Chris Hedges: “America is a Tinderbox”

A Real News Network interview with Chris Hedges precipitated a lively, thoughtful discussion of the mess we are in as a civilization and whether we can pull ourselves out of what looks like a nosedive.

I thought readers might enjoy continuing the exchange, and the latest release in this Real News Network series should provide ample grist for debate. As much as the readers who saw the segment we posted yesterday, which was mainly on whether we could forestall an ecological crisis, tended to think that Hedges was too apocalyptic, I suspect they’ll have the opposite reaction today, that his take is too positive.

More at The Real News

Here, Hedges laments the lack of an effective left, and blames its death on the “inability to articulate a viable socialism”. I’m not sure that was ever possible given the virulence of anti-Communism in the US through the fall of the USSR (and right after that, the Rubinites took over). Look at how Keynes was bastardized in the US (which has also had serious knock-on consequences) because an economic text that was faithful to Keynes by Lorie Tarshis was targeted by, among others, William F. Buckley. As we wrote in ECONNED:

A Canadian student of Keynes, Lorie Tarshis, published an economics textbook in 1947, The Elements of Economics, which included his interpretation of Keynes. It also suggested that markets required government support to attain full employment. It was engaging and well written, and sold well initially, but fell off quickly, the victim of an organized campaign by conservative groups to have the textbook removed. The book, and by implication Keynes, was inaccurately charged with calling for government ownership of enterprise.

Any taint of Communist leanings would damage the career of a budding academic. So aside from his refusal to accept some fundamental elements of Keynes’s construct, [Paul] Samuelson had another reason to distance himself from the General Theory. Samuelson said he was well aware of the “virulence of the attack on Tarshis” and penned his text “carefully and lawyer like” to deflect similar attacks.

Hedges also believes we can still have a radical uprising in America that would change the power dynamics. I’m at a loss to see how that happens. I’m told that protests against the then almost certain US entry into the Iraq War were very effectively tamped down in New York City, that the protestors (estimated at as many as 1 million, certainly well over 250,000) who were trying to get to the UN were barred at Second Avenue and shunted up into Harlem, resulting in a pathetic-looking crowd for broadcast consumption at the official site. And that was a decade before the 17-city paramilitary crackdown of Occupy Wall Street.

But more important, unlike Europe, massing on the street is just not how Americans do things. Large scale sustained protests have been the province only of the downtrodden (labor organizers, later the civil rights movement) and students (with issues of their own in the Vietnam war and as sympathizers to and supporters of radicals). A good American bourgeois identity and demonstrations don’t sit well together. Students are more conservative than ever, thanks to 30 years of neoliberal indoctrination, and even if those that have more idealistic impulses would sensibly be deterred by what an arrest record would do to their job prospects, particularly if they have student debt.

One other bit I believe that Hedges misses in his view that Obama is mediocre. No, Obama has done a fantastic job, just not one that will prove to have done the public well. By happenstance, Lambert flagged a 2011 essay in Aljazeera by William Robinson, Global capitalism and 21st century fascism, which describes clearly the role that Obama was meant to and has ably filled:

A neo-fascist insurgency is quite apparent in the United States. This insurgency can be traced back several decades, to the far-right mobilisation that began in the wake of the crisis of hegemony brought about by the mass struggles of the 1960s and the 1970s, especially the Black and Chicano liberation struggles and other militant movements by third world people, counter-cultural currents, and militant working class struggles.

Neo-fascist forces re-organised during the years of the George W Bush government. But my story here starts with Obama’s election.

The Obama project from the start was an effort by dominant groups to re-establish hegemony in the wake of its deterioration during the Bush years (which also involved the rise of a mass immigrant rights movement). Obama’s election was a challenge to the system at the cultural and ideological level, and has shaken up the racial/ethnic foundations upon which the US republic has always rested. However, the Obama project was never intended to challenge the socio-economic order; to the contrary; it sought to preserve and strengthen that order by reconstituting hegemony, conducting a passive revolution against mass discontent and spreading popular resistance that began to percolate in the final years of the Bush presidency.

The Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci developed the concept of passive revolution to refer to efforts by dominant groups to bring about mild change from above in order to undercut mobilisation from below for more far-reaching transformation. Integral to passive revolution is the co-option of leadership from below; its integration into the dominant project. Dominant forces in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere in the Middle East and North America are attempting to carry out such a passive revolution. With regard to the immigrant rights movement in the United States – one of the most vibrant social movements in that country -moderate/mainstream Latino establishment leaders were brought into the Obama and Democratic Party fold – a classic case of passive revolution – while the mass immigrant base suffers intensified state repression.

Obama’s campaign tapped into and helped expand mass mobilisation and popular aspirations for change not seen in many years in the United States. The Obama project co-opted that brewing storm from below, channelled it into the electoral campaign, and then betrayed those aspirations, as the Democratic Party effectively demobilised the insurgency from below with more passive revolution.

Thus while Hedges is correct to point to increasing anger and dislocation in the US, I’m not optimistic that it will be channeled effectively, and if by anyone, it’s not likely to be from the deflated left. A general strike would be a galvanizing event but I don’t see how that gets done. I suspect we’ll see more and more random violence as frustrated individuals lash out. And that sort of violence will serve as the perfect pretext for more and more aggressive policing and surveillance.

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  1. Hugh

    It seems to me that passive revolution is just another word for class war.

    It is pretty much standard practice of the elites to demonize a term like socialism by associating it with the tyranny of the Soviet Union, and then use it to smear any program or effort that benefits the 99%. Personally, I prefer to sidestep it and talk about society and the 99%.

    Change is possible, though reform is not. We need to build a mass movement based on a readily understandable explanation of the current situation, a vision of the kind of society we want to build, and the commitment we are asking from everyone to make it happen.

    We have powerful messages, and there is great discontent in the country. We need to marry the two together. This is not rocket science, but it does require organization and a certain clarity and directness in language.

    1. wes

      i understand your preference for sidestepping the discourse of socialism in favor of one of society and the 99%. however, i think it’s ultimately only useful in a limited tactical sense, a narrative opening to evade initial ideological blockages, and at some point youll have to have a strategy of reintroducing the sidestepped discourse–for a number of reasons including the rehabilitation of an important corpus which really lets you set today’s issues in a properly historical context, and even more importantly because anything to the left of nixon is going to be branded socialist anyway, regardless of what you do.

      as an aside, gramsci uses a lot of slightly obfuscated language due to the circumstances under which he was writing (as a political prisoner in mussolini’s italy). subaltern instead of proletariat, etc. in the intervening years they’ve taken on useful shades of meaning relative to the original unobfuscated terms (eg, subaltern studies isn’t necessarily the same as something like “proletarian studies” would be), but in the context of gramsci himself, you can mostly mentally unobfuscate it without any issues.

