problem
}

It is an error to have a try without a catch and vice versa. The ON ERROR clause in Visual Basic achieves a similar goal, as do signals in C; they allow you to jump out of trouble to a place where you can deal with the problem. The example is a function div() , which does integer division. Instead of checking whether the divisor is zero, this code lets the division by zero happen but catches the exception. Any code within the try block can safely do integer division, without having to worry about the problem. I've also defined a function bad_div() that does not catch the exception, which will give a system error message when called:

int div(int i, int j)
{
 int k = 0;
 try {
   k = i/j;
   cout << "successful value " << k << endl;
 }
 catch(IntDivideByZero) {
   cout << "divide by zero\n";
 }
 return k;
}
;> int bad_div(int i,int j) {  return i/j; }
;> bad_div(10,0);
integer division by zero <main> (2)
;> div(2,1);
successful value 1
(int) 1
;> div(1,0);
divide by zero
(int) 0

This example is not how you would normally organize things. A lowly function like div() should not have to decide how an error should be handled; its job is to do a straightforward calculation. Generally, it is not a good idea to directly output error information to cout or cerr because Windows graphical user interface programs typically don't do that kind of output. Fortunately, any function call, made from within a try block, that throws an exception will have that exception caught by the catch block. The following is a little program that calls the (trivial) div() function repeatedly but catches any divide-by-zero errors:

// div.cpp
#include <iostream>
#include <uc_except.h>
using namespace std;

int div(int i, int j)
{  return i/j;   }

int main() {
 int i,j,k;
 cout << "Enter 0 0 to exit\n";
 for(;;) { // loop forever
   try {
     cout << "Give two numbers: ";
     cin >> i >> j;
     if (i == 0 && j == 0) return 0; // exit program!
     int k = div(i,j);
     cout << "i/j = " << k << endl;
   }  catch(IntDivideByZero) {
     cout << "divide by zero\n";
   }
  }
  return 0;
}

Notice two crucial things about this example: First, the error-handling code appears as a separate exceptional case, and second, the program does not crash due to divide-by-zero errors (instead, it politely tells the user about the problem and keeps going).

Note the inclusion of <uc_except.h> , which is a nonstandard extension specific to UnderC. The ISO standard does not specify any hardware error exceptions, mostly because not all platforms support them, and a standard has to work everywhere. So IntDivideByZero is not available on all systems. (I have included some library code that implements these hardware exceptions for GCC and BCC32; please see the Appendix for more details.)

How do you catch more than one kind of error? There may be more than one catch block after the try block, and the runtime system looks for the best match. In some ways, a catch block is like a function definition; you supply an argument, and you can name a parameter that should be passed as a reference. For example, in the following code, whatever do_something() does, catch_all_errors() catches it -- specifically a divide-by-zero error -- and it catches any other exceptions as well:

void catch_all_errors()
{
  try {
    do_something();
  }
  catch(IntDivideByZero) {
    cerr << "divide by zero\n";
  }
  catch(HardWareException& e) {
    cerr << "runtime error: " << e.what() << endl;
  }
  catch(Exception& e) {
    cerr << "other error " << e.what() << endl;
  }
}

The standard exceptions have a what() method, which gives more information about them. Order is important here. Exception includes HardwareException , so putting Exception first would catch just about everything. When an exception is thrown, the system picks the first catch block that would match that exception. The rule is to put the catch blocks in order of increasing generality.

Throwing Exceptions

You can throw your own exceptions, which can be of any type, including C++ strings. (In Chapter 8 , "Inheritance and Virtual Methods," you will see how you can create a hierarchy of errors, but for now, strings and integers will do fine.) It is a good idea to write an error-generating function fail() , which allows you to add extra error-tracking features later. The following example returns to the hair-washing algorithm and is even more paranoid about possible problems:

void fail(string msg)
{
  throw msg;
}

void wash_hair()
{
  try {
    if (! find_shampoo()) fail("no shampoo");
    if (! open_shampoo()) fail("can't open shampoo");
    if (! wet_hair())     fail("no water!");
    if (! apply_shampoo())fail("shampoo application error");
    for(int i = 0; i < 2; i++)  // repeat twice
      if (! lather() || ! rinse()) fail("no hands!");
    if (! dry_hair())     fail("no towel!");
  }
  catch(string err) {
    cerr << "Known Hair washing failure: " << err << endl;
  }
  catch(...) {
    cerr << "Catastropic failure\n";
  }
  // clean up after washing hair
  put_away_towel();
  put_away_shampoo();
}

In this example, the general logic is clear, and the cleanup code is always run, whatever disaster happens. This example includes a catch-all catch block at the end. It is a good idea to put one of these in your program's main() function so that it can deliver a more polite message than "illegal instruction." But because you will then have no information about what caused the problem, it's a good idea to cover a number of known cases first. Such a catch-all must be the last catch block; otherwise, it will mask more specific errors.

It is also possible to use a trick that Perl programmers use: If the fail() function returns a bool , then the following expression is valid C++ and does exactly what you want:

dry_hair() || fail("no towel");
lather() && rinse() || fail("no hands!");

If dry_hair() returns true, the or expression must be true, and there's no need to evaluate the second term. Conversely, if dry_hair() returns false, the fail() function would be evaluated and the side effect would be to throw an exception. This short-circuiting of Boolean expressions applies also to && and is guaranteed by the C++ standard.

[Aug 26, 2019] The Eight Defensive Programmer Strategies

Notable quotes:
"... Never Trust Input. Never trust the data you're given and always validate it. ..."
"... Prevent Errors. If an error is possible, no matter how probable, try to prevent it. ..."
"... Document Assumptions Clearly state the pre-conditions, post-conditions, and invariants. ..."
"... Automate everything, especially testing. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Learn C the Hard Way Practical Exercises on the Computational Subjects You Keep Avoiding (Like C) by Zed Shaw

Once you've adopted this mind-set, you can then rewrite your prototype and follow a set of eight strategies to make your code as solid as possible.

While I work on the real version, I ruthlessly follow these strategies and try to remove as many errors as I can, thinking like someone who wants to break the software.

  1. Never Trust Input. Never trust the data you're given and always validate it.
  2. Prevent Errors. If an error is possible, no matter how probable, try to prevent it.
  3. Fail Early and Openly Fail early, cleanly, and openly, stating what happened, where, and how to fix it.
  4. Document Assumptions Clearly state the pre-conditions, post-conditions, and invariants.
  5. Prevention over Documentation. Don't do with documentation that which can be done with code or avoided completely.
  6. Automate Everything Automate everything, especially testing.
  7. Simplify and Clarify Always simplify the code to the smallest, cleanest form that works without sacrificing safety.
  8. Question Authority Don't blindly follow or reject rules.

These aren't the only strategies, but they're the core things I feel programmers have to focus on when trying to make good, solid code. Notice that I don't really say exactly how to do these. I'll go into each of these in more detail, and some of the exercises will actually cover them extensively.

[Aug 26, 2019] Clean Code in Python General Traits of Good Code

Notable quotes:
"... Different responsibilities should go into different components, layers, or modules of the application. Each part of the program should only be responsible for a part of the functionality (what we call its concerns) and should know nothing about the rest. ..."
"... The goal of separating concerns in software is to enhance maintainability by minimizing ripple effects. A ripple effect means the propagation of a change in the software from a starting point. This could be the case of an error or exception triggering a chain of other exceptions, causing failures that will result in a defect on a remote part of the application. It can also be that we have to change a lot of code scattered through multiple parts of the code base, as a result of a simple change in a function definition. ..."
"... Rule of thumb: Well-defined software will achieve high cohesion and low coupling. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Separation of concerns

This is a design principle that is applied at multiple levels. It is not just about the low-level design (code), but it is also relevant at a higher level of abstraction, so it will come up later when we talk about architecture.

Different responsibilities should go into different components, layers, or modules of the application. Each part of the program should only be responsible for a part of the functionality (what we call its concerns) and should know nothing about the rest.

The goal of separating concerns in software is to enhance maintainability by minimizing ripple effects. A ripple effect means the propagation of a change in the software from a starting point. This could be the case of an error or exception triggering a chain of other exceptions, causing failures that will result in a defect on a remote part of the application. It can also be that we have to change a lot of code scattered through multiple parts of the code base, as a result of a simple change in a function definition.

Clearly, we do not want these scenarios to happen. The software has to be easy to change. If we have to modify or refactor some part of the code that has to have a minimal impact on the rest of the application, the way to achieve this is through proper encapsulation.

In a similar way, we want any potential errors to be contained so that they don't cause major damage.

This concept is related to the DbC principle in the sense that each concern can be enforced by a contract. When a contract is violated, and an exception is raised as a result of such a violation, we know what part of the program has the failure, and what responsibilities failed to be met.

Despite this similarity, separation of concerns goes further. We normally think of contracts between functions, methods, or classes, and while this also applies to responsibilities that have to be separated, the idea of separation of concerns also applies to Python modules, packages, and basically any software component. Cohesion and coupling

These are important concepts for good software design.

On the one hand, cohesion means that objects should have a small and well-defined purpose, and they should do as little as possible. It follows a similar philosophy as Unix commands that do only one thing and do it well. The more cohesive our objects are, the more useful and reusable they become, making our design better.

On the other hand, coupling refers to the idea of how two or more objects depend on each other. This dependency poses a limitation. If two parts of the code (objects or methods) are too dependent on each other, they bring with them some undesired consequences:

Rule of thumb: Well-defined software will achieve high cohesion and low coupling.

[Aug 26, 2019] Software Development and Professional Practice by John Dooley

Notable quotes:
"... Did the read operation return anything? ..."
"... Did the write operation write anything? ..."
"... Check all values in function/method parameter lists. ..."
"... Are they all the correct type and size? ..."
"... You should always initialize variables and not depend on the system to do the initialization for you. ..."
"... taking the time to make your code readable and have the code layout match the logical structure of your design is essential to writing code that is understandable by humans and that works. Adhering to coding standards and conventions, keeping to a consistent style, and including good, accurate comments will help you immensely during debugging and testing. And it will help you six months from now when you come back and try to figure out what the heck you were thinking here. ..."
Jul 15, 2011 | www.amazon.com
Defensive Programming

By defensive programming we mean that your code should protect itself from bad data. The bad data can come from user input via the command line, a graphical text box or form, or a file. Bad data can also come from other routines in your program via input parameters like in the first example above.

How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following

What else should you check for? Well, here's a short list:

As an example, here's a C program that takes in a list of house prices from a file and computes the average house price from the list. The file is provided to the program from the command line.

/*
* program to compute the average selling price of a set of homes.
* Input comes from a file that is passed via the command line.

* Output is the Total and Average sale prices for
* all the homes and the number of prices in the file.
*
* jfdooley
*/
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
FILE *fp;
double totalPrice, avgPrice;
double price;
int numPrices;

/* check that the user entered the correct number of args */
if (argc < 2) {
fprintf(stderr,"Usage: %s <filename>\n", argv[0]);
exit(1);
}

/* try to open the input file */
fp = fopen(argv[1], "r");
if (fp == NULL) {
fprintf(stderr, "File Not Found: %s\n", argv[1]);
exit(1);
}
totalPrice = 0.0;
numPrices = 0;

while (!feof(fp)) {
fscanf(fp, "%10lf\n", &price);
totalPrice += price;
numPrices++;
}

avgPrice = totalPrice / numPrices;
printf("Number of houses is %d\n", numPrices);
printf("Total Price of all houses is $%10.2f\n", totalPrice);
printf("Average Price per house is $%10.2f\n", avgPrice);

return 0;
}

Assertions Can Be Your Friend

Defensive programming means that using assertions is a great idea if your language supports them. Java, C99, and C++ all support assertions. Assertions will test an expression that you give them and if the expression is false, it will throw an error and normally abort the program . You should use error handling code for errors you think might happen – erroneous user input, for example – and use assertions for errors that should never happen – off by one errors in loops, for example. Assertions are great for testing

your program , but because you should remove them before giving programs to customers (you don't want the program to abort on the user, right?) they aren't good to use to validate input data.

