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Chris Hedges
Truthdig / Truthdig Op-Ed
Published: Tuesday 13 November 2012
The corporate state, faced with rebellion from within and without, does not know how to define or control this rising power, from the Arab Spring to the street protests in Greece and Spain to the Occupy movement.

Once Again, Death of the Liberal Class

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The presidential election exposed the liberal class as a corpse. It fights for nothing. It stands for nothing. It is a useless appendage to the corporate state. It exists not to make possible incremental or piecemeal reform, as it originally did in a functional capitalist democracy; instead it has devolved into an instrument of personal vanity, burnishing the hollow morality of its adherents. Liberals, by voting for Barack Obama, betrayed the core values they use to define themselves—the rule of law, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the protection of unions, the preservation of social welfare programs, environmental accords, financial regulation, a defiance of unjust war and torture, and the abolition of drone wars. The liberal class clung desperately during the long nightmare of this political campaign to one or two issues, such as protecting a woman’s right to choose and gender equality, to justify its complicity in a monstrous evil. This moral fragmentation—using an isolated act of justice to define one’s self while ignoring the vast corporate assault on the nation and the ecosystem along with the pre-emptive violence of the imperial state—is moral and political capitulation. It fails to confront the evil we have become. 

“The American Dream has run out of gas,” wrote the novelist J.G. Ballard. “The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It’s over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now. …”

Liberals have assured us that after the election they will build a movement to hold the president accountable—although how or when or what this movement will look like they cannot say. They didn’t hold him accountable during his first term. They won’t during his second. They have played their appointed roles in the bankrupt political theater that passes for electoral politics. They have wrung their hands, sung like a Greek chorus about the evils of the perfidious opponent, assured us that there is no other viable option, and now they will exit the stage. They will carp and whine in the wings until they are trotted out again to assume their role in the next political propaganda campaign of disempowerment and fear. They will, in the meantime, become the butt of ridicule and derision by the very politicians they supported.

The ineffectiveness of the liberal class, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia and as was true in Weimar Germany, perpetuates a dangerous political paralysis. The longer the paralysis continues, the longer systems of power are unable to address the suffering and grievances of the masses, the more the formal mechanisms of power are reviled. The liberal establishment’s inability to defy corporate power, to stand up for its supposed liberal beliefs, means its inevitable disappearance, along with the disappearance of traditional liberal values. This, as history has amply pointed out, is the road to despotism. And we are further down that road than many care to admit. 

Any mass movement that arises—and I believe one is coming—will be fueled, like the Occupy movement, by radicals who have as deep a revulsion for Democrats as they do for Republicans. The radicals who triumph, however, may not be progressive. Populist movements, from labor unions to an independent press to socialist third parties, have been destroyed in the United States. A protofascist movement that coalesces around a mystical nationalism, that fuses the symbols of the country with those of Christianity, that denigrates reason and elevates mass emotions will have broad appeal. It will offer to followers a leap from the deep pit of despair and frustration to the heights of utopia. It will speak in the language of violence and demonize the vulnerable, from undocumented workers to homosexuals to people of color to liberals to the poor. And this force, financed by the most retrograde elements of corporate capitalism, could usher in a species of corporate fascism in a period of economic or environmental instability.

The historian Fritz Stern in “The Politics of Cultural Despair,” his book on the rise of fascism in Germany, warns repeatedly of the danger of a bankrupt liberalism. Stern, who sees the same dark, irrational forces at work today that he watched as a boy in Nazi Germany, argues that the spiritually and politically alienated are the prime recruits for a politics centered around cultural hatreds and personal resentments.

“They attacked liberalism,” Stern writes of the fascists emerging at the time in Germany, “because it seemed to them the principal premise of modern society; everything they dreaded seemed to spring from it; the bourgeois life, Manchesterism, materialism, parliament and the parties, the lack of political leadership. Even more, they sense in liberalism the source of all their inner sufferings. Theirs was a resentment of loneliness; their one desire was for a new faith, a new community of believers, a world with fixed standards and no doubts, a new national religion that would bind all Germans together. All this, liberalism denied. Hence, they hated liberalism, blamed it for making outcasts of them, for uprooting them from their imaginary past, and from their faith.”