      1. Hugh

        wes, it is more important to argue the issues than the terminology. I would rather spend my time laying out how we in the 99% can take back our country and build a society worth having than defending whether “socialism” is a good or bad word.

        1. Banger

          The problem, Hugh, is that your 99% does not agree with your view of the world. They believe that the poor are lazy and they are more resentful of the poor than the Koch brothers. Leftists have to face this fact. Yes, most Americans want more fair society, yes they probably would like single-payer if you talked to them alone–but as soon as the right waves the “lazy blacks” and the “terrorists” people will fall back into line and vote for the usual clowns.

          The problem with the left is that it has not offered a narrative–most are always ingratiating themselves to the powerful, mincing words and so on. I can only site the most egregious example and that is the Daily Kos blog which is an example of where faux-leftists dominate the discussion and ban real discussion when it gets beyond Party orthodoxy.

          The left is dead right now–stone cold dead. Occupy was a last stab by anarchists to wake it up–it failed utterly in doing that though I think it may have revived anarchism a bit which is always a good thing.

          We need to change the narrative and agree to terms and agree to a vision of what we ought to be for not what we think people will accept. The American people live in a mind-control regime–only breaking the spell will change things. I’ve mentioned below what I think should be the beginning of shattering the narrative so if you’re interested read it.

          1. casino implosion

            “…They believe that the poor are lazy and they are more resentful of the poor than the Koch brothers. Leftists have to face this fact….”

            The more history I read, the more convinced I become of the truth of this. This is not 1890 or 1930 or 1980. Leftists need to understand that your father’s socialism is not on the way.

            1. Nathanael

              That’s what they think until their boss screws them over or steals from them; until they are unemployed themselves.

              This is the thing. The mentality which the Koch Brothers have tried so hard to cultivate — this mentality can be used to control the population. *If the population is fed and kept busy (employed)*.

              The 0.1% are too freaking stupid, too mindlessly greedy, too much short-term thinkers, to actually do the “feed and employ” part of the recipe.

              As a result, we will get a revolution. Bread and circuses does not work without the bread.

              Will we get socialism? We *could*, but we’re more likely to get a *competent* bread-and-circuses warlord, one who provides the bread. The Emperor Augustus bragged about how many people he had on welfare. That’s how you retain absolute dictatorial power. Our 0.1% are *stupid*.

          2. jake chase

            Sorry Banger, but there is no 99%. There is a continuum over which people fit themselves, always identifying with their aspirations rather than their economic and social position. The urge to believe respectable fantasies is nearly overwhelming, and those who reject the fantasies turn to those of Marx and Third World demagogues too numerous to mention.

            Fundamentally, the problem is wage labor. People are entirely satisfied with a system in which 5-10% are utterly exempt from work if they (or an ancestor) has been lucky or talented (which amounts to much the same thing). Most people if asked prefer the chance of a lottery to any political response to economic injustice. They coalesce around groups believing themselves marginalized: females, nonwhites, gays, etc., and struggle for largely trivial bones thrown to them periodically by an elite which could care less about such issues so long as the great game is permitted to continue.

            The great game is labor impoverishment through low wages, high taxes and usurious lending. Keep the rats on the treadmill, whether they are plucking chickens or cranking out marketing plans or legal documents or financial statements. It doesn’t matter (except to the rats) that a small number are permitted to do better than others. The vast surplus is siphoned off to a thin elite.

            Who was the Thirties plutocrat who said,’we can always hire half the working class to suppress the other half’? He was dead right.

            Then what’s the answer? Drop out and live independently as best one can. It doesn’t sound like much but at least it can have a payoff.

            1. Banger

              The answer is to deprogram yourself and others from the engineered mind-control regime of stage magic and the magic of social science and neuro-science.

              Then the other one it move towards love–or to put it another way of putting it embrace others and strengthen and form communities. Political power comes only from community.

            2. Nathanael

              Jay Gould was the “I can hire half the working class to kill the other half” guy.

              He was also famous for setting up “paper railroads” where he stole from the investors and never built an actual railroad. Why have workers at all, if you can just make money through financial scams?

              And Jay Gould got away with it. But Jay Gould was the only one who got away with that extraordinary level of uncaring and thievery; he was early enough that those tactics were still working, and he was very competent.

              By the end of his life, all the other tycoons were busily providing bread and circuses to dampen down rebellion.

          3. from Mexico

            Banger says:

            The problem, Hugh, is that your 99% does not agree with your view of the world.

            I think one of the problems is that most of the left leadership hails from elite academic circles, and in addition to their ideological blinders hasn’t given much thought as to what poor and working-class people really think. The elite leftist leadership has an idealized version of the lower socio-economic orders that doesn’t square terribly well with reality. Though I’m no longer working-class, I was born and raised in it so maybe have a little bit better handle on how it thinks than those who were born into the upper or middle classes.

            I can suggest two studies to correct some of the misperceptions.

            1) “Reciprocity and the Welfare State” by Christina M. Fong, Samuel Bowles, and Herbert Gintis

            Equally striking is the fact that among those with annual family incomes of less than $10,000 who did not expect to be better off in five years, 32 percent report that the government should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich, and 23 percent say that the poor should help themselves rather than having the government “make every possible effort to improve the…position of the poor.”1


            2) Code of the Street: Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner City by Elijah Anderson

            Racism, the changing economy, unemployment, and changing social values all affect the people of the community. But the grandmother, particularly if middle-aged or elderly, often takes an ideologically conservative view and tends to have little tolerance for structural explanations. Given her prior experience in the local community in the days of the manufacturing economy, in matters of idleness and unemployment she is ready to blame the victim, because she feels that there is work to be had for those who are willing to do it and that people can abstain from doing wrong if they want to. It is her belief that the various social problems plaguing the community stem more from personal irresponsibility than from any flaw in the wider system.


            [The decent daddy] tends to have little patience with men who fail to meet their responsibilities as fathers or husbands. Intolerant of excuses that blame discrimination or the lack of jobs, he holds individuals responsible, not the system, and sees resorting to “aid,” or welfare, as showing a lack of gumption. He admits that racism is a problem, but he also knows that it can be a lame excuse for not applying oneself to the task at hand. He believes that in this world you make your own bed and that you can succeed if you try. With such presuppositions he approaches the young men he finds unemployed on the streets today. He truly finds it difficult to sympathize with those who cannot find work, let alone with those who do not want to work.


            It is understandable that the traditional old heads and other decent people of the community should focus on the idea of individual responsibility. These people believe that whatever success they have achieved in their own lives has been the result of personal determination, and thus they are inclined to blame those who have not been successful for not having made enough of an effort. Not to blame the victim would be to make it too easy for those victims of innercity problems. And it would give the decent people no way of distinguishing themselves from the street people.