Exceptions and Error Handling

We've talked about using assertions to handle truly bad errors, ones that should never occur in production. But what about handling "normal" errors? Part of defensive programming is to handle errors in such a way that no damage is done to any data in the program or the files it uses, and so that the program stays running for as long as possible (making your program robust).

Let's look at exceptions first. You should take advantage of built-in exception handling in whatever programming language you're using. The exception handling mechanism will give you information about what bad thing has just happened. It's then up to you to decide what to do. Normally in an exception handling mechanism you have two choices, handle the exception yourself, or pass it along to whoever called you and let them handle it. What you do and how you do it depends on the language you're using and the capabilities it gives you. We'll talk about exception handling in Java later.

Error Handling

Just like with validation, you're most likely to encounter errors in input data, whether it's command line input, file handling, or input from a graphical user interface form. Here we're talking about errors that occur at run time. Compile time and testing errors are covered in the next chapter on debugging and testing. Other types of errors can be data that your program computes incorrectly, errors in other programs that interact with your program , the operating system for instance, race conditions, and interaction errors where your program is communicating with another and your program is at fault.

The main purpose of error handling is to have your program survive and run correctly for as long as possible. When it gets to a point where your program cannot continue, it needs to report what is wrong as best as it can and then exit gracefully. Exiting is the last resort for error handling. So what should you do? Well, once again we come to the "it depends" answer. What you should do depends on what your program's context is when the error occurs and what its purpose is. You won't handle an error in a video game the same way you handle one in a cardiac pacemaker. In every case, your first goal should be – try to recover.

Trying to recover from an error will have different meanings in different programs . Recovery means that your program needs to try to either ignore the bad data, fix it, or substitute something else that is valid for the bad data. See McConnell 8 for a further discussion of error handling. Here are a few examples of how to recover from errors,

__________

8 McConnell, 2004.

Exceptions in Java

Some programming languages have built-in error reporting systems that will tell you when an error occurs, and leave it up to you to handle it one way or another. These errors that would normally cause your program to die a horrible death are called exceptions . Exceptions get thrown by the code that encounters the error. Once something is thrown, it's usually a good idea if someone catches it. This is the same with exceptions. So there are two sides to exceptions that you need to be aware of when you're writing code:

Java has three different types of exceptions – checked exceptions, errors, and unchecked exceptions. Checked exceptions are those that you should catch and handle yourself using an exception handler; they are exceptions that you should anticipate and handle as you design and write your code. For example, if your code asks a user for a file name, you should anticipate that they will type it wrong and be prepared to catch the resulting FileNotFoundException . Checked exceptions must be caught.

Errors on the other hand are exceptions that usually are related to things happening outside your program and are things you can't do anything about except fail gracefully. You might try to catch the error exception and provide some output for the user, but you will still usually have to exit.

The third type of exception is the runtime exception . Runtime exceptions all result from problems within your program that occur as it runs and almost always indicate errors in your code. For example, a NullPointerException nearly always indicates a bug in your code and shows up as a runtime exception. Errors and runtime exceptions are collectively called unchecked exceptions (that would be because you usually don't try to catch them, so they're unchecked). In the program below we deliberately cause a runtime exception:

public class TestNull {
public static void main(String[] args) {
String str = null;
int len = str.length();
}
}

This program will compile just fine, but when you run it you'll get this as output:


Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NullPointerException

at TestNull.main(TestNull.java:4)


This is a classic runtime exception. There's no need to catch this exception because the only thing we can do is exit. If we do catch it, the program might look like:

public class TestNullCatch {
public static void main(String[] args) {
String str = null;

try {
int len = str.length();
} catch (NullPointerException e) {
System.out.println("Oops: " + e.getMessage());
System.exit(1);
}
}
}

which gives us the output


Oops: null

Note that the getMessage() method will return a String containing whatever error message Java deems appropriate – if there is one. Otherwise it returns a null . This is somewhat less helpful than the default stack trace above.

Let's rewrite the short C program above in Java and illustrate how to catch a checked exception .

import java.io.*;
import java.util.*;

public class FileTest

public static void main(String [] args)
{
File fd = new File("NotAFile.txt");
System.out.println("File exists " + fd.exists());

try {
FileReader fr = new FileReader(fd);
} catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
System.out.println(e.getMessage());
}
}
}

and the output we get when we execute FileTest is


File exists false

NotAFile.txt (No such file or directory)


By the way, if we don't use the try-catch block in the above program , then it won't compile. We get the compiler error message


FileTestWrong.java:11: unreported exception java.io.FileNotFoundException; must be caught or declared to be thrown

FileReader fr = new FileReader(fd);


^
1 error

Remember, checked exceptions must be caught. This type of error doesn't show up for unchecked exceptions. This is far from everything you should know about exceptions and exception handling in Java; start digging through the Java tutorials and the Java API!

The Last Word on Coding

Coding is the heart of software development. Code is what you produce. But coding is hard; translating even a good, detailed design into code takes a lot of thought, experience, and knowledge, even for small programs . Depending on the programming language you are using and the target system, programming can be a very time-consuming and difficult task.

That's why taking the time to make your code readable and have the code layout match the logical structure of your design is essential to writing code that is understandable by humans and that works. Adhering to coding standards and conventions, keeping to a consistent style, and including good, accurate comments will help you immensely during debugging and testing. And it will help you six months from now when you come back and try to figure out what the heck you were thinking here.

And finally,

I am rarely happier than when spending an entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that it would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand.

-- Douglas Adams, "Last Chance to See"

[Aug 26, 2019] Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following ..."
"... Check the number and type of command line arguments. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Software Development and Professional Practice (Expert's Voice in Software Development) John Dooley 9781430238010 Amazon.com

By defensive programming we mean that your code should protect itself from bad data. The bad data can come from user input via the command line, a graphical text box or form, or a file. Bad data can also come from other routines in your program via input parameters like in the first example above.

How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following

What else should you check for? Well, here's a short list:

As an example, here's a C program that takes in a list of house prices from a file and computes the average house price from the list. The file is provided to the program from the command line.

/*
* program to compute the average selling price of a set of homes.
* Input comes from a file that is passed via the command line.

* Output is the Total and Average sale prices for
* all the homes and the number of prices in the file.
*
* jfdooley
*/
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
FILE *fp;
double totalPrice, avgPrice;
double price;
int numPrices;

/* check that the user entered the correct number of args */
if (argc < 2) {
fprintf(stderr,"Usage: %s <filename>\n", argv[0]);
exit(1);
}

/* try to open the input file */
fp = fopen(argv[1], "r");
if (fp == NULL) {
fprintf(stderr, "File Not Found: %s\n", argv[1]);
exit(1);
}
totalPrice = 0.0;
numPrices = 0;

while (!feof(fp)) {
fscanf(fp, "%10lf\n", &price);
totalPrice += price;
numPrices++;
}

avgPrice = totalPrice / numPrices;
printf("Number of houses is %d\n", numPrices);
printf("Total Price of all houses is $%10.2f\n", totalPrice);
printf("Average Price per house is $%10.2f\n", avgPrice);

return 0;
}

Assertions Can Be Your Friend

Defensive programming means that using assertions is a great idea if your language supports them. Java, C99, and C++ all support assertions. Assertions will test an expression that you give them and if the expression is false, it will throw an error and normally abort the program . You should use error handling code for errors you think might happen – erroneous user input, for example – and use assertions for errors that should never happen – off by one errors in loops, for example. Assertions are great for testing

your program , but because you should remove them before giving programs to customers (you don't want the program to abort on the user, right?) they aren't good to use to validate input data.

Exceptions and Error Handling

We've talked about using assertions to handle truly bad errors, ones that should never occur in production. But what about handling "normal" errors? Part of defensive programming is to handle errors in such a way that no damage is done to any data in the program or the files it uses, and so that the program stays running for as long as possible (making your program robust).

Let's look at exceptions first. You should take advantage of built-in exception handling in whatever programming language you're using. The exception handling mechanism will give you information about what bad thing has just happened. It's then up to you to decide what to do. Normally in an exception handling mechanism you have two choices, handle the exception yourself, or pass it along to whoever called you and let them handle it. What you do and how you do it depends on the language you're using and the capabilities it gives you. We'll talk about exception handling in Java later.

Error Handling

Just like with validation, you're most likely to encounter errors in input data, whether it's command line input, file handling, or input from a graphical user interface form. Here we're talking about errors that occur at run time. Compile time and testing errors are covered in the next chapter on debugging and testing. Other types of errors can be data that your program computes incorrectly, errors in other programs that interact with your program , the operating system for instance, race conditions, and interaction errors where your program is communicating with another and your program is at fault.

The main purpose of error handling is to have your program survive and run correctly for as long as possible. When it gets to a point where your program cannot continue, it needs to report what is wrong as best as it can and then exit gracefully. Exiting is the last resort for error handling. So what should you do? Well, once again we come to the "it depends" answer. What you should do depends on what your program's context is when the error occurs and what its purpose is. You won't handle an error in a video game the same way you handle one in a cardiac pacemaker. In every case, your first goal should be – try to recover.

Trying to recover from an error will have different meanings in different programs . Recovery means that your program needs to try to either ignore the bad data, fix it, or substitute something else that is valid for the bad data. See McConnell 8 for a further discussion of error handling. Here are a few examples of how to recover from errors,

__________

8 McConnell, 2004.

[Aug 26, 2019] Beginning Perl Programming From Novice to Professional

Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Debugger Commands The debugger has many built-in commands. The most common are as follows.

Command

Meaning

!! cmd

Runs the command (cmd) in a separate process (this is typically a shell command)

h

Interactive help

H -num

Prints last "num" commands (excludes single character commands)

l

Lists the next line of code to be executed

n

Steps through a statement (if subroutines are called, executes over the subroutine)

q

Quits the debugger

s

Steps through a statement (if subroutines are called, executes one subroutine statement at a time)

V

Displays all of the variables in package (defaults to main)

[Aug 24, 2019] BigBrotherWatch Facial Recognition Epidemic in the UK Eroding freedom of association

Notable quotes:
"... Facial recognition surveillance risks making privacy in Britain extinct. ..."
Aug 24, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

TruePublica

At TruePublica we have written endlessly about the continued slow strangulation of civil liberties and human rights in Britain. We have warned about the rise of a techno-Stasi-state where technology is harnessed and used against civilians without any debate or indeed any real legal framework. We have alerted the public on the illegal mass data collections by the government and subsequent loss of much it by MI5 who should not have had it all in the first place. We warned against ' digital strip searches ' – an activity of the police of the victims in rape cases, and the fact that Britain is becoming a database state . At TruePublica we have tried to press home the story that surveillance by the state on such a scale, described as the most intrusive in the Western world – is not just illegal, it's immoral and dangerous. (see our surveillance database HERE ).

Here is more evidence of just how dangerous and out of hand this creeping surveillance architecture is becoming. An investigation by Big Brother Watch has uncovered a facial recognition 'epidemic' across privately owned sites in the UK. The civil liberties campaign group has found major property developers, shopping centres, museums, conference centres and casinos using the technology in the UK.

Millions of shoppers scanned

Their investigation uncovered the use of live facial recognition in Sheffield's Meadowhall , one of the biggest shopping centres in the North of England, in secret police trials that took place last year. The trial could have scanned the faces of over 2 million visitors.

The shopping centre is owned by British Land, which owns large areas within London including parts of Paddington, Broadgate, Canada Water and Ealing Broadway. Each site's privacy policy says facial recognition may be in use, although British Land insists only Meadowhall has used the surveillance so far.

Last week, the Financial Times revealed that the privately owned Kings Cross estate in London was using facial recognition, whilst Canary Wharf is considering following suit. The expose prompted widespread concerns and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to write to the estate to express his concerns. The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has launched an investigation.

Last year, the Trafford Centre in Manchester was pressured to stop using live facial recognition surveillance following an intervention by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner. It was estimated that up to 15 million people were scanned during the operation.

" Dark irony" of China exhibition visitors scanned

Big Brother Watch's investigation has also revealed that Liverpool's World Museum scanned visitors with facial recognition surveillance during its exhibition, "China's First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors" in 2018. Director of Big Brother Watch Silkie Carlo described it as "dark irony" noting that "this authoritarian surveillance tool is rarely seen outside of China" and warning that "many of those scanned will have been school children".