I am not sure when I severed myself irrevocably from the myth of America. It began when I was a seminarian, living for more than two years in Boston’s inner city on a street that had more homicides than any other in the city. I had to confront in the public housing projects the cruelty of white supremacy, the myriad institutional mechanisms that kept poor people of color trapped, broken and impoverished, the tragic squandering of young lives and the fatuous liberals who spoke in lofty language about empowering people they never met. The ties unraveled further during the five years I spent as a war correspondent in El Salvador and Nicaragua. I stood in too many mud-walled villages looking at the mutilated bodies of men, women and children, murdered by U.S.-backed soldiers, death squads and paramilitary units. I heard too many lies spewed out by Ronald Reagan and the State Department to justify these killings. And by the time I was in Gaza, looking at the twisted limbs of dead women and children and listening to Israeli and U.S. officials describe an Israeli airstrike as a “surgical” hit on Islamic militants, it was over. I knew the dark heart of America. I knew who we were, what we did, what we actually stood for and the terrifying and willful innocence that permits most Americans to think of themselves as good and virtuous when they are, in reality, members of an efficient race of killers and ruthless profiteers.

I was sickened and repulsed. My loyalty shifted from the state, from any state, to the powerless, to the landless peasants in Latin America, the Palestinians in Gaza or the terrified families in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who suffer on the outer reaches of empire, as well as in our internal colonies and sacrifice zones, constitute my country. And any action, including voting, that does not unequivocally condemn and denounce their oppressors is a personal as well as a moral betrayal.

“We talk of the Turks and abhor the cannibals; but may not some of them go to heaven before some of us?” Herman Melville wrote. “We may have civilized bodies and yet barbarous souls. We are blind to the real sights of this world; deaf to its voices; and dead to its death.”

For a poor family in Camden, N.J., impoverished residents in the abandoned coal camps in southern West Virginia, the undocumented workers that toil in our nation’s produce fields, Native Americans trapped on reservations, Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, those killed by drones in Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or those in the squalid urban slums in Africa, it makes no difference if Mitt Romney or Obama is president. And since it makes no difference to them, it makes no difference to me. I seek only to defy the powers that orchestrate and profit from their misery.

The oppressed, the more than half of the world’s population who survive on less than $2 a day, will be the first to be sacrificed because of our refusal to halt fossil fuel’s degradation of the natural world and the assault of globalization. They already hate us with a righteous fury. They see us for who we are. They also grasp that for power to be threatened it must be confronted by another form of power. They know that the only way to effect change is to make the powerful fear their ability to retaliate. And the oppressed, inside and outside empire, are methodically building that power. We saw it at work on 9/11. We see it every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we will see it, although I pray it will be nonviolent, on our own city streets.

The corporate state, faced with rebellion from within and without, does not know how to define or control this rising power, from the Arab Spring to the street protests in Greece and Spain to the Occupy movement. Rebellion always mystifies the oppressor. It appears irrational. It does not make sense. The establishment asks: What are their demands? Why do they hate us? What do they want? The oppressor can never hear the answer, for the answer is always the same—we seek to destroy your power. The oppressor, blind to the brutality and injustice meted out to sustain dominance and prosperity, escalates the levels of force employed to protect privilege. The crimes of the oppressor are seen among the elite as the administering of justice—law and order, the war on terror, the natural law of globalization, the right granted by privilege and power to shape and govern the world. The oppressor cannot see the West’s false humanism. The oppressor cannot, as James Baldwin wrote, understand that our “history has no moral justification, and the West has no moral authority.” The oppressor, able to speak only in the language of force and increasingly lashing out like a wounded animal, will be consumed in the inferno. 

“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction,” Baldwin wrote, “and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”



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ABOUT Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”

"Get with it people! I know

"Get with it people! I know you can comprehend it. And remember, as always, critical thinking is a necessary condition of comprehension."

DWDALLAM,

I trust my reading comprehension is the equal of yours and yet I see by your 5 categories instructing what the article was not about, you raise straw men that were not raised by any of the critical commenters on Mr. Hedges article. to wit:

(3) self pity
(4) a perfect world outside the one we live in
(5) Socialism is better than x, y, z

Since you deem yourself to have superior reading comprehension skills please peruse each of the comments, as I have, and inform us where any of those issues were raised? My own argument with Mr. Hedges, and indeed may others, were grouped around "defeatism". As far as whining goes Mr. Hedges never whines because his attitude, as conveyed by his writing is far too smug and supercilious to be classed as whining.

Hedges current article and his article last weak are not only "defeatist", in the sense that he offers no solutions, but also "defeatist" in the sense that the picture painted by his words is one of unrelenting hopelessness. You will note that in both my critique this week of Hedges and in the critiques I offered to last week's articles, I found little fault with his analysis. I have written for another prominent blog, where I am a weekend contributor, that I believe we are living under a corporatist oligarchy, put in place after the coup established by murdering JFK. I'm not linking to it because my commenting here is not an exercise in self-promotion, but merely a reaction to a column in a website I've followed for many years. Lest the previous remarks leads you to think I'm a conspiracy theorist, please be advised that conspiracy theory is not my game.