            1. Banger

              Excellent comment–fills in the blanks very nicely. I will only add that the opinions you describe are a result of a conscious mind-control regime that has gone on for a century. The left has been unable to break through it but, rather, it has accepted the mainstream narrative in most areas–just not those listed. In fact, for the left to come to life it must reject ALL of the mainstream narrative. It shouldn’t be that hard because if you use the rule of evidence almost everything that we are being told as true is false.

              1. from Mexico

                Banger said:

                …the opinions you describe are a result of a conscious mind-control regime that has gone on for a century.

                I don’t know how much of it is cultural and how much of it is hard-wired. If one reads the first paper I linked by Christina M. Fong, Samuel Bowles, and Herbert Gintis they seem to indicate that at least some of it is hard-wired.

                However, Reinhold Niebuhr leaves no doubt he believes it is cultural:

                The middle classes were proud that their property, unlike that of the inheritances of the leisured classes, sprang from character, industry, continence and thrift; and they were therefore quite certain that any one endowed with similar virtues could equal the competence which they enjoyed. Failure to achieve such a competence was in itself proof of a lack of virtue. This middle-class creed sprang so naturally from the circumstances of middle-class life that it ought perhaps, to be regarded as an illusion rather than a pretension. But when it is maintained in defiance of all the facts of an industrial civilisation, which reveal how insignificant are the factors of virtuous thrift and industry beside the factor of the disproportion in economic power in the creation of economic inequality, the element of hones illusion is transmuted into dishonest pretension.

                –REINHOLD NIEBUHR, Moral Man and Immoral Society

                1. psychohistorian

                  They want you believe its wired just like they want you to believe that inheritance and accumulating private ownership of property are wired into our existence.

                  I agree that it is not 99% because there are 20-30% in some form of “golden handcuffs” currently and they want things to creak along as they are.

                  A critical mass of humanity is not hurting enough yet to foment necessary social change.

                  If the social control designs of our neo-Orwellian plutocrat overlords continue to be leaked, enough forward thinking humans might wake up and take back their lives and world from these retards… can hope.

                  1. Moneta

                    the Magna Carta and French Revolution come to mind… the aristcrats didn’t suddenly decide to share. They were forced to.

                    If we want change, the 5-30% will be the ones asking for it. But right now, this group is in its 50+ and is clinging to the status quo. Thanks to the bailouts their pensions are still ok.

                    However, Detroit has filed so the next shoe to drop is pensions. Calpers is getting nervous. It’s slomo, but it’s coming.

                  2. ictus92

                    To paraphrase Madeline Albright: “What’s the point of creating a totalitarian police state if you’re not going to use it?”

                    So where is the American totalitarian state going? If you look at the NDAA and the discussion around repealing the Posse Comitatus Act, the key words include quelling “domestic civil unrest”… So what are the “deep government” types anticipating so hysterically?

                    Well, the financial crisis keeps grinding away and is about to enter another phase of collapse as “quantitative easing” has run its course. Interest rates are rising, posing “technical insolvency” of the Federal Reserve itself. What this means is that time’s up for the 46 million in the Food Stamp Supplemental Program; 56 million getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and at least 20 million more needing full time employment. Obviously there’s some overlap, but the total number of people living on the margins of subsistence pushes 30% of the population.

                    For these, they face an immediate “Final Solution”… not exactly direct extermination, but death by deprivation, illness etc. Can work camps be far off for these tens of millions and the many millions more living paycheck to paycheck? This population and their sympathizers comprise the tinder for “civil unrest”. Hence the corollary to the famous “Collect it all” (communications) is “control it all” (civil disorder following further economic collapse).

                    Furthermore, prolonged neglect of key infrastructure will lead inevitably to severe food, water and electric power access — another source of civil unrest potential.

                    Of course, overseas the totalitarian police state eliminates all expression of opposition that can change policies in the quest for “Permanent War” and “full spectrum” military dominance. This ends in global military confrontation… just as the financial crisis of the 30’s gave rise to another World War… only this time around world war will pitch towards thermonuclear war in short order. That’s how totalitarian regimes collapse into catastrophe, dragging the rest of us to an unpleasant demise.

                    Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a damn thing any of us can do to arrest this beserk Levithan…

            2. Phrase

              Mexico … I understand how the poor feel towards handouts: how dignity and self-esteem are destroyed if the government would ‘just’ redistribute money without any expectations of it going to the deserving . The poor know just how hard they have to work to survive as your quote recognizes.

              However, outside those ‘knowing’, the attribution error argument quickly comes to light, … as Banger says: …“The problem, Hugh, is that your 99% does not agree with your view of the world. They believe that the poor are lazy and they are more resentful of the poor than the Koch brothers.”

              So, I skimmed the article … “Reciprocity and the Welfare State” … paying more attention to the ‘Conclusion’ … recognizing that one of the aims of the paper was to examine how to design a politically viable egalitarian policy.

              “ Egalitarians have been successful in appealing to the more elevated human motives precisely when they have shown that dominant institutions violate norms of reciprocity, and may be replaced by institutions more consistent with these norms.

              To mobilize rather than offend reciprocal values, policies should recognize that there is substantial support for generosity towards the less well off as long as they have provided or tried to provide a quid pro quo and are in good standing. The task of politically viable egalitarian policy design might thus begin by identifying those behaviors that entitle an individual to reciprocation. Among these in the U.S. today would be saving when one’s income allows and working hard and taking risks in both productive endeavors and schooling. Persistent poverty is often the result of low returns to these socially admired behaviors: low wages for hard work, a low rate of return on savings, costly access to credit for those wishing to engage in uncertain entrepreneurial activities, and educational environments so adverse as to frustrate even the most diligent student. Policies designed to raise the returns to these activities when undertaken by the less well off would garner widespread support.”
              And earlier, it was articulated by Christina M. Fong, Samuel Bowles, and Herbert Gintis that:
              “We suggest below that a compelling case can be made that people support the welfare state because it conforms to deeply held norms of reciprocity and conditional obligations to others. Economists have for the most part offered an alternative, empirically implausible, theory of self-regarding human motivation to explain who votes for redistribution. The most widely accepted model of the demand for re-distribution in economics is the median voter model, which holds that each voter desires a personal wealth-maximizing level of redistribution.
              An important implication of this model is that demand for redistribution decreases as personal income increases (Roberts 1977). But personal income is a surprisingly poor predictor of support for redistribution (Gilens 1999, Fong 2001). A large fraction of the poor oppose income redistribution and a large fraction of the rich support it. Among respondents of a nationally representative American survey (Gallup Organization 1998) who have annual household incomes of at least $150,000 and expect their lives to improve in the next five years, 24 percent respond that the government should “redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich,” and 67 percent respond that the “government in Washington DC should make every possible effort to improve the social and economic position of the poor.”
              The 2007 paper predated the mortgage fraud derivative implosion and the public bail-out of Wall Street, and the trap of home ownership. … I’ll have to find the time to read the paper more fully.