The museum is part of the National Museums Liverpool group, which also includes the International Slavery Museum, the Museum of Liverpool and other museums and art galleries. The museum group said it is "currently testing the feasibility of using similar technology in the future".

" Eroding freedom of association"

Big Brother Watch's investigation also found that the Millennium Point conference centre in Birmingham uses facial recognition surveillance "at the request of law enforcement", according to its privacy policy. In recent years, the area surrounding the conference centre has been used for demonstrations by trade unionists, football fans and anti-racism campaigners. The centre refused to give further information about its past or present uses of facial recognition surveillance. Millennium Point is soon to host a 'hackathon'.

A number of casinos and betting shops also have policies that refer to their use of facial recognition technology including Ladbrokes, Coral and Hippodrome Casino London.

Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, said:

There is an epidemic of facial recognition in the UK.

The collusion between police and private companies in building these surveillance nets around popular spaces is deeply disturbing. Facial recognition is the perfect tool of oppression and the widespread use we've found indicates we're facing a privacy emergency.

We now know that many millions of innocent people will have had their faces scanned with this surveillance without knowing about it, whether by police or by private companies.

The idea of a British museum secretly scanning the faces of children visiting an exhibition on the first emperor of China is chilling. There is a dark irony that this authoritarian surveillance tool is rarely seen outside of China.

Facial recognition surveillance risks making privacy in Britain extinct.

Parliament must follow in the footsteps of legislators in the US and urgently ban this authoritarian surveillance from public spaces.

truepublica.org.uk

[Aug 24, 2019] 2084 Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump -- Strategic Culture

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it might be argued, Americans have been plunged into our own bizarre version of 1984 . In our world, Donald Trump has, in some sense, absorbed into his own person more or less everything dystopian in the vicinity. ..."
"... In some strange fashion, he and his administration already seem like a combination of the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of eternal lies ), the memory hole (down which the past, especially the Obama legacy and the president's own discarded statements , disappear daily), the two-minutes-hate sessions and hate week that are the essence of any of his rallies ("lock her up!," " send her back! "), and recently the "hate" slaughter of Mexicans and Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, by a gunman with a Trumpian "Hispanic invasion of Texas" engraved in his brain. And don't forget Big Brother. ..."
"... In some sense, President Trump might be thought of as Big Brother flipped. In The Donald's version of Orwell's novel, he isn't watching us every moment of the day and night, it's we who are watching him in an historically unprecedented way. ..."
"... In his book, he created a nightmare vision of something like the Communist Party of the Stalin-era Soviet Union perpetuating itself into eternity by constantly regenerating and reinforcing a present-moment of ultimate power. For him, dystopia was an accentuated version of just such a forever, a "huge, accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular moment of time," as a document in the book puts it, to "arrest the course of history" for "thousands of years." ..."
"... In other words, with the American president lending a significant hand, we may make it to 2084 far sooner than anyone expected. With that in mind, let's return for a moment to 1984 . As no one who has read Orwell's book is likely to forget, its mildly dissident anti-hero, Winston Smith, is finally brought into the Ministry of Love by the Thought Police to have his consciousness retuned to the needs of the Party. In the process, he's brutally tortured until he can truly agree that 2 + 2 = 5. Only when he thinks he's readjusted his mind to fit the Party's version of the world does he discover that his travails are anything but over. ..."
Aug 24, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Tom ENGELHARDT

I, Winston Smith I mean, Tom Engelhardt have not just been reading a dystopian novel, but, it seems, living one -- and I suspect I've been living one all my life.

Yes, I recently reread George Orwell's classic 1949 novel, 1984 . In it, Winston Smith, a secret opponent of the totalitarian world of Oceania, one of three great imperial superpowers left on planet Earth, goes down for the count at the hands of Big Brother. It was perhaps my third time reading it in my 75 years on this planet.

Since I was a kid, I've always had a certain fascination for dystopian fiction. It started, I think, with War of the Worlds , that ur-alien-invasion-from-outer-space novel in which Martians land in southern England and begin tearing London apart. Its author, H.G. Wells, wrote it at the end of the nineteenth century, evidently to give his English readers a sense of what it might have felt like to be living in Tasmania, the island off the coast of Australia, and have the equivalent of Martians -- the British, as it happened -- appear in your world and begin to destroy it (and your culture with it).

I can remember, at perhaps age 13, reading that book under the covers by flashlight when I was supposed to be asleep; I can remember, that is, being all alone, chilled (and thrilled) to the bone by Wells' grim vision of civilizational destruction. To put this in context: in 1957, I would already have known that I was living in a world of potential civilizational destruction and that the Martians were here. They were then called the Russians, the Ruskies, the Commies, the Reds. I would only later grasp that we (or we, too) were Martians on this planet.

The world I inhabited was, of course, a post- Hiroshima , post- Nagasaki one. I was born on July 20, 1944, just a year and a few days before my country dropped atomic bombs on those two Japanese cities, devastating them in blasts of a kind never before experienced and killing more than 200,000 people. Thirteen years later, I had already become inured to scenarios of the most dystopian kinds of global destruction -- of a sort that would have turned those Martians into pikers -- as the U.S. and the Soviet Union (in a distant second place) built up their nuclear arsenals at a staggering pace.

Nuclear obliteration had, by then, become part of our everyday way of life. After all, what American of a certain age who lived in a major city can't remember, on some otherwise perfectly normal day, air-raid sirens suddenly beginning to howl outside your classroom window as the streets emptied? They instantly called up a vision of a world in ashes. Of course, we children had only a vague idea of what had happened under those mushroom clouds that rose over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we huddled under our desks, hands over heads, " ducking and covering " like Bert the Turtle while a radio on the teacher's desk blared Conelrad warnings , we knew enough, however, to realize that those desks and hands were unlikely to save us from the world's most powerful weaponry. The message being delivered wasn't one of safety but of ultimate vulnerability to Russian nukes. After such tests, as historian Stephen Weart recalled in his book Nuclear Fear , "The press reported with ghoulish precision how many millions of Americans 'died' in each mock attack."

If those drills didn't add up to living an everyday vision of the apocalypse as a child, what would? I grew up, in other words, with a new reality: for the first time in history, humanity had in its hands Armageddon-like possibilities of a sort previously left to the gods. Consider , for instance, the U.S. military's Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) of 1960 for a massive nuclear strike on the Communist world. It was, we now know, meant to deliver more than 3,200 nuclear weapons to 1,060 targets, including at least 130 cities. Official, if then secret, estimates of casualties ran to 285 million dead and 40 million injured (and probably underestimated the longer term effects of radiation).

In the early 1960s, a commonplace on the streets of New York where I lived was the symbol for "fallout shelters" (as they were then called), the places you would head for during just such an impending global conflagration. I still remember how visions of nuclear destruction populated my dreams (or rather nightmares) and those of my friends, as some would later admit to me. To this day, I can recall the feeling of sudden heat on one side of my body as a nuclear bomb went off on the distant horizon of one of those dreams. Similarly, I recall sneaking into a Broadway movie theater to see On the Beach with two friends -- kids of our age weren't allowed into such films without parents -- and so getting a glimpse, popcorn in hand, of what a devastated, nuclearized San Francisco might look like. That afternoon at that film, I also lived through a post-nuclear-holocaust world's end in Australia with no less than Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire for company.

An All-American Hate Week

So my life -- and undoubtedly yours, too -- has been lived, at least in part, as if in a dystopian novel. And certainly since November 2016 -- since, that is, the election of Donald Trump -- the feeling (for me, at least) of being in just such a world, has only grown stronger. Worse yet, there's nothing under the covers by flashlight about The Donald or his invasive vision of our American future. And this time around, as a non-member of his "base," it's been anything but thrilling to the bone.

It was with such a feeling growing in me that, all these years later, I once again picked up Orwell's classic novel and soon began wondering whether Donald Trump wasn't our very own idiosyncratic version of Big Brother. If you remember, when Orwell finished the book in 1948 (he seems to have flipped that year for the title), he imagined an England, which was part of Oceania, one of the three superpowers left on the planet. The other two were Eurasia (essentially the old Soviet Union) and Eastasia (think: a much-expanded China). In the book, the three of them are constantly at war with each other on their borderlands (mostly in South Asia and Africa), a war that is never meant to be either decisive or to end.

In Oceania's Airstrip One (the former England), where Winston Smith is a minor functionary in the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of lies, of course), the Party rules eternally in a world in which -- a classic Orwellian formulation -- "WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." It's a world of "inner" Party members (with great privilege), an outer circle like Smith who get by, and below them a vast population of impoverished "proles."

It's also a world in which the present is always both the future and the past, while every document, every newspaper, every bit of history is constantly being rewritten -- Smith's job -- to make it so. At the same time, documentation of the actual past is tossed down "the memory hole" and incinerated. It's a world in which a "telescreen" is in every room, invariably announcing splendid news (that might have been terrible news in another time). That screen can also spy on you at just about any moment of your life. In that, Orwell, who lived at a time when TV was just arriving, caught something essential about the future worlds of surveillance and social media.

In his dystopian world, English itself is being reformulated into something called Newspeak, so that, in a distant future, it will be impossible for anyone to express a non-Party-approved thought. Meanwhile, whichever of those other two superpowers Oceania is at war with at a given moment, as well as a possibly mythical local opposition to the Party, are regularly subjected to a mass daily "two minutes hate" session and periodic "hate weeks." Above all, it's a world in which, on those telescreens and posters everywhere, the mustachioed face of Big Brother, the official leader of the Party -- "Big Brother is watching you!" -- hovers over everything, backed up by a Ministry of Love (of, that is, imprisonment, reeducation, torture, pain, and death).

That was Orwell's image of a kind of Stalinist Soviet Union perfected for a future of everlasting horror. Today, it might be argued, Americans have been plunged into our own bizarre version of 1984 . In our world, Donald Trump has, in some sense, absorbed into his own person more or less everything dystopian in the vicinity.

In some strange fashion, he and his administration already seem like a combination of the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of eternal lies ), the memory hole (down which the past, especially the Obama legacy and the president's own discarded statements , disappear daily), the two-minutes-hate sessions and hate week that are the essence of any of his rallies ("lock her up!," " send her back! "), and recently the "hate" slaughter of Mexicans and Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, by a gunman with a Trumpian "Hispanic invasion of Texas" engraved in his brain. And don't forget Big Brother.

In some sense, President Trump might be thought of as Big Brother flipped. In The Donald's version of Orwell's novel, he isn't watching us every moment of the day and night, it's we who are watching him in an historically unprecedented way. In what I've called the White Ford Bronco presidency , nothing faintly like the media's 24/7 focus on him has ever been matched. No human being has ever been attended to, watched, or discussed this way -- his every gesture, tweet, passing comment, half-verbalized thought, slogan, plan, angry outburst, you name it. In the past, such coverage only went with, say, a presidential assassination, not everyday life in the White House (or at Bedminster , Mar-a-Lago, his rallies, on Air Force One, wherever).

Room 101 (in 2019)

Think of Donald Trump's America as, in some sense, a satirical version of 1984 in crazed formation. Not surprisingly, however, Orwell, remarkable as he was, fell short, as we all do, in imagining the future. What he didn't see as he rushed to finish that novel before his own life ended makes the Trumpian present far more potentially dystopian than even he might have imagined. In his book, he created a nightmare vision of something like the Communist Party of the Stalin-era Soviet Union perpetuating itself into eternity by constantly regenerating and reinforcing a present-moment of ultimate power. For him, dystopia was an accentuated version of just such a forever, a "huge, accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular moment of time," as a document in the book puts it, to "arrest the course of history" for "thousands of years."

Yes, in 1948, Orwell obviously knew about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the weaponry that went with them. (In 1984 , he even mentions the use of such weaponry in the then-future 1950s.) What he didn't imagine in his book was a dystopian world not of the grimmest kind of ongoingness but of endings, of ultimate destruction. He didn't conjure up a nuclear apocalypse set off by one of his three superpowers and, of course, he had no way of imagining another kind of potential apocalypse that has become increasingly familiar to us all: climate change.