My analysis is that America has always been run by a privileged elite, who have used various methods of exercising their control. The saving grace has been that this elite, while primarily sharing similar backgrounds and desires, are far from homogeneous. This lack of homogeneity comes from the fact that "being to the manor born, as is Mr. Hedges, infuses most with overweening egotism and inflated self-worth. They all want to lead the parade. I also assume that the rate of sociopathy, psychosis (inbred) and narcissism is higher in this group than in the general populace. They don't "work and play well with others", or to indulge in further cliche "they think since it's their ball, it's their rules".

This fractiousness among the elite represents opportunity for those of us in the 99.9% who are being maltreated by them. This is the form those opportunities take:

1. Feedback to the elite via the electoral system of just how far they can oppress us. Although this is the least effective and least satisfying opportunity for change, it nevertheless must be grasped, to ensure that those most oppressed among us do not bear the brunt of further oppression. Among the elite factions two broad categories are certain. The first category I call the "velvet glove" and it believes if you throw scraps to the masses you can better keep them in control. The second broad category is the "iron fist" and that means simply kick the hell out of them to show them your true power and leave them cowering. I see Obama as fronting for the former and Romney fronting for the latter. Thus my vote for Obama, since he will inflict less harm on those in this country least able to bear it.

2. The next, broader opportunity towards using their lack of homogeneity against the elite is the formation of broad-based, ground up movements to drive wedges between the elites factions. This would begin to not only weaken them, but also force them to take sides. It serves a second function in that it would help to wake up people from the "American Dream" propaganda barrage that lulls people into acting against their own self-interests.

3. The third opportunity is of course revolution, using the wedge issue to divide and conquer. I don't agree with that option simply because the history of revolution has been that its aftermath always produces yet another elite to rule and so the mass of people wind up getting screwed anyway.

In the end the real problem we are faced with is neither economic, nor political, but psychological/anthropological. Humanity has always ordered its major societies as have the Great Apes. The domination of the Alpha Male. This is both our genetic history and our greatest flaw. Until we learn more how to deal with this flaw, we must be satisfied by mitigating it. This is why I consider both Women's Rights and Homosexual Rights to be among the most important issues. Changing the eons long fact of societal organization is a daunting task, but considering the changes due to science in the last five hundred years, not beyond the range of possibility. For right ow to my thinking my options 1 & 2 above represent the best path. Option 3 is a fools game and in the words of the Who perhaps "We Won't Get Fooled Again".

These are only my poor thoughts on what's to be done. Although I'm aged though, I am always receptive to new ideas, perhaps some of you can enlighten
me. However, truth be told Mr. Hedges only depresses me with truths I know too well and doesn't ameliorate his words with any real options for change.

Echoing Steve13565:

Echoing Steve13565: ridiculous, laughable load of crap. I don't have time to write a comprehensive critique, I'm busy having a life and enjoying the Obama win.

Point of information: here in

Point of information: here in San Diego County where I teach on reservations, I have learned that Native Americans chose to live on reservations. These are their lands, they live with their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, their cousins, their parents, their children. Their relatives are buried there, they will be buried there, their children will be buried there. Typically, young adults will go off to college or go off to the military, but they pretty much always return home to their reservation. My friends say: we'll be here long after you (European Americans) are gone.

I wonder how many people like

I wonder how many people like Chris Hedges have actually gone out and done something to try to make things better and how many have written articles about how bad things are and how neither party does anything about it.

During the past two years the President has been thwarted at every turn by an obstructionist party in congress. I saw it. Anyone who looked objectively at what was happening could see it. Mitch McConnel and Eric Cantor made no secret (in fact even bragged about it) that they placed a higher priority on destroying Obama than on doing the business of the government.

I was highly critical of Mr. Obama for not going over the heads of Congress in the manner that FDR and LBJ did. I felt that he should have used his early popularity to focus the will of the people on the obstructionists in Congress but he never did do it. In the absence of such action by the President it fell to us, the people, to make our will known and force the politicians to do their jobs. I do not think the American People did a very good job.

I spent most of October, November and December of 2011 at Freedom Plaza in DC. I sat through interminable GA meetings. I talked myself hoarse in committee meetings. I slogged through rains, shivered in the cold and walked myself into near exhaustion (I am 72 years old and walking is very tiring for me) going out to this or that demonstration.