              Further, I imagine that a form of capitalism can co-exist with a form of representative social democracy only when individuals within the collective embrace the wisdom behind knowing when … is enough ! … thanx …phrase

              1. Banger

                Great comment. As for people wanting to redistribute wealth or not–a lot of that is the regime of mind-control that has been perpetuated on the American people for a century.

            3. ex-PFC Chuck

              FM, I want to thank you for the great links and references you consistently put up. I’m currently reading Marie Arana’s biography of Simon Bolivar that, IIRC, you referred to a few weeks ago and it’s going a long way to beginning to fill the void in what went on south of the border. Thanks again.

              1. ex-PFC Chuck

                It appears I clicked the wrong “Reply” link before writing the above. It was intended as a response to From Mexico’s comment further up-thread.

            4. Nathanael

              Explain to the poor how rich the rich ACTUALLY ARE, and their views change. During a single conversation. I’ve done it a few times.

              The poor imagine millionaires, and don’t want millionaires to be heavily taxed. Fine. But the thing is, millionaires are the limits of their imagination, usually.

              You have to actually sit down and explain “A million dollars every year. That means a new million dollars every year. This guy is eating a millionaire’s fortune every year. He doesn’t even know what to do with the money.”

              Then you explain billionaires. “This guy has the wealth of a thousand millionaires. Do you really think he earned it?”

              The poor eventually say, “OK, that’s just too damn much money.”

              Innumeracy means that you really have to spend some time explaining it, though.

          4. tongorad

            “This is America, not Denmark. In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch FoxNews not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness. They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore. Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying really?s and uh-huhs to show that they’re listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.

            The left won’t accept this awful truth about the American soul, a beast that they believe they can fix “if only the people knew the Truth.”

            But what if the Truth is that Americans don’t want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance–and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left’s wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America’s rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it’s not so much Goering’s famous “bigger lie” that works here, but the dumber and meaner the lie, the more the public wants to hear it repeated.”

            “We, The Spiteful” by Mark Ames


            1. Dave

              Please consider that the “right” is far more realistic in their assessment of human nature. The “left” wants things to be according to what they think it should be, mostly because of their left wing educators. The majority of humans are not perfectible.

              Even Asians, with their highly socialized societies, have behaved very badly towards those outside their country.

            2. Banger

              Well, I don’t find most people vicious. But you are right if you mean by that they admire and respect strength. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a powerful symbol of the strength of a community. Most Americans have contempt for the left because it is weak. It wilts, always, under pressure. I am old enough to remember when that wasn’t the case.

              I don’t blame the American people because they have been subject to the most sophisticated mind-control regime ever known–people who are literally under dozens of magic spells, half-hypnotized and half-awake. Yes, they succumbed to the sly manipulations that used the unconscious as a playing field without hardly anyone knowing.

              1. jake chase

                Sophisticated mind control my ass. Plutocrat right wing horseshit sells because it makes people who buy it feel somehow respectable and virtuous, without challenging in any way the mean, puerile selfishness by which they steer their own ship of life. Just about every man at least has somebody he can push around, thrash if he feels like it, all the while telling himself how manly this makes him. Want to see what the working class is like? Spend a few hours in one of their bars.

                The only thing 90% of the population wants is for their own worthless lives to become marginally more luxurious. I saw this vividly during the Seventies, on the North Fork of Long Island, where every union screw turning warm mongering putz had his little plot of grass, his motorboat, his garden tools that made the neighborhood sound like Armageddon. Archie Bunker was a sanitized version of these bastards, who liked nothing better than thrashing some long haired student or idealistic protestor and waiving the flag for Richard Nixon.

                Of course, none of them had served anywhere. They had fallen into the between the wars age group, and their idea of military service was a John Wayne movie.

                1. Banger

                  Sure, many working class assholes were and are assholes. But many are not that way and I hung out in some bars then and I must say I knew some nice guys too.

                  As for mind-control–I’ve studied it and the ruling elites certainly set out on the project willfully and left a paper trail and it worked. Stage magic works as does manipulating the unconscious of people who don’t believe they can be manipulated.

            3. jonboinAR

              Response to “tongograd”‘s quotation of Mark Ames

              Will you listen to this from a white male point of view? As the end of the first paragraph makes clear, the people that Ames is calling not just stupid but cowardly, nearly the worst insult you can give to a human being, are not really so much Americans in general, that is Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, or women of any ethnicity, but specifically white males. Really them alone. Then, again, as usual, following the string of insults, Ames and the Left he putatively represents have the nerve to wonder just what they have to do to attract the white male vote. “Well, we can’t do anything about it. They’re not just benighted and otherwise disgusting, but really they’re chicken-shirt. If they ever decide to grow a pair they’ll come to us.” Really? You think so?

              What other ethnic group on the face of the earth is it not just considered acceptable by the Left, but de rigeur, to openly despise, to compete in order to creatively criticize and put down. “Hey”, says Ames, “Everyone calls them stupid. No one ever thinks to call them cowards, the whole group of white, male American Fox News watchers. I’ll make my name today!” ANY other ethnic group, you’d better watch yourself when you reference. You’d better make sure that nothing you say can be taken to even imply any criticism of them as a group. Man, I don’t think I’m exaggerating here. But white males, especially if they’re American, whether working or managerial class, have, since the Civil Rights Era, been the scapegoats of the left, classical-like scapegoats, openly, until now it’s not even questioned. The Left puzzles and puzzles about why the American white male distrusts them, but never even brings up this perfectly obvious question. I don’t know. My discussion of it right now will probably be considered racist by some just for defending them. It seems as though the practical definition of racism is advocating in any way for the interests of whites or, especially, white males. Nothing they have or do is considered legitimate.

              “We the spiteful.” Please! That’s just funny.

              You, we (and man, I do it too, now I think of it), the Left, need to stop pretending to wonder why the white males in the US don’t want to travel with us. If we’re really interested in winning the economic war with the “oligarchs”, we’re going to have to drop the identity politics and return to class. But maybe it’s useful, psychologically or competivitively necessary to continue scapegoating them and this economic struggle is really a smokescreen for something else. I don’t know.

          5. Lexington

            The problem, Hugh, is that your 99% does not agree with your view of the world. They believe that the poor are lazy and they are more resentful of the poor than the Koch brothers. Leftists have to face this fact.

            Yes, they have to face it, but they don’t have to accept it. To build a mass movement these people need to be engaged in dialogue and persuaded that there is another way (I deliberately avoid the condescending term “educated”). Many people seem to think this is next to impossible and not worth trying, but from where I’m standing it’s the only way. And I don’t think it’s that hard, because our agenda is emminently in their self interest, and at bottom people invariably have a very firm grasp of their own self interest, even if it has been clouded by “wedge issues” and “culture wars”.