Unfortunately, on both counts Donald Trump is proving dystopian indeed. He is, after all, the president who threatened to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on North Korea (before falling in love with its dictator). He only recently claimed he could achieve victory in the almost 18-year-old Afghan War "in a week" by wiping that country "off the face of the Earth" and killing "10 million people." For the first time, his generals used the "Mother of all Bombs," the most powerful weapon in the U.S. conventional arsenal (with a mushroom cloud that, in a test at least, could be seen for 20 miles), in that same country, clearly to impress him.

More recently, beginning with its withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, his administration has started trashing the Cold War-era nuclear architecture of restraint that kept the great-power arsenals under some control. In the process, it's clearly helping to launch a wildly expensive new nuclear arms race on Planet Earth. And keep in mind that this is happening at a time when we know that a relatively localized nuclear war between regional powers like India and Pakistan (whose politicians are once again at each other's throats over Kashmir ) could create a global nuclear winter and starve to death up to a billion people.

... ... ...

And keep in mind as well that our own twisted version of Big Brother, that guy with the orange hair instead of the mustache, could be around to be watched for significantly longer, should he win the election of 2020. (His polling numbers have, on the whole, been slowly rising , not falling in these years.)

In other words, with the American president lending a significant hand, we may make it to 2084 far sooner than anyone expected. With that in mind, let's return for a moment to 1984 . As no one who has read Orwell's book is likely to forget, its mildly dissident anti-hero, Winston Smith, is finally brought into the Ministry of Love by the Thought Police to have his consciousness retuned to the needs of the Party. In the process, he's brutally tortured until he can truly agree that 2 + 2 = 5. Only when he thinks he's readjusted his mind to fit the Party's version of the world does he discover that his travails are anything but over.

He still has to visit Room 101. As his interrogator tells him, "You asked me once what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world." And that "worst thing" is always adjusted to the specific terrors of the specific prisoner.

So here's one way to think of where we are at this moment on Planet Earth: Americans -- all of humanity, in fact -- may already be in Room 101, whether we know it or not, and the truth is, by this steaming summer, that most of us should know it.

It's obviously time to act on a global scale. Tell that to Big Brother.

tomdispatch.com The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Tags: Big Brother Orwell

[Aug 06, 2019] Amazon.com ELSRA USB Wired Programming Numeric Keypad ControlPad Black PK-2068(23 Key, 2-level programmable, 2 USB Hub) for Windows

Works independently of OS. New (1) from $38.90 & FREE shipping. Details
Aug 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

XXX

function as describe, once setup the keypad remember the setting even move to another computer September 21, 2018 Verified Purchase

This is a great device for shortcuts. I like the part where the driver only runs once on a computer then the setting will remember even unplug and use it on another computer. The key setting is very easy straightforward. The keys: control alt and shift can be set as combo key with other keys. The window key is standalone can't do a combo (too bad). The two side extra slot USB2 are ready, not usb3. The key plate can be lifted up for label custom key. Most other devices do the same and cost more than tripple.

5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely well made programmable keypad November 6, 2018 Verified Purchase

As a developer, I type the same statements repeatedly. I wanted a programmable keypad so the most common operations could be incorporated into a single key press. The Elsra PK-2068 is perfect for that task.

This is a sturdy, well-made keypad and the keys feel of excellent quality when pressed. The Windows software provided is easy to understand and use. I did have an issue with the software on one PC which I suspect was a USB HID conflict, but switching to another PC solved that problem. The programmes are saved onto the keypad itself, which means I can pick up the PK-2068 and plug it into my Linux desktop and the programmed keys just work.

Whilst troubleshooting the programming issue, I was in contact with Elsre Customer Support, who responded very quickly, and offered exceptional service.

Overall I am extremely happy with this purchase and recommend the keypad over the many others I looked at when purchasing. >

Christian Gibbs , May 8, 2019

Programming software is pretty bad, but product itself is great.

Hardware: Excellently built. USB hub works well. Would be better if it were ergonomically angled like a keyboard instead of being flat, but the size and convenience make up for it. Customizable key covers are sturdy and remain in place even with extended use. Sturdy, appears to be quality materials. I already have plans to buy a second one.

The software to program it is pretty terrible. No help or instructions, so you just have to figure it out on your own. It doesn't let you save different configurations as files, so if you want multiple configurations, you'd pretty much have to have the entire application stored on different machines. Also, you can not type the characters you want to program; you have to manually click each one from an on-screen keyboard, which is very tedious. You can't easily edit the text, either: If you want to change a character, you need to click on the "delete" button over and over 'til you reach the character, then you have to re-do everything using the onscreen keyboard. Presumably, they figure that you'll only have to program it once, so they don't expend much effort on making the software user friendly.

It's really hard to know how to rate such a good product that comes with such terrible software. Once it's programmed the way you want it, it's great- but getting there is a real hassle.

empojohn , December 15, 2018
Works Great for My Needs

This sturdy little keyboard is easy to program with up to 30 characters for each key. And 3-stroke combos like Ctrl+Shift+-(Ctru plus Shift plus -) appear only to count as one Character toward this limit - at least according to the character counter in the program. You will see from the included photo that I have set up mine for use with a specialty computer program (for Indexing Genealogical Records). The two AHK-labeled keys in the lower left trigger AutoHotkey actions I have separately programmed that assign more complex actions to certain key combos, so yes, it will work with AutoHotkey. The keypress is very quiet and satisfying.

Regarding Support, I had trouble triggering the modifier keys (Ctrl, Shift, etc.) with the specified double-click, possibly due to a problem with my mouse, but a third click worked for me. I reached out to Support, and they were very responsive and helpful. I have ordered a second PK-2068 for use with another program we use regularly in our household. For the price and considering both its capabilities and restrictions, I am very pleased with the value and effectiveness of this product for my purposes, and highly recommend it for use in similar situations.

For your information, I made the little paper labels in the photo by creating a Table in MS Word with cell size .56" x .56" (after experimenting) and used AlternateGothic2 BT font in font size 11 for most of the cells. Transparent keycaps and a keycap puller come with the device and it is easy to pull a keycap, place your label, and replace the transparent keycap over it.

Andrew , May 14, 2018
Great keypad, good customer support

--EDIT 6/17/2019--
The company contacted me and sent me a newer revised keypad with software capable of adding delays between keystrokes, I'm going to try it asap but my needs changed so it's low on my priority list. Seems like good customer support though!

--EDIT 7/12/2018---
The company that manufactures this keypad contacted me after I asked about adding a delay function, and they're considering adding it! I'm excited they care about customer service. This keypad works as intended so I upped my rating to 4 stars. It's inability to have pauses is a bummer but it's still a good keypad and should work for most modern programs. Older programs written to only accept human-speed inputs may struggle with instant keystrokes. Hopefully the timing feature will make it to a hardware/software revision.

---EDIT 5/29/2018---
We've been running into either driver issues, or timing issues. Windows 7 installs four drivers for this keypad, and we're not sure what the problem is but whenever we're using it, our data entry program crashes. It COULD be that the keypad doesn't allow pauses, so it types so fast the program we use crashes.

We also had a "driver power state failure" while trying to reboot a computer that was affected. Besides the issues above, it's a good keypad and definitely worth a try, if you have a good modern program to use it with. Personally, our business uses an older system (auto star) that may not be liking the fast keystrokes.

---original review:

Awesome keypad, immense help at work, and the PRICE is appropriate!!! Unlike some keys that cost over $80 for a simple pad, this one is $34.90 at time of writing.

We use tons of hotkeys for everyday work at my job, and an entire programmable keyboard was unnecessary and expensive, and a good number pad can come in handy. This has both, and it has a delete key! Not that you couldn't program one in, but this has it already, along with "00" for you number crunchers, and still has 4 programmable keys in number pad mode.

The rubber dome keyswitches feel fine, and they bounce well. They aren't rough, slidey, or goopy like some keyboards. These feel fine and have a tactile pop at the bottom as you'd expect from a decent rubber dome.

The programming is easy, you download the program or install from the disk, run the .exe, and click the keys on the graphic GUI that you want programmed to the selected button. You can do key combinations or strings of text like you'd expect from other macro setups. There's a good LED button up top to show what mode you're in; programmable 24 button keypad, or a number pad with just four open programmable buttons up top.

The macros are stored on the keypad, so if you have several computers, you don't have to worry about loosing your macro programs.

The only two gripes I have so far, which I consider slight; the 5 key doesn't have a bump, so finding the "home row" of the keypad with your middle finger on the 5 isn't easy. I stuck a rubber pad on it, problem fixed. A drop of hot glue, keycap sticker, whatever. fixed.

The other thing some may like is a "pause" feature in macros for slower programs or scripts that require a pause in keystrokes. I don't need it, but some may.

I used a basic template for the caps.

I'm tempted to buy the whole programmable board, but then I'd have two number pads. Still tempting though, as I could use this for just hotkeys.
If I need hotkeys at home for photoshop or something I may very well buy another one of these. The only improvement I could see would be hotkeys that are program specific, or a third layer of macros.

MP3 Fan , May 16, 2019
Nice for Generating Keystroke Macros

Pros:
All keys (except Enter) are programmable
See-through keycaps pop out and label can be inserted
Programming accepts all combinations of Shift, Alt and Ctrl
Key travel with positive feedback, yet quiet
Unit provides two USB 2.0 ports
Solid construction.

Cons:
Keypad must be manually programmed, i.e., cannot save and retrieve macros from configuration files
Wish the Enter key can be programmed as well
Keys do not auto-repeat.

[Jul 27, 2019] Huxley's Brave New World was published in 1931, Orwell's 1984 in 1949. Both came true ion 2019

Notable quotes:
"... I favor the notion that the Internet's gift of vastly more accessible information and greater and less expensive communication is exposing more of corruption in government that continues an ancient trend, this web site being a sterling example. ..."
Jul 27, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

LJ , July 25, 2019 at 10:38

Quite a few people couldn't help but notice that the country was shifting into a dis-informational mode several years ago. So much for the Information Age, the Internet and hand held ( communication ) devices to increase awareness. It was noticed by some folks even here at CN that tendencies had come ito play that were reminiscent of Orwell's dystopian yet fictional accounts in the novel 1984. This entire Russiagate episode could just as easily have come from 1984's Ministry of Information as our own Intelligence Services and might have been just as boring if it had . Meanwhile us , prols, just go with the flow and don't really care. Are things that much different than they have ever been? I rem,ember the Waterdate hearings and the Iran-Contra Hearings, Ken Starr's Investigation. I'm a little to young to remember the Warren Commission or Senator Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare but I do remember the 9/11 Commission and WMGs in Iraq.. I remember wrote a paper on Propaganda films in WW II. Is this episode really all that different?

Paul Merrell , July 26, 2019 at 19:11

@ "Quite a few people couldn't help but notice that the country was shifting into a dis-informational mode several years ago. So much for the Information Age, the Internet and hand held ( communication ) devices to increase awareness. "

You address a topic I've pondered long and hard. Although I can cite scant evidence, I can't help but wonder: Are we instead only noticing -- because of the far wider availability of information via the Internet -- a disinformation phenomenon that is perhaps centuries old if not still older?

Huxley's Brave New World was published in 1931, Orwell's 1984 in 1949. Dickens' Bleakhouse was serialized in 1852-53. All can be fairly said to deal with a perception that those who control government are dishonest and corrupt, based on then-current norms. E.g., Dickens noted in the preface of his first edition that his fictional Jarndyce and Jarndyce largely paralleled the sadly real Thellusson v Woodford. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thellusson_v_Woodford

Such precedents argue against the "disinformational mode" being of recent origin.

I favor the notion that the Internet's gift of vastly more accessible information and greater and less expensive communication is exposing more of corruption in government that continues an ancient trend, this web site being a sterling example.