Many others across the country did as much and much more than I did. Where was the public support. Where were the masses that make up the 99%. Where was the pressure to make President Obama be the transformational President we need and want.

I am proud to call myself a liberal. I am proud of what has been accomplished in this country by others calling themselves liberals. I would really like to see people like Chris Hedges, encourage liberals instead of mourning us.

It always amazes me the

It always amazes me the inability of people to read a simple article and actually comprehend it.

Let me clue you in to what it is not:

(1) whining
(2) defeatism
(3) self pity
(4) a perfect world outside the one we live in
(5) Socialism is better than x, y, z

Get with it people! I know you can comprehend it. And remember, as always, critical thinking is a necessary condition of comprehension.

P v ~P but never P and ~P<--get it?

Chris, you certainly have a

Chris, you certainly have a way with words. But has it ever occurred to you that your constant woe-is-me, gloom and doom fatalistic defeatism is also a great help to the Oppressors in maintaining their power?

@American Bolshevik I think

@American Bolshevik
I think you may have missed his point. Below is a good summary:

“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction,” Baldwin wrote, “and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”

I was going to write a

I was going to write a comment similar to the majority I have read until I actually read the comments. Chris, I hope you take us to heart. Nothing is perfect. Change is incremental in social movements (unless it is catastrophic which non of us wishes). It is good to get angry. Get angry in a way that catapults you into action. Get angry in a way people can understand and to which they can relate. Less intellectual stuff and more visceral, fellah. Yes, life can be hard, but it also good and full of promise. We have learned a lot in the last two years. Just look at the Occupy folks buying back debt in order to forgive it. BRILLIANT! Cause, you know, Chris, without the belief we can make a difference we will not. So quit slamming us and help us focus. Peace.

Dear Mr. Hedges : How did

Dear Mr. Hedges : How did voting either Socialist, Green, Libertarian, or 'None Of the Above' work out for you last week ? -- Yours truly, 'Mr. Down-To-Earth'

It's 'human nature stupid' !

It's 'human nature stupid' ! Quit blaming systems ! This one we have might work fine, but for 'the seven deadly sins' - primarily 'Greed'.

Hedges sees this election as

Hedges sees this election as a continuation in the downward spiral of deterioration he has seen unfold in other places.
Some of us see it a breathing space to regroup and begin the fight in earnest.

i am so tired of those on the

i am so tired of those on the so-called left and right and radical whose basic politic is 'i hate the same people you hate' vote, support or agree with me. if hedges or chomsky ever gave us a formula or platform of what they are for and how they think politically and strategically we could achieve their political, legislative or moral goals, i could be more convinced by their excellent diagnosis of the political situation. But, they seem absolutely unable to make real proposals - and like the facists they claim to oppose, they only offer various scenarios of armagedon. interestingly, they flail at the 'big powers' especially the US government at the great evil, and with all their rhetoric indirectly support the view that it is only if the US govt and big powers change through radical revolution might the world be saved. but in fact it is the small and middle power democracies who will find the ways of peace and international democracy and economic and environmental justice - and the US govt and othe 'big powers' will be left to follow. it is so hard for those who were hardened in the 'cold war' - either left or right (which are ridiculous descriptions) to realise it is over a significantly long time ago - the world is moving on and the 'big power' players - whether neofascist or neoradical from the big power clubs - the hedges, chomskys, rumsfelds, CFR elites- are playing a phantom game and do not know it.

bp

This is an American

This is an American phenomenon. Americans are the ones who constantly want others to be spoonfed a solution. Chomsky and others point to the necessity of grassroots movements. There are none, unless you want to claim that organizing around an establishment party is somehow "grassroots." Flipping a lever every 4 years is nothing but choosing between the choices already pre-selected for you.

Hedges is obviously an

Hedges is obviously an intelligent, passionate, articulate, and "highly" disgruntled man. There are many truisms to be found within his rants against so -called "Western Democracies," particularly the United States. Sinclair Lewis once wrote, "When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Hedges accurately points out the danger of a scenario like this blossoming,(it already has in many respects) yet doesn't seem to comprehend the "powerlessness" of the Liberal/Progressive class in regards to how they are ensnared within our current system of Corporatocracy. I'm reasonably certain that many men and women of conscious and altruistic principle have worked tirelessly (including myself) to combat forces of tyranny and despotism. Yet, we still had Genghis Khan, Cyrus the Great, Alexander, Julius Caesar, William the Conqueror, numerous Egyptian pharaohs, Napoleon, Aztec sacrificial addicts, Hitler,etc...anywhere you travel, at any particular moment in history, has been under the influence of the forces Hedges rightfully condemns. Humankind's fate is inexorably linked to the rise and fall of such men (and women) and the pernicious manner in which they view themselves, and the masses they erroneously feel superior to. To lash out at "all Liberals" for failing to eradicate such historically inherent behavior is to have but a slight grip on the reality of how events have played out in our long and checkered history.