            Bottom line is that racial resentment and nationalism are all good and fine, but when your stomach is empty they don’t amount to a hill of beans. Neoliberalism is remorselessly proleteriatizing the American worker and one consequence is that peoples’ priorities become a lot clearer.

            I can only site the most egregious example and that is the Daily Kos blog which is an example of where faux-leftists dominate the discussion and ban real discussion when it gets beyond Party orthodoxy.

            Daily Kos is the unofficial house organ of the Democratic Party, not in any way legitimately a progressive site. Markos has never been very good at concealing his ambition of becoming a player in the Democratic establishment by leveraging the site’s potential to mobilize the base. Back in the day when we could pretend that progressives and Democrats were largely on the same team lots of people were willing to overlook that. Seems like a lifetime ago now.

            The left is dead right now–stone cold dead. Occupy was a last stab by anarchists to wake it up–it failed utterly in doing that though I think it may have revived anarchism a bit which is always a good thing.

            I honestly don’t know what people expected from Occupy. Did the Montgomery bus boycott end racial segregation in the south? Did the Ludlow Massacre crystalize broad suppport for workers rights? Occupy was an opening skirmish in what will be, at best, a very long and drawn out war of attrition against very powerful and deeply entrenched interests. Perhaps our society’s obsession with instant gratification has blinded people to exactly what this will entail.

            1. Hugh

              I agree with you. We need to talk to all Americans, citizen to citizen, equal to equal. We must ask not just for their ideas and support but their full participation.

              A bad idea (what we have now) can be overturned by a good idea (what we can build together). But we don’t have to just appeal to self interest. Ordinary people, we of the 99%, have shown for hundreds of years that we were willing to fight and even die for something bigger than ourselves. That impulse has not disappeared. We just need to give people something to believe in, and make sure that it is worthy of their belief.

              1. jake chase

                Ordinary people have shown they are sheep willing to be led into slaughter, too fearful of censure by neighbors to even stand up for their own lives. There is nothing they have ‘died for’ in the past three hundred years that was worth a fart in a hailstorm. If you think otherwise you better spend more time reading history.

                1. Calgacus

                  Really, Jake? The sides in the US Civil War & WWII were indistinguishable, and one side was not somewhat gooder guys than the other? (Need I say that that side was imho the one with the evil Northern capitalists & later the US military-industrial imperialist complex & Joe Stalin too?)

                  The slaves in Haiti 200 years ago were not fighting for something “worth a fart in a hailstorm”?

            2. Banger

              The Montgomery Bus Boycott did much to change things at the time–it built momentum for a movement by showing the determination of citizens to see the project to the end. It was a dramatic show of strength by a community that had felt marginalized and despised by the majority of citizens.

              Occupy was nothing of the kind. It was studiously not organized and it achieved little momentum because, beyond the participants and part of the intellectual class it did not win much respect from the population as a whole. Again, it aided the cause of anarchism and I think showed the left an interesting direction to follow.

              1. jrs

                I’m tired of criticisms of Occupy for not being organized, if the point of the criticism is they didn’t have a leader, and proper heirarchy etc.. The fact that there was an assasination attempt on Occupies “leaders” (and the assisination attempt had unintended humor – the keystone cops want to assisinate leaders of an anarchist group!), shows just how dangerous organizing in a traditional heirarchy would have been. Leaders = Targets for Assasination. That’s the murder elite we are dealing with. Perhaps the anarchist know a great deal more about fighting a guerilla war than their liberal critics.

                1. Banger

                  Occupy was a sign more than a movement. By not organizing, of course, it avoided decapitation and populated the imagination more than the streets. It’s taken me awhile to understand it as a harbinger of a new political age. Since it is new I do not understand it yet. But I recognize that politics cannot change without a profound change in consciousness in all of us left, right, center and outsider (my current political algnment).

                  But, as a political movement, it failed completely. Lack of coherence did not inspire the confidence of people sitting on the fence. That’s not the fault of Occupy it’s just the way we are now.

              2. Nathanael

                The Montgomery Bus Boycott came after a decade of seemingly fruitless work in the 1950s, and even earlier setbacks in the 1940s.

                I have debated in these pages whether we are in the equivalent of the “1950s” phase or the “1940s” phase. We certainly aren’t anywhere near the 1960s phase; some people have to age out and others have to grow up.

          6. EricT

            I don’t agree with the presumption that the 99% in this country can’t agree on anything we actually agree on a lot when the real message is delivered. The real problem is that every movement that gains momentum is coopted by the real power in this country. Nixon’s cointel has become the policy of the elite to protect itself. Haven’t you ever turned on current TV. On my cable system, the sound is awful, I have to turn the volume way up to hear it, turn on one of the MSM stations and the sound is relatively incredible. They make it hard for everyone to organize, they give you candidates that only differ on the most divisive issues( ie reproductive rights ) and won’t address the actual causes of everyone’s malaise. They promote chaos among us all, by not actually bailing out the country, they keep everyone on edge being one paycheck away from bankruptcy or one medical condition from ruin, some of their tools are racism and classism. The game is rigged and we are the suckers.

          7. jrs

            As for “more resentful of the poor than the Koch brothers”. I get into debates where a subject of never ending interst is whether or not people deserve their economic fate.

            Gah, with all that is wrong with the world (so so much) why is this topic even so endlessly interesting to people? The truth seems obvious and boring to me: while there is sometimes things individuals can do to effect their economic situation one way or other we don’t live in some world that magically metes out justice in monetary reward. Duh. Furthermore an economic system that doesn’t allow second and third and forth etc. chances before condemning people to poverty is cruel. And I’m not even talking about second chances for murders or any type of moral offense – I mean for making dumb economic decisions! Even some platonic ideal of a Perfect economic Meritocracy – if it all depended on an economic decisions you made at 19 and could never be changed after that point is *inhuman* – it does meet a basic human requirement of human life for growth over the lifespan. Life has consequences by it’s very nature, but punishment to poverty is a consequence purely of social systems.

            So really why is the question of whether people deserve their economic fate even so interesting to poeple? We are the 99%.

      1. ambrit

        Mr Strether;
        Obama as a modern American Mussolini! Now that’s an image! The Tea Party stooges got it wrong in portraying ‘O’ as a Hitler type. He’s a ‘kinder gentler’ Mussolini type authoritarian! (Somehow this strikes me as an insult to the memory of Mussolini. Go figure.)

    2. from Mexico

      I agree that no change will take place without organizational politics.

      Peter Skerry does an outstanding analysis of the three types of politics — organizational, protest and elite-network — in Mexican Americans: The Ambivialent Minority.

      Organizational politics has always been the only effective way to advance the interests of the lower socio-economic orders. Elite-network has of course always been the domain of elites, folks like Obama. Protest politics can swing both ways, but as a stand-alone tactic it is inadequate. Remember that behind the Civil Rights Movment stood an elaborate organization: the Black church.