[Jul 20, 2019] Orwell, Inc. How Your Employer Spies On You From When You Wake Up Until You Go To Bed

There are a lot of exaggerations here.
While email and web activity of employees is definitely monitored, all other monitoring usually is pretty fragmentary. Often on a corporate smartphone there are two zones -- secure zone where you access corporate network and email and private zone where you have access to the internet via you provider and traffic is not monitored other then for the volume.
Keeping track of all those details (and some of them will be wrong) is just too expensive and few corporation outside FIRE sector so that.
In short anything that opens company to a lawsuit will be monitored, but outside of that companies actually are not interested in the information collection as it opens them to additional liability in save of suicides and such.
Mining data from social media is a different complex topic and requires a separate article.
Notable quotes:
"... From there, the company even sees as Chet logs onto the guest Wi-Fi connections at places like the coffee shop in the morning. Many companies require additional authentication when they try to access company information from unsecure Wi-Fi networks. ..."
"... Then, as Chet gets to his desk, his web browsing is tracked along with his email. New software breaks down how workers interact with email and how quickly colleagues reply in an attempt to see which employees are most influential . Some software on company computers even snaps screenshots every 30 seconds to evaluate productivity and hours worked. ..."
"... Even Chet's phone conversations can be recorded, transcribed and monitored. Companies use this information to find subject matter experts and measure productivity. Even conference room discussions and meetings can now be recorded and analyzed by software. ..."
Jul 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Orwell, Inc.: How Your Employer Spies On You From When You Wake Up Until You Go To Bed

An increasing number of large companies are using data from employees' electronic devices to track such personal details like when you they wake up, where they go for coffee in the morning, their whereabouts throughout the entire day, and what time they go to bed according to a new Wall Street Journal article. What's the company explanation for this type of spying?

"An increasing number of companies are keeping track of such information to flag potentially suspicious activity and measure work-life balance," the article claims.

The article walks through the day in the life of a fictional worker, Chet. It starts by noting that his employer logs the time and his location when he first wakes up to check his e-mail in the morning.

From there, the company even sees as Chet logs onto the guest Wi-Fi connections at places like the coffee shop in the morning. Many companies require additional authentication when they try to access company information from unsecure Wi-Fi networks.

Then, a Bluetooth device and his ID badge mark what time he arrives at the office while tracking his movement around the building. These technologies are supposedly used to see what teams collaborate frequently and to make sure that employees aren't accessing unauthorized areas.

Then, as Chet gets to his desk, his web browsing is tracked along with his email. New software breaks down how workers interact with email and how quickly colleagues reply in an attempt to see which employees are most influential . Some software on company computers even snaps screenshots every 30 seconds to evaluate productivity and hours worked.

Even Chet's phone conversations can be recorded, transcribed and monitored. Companies use this information to find subject matter experts and measure productivity. Even conference room discussions and meetings can now be recorded and analyzed by software.

At the end of the day, if Chet goes to the gym or for a run, the company will know that too and just how many calories he has burned: his fitness tracker logs how many steps he takes and what exercise, if any, he is doing. Companies then use that information to determine how frequently employees are exercising and whether or not they should be paying for health and fitness services.

You can view the WSJ's full animated panel here .


Xena fobe , 4 minutes ago link

They retain firms that track us on our social media accounts. Supposedly to defend against workplace violence threats. And then there are the cameras. We never really know. Just do my job and keep personal use of company resources to a minimum.

misgivings , 10 minutes ago link

Just NO. This is pretty much slavery. There should be a right to privacy, human rights. the insidious nature of ever more control must be reversed.

misgivings , 13 minutes ago link

we really ARE just cattle.

Ms No , 15 minutes ago link

Shortly Im going to start leaving my phone at home and just carrying a book with me. Screw these Bolshevik bitches.

Kefeer , 47 minutes ago link

The operation known as "LifeLog" was replaced the very day that Face Book came into being?

Life Log : The objective of the LifeLog concept was "to be able to trace the 'threads' of an individual's life in terms of events, states, and relationships", and it has the ability to "take in all of a subject's experience, from phone numbers dialed and e-mail messages viewed to every breath taken, step made and place gone". [1]

" CIA Can Selectively Disclose Information, Court Affirms " Bookmark this website Anons

My takeaway from all this is that many, perhaps most, human institutions are corrupt and that there is no basis from which most people are able to discern truth from lies or right from wrong. This explains the ability of the Power Elite to easily divide people against each other. For example, you cannot debate a Liberal because they have their basis for truth on their personal feeling or emotions. Many conservatives do as well, but they are closer in their thingking to the foundation from which truth sits upon.

PKKA , 48 minutes ago link

How to avoid electronic surveillance

Edward Snowden, former NSA employee. Snowden is an absolute supporter of encryption of all stored and transmitted content. Now there are many applications that have encryption features. And among them there are common and well-known messengers, such as, for example, WhatsApp, Telegram and others.

The former NSA agent also advises to secure his computer, in particular, the hard drive. On the Internet you can find instructions on how to do this. Usually used special software. For example, for Windows, there is a program preinstalled in advanced versions of the OS -- BitLocker, for Mac -- FileVault. Thus, if the computer is stolen, the attacker will not be able to read your data.

Password Managers A useful thing that most people do not even think about. Such programs allow you to keep your passwords in order - to create unique keys and store them. According to Snowden, one of the most common problems with online privacy is leaks.

Tor. The former NSA official calls the anonymous Tor network "the most important technological project to ensure the confidentiality of those currently used." He stated that he uses it on a daily basis. Tor allows you to "cover up traces" on the Internet, that is, it provides anonymity, making it difficult to determine the person's IP address and location.

Also, Snowden told how to avoid total surveillance. For example, special services that can remotely turn on a microphone or camera on a smartphone and start listening. The answer is simple - pull out the microphone and camera modules from the device. Instead, it is proposed to use an external accessory and disconnect from the selfie and never use it.

Kefeer , 33 minutes ago link

The only safe way is to abstain as much as possible, which is now next to impossible. Security is only as protected as the weakest link. Consider a person who uses their smart phone giving Google or Apple the permissions needed to use their OS's and apps; we do not even know exactly how much info we agreed to give away. Consider all the contact info that your friends, relatives, work or other organizations you associate with have on their devices and how vulnerable they make it; they are not as cautious as you and some people using these things do not even think about security; it never occurs to them.. .. just some musing on my part.

Cardinal Fang , 50 minutes ago link

Jeez, I used to sign a quarterly affirmation that I complied with all of the companies electronic communication monitoring policies...and they made us sign that we understood that they had climbed up our *** and pitched a tent.

One of the reasons they had to find a replacement for me when I quit.

Quia Possum , 57 minutes ago link

If you're using your employer's devices, facilities, or networks, you should assume they are tracking what you're doing, and they have every right to do so. When I buy your company's products or services, I don't want to have to pay for your time spent messing around at work.

I can't read the article since it's behind a paywall, but I don't see how your waking and sleeping time and "work life balance" could be tracked unless you are using your employer's devices or networks outside of work. Which is friggin stupid if you do it.

fezline , 56 minutes ago link

Actually it doesnt work like that... Chet isn't informed of this happening. The fact that the company does this is buried in vague language in the 500 page employee handbook that Chet has to sign when he is hired. Chet is just like anyone else with a company provided electronic device. All companies monitor and track everything they can with the electronic devices they provide. If you have one and th think your company doesnt do it... you are naive.

Wild Bill Steamcock , 12 minutes ago link

Chet has the ability to determine when and where he uses the work-provided devices. And why does work have access to his fitness tracker? Supplied by his employer too? Really, Chet had options

fezline , 1 hour ago link

Not with me... I have a personal phone and when I am not at work I keep my work phone at home turned off. My emails are forwarded to my personal device and any voicemail I get also gets forwarded to my personal device. I never place personal calls with my work phone and I turn it off the second I leave work to go home.

Steele Hammorhands , 1 hour ago link

What a waste of resources. If you want to see what I do, just ask. I'll show you how I accomplish my work-related duties. How I manage my time at work. Where I go to cry and regret my life choices.

[Jul 09, 2019] Aldous Huxley said something that points exactly what happening in the world now

Notable quotes:
"... Huxley died at 5:20pm, London time, on 22 November 1963. About ten minutes later, CS Lewis died. Just under an hour after that, of course, JFK was shot and killed in Dallas. There may never have been a deadlier 70 minutes for celebrity ..."
"... Fifty years ago, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. In 1982, philosophy professor Peter Kreeft imagined the three of them in conversation after their deaths. ..."
"... I think there's a good deal to be said for this this point of view in in regard to the permanence of any dictatorship. " ..."
Jul 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Robjil says: July 9, 2019 at 1:06 pm GMT 500 Words @ChuckOrloski

Chuck,

There another famous person who died that day. Aldous Huxley.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/eclipsed-in-death-we-remember-jfk-but-what-about-aldous-huxley-or-cs-lewis-8957192.html

Poor old Aldous Huxley. In other circumstances, his name would be all over the place today, the 50th anniversary of his death. Yet, just moments after his demise, the Brave New World author had the misfortune, if that's the right word, of becoming a key member of the "eclipsed celebrity death club".

Huxley died at 5:20pm, London time, on 22 November 1963. About ten minutes later, CS Lewis died. Just under an hour after that, of course, JFK was shot and killed in Dallas. There may never have been a deadlier 70 minutes for celebrity

A book has been written about these three deaths on the same day by Peter Kreeft. He imagines them talking together in the heavens.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/the-day-c-s-lewis-john-f-kennedy-and-aldous-huxley-died/

Fifty years ago, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. In 1982, philosophy professor Peter Kreeft imagined the three of them in conversation after their deaths.

Positioning Lewis as a proponent of ancient Western theism, Kennedy as a modern Western humanist, and Huxley as an ancient Eastern pantheist, Kreeft wrote a conversational book entitled Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley. "

Aldous Huxley said something that points exactly what happening in the world now. We are lead by a wild species. The Zios don't want to be domesticated by freedom of speech. Spare the rod ( of freedom of speech) spoil the child. The Zios want to be wild forever. They want to do whatever they want on earth with no scolding feedback.

This question and answer talk was at Berkeley Univ. on March 20 1962. This fear of being domesticated is why the ADL went crazy on 6/6/19, closing down websites and videos all over the internet.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/5hJp5JrOTuQ?start=578&feature=oembed

9:23 t0 10:44

Another point which was made by Sir Charles Darwin in his book "The Next Million Years" which I think was one would with in different terms .

I envisaged in brave new world .I mean here he points out that the human species is still a wild species, it has never been domesticated .

I mean domesticated species is one which has been tamed by another species. Well, until we get an invasion from Mars we shall not be tamed by another species. All we can do is to try to tame ourselves.

An oligarchy tries to tame ourselves but the oligarchy still remains wild. I mean however much it succeeded in taming the domesticating the rest of the race it from it must remain wild. And this was the part of the fable the dramatic part of the fable of brave new world is that the people in the upper hierarchy who were not ruthlessly conditioned could break down.

I mean this Charles Darwin insists that because man is wild he can never expect to domesticate himself because the people on top would always be undomesticated sooner or later always run wild. I think there's a good deal to be said for this this point of view in in regard to the permanence of any dictatorship. "

[Jun 30, 2019] Orwell s 1984 No Longer Reads Like Fiction It s The Reality Of Our Times by Robert Bridge

Highly recommended!
1984, Brave New World, and Idiocracy look more and more like Documentaries now.
Notable quotes:
"... Describing the protagonist Winston Smith's frugal London flat, he mentions an instrument called a 'telescreen', which sounds strikingly similar to the handheld 'smartphone' that is enthusiastically used by billions of people around the world today. ..."
"... At the same time, the denizens of 1984 were never allowed to forget they were living in a totalitarian surveillance state, under the control of the much-feared Thought Police. Massive posters with the slogan 'Big Brother is Watching You' were as prevalent as our modern-day advertising billboards. Today, however, such polite warnings about surveillance would seem redundant, as reports of unauthorized spying still gets the occasional lazy nod in the media now and then. ..."
"... In fact, just in time for 1984's anniversary, it has been reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) has once again been illicitly collecting records on telephone calls and text messages placed by US citizens. ..."
"... Another method of control alluded to in 1984 fell under a system of speech known as 'Newspeak', which attempted to reduce the language to 'doublethink', with the ulterior motive of controlling ideas and thoughts. ..."
"... Another Newspeak term, known as 'facecrime', provides yet another striking parallel to our modern situation. Defined as "to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense." It would be difficult for the modern reader to hear the term 'facecrime' and not connect it with 'Facebook', the social media platform that regularly censors content creators for expressing thoughts it finds 'hateful' or inappropriate. ..."
"... 'Hate speech' is precisely one of those delightfully vague, subjective terms with no real meaning that one would expect to find in the Newspeak style guide. Short of threatening the life of a person or persons, individuals should be free to criticize others without fear of reprisal, least of all from the state, which should be in the business of protecting free speech at all cost. ..."
"... Another modern phenomenon that would be right at home in Orwell's Oceania is the obsession with political correctness, which is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against." But since so many people today identify with some marginalized group, this has made the intelligent discussion of controversial ideas – not least of all on US college campuses , of all places – exceedingly difficult, if not downright dangerous. Orwell must be looking down on all of this madness with much surprise, since he provided the world with the best possible warning to prevent it. ..."
Jun 30, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Robert Bridge, op-ed via RT.com,

70 years ago, the British writer George Orwell captured the essence of technology in its ability to shape our destinies in his seminal work, 1984. The tragedy of our times is that we have failed to heed his warning.