Man is a fundamentally flawed and, in some ways, regressive species. I would suggest Chris that you read Mark Twain's autobiography. Pay close attention to a segment entitled "The Character of Man." It might allow you to put your anger into perspective and realize that, in an evolutionary sense, we simply haven't got to where you (and many others) would like us to be.

Dear Mr. Hedges, You speak

Dear Mr. Hedges,

You speak of the liberals' lost art of working for incremental reform. I spent hundreds of hours volunteering this election cycle to beat Romney. My purpose? Incremental reform. And avoiding a far greater disaster for our nation than would be a second Obama term.

Mr. Hedges, you gripe quite articulately and undoubtedly it’s cathartic but what is your strategy?

By volunteering to beat Romney, I worked to make exactly the kind of “incremental” reform of which you speak. With our current electoral process, you know that third parties stand no chance in a General Election.

Perhaps having multiple sclerosis makes me acutely aware of the “incremental” and positive change the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act brings to me and millions in the U.S. For the first time in 20 years, I have health insurance. I now have real access to medications which reduce relapses and help me walk. This incremental reform is quite tangible for folks like me. And my story is only one small example of the millions being helped already.

We need the Public Option, true. So we start with the tiny, "piecemeal" step that is “Obamacare.” A similar beginning was seen in Canada, where their nationalized healthcare system began province by province. This is incremental change and quite realistic in an environment in which hundreds of filibusters are thrown at Democrats, Independents, and the President every time they even think “progress."

Again, after your catharsis, what is your strategy? A third, fourth and fifth party to advance the ideals to which liberals adhere? Okay, so how do we accomplish this? Please share your plan for how we remove the Electoral College, for instance. Or how we implement an instant runoff vote. These strategies have been suggested by many, especially liberals. If you are privy to a plan please don’t keep it a secret!

Forming a circular firing squad at this time does not seem like an effective strategy. We don’t need to be the liberal who is so high-minded he won’t even take his own side in an argument. We need a strategy.

Perhaps your strategy is simply the demoralization of the very people with whom you would otherwise have something in common. If so, nicely done. But given your high ideals and tremendous ability as a writer, I think you can do better. And much more so than incrementally.

How did you work for

How did you work for incremenral reform? You do realize the choice set up for us was "how backwards do you want to go? Quickly or slowly?" You do know that unlimited private financing of elections is happening? Are you aware of the massive expansion of our drone program? How about NDAA which strips us of our rights? How about Obama sabotaging the climate talks at Copenhagen and Cancun? War, civil liberties, and planetary destruction... How is this progress and "incremental reform"? Oh right, we can do all this and then have gay marriage so THAT is progress. What is gay rights without basic human rights? Empty rhetoric, that is all. You may be allowed to be gay but we can bomb you! Wow, cognitive dissonance if I ever saw it.

Dear Mr. Hedges, You speak

Dear Mr. Hedges,

You speak of the liberals' lost art of working for incremental reform. I spent hundreds of hours volunteering this election cycle to beat Romney. My purpose? Incremental reform. And avoiding a far greater disaster for our nation than would be a second Obama term.

Mr. Hedges, you gripe quite articulately and undoubtedly it’s cathartic but what is your strategy?

By volunteering to beat Romney, I worked to make exactly the kind of “incremental” reform of which you speak. With our current electoral process, you know that third parties stand no chance in a General Election.

Perhaps having multiple sclerosis makes me acutely aware of the “incremental” and positive change the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act brings to me and millions in the U.S. For the first time in 20 years, I have health insurance. I now have real access to medications which reduce relapses and help me walk. This incremental reform is quite tangible for folks like me. And my story is only one small example of the millions being helped already.

We need the Public Option, true. So we start with the tiny, "piecemeal" step that is “Obamacare.” A similar beginning was seen in Canada, where their nationalized healthcare system began province by province. This is incremental change and quite realistic in an environment in which hundreds of filibusters are thrown at Democrats, Independents, and the President every time they even think “progress."