      1. Lexington

        Protest politics creates awareness of the issues and mobilizes people behind them. It is therefore complimentary to organizational politics rather than an alternative to it.

        You are absolutely right to point out that the church was indespensable in organizing the civil rights movement, including providing most of the leadership. But it was the sight of thousands of blacks in the streets demanding their rights that moved public discourse on civil rights by giving urgency and momentum to their agenda.

    3. nonclassical


      I love your writing…but English language is “abstract”, meaning specifically, (the
      “act” portion) that it enables words-concepts to be presented, while lacking in
      direct ACTion…English is a poor language for DIRECT ACTion, therefore direct thought consideration-in comparison, an Asian pictogram is a direct picture of an action-leads away from “abstraction”…

      ..what I intend, therefore, is to take specific actions into consideration, and force them upon public consideration.

      If “the people’s representative government” is to return to this conceptual relevance, first must be a public movement to end, once and for all, ALL campaign $$$$ influencing “the people’s representative government”…otherwise, all else is in permanent fail mode…focus, people…

  2. wes

    yves, I totally agree with your analysis of the shortcomings of hedges’ understanding of the history of anticommunism. its been one of the few undercurrents that really annoys me about his otherwise admirable body of work and thought.

    i would add that in addition to the repressive state apparatus’s mastery of human movement through the urban landscape which you mention, there’s at least one more important bit of geographical context to the underdevelopment of american oppositional culture: the suburb. it’s a lot easier to mass on the streets when there’s a mass of people living on the same street.

    1. Banger

      Yves makes good points but she’s wrong that not having a street culture necessarily precludes activism. It is the propaganda regime that has silenced real dissent and it has, and this is far worse, the betrayal of truth by both Hedges’ liberal class and the radical left. The left, as a whole, has accepted the mainstream narratives about the nature of power-relations in this country and the basic narrative that our leaders always mean well even though they may be misguided and that Vietnam or Iraq was a “mistake” by policy makers suffering from hubris. Bullsh!t!!!! Macbeth did not make a “mistake” he was a greedy bastard who wanted power. Well, that’s the case for the vast majority of American politicians and power-brokers–not grasping this clearly has destroyed the American left–let’s bury it and start again shall we?

      1. Antifa

        The biggest and most invisible elephant in the American psyche is this: our government has long since abandoned the goal of managing this nation as a nation.

        Instead, America as a nation is managed as a means to global empire.

        And everyone’s all right with this.

        While a middle class was useful to produce salable products to the rest of the world, we had a prosperous middle class. Now that industry can be relocated wherever wages and taxes are lowest, America’s middle class is being stripped of its jobs, homes, pensions, social safety net, civil liberties and future.

        All to feed the last sticks of furniture into the raging war for global economic and military dominance that benefits only our wealthiest one percent.

        Even wingnuts respond to the idea that we need to leave off policing every square foot of the planet and return to looking after our own nation as a nation, rebuilding decent jobs, rebuilding communities, and rebuilding our sense of there being a better future for our kids than we got.

        Discussing and organizing around this idea that our lust and quest for empire has gone way too far scares the powerful more than anything else. It cuts at the very root of their power when they hear demands from all political sides that we cease empire building in favor of returning our full attention to domestic progress, to managing health and success for the citizens of this country, our country, before projects to surveill, conquer, or economically dominate any other nation.

        Call it the Me First project. Everybody gets to make demands for a better life for themselves and their children. That’s the American Dream that everyone wants.

        Call it Nation Building. We’re gonna roll up our sleeves and make our country self sufficient in clean energy, first in education, first in healthcare, first in equality and liberty, and the model for nations everywhere. Cuz that’s how we roll.

        It is not normal for Americans to lose their futures, for Americans and their children to be starved of shelter, food, medicine and education in order to have an active military theater command for every continent on earth.

        Where is that in our Constitution?

        1. from Mexico

          All through history one may observe the tendency of power to destroy its very raison d’être. It is suffered because it achieves internal unity and creates external defenses for the nation. But it grows to such proportions that it destroys the social peace of the state by the animosities which its exactions arouse, and it enervates the sentiment of patriotism by robbing the common man of the basic privileges which might bind him to his nation. The words attributed by Plutarch to Tiberius Gracchus reveal the hollowness of the pretensions by which the powerful classes enlist their slaves in the defense of their dominions:

          The wild beasts in Italy had at least their lairs, dens and caves whereto they might retreat; whereas the men who fought and died for the land had nothing in it save air and light, but were forced to wander to and from with their wives and children, without resting place or house wherein they might lodge… The poor folk go to war, to fight and to die for the delights, riches and superfluities of others.

          –PLUTARCH, The Parallel Lives

          1. Banger

            Echoes Jesus: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Luke 9:48.

      2. nonclassical


        that “propaganda” you mention is summed up in entirety in Adam Curtis’ fine BBC videos (and you are accurate):

        I would love to be able to post the entire Adam Curtis “The Power of Nightmares” video also-but due to U.S. video of neocon bushit, shown on U.S. television, and number of us who have posted it in direct contradiction to fundamentalist propaganda, it is permanently removed from youtube…entirely too controversial…(too funny-buy the video):

        people might also be advised that Curtis’ videos include British and Russian economic history, in parallel to historical treatise involved in these videos:

        “All watched over by machines of loving Grace” is expose’ on Ayn Rand…

        “Mayfair Collection” is British military-economic historical treatise…

      3. Dan Kervick

        It seems to me that if people of a leftist orientation want to achieve some sort of real, comprehensive and enduring social change, the first step is to accept and embrace the idea that what they are trying to do is achieve political power. That might appear obvious, but it sometimes seems to be a characteristic psychological trait of the contemporary left to have turned their politics into a matter of pure psychological identity, temperament and personal expression. Most self-described lefties seem to possess such a deep antipathy toward all forms of political power, such as it actually exists in actual human nature and human history, that their aspirations for change are utterly and comically doomed from the outset.

        So all that is left for them is a kind of waiting around for some vaguely imagined spiritual transformations of humanity, wringing an occasional concession out of existing elites due with a noisy protest or two. Lovely. Keep praying, dreaming and “demonstrating” forever. Meanwhile, keep being dominated, because real politics is not a quest for millennial religious enlightenment, or personal liberation from all forces of external control. That’s just egotistic self-indulgence. Real politics is organized, coordinated, strategically and tactically mature action in pursuit of difficult social goals.

        People like Hedges, Chomsky really have little to offer, I’m sorry to say. Their style of leftism has been on proud and impotent display for about four decades now as the right has taken over the world. They are angry and alienated outsiders whose entire intellectual and emotional identity is based on remaining angry and alienated outsiders so they have a mighty wall of oppressive counter-reality against which to rail and define themselves.