No matter how many times I read 1984, the feeling of total helplessness and despair that weaves itself throughout Orwell's masterpiece never fails to take me by surprise. Although usually referred to as a 'dystopian futuristic novel', it is actually a horror story on a scale far greater than anything that has emerged from the minds of prolific writers like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. The reason is simple. The nightmare world that the protagonist Winston Smith inhabits, a place called Oceania, is all too easily imaginable. Man, as opposed to some imaginary clown or demon, is the evil monster.

In the very first pages of the book, Orwell demonstrates an uncanny ability to foresee future trends in technology. Describing the protagonist Winston Smith's frugal London flat, he mentions an instrument called a 'telescreen', which sounds strikingly similar to the handheld 'smartphone' that is enthusiastically used by billions of people around the world today.

Orwell describes the ubiquitous device as an "oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror" affixed to the wall that "could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely." Sound familiar?

It is through this gadget that the rulers of Oceania are able to monitor the actions of its citizens every minute of every day.

At the same time, the denizens of 1984 were never allowed to forget they were living in a totalitarian surveillance state, under the control of the much-feared Thought Police. Massive posters with the slogan 'Big Brother is Watching You' were as prevalent as our modern-day advertising billboards. Today, however, such polite warnings about surveillance would seem redundant, as reports of unauthorized spying still gets the occasional lazy nod in the media now and then.

In fact, just in time for 1984's anniversary, it has been reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) has once again been illicitly collecting records on telephone calls and text messages placed by US citizens. This latest invasion of privacy has been casually dismissed as an "error" after an unnamed telecommunications firm handed over call records the NSA allegedly "hadn't requested" and "weren't approved" by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In 2013, former CIA employee Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA's intrusive surveillance operations, yet somehow the government agency is able to continue – with the help of the corporate sector – vacuuming up the private information of regular citizens.

Another method of control alluded to in 1984 fell under a system of speech known as 'Newspeak', which attempted to reduce the language to 'doublethink', with the ulterior motive of controlling ideas and thoughts. For example, the term 'joycamp', a truncated term every bit as euphemistic as the 'PATRIOT Act', was used to describe a forced labor camp, whereas a 'doubleplusgood duckspeaker' was used to praise an orator who 'quacked' correctly with regards to the political situation.

Another Newspeak term, known as 'facecrime', provides yet another striking parallel to our modern situation. Defined as "to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense." It would be difficult for the modern reader to hear the term 'facecrime' and not connect it with 'Facebook', the social media platform that regularly censors content creators for expressing thoughts it finds 'hateful' or inappropriate. What social media users need is an Orwellian lesson in 'crimestop', which Orwell defined as "the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought." Those so-called unacceptable 'dangerous thoughts' were determined not by the will of the people, of course, but by their rulers.

And yes, it gets worse. Just this week, Mark Zuckerberg's 'private company' agreed to give French authorities the "identification data" of Facebook users suspected of spreading 'hate speech' on the platform, in what would be an unprecedented move on the part of Silicon Valley.

'Hate speech' is precisely one of those delightfully vague, subjective terms with no real meaning that one would expect to find in the Newspeak style guide. Short of threatening the life of a person or persons, individuals should be free to criticize others without fear of reprisal, least of all from the state, which should be in the business of protecting free speech at all cost.

Another modern phenomenon that would be right at home in Orwell's Oceania is the obsession with political correctness, which is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against." But since so many people today identify with some marginalized group, this has made the intelligent discussion of controversial ideas – not least of all on US college campuses , of all places – exceedingly difficult, if not downright dangerous. Orwell must be looking down on all of this madness with much surprise, since he provided the world with the best possible warning to prevent it.

For anyone who entertains expectations for a happy ending in 1984, be prepared for serious disappointment (spoiler alert, for the few who have somehow not read this book). Although Winston Smith manages to finally experience love, the brief romance – like a delicate flower that was able to take root amid a field of asphalt – is crushed by the authorities with shocking brutality. Not satisfied with merely destroying the relationship, however, Smith is forced to betray his 'Julia' after undergoing the worst imaginable torture at the 'Ministry of Love'.

The book ends with the words, "He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." Will we too declare, like Winston Smith, our love for 'Big Brother' above all else, or will we emerge victorious against the forces of a technological tyranny that appears to be just over the horizon? Or is Orwell's 1984 just really good fiction and not the instruction manual for tyrants many have come to fear it is?

An awful lot is riding on our answers to those questions, and time is running out.

[Jun 24, 2019] So controversial was this book on Communism and Zionism that it sent the author into indefinite retirement and forced his publisher out of business

Jun 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Jun 23, 2019 7:45:59 PM | 153

@ eagle eye | Jun 23, 2019 6:40:30 PM #137

Thanks for the tip about the author Douglas Reed . He appears to have been stifled so well that even learning he ever existed is accidental. By the way, most of his books seem to be on the Internet Archive site, and I've downloaded all I can find. Want to get a feeling for what kind of man he was. (In Nazis I have no interest)

Here is an Amazon blurb for one of them.

Far and Wide Douglas Reed

Reed gives a record of his travels in the United States. With unusual flair and uncanny prophetic insight, Reed takes us on a journey of the historical and political side of America. So controversial was this book on Communism and Zionism that it sent the author into indefinite retirement and forced his publisher out of business. 398 Pages.

[Jun 20, 2019] The Omnipresent Surveillance State by John W. Whitehead

Jun 19, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

"You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

-- George Orwell, 1984

Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state .

It's been 70 years since Orwell -- dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm -- depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984 .

Who could have predicted that 70 years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, "He loved Big Brother," we would fail to heed his warning and come to love Big Brother.

"To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone -- to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink -- greetings!"

-- George Orwell

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or "Party," is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: "Big Brother is watching you."

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

―George Orwell

Much like Orwell's Big Brother in 1984 , the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley's A Brave New World , we are churning out a society of watchers who "have their liberties taken away from them, but rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing." Much like Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale , the populace is now taught to "know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away ."

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick's darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state -- which became the basis for Steven Spielberg's futuristic thriller Minority Report -- we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike -- facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on -- are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality .

Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes , facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness -- a philosophy that discourages diversity -- has become a guiding principle of modern society.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

―George Orwell

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

―George Orwell, Animal Farm

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. For example, USA Today reports that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming to such an extent that it eclipsed mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue. This security spending to private corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others is forecast to exceed $1 trillion in the near future.

The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the "security/industrial complex" -- a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance -- has come to dominate the government and our lives. At three times the size of the CIA, constituting one third of the intelligence budget and with its own global spy network to boot, the NSA has a long history of spying on Americans, whether or not it has always had the authorization to do so.

Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.

Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs. As Orwell explains:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it."

― George Orwell

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

In totalitarian regimes -- a.k.a. police states -- where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 , reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Huxley's Brave New World , serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

And in Orwell's 1984 , Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish "thoughtcrimes." In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

All three -- Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell -- had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell's Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984 :

The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as "This dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds." It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts .

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is "safe" and "accepted" by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

"Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."

-- George Orwell

Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights . In fact, the addiction to screen devices -- especially cell phones -- has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots. However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one's every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans. That all changed with the 9/11 attacks. As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, "Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity ."

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry -- mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all -- we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government. In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us -- the proverbial "needle in a haystack," as one official termed it -- the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions. Much of this data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children. These are state and regional intelligence centers that collect data on you.

"Big Brother is Watching You."

―George Orwell

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems. Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely. And if any "threatening" words are detected -- no matter how inane or silly -- the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation. Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content. Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you're guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.

"Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull."

― George Orwell

Here's what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it's not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We've already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called "hateful" thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.

Say hello to the new Thought Police .

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it's not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA is now designing an artificial intelligence system that is designed to anticipate your every move. In a nutshell, the NSA will feed vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer can then use to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS. One NSA researcher actually quit the Aquaint program, "citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability."

Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

-- Orwell

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won't be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government's roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?

We're running out of options.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , we'll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited : "Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it."

John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People .

[Jun 18, 2019] Caught in Their Fun House by Paul Haeder

Notable quotes:
"... America just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. ..."
"... And after all our idiotic overcomplicated plots and schemes, they are but to mask simple truths ..."
"... What is more compelling than the average person captured in a truthful narrative, as counterpoint to a society that delves into the celebrity, the spectacle, the idiocy as Jason puts forth in his piece, "The Idiot." ..."
"... Yet, my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced, hits the nail on the head by providing his own retort to example after example of the cruelty of capitalism and the US of I -- United States of Idiots? ..."
"... What in the fuck is wrong with this country? The republicans enact cruel legislation to protect criminal enterprises, slash taxes for the obscenely rich, while removing any social or environmental protections for the population, (the Flint Michigan water system for example). ..."
"... The democrats response to Trump is to promote Joe Biden, a compilation of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Strom Thurman and just about every other corporate whore they could steal parts off of to make their democratic very own version of Donald Trump. ..."
"... As if there were no real journalists working on all the pre-September 11 illegalities of the republican party and then the post-September 11 evisceration of the few rights the people of the world and USA had before full spectrum war on our planet. ..."
"... As if journalists hadn't cracked open the Koch brothers, the fake think tanks, all the pre-Truman/post-Truman lies of empire, from Roy Cohen, through to the rigged systems of oppression. Way before any trivial Hollywood wannabe open her eyes. ..."
"... Entertainment and a few laughs at the expense of millions of bombed-dead people, millions more suffering-a-lingering-death daily because of Hollywood and USA policies and the evangelicals and the Crypto-Christo-Zionists bombing "the other" back to the stone age. The movie, Vice. ..."
"... What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies , the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy . ..."
"... As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984 , Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World , they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us. ..."
"... The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. ..."
"... Huxley was right -- " Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." Brave New World , "Chapter 4" ..."
Jun 05, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

America just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

-- Hunter S. Thompson

Now I think poetry will save nothing from oblivion, but I keep writing about the ordinary because for me it's the home of the extraordinary, the only home.

-- Phillip Levine

I'm digging the DV piece, " The Idiot " by Jason Holland, since in a critical mass sort of black hole kind of way, his main thesis is reflective of the experiences many of us in the bloody trenches of dying capitalism see/feel/believe minute by minute.

And after all our idiotic overcomplicated plots and schemes, they are but to mask simple truths the idiot facade tries so desperately to avoid; the inner torments of being afraid of not being good enough, not measuring up to our peers, not meeting arbitrary expectations we either accept from others or set for ourselves, or quite simply feeling like we are not worthy of love. So we play these pointless high stakes games which have a rewards as meaningless and worthless as a plastic trophy just to prove our worth. The idiot is a temporal state of being, although many are finer long term examples of displaying the behaviors of the idiot; however none of us are the perfect idiot. To avoid the affectations of being in an idiotic state it takes conscious effort to live our lives moment to moment with authenticity, to be in a state of awareness of our actions, to always be willing to suffer for something worthwhile and to be consistently well reasoned examiners of what constitutes something worthwhile.

That authenticity, moment to moment existence -- and it should be a reveling of life -- is good, but there is a bifurcating of sorts when many of us are still subject to the masters of Big Brother and Big Business. We are suffering the dualism of the Century, and the more we know, the more we seek and the more we grapple, well, the more emancipated we are, but in that freedom comes some pretty harsh treatment by the masters and their sub-masters and all the Little Eichmann's that keep the Capitalist's trains moving like clockwork toward the global demise set in their plastic worlds!