Again, after your catharsis, what is your strategy? A third, fourth and fifth party to advance the ideals to which liberals adhere? Okay, so how do we accomplish this? Please share your plan for how we remove the Electoral College, for instance. Or how we implement an instant runoff vote. These strategies have been suggested by many, especially liberals. If you are privy to a plan please don’t keep it a secret!

Forming a circular firing squad at this time does not seem like an effective strategy. We don’t need to be the liberal who is so high-minded he won’t even take his own side in an argument. We need a strategy.

Perhaps your strategy is simply the demoralization of the very people with whom you would otherwise have something in common. If so, nicely done. But given your high ideals and tremendous ability as a writer, I think you can do better. And much more so than incrementally.

The world needs a few

The world needs a few idealists, but it is silly stuff like this post which make liberals look foolish to the rest of the public.

A lot of liberals and Democrats are not happy with many things the President has done and about many of the things he has not done. That said, if Romney had won, we would have been worse off by orders of magnitude.

By all means remain active and involved, particularly with your local candidates and Representative, but Mr. Hedges is not living in the real world, where perfect ideologues -- particularly those on the left -- rarely win nation offices.

If Romney won, you might

If Romney won, you might actually get off the coach and go protest Romney's wars. And they would be the exact same wars that Obama has been conducting under his reign. Such lemmings. I thought cons were brainwashed. You are just brainwashed in a better direction. Liberals are the ones who are bringing he soft crash of our nation. So, we can put our heads in the ground much more easily than if the cons were doing it all guns blazing.

Switzer, i think the problem

Switzer, i think the problem is that (hopefully!) the world is not ending in 2012.

There will be another election in 2016.

But unless Obama changes a great deal, we will still be involved in multiple wars, and we'll probably still start a few more, and we'll still have hundreds of foreign bases.

As a consequence, our economy will still be in steep decline.

So when 2016 comes, unless Obama changes, we will still be in dire economic straits.

And at some point, the voters will decide to give the Republicans a chance---so you'll get your Romney anway.

What we need is somebody brave enough to reverse cross the Rubicon that Bush crossed, to unilaterally end our wars and close our bases. If that were ever done, it would be impossible to re-open them.

And as for Chris Hedges---i think he gets things wrong, too, sometimes---but his sense of alienation is right for anybody with even slight religious feelings.

Chris Hedges is the modern

Chris Hedges is the modern day equivalent of the ancient Hebrew prophets, and I suspect that he secretly sees himself as filling that role. The difference is that he lives a life of relative comfort and security and does not have to suffer the consequences of having the greater evil elected to office. How convenient for him. Although I do not question his sincerity, I wonder if he would be quite so passionate in his beliefs if he were one paycheck away from homelessness or unable to pay for essential medical services. Most people in those circumstances realize that the lesser evil will make their own lives better. Less evil is better than more evil, even if the system is far from perfect.

As usually Chris is

As usually Chris is absolutely correct. I thought of voting for the Green party candidate. I too see president Obama as a tool of the corporate elite. But I still voted for president Obama. I live in Virginia, a highly contested state. I didn't want to risk Romney being elected.

Our Completed compromised political system is no different from our media, healthcare, energy, banking, military, etc,. To me, the question how do we began to take back our democracy and put we the people back in charge.

Even if Dr. King was with us and able to fill the streets with people, I contend that even his mass rally's would possibly be not effective. Especially when you consider that millions of people took to the street before the start of the war on Iraq and America still invaded.

I believe occupy wall street has opened levels of possibilities in the last couple of weeks with two initiatives; One is showing how effective a small group can be in coordinating disaster relief like it did during hurricane Sandy. The is using donations to retire the debts of students. I was glad to contribute to both causes.

Moving forward, before his assassination, King had plans to concentrate on more economic issues with his operation breadbasket programs. With cities, states, and countries nearing or in total bankruptcy I feel that a good, necessary, and intelligent strategy would be to confront the banks on its saddling us with a fractional debt system, usury interest, and eventual unsustainable criminal debt.

The demonstration, protest, strategic arrest should continue. But challenging the banks ability to put us in debt, destroy economies, destroy lives, and cause wars is a clarion call that everyone can relate to and gets to the root of most of our problems.

As a liberal, I had a choice

As a liberal, I had a choice of holding my vote and then feeling guilty for not stopping a Kolobite from ruining us again with platitudes in words and deeds greater than that which is advocated by the donkey. Liberals should build organizational bridges with other thoughtful people who are proponents of rationality, science, technology, education, clean environment (air, water, food), alternative energy, in short, those who want to reverse the planetary degradation. Hence, constant communication via this paper and other's who are pushing for a more humane social order (vs. social Darwinism of the 1%). So, we are not dead. Far from it, we are much smarter and can change the outcome of elections. Hence, more power to change the direction of this nation and the world to a much better future than that advocated by the extreme right or extreme left. Cheers, Mr. Hedges! AND FORWARD!!!