        People who want political power might want to start by at least imagining themselves in power. Now, I can already hear the contemporary critic, “No in my utopia, there is no power. There is no coercion. There is no institutional organization with conventional systems of governmental direction and control. There is no commerce and exchange. There are no police enforcing any rules. There is no “wielding” of anything. There is no hell below us; above us only sky, blah, blah. There are just people living in perfect magical harmony, achieving a lovely, comprehensive but utterly non-coercive egalitarian coordination.”

        Let’s just say that there have been periods of left-wing success in the past, and this isn’t how they thought. They built a middle class out of a peasantry; they created social insurance systems; they destroyed serfdom; they ended child labor; they created tax regimes that leveled inequalities and funded broad-based investment for the general good; they built powerful unions and parties that actually managed to run things, get elected and implement a difficult agenda. they wrested control of society’s capital resources from powerful private owners of those resources who were in no mood to give them up. They fought and died in Spain; they fought and died in Germany and they fought in Stalingrad. And that wasn’t just because they wanted to be martyrs, but because they judged these battles to be necessary steps in a long, hard strategically coherent slog.

        1. Marko

          ” People like Hedges, Chomsky really have little to offer, I’m sorry to say….”

          Says who ?

          Says Kervick. Mr. Dan Kervick.

          WTF is that? Has he done anything ? Is he anybody ? Does he have any bright ideas ?

          None that are readily apparent.

          Well he should shut his bashing-all-leftists-that-aren’t-himself pie-hole till he does , then.

          Maybe when he’s sued the gov’t on behalf of all of us and our civil liberties , as Hedges and Chomsky did recently , he’ll have some reason to puff himself up. As of today , he ain’t got jack shit.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Less ad hominem, more responsiveness, please. It’s going to take a little more than suing the government to get us out of this hole. It’s certainly good, admirable, that Hedges ad Chomsky did this. C’est magnifique, mais pas la guerre. Kervick points this out. It’s a perfectly respectable argument.

            1. from Mexico

              I thought Kervick made a valid argument too.

              We’ve dreamed of a world free of politics, hierarchy and coercion for a long time, in the Modern period since Rousseau. And this aversion to politics has had a strong influence on the left, as Hannah Arendt explains in “Karl Marx and the Tradition of Western Political Thought.”

              But there are plenty of people out there, like Adam Curtis, who believe this is a Utopian vision. In his latest film, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, he speaks of the latest ideology, “computer utopianism” or the “California ideology,” that, as the trailer says, held out the promise of a society “without politics and the old hierarchies of power.”

              “But power hasn’t gone away,” concludes the trailer. “It never does.”


              1. Chris Rogers


                One of the major problems with the ‘organisational meme’ is that very often said organisation becomes rather staid and Conservative – much as Robert Michel’s noted with his ‘iron law of oligarchy’, i.e., ‘who says organisation, says oligarchy’,. And, if I’m not mistaken, those who were at the forefront of the OWS movement wished to avoid this and remain truthful to their grassroots – the problem with OWS, who’s aims were noble, was it seemed to be a ‘middle class’ movement’, which by its own definition alienated much support from the working class.

                Now, if only we had another Martin Luther King, who by any measurable standards is one of the USA’s greatest political leaders and a brilliant orator in his time – regretfully, and as history suggests, he was a once in a lifetime brilliant leader – he was also able to connect to not only his core constituency, but those with a moral outlook whatever their class or colour maybe – Regretfully, I see no MKL on the horizon to inspire and coral many of the disparate forces and opinion expressed on these boards.

                So there you have it, our left-of-centre leanings mean in effect we are awaiting a messiah to deliver us from this neoliberal dystopia and deliver us the ‘new Jerusalem’ – which seems highly religious.

                One ‘big plus’ for all concerned, is that Hughes comments and opinions have driven an unusually large response from the commons – its very disparate, with forces from both the left-of-centre and more libertarian elements having similar aims and goals and all highly concerned.

                What to do next is the obvious question, and its a must to avoid false prophets, such as one Barack Obama in the US or Tony Blair in the UK.

              2. Joe Miller

                “We’ve dreamed of a world free of politics, hierarchy and coercion for a long time, in the Modern period since Rousseau.”

                It’s entirely possible to be free from the latter while still engaged in the former. Here’s what Morgan Finnegan has to say about egalitarianism in extant forager societies:

                “Egalitarianism in BaAka contexts is a relationship rather than a static term, within which there is continual bargaining and disputation. Individual autonomy and freedom, as in all hunter-gatherer communities is prized, so that the social ethos of sharing and the perpetual motion against dominance
                must be continually reinvented. This tension is what gives the egalitarian relationship its fluid, dynamic quality.”

          1. Dan Kervick

            I’m not a Marxist. I don’t believe in the labor theory of value or dialectical materialism or the withering away of the state, and I believe societies need to have vibrant private sectors as well as public sectors. I’m just a practical egalitarian who believes in old-fashioned “mixed economy” economics, and the possibility of vibrant real-world, problem-solving democracy. A society with state-supported full employment and ongoing public investment in human capital and strategic economic transformation; a broad and much more equal distribution of the national output with strong caps of private accumulation; a socialization of retirement, education and health care, with most of the remaining consumer economy handled by private enterprise; a drastically reduced and reorganized financial sector with reformed institutions of public finance; more time spent on citizen deliberation, education and practical governance chores, and less on entertaining oneself and doing one’s day job – these things all seem eminently achievable to me, since in one form or another they were being achieved in the past before neoliberalism swept much of it away. So the left just has to pick of the pieces and get started again.

            We don’t need a revolutionary “spark” or a “charismatic leader”. We’re talking about a long ground game. There needs to be coordination on an ambitious agenda, and some strategic thinking about how to put it into practice. How did the radical right agenda of people like William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater become the depressing mainstream that it is today. No revolutionary romance. They just spent decades organizing and carrying through a gradual takeover.

            No dreams of tribal life in a pre-historical rain forest, where 200 people manage to live without formal rules and law enforcement; no fantasies about techno-geek, open source, government-free utopia of untrammeled anarchic liberty.

            There is always a certain element of thinkers who thinks the very idea of a police department that keeps people from pissing on the sidewalk is “fascist” or “maoist”, etc.

        2. Banger

          I think I sympathize with you. The left’s aversion for politics comes from the sense that, in the end, politics breeds the struggle for power and that, in itself, is the deep problem that we are sitting with that makes us unable to move.

          For me this is because leftist have tended to accept the dominant narrative as the container of their own. I claim that the dominant narrative is a carefully constructed and engineered lie and should be totally discarded.

          The essence of the left’s problem is that all power that isn’t a result of the usual Machiavellian game comes from community. A mobilized community can stand up to political power and has and won clear victories over and over again. By accepting the individualist philosophy that cripples any movement we accept defeat. We cannot be a collection of individuals voting for the usual clowns–that is no way towards anything but neo-feudalism which is coming about as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.