And some of us think Dachau and Auschwitz were bad! We have already seen a hundred of them since 1945.

For me, I have the benefit of being a writer, and at this time, I have this new gig I created myself to bring to the Oregon Coast a sense of the people who are here living or who come here to set down their own stories . . . people who do things to make this world better and themselves better. Something in the draw that brings my subjects for my pieces here to the coast of Oregon. These are people, and they are not perfections or cut-outs or pulverized remnants of humanity that Capitalism mostly demands in it shark tank of inane media manipulation and marketing.

I crack open humanity and get people's contexts -- entire stories upon stories laid down, strata by strata, and cover their own formula for the art of living in harmony in a world of disharmony. Reading my stuff, I hope, will allow readers of this rag, Oregon Coast Today , and its on-line version a better sense of authenticity via people they may or may not even run across in their own lives of being the consummate busy tourist and consumer.

A few of the pieces will be worthy of DV display, and I hope that my attempt at drilling down and "getting people" for who they are and how they got here will better the world, in some small shape. Really small, but small wonders sometimes are the ionic glue of a bettering world.

What is more compelling than the average person captured in a truthful narrative, as counterpoint to a society that delves into the celebrity, the spectacle, the idiocy as Jason puts forth in his piece, "The Idiot."

In many ways, talking to people who have lived authentic (albeit struggle-prone) lives, or who are just embarking on a nascent stage of multiple iterations of living, I get my sense of grounding in a very flummoxed world of inanity and crass disassociation, as in the disease of pushing away humanity and pushing away the natural world to hitch oneself to the perversions of the billionaire class.

Time and time again, daily, my friends who are still in struggle -- still trying to make sense of the perverted world of idiots controlling the message, the economy, the environment, the culture, and the mental-physical-spiritual health of the world, as if this is it, Trump 2.0 -- give me news feed after news feed of the quickening of not only idiocy that capitalism and consumerism and war engender in our species, but also examples of the inhumanity driving the agendas of the Fortune 500 Class, the Davos crowd, the Aspen Institute gatherings, et al .

Yet, my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced, hits the nail on the head by providing his own retort to example after example of the cruelty of capitalism and the US of I -- United States of Idiots?

If this doesn't slap the Hell out of you and rub your nose into the proverbial dog shit of what a criminally insane, inhumane, cruel and thuggish enterprise our government has become, then there is absolutely no hope for your soul. The truth tellers like Manning, Assange, Snowden and others, the brave young guys like Tim DeChristopher that monkey wrenched the sale of oil leases to public lands to try and protect the environment, this fellow that is showing his human side by providing water and aid for those dying in the desert sun, are all facing prison terms or maybe even the death penalty. Their crime? Being a compassionate human being.

What in the fuck is wrong with this country? The republicans enact cruel legislation to protect criminal enterprises, slash taxes for the obscenely rich, while removing any social or environmental protections for the population, (the Flint Michigan water system for example).

The republicans are ruthlessly attacking the environment and endangered species, turning their backs on infrastructure that is endangering peoples lives, while the spineless democrats sit idly by, wringing their hands. The democrats won't take action against the most openly corrupt president we have ever had, that is daily destroying everything in this country as well as the rest of the world with his insane military budgets, trade wars and climate policies. The democrats response to Trump is to promote Joe Biden, a compilation of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Strom Thurman and just about every other corporate whore they could steal parts off of to make their democratic very own version of Donald Trump.

Both the republicans and the democrats promote austerity for the working people and the poor, while stuffing the oligarchs pockets with gold. Both political Parties support endless war and war profiteers but slash budgets for schools, infrastructure, health care and the elderly. Both political Parties shower money on the police state and a corrupt system of justice and private prisons. Both political Parties are turning their heads to what the oil industry is doing to our water and air with fracking and are in fact have promoted legislation to let the oil industry off the hook when it causes unbelievable environmental damage. Both political Parties are doing nothing to check the nuclear industry that is a environmental time bomb waiting to go off and have promoted legislation to limit the industries liability when it does.

What is wrong with the American people that they sit on their collective asses and do nothing while all this is happening? Are they that fucking stupid? Are they that lacking in human decency? Are they that politically dumbed-down that they won't even fight for their own interests?

The fact that this government corruption has been allowed to go on for years evidently proves that Americans are that stupid and lacking of compassion and politically dumbed-down. Thank God for guys like Dr. Warren the others that are trying to slap some sense into the American public to show us what courage and being humane is all about. Dr. Warren and company shouldn't be put in jail but our so called leaders sure as Hell should be for their crimes against humanity.

He's talking about a desert saint of sorts, Scott Warren, who has the power of his call to duty to give water in milk cartons to anyone crossing the Arizona desert. Now that is a hero, yet, he is facing decades in prison. America!

The charges against Warren "are an unjust criminalization of direct humanitarian assistance" and "appear to constitute a politically motivated violation of his protected rights as a Human Rights Defender," states Amnesty International's Americas regional director Erika Guevara-Rosas .

"Providing humanitarian aid is never a crime," Guevara-Rosas added in a statement last week. "If Dr. Warren were convicted and imprisoned on these absurd charges, he would be a prisoner of conscience, detained for his volunteer activities motivated by humanitarian principles and his religious beliefs."

Yet how many humans in this crime country even give a rat's ass about one man who is doing the good that all men and women should be doing?

Read the great piece about these water bearers on the border at the Intercept by Ryan Devereaux .

So, here, whatever will come of my new column, "Deep Dive: Go Below the Surface with Paul Haeder," starting June 7, well, I hope people reading this rag -- 18,000 and counting and as they are compelled to hit each longer version of each of my profiles on line, Oregon Coast Today -- will understand that life is the sum total of one's search for meaning and worthy work and community involvement.

Maybe this compulsion toward narrative has always been inside me during my early root setting living in Canada, Maryland, Paris, Edinburgh, Arizona . . . then on that walkabout throughout Latin America, Europe, Vietnam, USA, Central America!

When times get tough, the storyteller gets writing. Ha. Believe you me, the stories we all have collected in this Marquis de Sade world of capital and artery-clogging entertainment and constant death spiral the elites have banked as their Appian Way to Complete Dominance, they make for so much more validation of humanity than anything Hollywood could make.

Point of fact -- I attempted to watch the film, Vice, about Dick Cheney, his perverse family, the perversity of neocons fornicating with neoliberalism. It was one of Hollywood's "cutting edge" dramas. Written and directed by a Saturday Night Live writer. All the usual suspects with Hollywood multi-millions stuffed in their jowls -- Christian Bale, Amy Adams, et al .

It wasn't that good, but I sensed that the filmmakers were all about trying to make something that was "different." I didn't nod off during the viewing. But, I unfortunately had the DVD so I went to the extras section, and then, the behind-the-scenes of the making of Vice . This is when things went south real quickly with neoliberal, Democrat-leaning Hollywood creeps. We get every goofy platitude about each and every department's genius in making this film. Every actor fawns the other actor for his or her amazing performance.

Then the Limey, Christian Bale, yammers on and on about he was all about making Dick Cheney human, going into his good side, being cognizant of Cheney, the human. Rubbish and this is the quality of men, adults, in our society -- multimillionaires with gobs of limelight and credit and awards and houses and yachts thrown at them, and they can't even begin to attack the cause -- capitalism, rampant competitiveness, droll I-got-mine-too-bad-you-can't-get-yours thinking. Hollywood is the anti-culture, the flagging bumbling money changers, the money makers, the money grubbers, and well, everything is about the pockets and the suits and the "executive producers," i.e. Bankers.

Oh god, what a trip going into these Hollywood people's hot yoga, macrobiotic diet, four-hour-a-day workout minds. The director, McKay, actually thinks this drama -- make-believe -- has given the world new stuff, new insights, new news about the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush-Reagan-Bush world of prostitute politics.

As if there were no real journalists working on all the pre-September 11 illegalities of the republican party and then the post-September 11 evisceration of the few rights the people of the world and USA had before full spectrum war on our planet.

As if journalists hadn't cracked open the Koch brothers, the fake think tanks, all the pre-Truman/post-Truman lies of empire, from Roy Cohen, through to the rigged systems of oppression. Way before any trivial Hollywood wannabe open her eyes.

Entertainment and a few laughs at the expense of millions of bombed-dead people, millions more suffering-a-lingering-death daily because of Hollywood and USA policies and the evangelicals and the Crypto-Christo-Zionists bombing "the other" back to the stone age. The movie, Vice.

Racists, misogynists, misanthropes, one and all. Yet, we gotta love these democrat-leaning guys and gals making films, having millions stuffed up every possible orifice until their brains gel.

Insight into the flippancy that is Hollywood the Power Broker! Watching people like Amy Adams and Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell play this soft-shoe goofball show, and then in the little "Making of the Movie Vice" documentary (sic-infomercial) blathering on and on about the greatness of the script and every cog of the machine that churns out this pabulum, well, it steels me to continue my small-time, no-fame, big-effing-deal gig writing people profiles to bring some sense to a world captured by capital . . . idiocy!

Oh, how we fall in line. Over at Counterpunch , that cloistered world of writers has the countdown for 2018 -- Best Films of the Year, as in the most conscious, socially (give me a effing break!) that is. Nothing in American society once it floats on the offal barrel is sacred, socialist, communist.

Peak TV is creating more opportunities for independent film directors, and for new stories to be told. More films from around the world are released on streaming every day, and Netflix spent an estimated 13 billion dollars on content just this year. More cash available can sometimes mean more stories by and about communities of color, women, transgender and gender nonconforming people, and other communities Hollywood has long ignored. But the movie industry is still primarily about making profit, and it's main business is reinforcing the status quo, including churning out films that glorify capitalism, war, and policing.

Below are 2018's top ten conscious films that made it through these barriers, plus twenty more released this year that you may want to check out.

[ ]

Hollywood doesn't have a great record in covering presidential politics (remember Kevin Costner in Swing Vote ?). Vice , comedy director Adam McKay's follow up to The Big Short , explores the Bush/Cheney presidency, attempting to make history and polemic accessible to a wide audience. It's not as effective as his previous film, but it's a good history, especially for those less familiar with the ins and outs of the early 2000s corporate power grab.

Lighten up already , many a friend and acquaintance tell me. "You are going to burn out like one of the bulbs you use underwater to do your night dives. Way too much shining the hoary light onto the more hoary caverns of American society. Let things go."

Ha, well, how can we? We are entertained to death, as Neil Postman states:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies , the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy .

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984 , Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World , they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

This book [ Amusing Ourselves to Death ] is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

And so it goes, as I trail the acrid dust devil of injustice -- my own and the veterans' and families' I helped just months ago in Portland as a social worker for, drum roll, homeless veterans (and some came with families, including babies and service dogs).

I've written about it here and elsewhere -- the Starvation Army. The deceitful, unethical, possibly murderous Starvation Army. You see, where I worked, I had these insane Nurse Ratched's lording over grown men and women treating them like criminals, and infantiles, and the constant berating and recriminations. It was anything but social work 101. Anything but trauma-informed care. Anything but caring people, enlightened helpers; instead, think mean, warped people who within their own broken self's, do all the wrong things for veterans.

I decided to jump ship, and, alas, a few lawyers advised me I couldn't get far with a hostile workplace complaint until I went through the state of Oregon's, Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) quasi-judicial pathway.

There was great harm put upon the veterans, great harm put upon the staff, because a director was all into herself and her self-described Jesus Saves bullshit, yammering on about her former cocaine addiction and booze abuse and 350 pounds of flesh, as well as her own failings as a mother. This place has 100 people living in it temporarily, while Starvation Army receives taxpayer money, all part of the poverty pimping Starvation/Salvation Army's SOP.

In the end, relying on idiots in any state bureaucracy to carry forth an investigation was not my idea of justice. I did my due diligence and filed grievances, first with the Starvation Army, and, then with BOLI. I contacted VA officials, state politicians, and the media. To no avail. They too are accomplices!

To make a long and stupid Byzantine story short, my prediction of zero assistance and zero admonishing from the state to the executive director and the higher ups of the Starvation Army played out. BOLI is a toothless and empty-hearted agency, staffed by soulless Little Eichmann's counting their paychecks and amassing points to their state sourced pension fund.