Once again Chris you write a

Once again Chris you write a paean to hopelessness. You quote James Baldwin:

“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction,” Baldwin wrote, “and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”

But you do forget the time and context in which he wrote. As usual, much of your insight is valid and your experiences certainly validate them for you. While I'm not to the manor born, such as yourself and certainly never had the dis-illusion of being an inner-city seminarian, my success in life (such as it is) came from my own hard work informed by ideals I hold true. I know the despair of the inner City probably more than you, because I spent 4 decades working to ease it. I had neither the money, nor the fame to travel outside of this country, so I admit you have a greater knowledge of the travails of the rest of humanity. Nevertheless, being fairly intelligent and highly empathetic I pretty much understand the misery of a vast majority of the human race just as well as your pretensions of insight.

In truth, in this article and in the last you wrote here, there is revealed a smug certainty on your part that you hold some elite, clear-headed vision of the world, that is unobtainable by the masses. You give yourself far too much credit, but perhaps that is the circumstance of your birth into privilege. Many people, including myself, see this world just as clearly as you do. The difference is that many of us, even knowing the odds against justice and humanity prevailing, have not subsided into the dyspeptic, depressive state evinced by your last two articles.

You can choose whether you want to live your life in cynical depression, or fight against massive odds to change humanities destructive course. Having children and grandchildren I personally choose the latter. In a psychological sense I also choose not to live my life en-mired in a state of depressed elitism, signifying little, but the vain hope to be able to lift your middle finger finger towards humanity and gasp "I told you so!" with your last breath sometime in the distant future.

I would suggest you use some

I would suggest you use some of that empathy you claim you had before now with the people that are so easy to forget by the masses. He is right. Do you really think based on how people are acting now, that they will act differently? If there is a collapse tomorrow, are people really ready to fix the problems? Every day this is a very real possibility. I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but what would you have said to the person who told you the day before the economic collapse was announced?

You are just reacting emotionally with your accusations that Chris Hedges is depressing you. I don't get how people think that mentioning these horrible realities is something to send you spiraling out of control. Maybe you haven't dealt with anything really tough or never learned to deal with them effectively if someone tells you the bitter truth you don't want to hear. I've dealt with enough to learn to be a tad more resilient to let stories of the oppressed that mainstream media shields our lily behinds from upset me to the point of being debilitated. Get angry and take some action upon hearing of people taking it for our apathy and laziness. Apathy and laziness, that is why we can't be too optimistic (unrealistic) about American's reactions to the apocalypse (non-biblical of course) that we bring upon ourselves. We bring that apocalypse upon others in the sacrifice zones abroad and at home.

"I would suggest you use some

"I would suggest you use some of that empathy you claim you had before now with the people that are so easy to forget by the masses. He is right. Do you really think based on how people are acting now, that they will act differently? If there is a collapse tomorrow, are people really ready to fix the problems? Every day this is a very real possibility. I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but what would you have said to the person who told you the day before the economic collapse was announced?"

JOEBOOSAUCE

I think you need to reconcile your quote above with your quote below. You appear to be arguing against yourself. Which is it? The above which can be summed up as "people won't act to fix the problem", or the below which is "If Romney won the bad things that will happen to people will wake them up"?

"If Romney won, you might actually get off the coach and go protest Romney's wars. And they would be the exact same wars that Obama has been conducting under his reign. Such lemmings. I thought cons were brainwashed. You are just brainwashed in a better direction. Liberals are the ones who are bringing he soft crash of our nation. So, we can put our heads in the ground much more easily than if the cons were doing it all guns blazing."

The latter quote from you comes from a style of political theory that holds things need to get much worse, before people will act "en masse" to make them better. Considering how badly they mass of people have had it since the days of Reagan, I think it is you who lacks the empathy by believing they need to get worse for the 99%, to radicalize them. This is the attitude usually of people who deem themselves radicals, but who actually wouldn't experience the "getting worse", such as Mr. Hedges and possibly yourself.