I have moved on, as usual, and the injustice perpetrated upon me is minor in the scheme of things. The veterans, however, already foisted with trauma, PTSD, administrative rape, etc., are still vulnerable to the Nurse Ratched's of the inhumane social services that serves (sic) non-profits and religious crime syndicates like the Starvation Army.

Here , "How the Salvation Army Lives Off (and thrives with) a Special Brand of Poverty Pimping"

Here , "Alcohol, Atheism, Anarchy: The Triple A Threat to the Pro-Capitalist Salvation Army"

Here , "Insanity of Social Work as Human Control"

I have since my departure been in contact with a few veterans, and talked a few off the proverbial ledge -- several that wanted to off themselves because of the Nurse Ratched's they encounter at the Starvation Army, in the VA, and in non-profits. This is the reality, and it's sick, in real perverted American time -- "Hundreds witness veteran shoot and kill himself in VA waiting room"

In December, Marine Col. Jim Turner, 55, put his service uniform on, drove to the Bay Pines Department of Veterans Affairs, and shot himself outside the medical center, leaving a note next to his body. "I bet if you look at the 22 suicides a day you will see VA screwed up in 90 percent," it read.

This is Trump, this is Biden, this is Clinton, this is the lot of them, callous and broken capitalists, who have sold their souls to the devil and brains to Jeff Bezos, et al . And it ain't going to get fixed until we cut away the cancer. Really cut away, daily, in small acts of defiance, great collective acts of beating the system. Not sure what that great director Ava Duvernay says about more and more movies like her 13th or this new Netflix mini-series on the Central Park Five , When They See Us will do to eventually get enough Americans (70 percent are racist to the core) to demand change in the criminal injustice system of private prisons, Incarceration Complex, Profitable Prosecutions. That all those cops, dailies, elites, deplorables, Trumpies, and Trump said terrible terrible things about these 5 juveniles, calling them animals, or super predators like the Clinton Klan, well, imagine, an insane 2016 runner for the highest crime lord position of the land, POTUS, Donald Trump, after these five men were released after all the evidence found them innocent, sputtering with his big fat billionaire's fourth grader's words that the Central Park Five are guilty, guilty, guilty.

The press coverage was biased. There was a study done by Natalie Byfield, one of the journalists at the time for the New York papers who later wrote a book about covering the case, and it saw that a little more than 89 percent of the press coverage at the time didn't use the word "alleged," that we had irresponsibility in the press corps at the time not to ask second questions and literally take police and prosecutor talking points and turn those into articles that people read as fact, and proceeded to shape their opinions about this case that essentially spoils the jury pool, so that these boys were never given a chance.

Trump's comments in his ads that he took out in 1989 were taken out just two weeks after the crime was announced -- they hadn't even gone to trial, so it was impossible for them to have an impartial jury pool. The printing of their names in the papers for minors, and where they lived, was a jaw-dropper. All of this was done by "reputable" papers in New York that we still read, so I'm curious how these papers take responsibility for their part in this, and also possibly use this to review the part they play in other cases that may not be as famous as this.

Thus, she makes my case -- the callous and racist and sexist and xenophobic US Press, and here we are today, 2019, enter Amusing Ourselves to Death and a Brave New World .

The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.

-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World , "Preface"

Alas, though, we have to keep those words coming, even sent to the great gray hearts and souls populating those state agencies whose workers are supposed to investigate the workplace safety concerns of workers, and are supposed to prevent workplace harassment.

I write to break through the fog, and to envelop a new way of seeing my world, for me and for the few readers that dabble in even attempting to start, let alone finish, these missives.

Huxley was right -- " Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." Brave New World , "Chapter 4"

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. He organized Part-time faulty in Washington State. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice . Read his autobiography, weekly or bi-weekly musings and hard hitting work in chapter installments, at LA Progressive . He blogs from Otis, Oregon. Read other articles by Paul , or visit Paul's website .

[Jun 18, 2019] The Looting Machine Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth by Tom Burgis

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The trade in oil, gas, gems, metals and rare earth minerals wreaks havoc in Africa. During the years when Brazil, India, China and the other "emerging markets" have transformed their economies, Africa's resource states remained tethered to the bottom of the industrial supply chain. While Africa accounts for about 30 per cent of the world's reserves of hydrocarbons and minerals and 14 per cent of the world's population, its share of global manufacturing stood in 2011 exactly where it stood in 2000: at 1 percent.

[Jun 18, 2019] Poisoned Wells The Dirty Politics of African Oil by Nicholas Shaxson

Jun 10, 2007 | www.amazon.com

LVT06 , December 29, 2007

An Expert Falls Short

Shaxson's introduction and preliminary chapters immediately prove that he is a bona fide Africa expert. Having extensively lived and worked there, getting closely acquainted with the politicians, industrialists and average joes, he knows his topic better than any ivory tower academic or think tank regional "expert." His anecdotes and insights are accurate, concise and reasonably centrist. His writing is excellent. And yet he failed to earn 5 stars because the book itself delves too far into specific biographies of pivotal politicos and activists. Shaxson is sharp and experienced enough to produce a country-by-country analytical handbook documenting oil's impact on 21st Century Africa but instead he chose to take the conversational, journalistic feature-article format. For professionals and novices seeking accurate and timely information on Africa, this is a good start. Lutz Kleveman's "New Great Game" was equally readable and informal but a far more informative example for Shaxson to follow in his next book.

Denno , September 7, 2012
Poisoned Wells: the Dirty Politics of African Oil

The book is very well written.It documents the authors expereinces with various African countries in relation to the oil business and provides an insightful analysis of the impacts of the sleazy dealings within the oil industry on the continent. An excellent read!! Read more

R. Utne , June 10, 2007
Poisoned Wells

Of the current crop of "what is wrong with Africa" books including "The Shackled Continent", "The White Man's Burden" and "The Trouble with Africa", Nicholas Shaxson's analysis and prescriptions for change are the most radical and on-the-money. Shaxson's book should be widely read and discussed. Unfortunately, too much invested in the status quo by all concerned to see much likelihood of change within the next few decades.

OHYN , December 26, 2009
Book Fails Credibility Test

Every responsible reader and serious seeker of "enlightenment" usually applies a "credibility check" to new information.
When author Nicholas Shaxson, in the opening chapter of his book, "Poisoned Wells," badly mischaracterized the Biafra-Nigeria War of 1967-1970, I could not read any further.
In trying to support his assertion that Oil is the root cause (or at least, a major cause) of post-colonial Africa's problems, he force-fits that terrible war into "Oil" context. How do I know? Well, I was there: was old enough to live in Nigeria up to the War, live through that War fighting in it on the Biafran side, and live after the war in Nigeria, until decided that I am truly Biafran, not Nigerian.
This book has failed a critical credibility test.
Please send my comments to this author.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.
Nwa Biafra
A Biafran Citizen.

William Podmore , May 9, 2011
Fine study of the curse of (foreign-owned) oil

In this informative book, journalist Nicholas Shaxson looks at some African countries that have suffered the curse of foreign-owned oil - Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Gabon, the Congo Republic and São Tomé e Principe. In 1970, before the oil boom, 19 million Nigerians were poor; after $400 billion of oil earnings, 90 million (of a 130 million population) were poor.

Each week sub-Saharan Africa's oil fields produce more than $1 billions' worth of oil. But the oil money promotes not investment and development but capital flight and poverty. Greedy foreign oil corporations ally with corrupt rulers.

The struggle of rival imperialisms for oil strips Africa bare. In 2005 the USA imported more oil from Africa than from the Middle East, and it is intervening in Africa to control its supplies, as now with its illegal attack on Libya. Oil comprises 87 per cent of US imports from Africa. Angola is China's biggest source of imported oil.

France too is scheming and warmongering to keep its hold on Africa. France's former colonies have to keep two-thirds of their reserves in France's treasury. Their central banks' HQs are in Paris. Much EU `aid' funds French companies in Africa.

Shaxson also looks at the curse of tax havens. More than half of world trade passes through tax havens. Over half of all banking assets and a third of foreign direct investment by giant corporations are routed offshore. Terrorists and drug smugglers use the same offshore system that corporations use.

Offshore finance is centred on Britain, the EU and the USA. The City of London runs half the world's tax havens and holds more than $3.2 trillion in offshore bank deposits, half the world total. When the Labour government signed the UN Convention against Corruption in 2000, it exempted all the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

The West's banks, mainly from the USA and Britain, take their cut too. They force countries further into debt by making them take out new loans to pay off old ones, at ever higher rates. The bankers make private gains out of public losses.

Sunday Todili Aremu , October 14, 2014
Well, this is a book that has all the ...

Well, this is a book that has all the attributes of a well researched book. It is informative, entertaining but didn't dwell well enough on the historical perspectives that gave rise to Africa's debilitating circumstances. The author's privileged upbringing may not have accorded him the opportunities of seeing things with the eyes of the ordinary dispossessed, repressed and oppressed African whose life is badly structured within the bogus and fraudulent concept of Nation State. A concept that has robbed him of his due place and left him stranded in cyclical malady of frightening dimensions! On the whole, the book is worth reading!!

[Jun 18, 2019] The End of Oil On the Edge of a Perilous New World by Paul Roberts

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Christopher R , July 10, 2008

Makes analysis of the contemporary energy order accessible.

When I decided to read this book, I did so with the expectation of learning something only after wading through a great degree of partisan political rhetoric. It did not take me long to realize that Mr. Roberts' book is not what I had expected.

He makes this complex issue accessible to the layman looking to familiarize himself with not only oil, but the energy economy. Rather choose a side and engage in partisan sniping, he tells the good, the bad, and the ugly of the policies advocated by every party involved in the energy debate. Not only does he analyze our present situation, but he also studies our several possible ways forward into a new energy economy.

If I were pressed to make a complaint, it would be that I read the original hardcover edition of the book. A lot of the speculation regarding "worst case" scenarios involve $50 a barrel oil. Now that we are nearly $100 past that worst case, the educated speculation portrayed in the book should be coming to pass in the market. I would like to see either a completely updated 2008 edition or at least one with an updated preface.

John A. Leraas , September 26, 2015
Most informative, well written

A prequel to "The End of Food", this is a most informative book that discusses our dependence on oil; its history, its politics and its economics. After reading this piece there is much that is more easily understood. Much of international politics and economics is more clear. The development of new energy sources and their tardiness, and the dependence of many sectors of the economy on oil is more transparent.

Roberts' sequel, "The End of Food" is highly recommended after you read this book as the interdependence of these two great industries is amazing.

Larry B. Woodroof , January 19, 2006
An outstanding review of the current situation

Paul Roberts does an excellent job in not only telling about the coming troubles with oil, but doing so with an, at times, humorous style.

He makes no assumptions about the reader's knowledge, and spends the first part of the book explaining how the world got to be in this mess we are in, by deliniating the different energy eras throughout human history.

Common themes arise, in each era, and they combine to help the reader gain a perspective upon why things are they way they are.

Mr. Roberts did his research well, with an extensive foot note and bibliography section, yet in the course of this research he did more than just peruse reports and other books on the matter. He managed to gain access to the indutry leaders, talking and touring the facilties of the Russians and the Saudis.

If there is any fault, it is that the last chapeters of the book, wherein he extrapolates from his knowledge and research what he forsees occuring, seems a little less well developed than the earlier chapters. True, they are based upon fact and not prgnostication, but the writing seems at times rushed, and not up to the level of some of the earlier chapters.

Regardless, this is a book that I highly recommend reading, and is one that I have bought extra copies of for insertion into my "lending library" of books I share and recommend to friends.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"> Dalton C. Rocha , March 26, 2009
Good, but fails about Brazil, biofuels and nuclear power

I read this good book, here in Brazil.This book has many excellent parts.To example, about Hirohito, on page 39, this tells the true:Hirohito was Japan's Hitler and ordered the attack to Pearl Harbor, China and rest of Asia.
On page 176, this book tell that more than 90% of new power plants in the USA burn gas.About american culture, the page 263 has writen:"By contrast, although car manufactures offer more than thirty car models with with fuel economy of thirty miles for