Well said, Michael. Many of

Well said, Michael. Many of us have known the issues raised by Chris for many decades (see Social Problems and Inequality...), and we have been fighting for change in many ways, depending on what the times call for. Chris has no formula for moving forward. He only wants to move the rest of us into the same chaotic desperation that he projects in his writing. And sadly, I suspect his only agenda, if he actually has one, is to protect the class from which he came. Labeling people as "liberal" who actually choose to plan and create strategies for the future while preventing more harm in the present is counter productive and only serves to strengthen the very forces that Chris claims to abhor. No sane progressive would deny that the world would be far worse off under Romney than under Obama. Yet, the subtext of Chris' statement is that he is incensed because Romney lost the election. So the question I continue to ask in response to Chris' somewhat crazed writings is, "for whom is Chris working and why?" What is his plan for the future and how do we get there? Thanks again for your crisp and refreshingly lucid response, Michael.

Best,
John C. Alessio

No, he is incensed by your

No, he is incensed by your acquiescence because Obama won. Depending upon how lazy you are, you would be out protesting the day after the election if Romney won against "his" wars... The same wars of Obama. You just let Obama bomb more brown people. Their blood is on your hands. But, you are a lib. You don't really care for the plight of people if they don't fit your ideological agenda.

"But, you are a lib. You

"But, you are a lib. You don't really care for the plight of people if they don't fit your ideological agenda."

JOEBOOSAUCE,

I've actually laid out my political beliefs above. You haven't laid out very much except to call me a "lib". People who use that type of contraction for "liberal" are usually right-wingers, are you? While I don't call myself a "liberal", or even a "progressive" (look up Theodore Roosevelt's real history and beliefs sometime), I see most of them as potential allies against the Corporatocracy. This is because I believe in trying to build a broad based Movement against the ruling Plutocracy and movements are built by allies who agree on the basics, rather than some party line of purity. Politically I am a iconoclast and a pragmatist. I opposes the Corporatist Elite, I am for tending to the social welfare of the people and believe that war usually never provides good problem solution.

"And sadly, I suspect his

"And sadly, I suspect his only agenda, if he actually has one, is to protect the class from which he came. Labeling people as "liberal" who actually choose to plan and create strategies for the future while preventing more harm in the present is counter productive and only serves to strengthen the very forces that Chris claims to abhor. No sane progressive would deny that the world would be far worse off under Romney than under Obama. Yet, the subtext of Chris' statement is that he is incensed because Romney lost the election. So the question I continue to ask in response to Chris' somewhat crazed writings is, "for whom is Chris working and why?"

John,

It's hard for me to disagree with you. To be charitable though, in a way Hedges isn't, I think there is a good deal of self-deception and denial awash in his thinking. As a trained psychotherapist one of the maxims I learned that has proven true is: "Most humans hate in others, features in ourselves that we refuse to consciously acknowledge". Mr. Hedges using his rather privileged history as a constant "jumping off" point for his essays seems to suggest this. In last week's article it was his reaction to bullying in private school. his inclusion of it seems to suggest that this is a phenomena related only to upper class institutions. In truth I had to fight bullies in Public Schools at all levels and I assume that it is not only the wealthy who have to overcome it. In this weeks essay he talks about working as a Seminarian in the "Inner City", as if the fact that he was in religious training, somehow gave him greater insight. I also worked for many more years than he, as a Welfare Caseworker in the so called "Inner City", which was a far less prestigious work than that of religious calling, yet I think my insights are at least the equal of his insights.

We agree precisely on the basic premise though, that with pieces like this, Hedges does more harm to our common cause, then he does good.

Great "new" wake-up call --

Great "new" wake-up call -- but, we fight with what we have at hand, right? Winning this election was hard work -- rather have Obama than Romney, in any case. Your idealism is truly appreciated -- gotta have writers like you to keep us striving to get things truly in perspective. One step at a time -- but, thanks for helping us see more of those steps that will help us toward a better world for all of us.

Biggest bunch of hogwash I

Biggest bunch of hogwash I have seen written in a long time.

I could be wrong I suppose. I stopped reading after, "Liberals, by voting for Barack Obama, betrayed the core values they use to define themselves—the rule of law, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the protection of unions, the preservation of social welfare programs, environmental accords, financial regulation, a defiance of unjust war and torture, and the abolition of drone wars. "

What a way to reach an audience.

Seems like the self-described

Seems like the self-described "Liberals" are missing the real point of Chris' article which is that people are dying today (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and time is running out faster every day for the massive problems facing humanity here on Planet Earth. Feeling all giddy that Obama was re-elected is simply foolish... he may be a little better than Romney in a few areas but he certainly is not going to change our nation's destructive assault on the planet and its inhabitants in any meaningful way.

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