          First, form communities–you talk about change, about peace, about egalitarianism–then give up your selfish ways and join with others by pooling resources and building trust. There is no other path. The alternative to that? Mysticism and it could lead to community, who knows. The monastics seemed to have done rather well back in the day.

          1. jake chase

            Yes, give up your selfish ways- now there is a message that will resonate with the working class. On the other hand, you could promise them all a new Webber grill with an electronic starter.

            1. Banger

              No I would tell them about teamwork, parties, relaxing because your friend has your back–how long before “things” become empty? Life is to be lived not endured mediated by products.

          2. Timothy Y. Fong

            The mistake is in believing that there is some end-steady-state utopia. There isn’t. No matter what we do, in 100 years (or less) some angry 20-somethings are going to look back at us and say we screwed up. Nonetheless, the winning is in the struggle.

        3. Ruben

          “Most self-described lefties seem to possess such a deep antipathy toward all forms of political power, such as it actually exists in actual human nature and human history, that their aspirations for change are utterly and comically doomed from the outset.”

          To base your argument on such an empty abstraction as “human nature” is to fail Popper’s test of falsifiability.

          Look, this works too: because of human nature any successful fight for political power is doomed to turn first tragically then comically into tyranny, as it actually has happened throughout history.

          At the end of your argument you make a strawman of the other view but that’s OK, it’s a free blog-comment section.

          Anyways, the perfect example you are looking for of leftists achieving political power at the last paragraph of your argument existed for several decades, it was called the USSR. Earlier examples include the Jacobins.

          Achieving political power is not the solution, political power itself is the problem. Whomever achieves political power, no matter how pious, immediately suffers moral debasement, because the well being of the abstract collective notion he/she undertakes to protect overwhelms the natural, evolved, in-built morality of the individual.

            1. Ruben

              Insofar as there is a science of human nature, that science is genetics, and genetics is no ground at all to prove the need of political power.

          1. Dan Kervick

            What about the union movement of the 20th century? Or the successful creation of the Social Security system? Or minimum wage laws? Or the 90% marginal tax rate?, etc. These things were passed by actual legislators who achieved political power.

            You know, every exertion of leftism doesn’t degenerate into “Mao” or “Stalin”. Can’t we get

              1. Ruben

                I guess we want different different results so our views cannot be reconciled.

                I lived some time in a country that has a well developed and firmly established social safety net, no poverty, very little crime, high taxes, allowances to help the less fortunate, strong unions, unarmed police, short work hours, good salaries, the whole machinery.

                I observed the system attentively.

                Of course I set out to find two fundamental elements, a girlfriend and a soccer league. As it happened, both provided me excellent windows into the entrails of the system.

                The captain of my soccer team worked for the gov’t safety net. His job was to cross-check and spy on those receiving help. The way he spoke about beneficiaries and the things he did to spy on them so they were not cheating convinced me that a strong State that takes seriously the role of protecting the working class reduces to just one major functioning principle: the State buys poverty.

                Those receiving help must provide the State with poverty and the State will pay for that supply. The State spied on its clients to know whether they have any other income except the price paid by the State for their poverty because if that was the case then these client were not really providing all the poverty the State was paying for.

                So in my view whenever the left gets political power and the result is not Stalin then the result is the commoditization of poverty, the commoditization of workingclassness.

        4. Timothy Y. Fong

          I agree. I hear Hedges’ argument about speaking in the prophetic voice and calling out abuses of power. There’s a role for that in every society, By definition, those embodying the role cannot every take power– which means they are, at best, Cassandras.

          For those of us who want to implement positive programs (such as the job guarantee), then the path is the same as always; kick ass and take names.

  3. profoundlogic

    Yes, Obama is the ultimate Manchurian candidate. Sadly, Hedges, while completely well-intentioned, seems to underestimate America’s collective apathy and indoctrination. Most Americans are still too comfortable to care, and until enough of the population takes a hit to the wallet they will continue their journey toward the “American dream”, only to find that the dream was more a mirage.

    1. from Mexico

      There was a comment that was made very late on yesterday’s Hedges thread, but which I think has great merit, so would like to repost here:

      tongorad says:

      July 20, 2013 at 12:08 am

      I think environmental gloom and doomers are a non-starter for the working class. So you want to take away my working class food, one of the few things I’m allowed to enjoy, and nibble on twigs and leaves?

      The neoliberals are serving up a bogus prosperity gospel that will not be defeated by the likes of Mr Vinegar-Tits himself, Chris Hedges. In fact, I think environmentalism will only serve to quicken the pace of facism, as the psychology of it harmonizes with the idea of an Other that we need guard or protect ourselves against. And the austerity angle too (those working class have had it too good, they need to do what’s good for them).
      If the left can’t articulate a positive vision, then it has nothing for the working class.


      If we look at one of the most successful mass movements of all times, Christianity, what we see is that it ministered to both man’s material needs and his spiritual needs. The PBS special on the history of early Christianity makes this clear:

      The evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson had this to say about it:

      Christian society provided “a miniature welfare state in an empire which for the most part lacked social services” (Johnson, 1976, 75; quoted in Stark 1996, 84). Even the emperor Julian acknowledged this fact in a letter to a pagan priest: “The impious Galileans support not only their poor, but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us” (84). Julian saw the problem and tried to institute pagan charities to rival Christian charities, but the social dilemmas implied by the word “charity” are not solved so easily.

      –DAVID SLOAN WILSON, Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society.

      Here’s what the Rev. Martin Luther King said on the subject:

      …the gospel deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body; not only his spiritual well-being but his material well-being. It has been my conviction ever since reading Rauschenbusch that any religion which professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the social and economic conditions that scar the soul, is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried.

      When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire all this changed. Plato’s two-world theory of body and soul was revived and interjected into Christian theology, and was revived once more by Jefferson, Madison, and Williams to become the reigning political philosophy of the new republic, a phenomenon which Thomas E. Buckley describes in great detail in “The Political Theology of Thomas Jefferson,” or David Little in “Religion and Civil Virtue in America.”

      Carroll Quigley in The Evolution of Civilizations speaks of the potential pitfalls of the sort of Neo-Platonic dualism that, according to Reinhold Niebuhr, “corrupted” Christianity when Christianity was “philosophically elaborated in Greco-Roman thought” (Niebuhr, “Optimism, Pessimism, and Religious Faith”):

      We deal with continua rationally either by dividing them into arbitrary intervals to which we give names, or by giving names to the two ends of the continuum and using these terms as if the middle ground did not exist at all. This last method is called “polarizing continuum,” and is frequently done even when the greatest frequency of occurrence is in the middle range… Such polarization of continua is so common and so familiar that we come, frequently, to accept our categories as real instead of being arbitrary and imaginary, as they usually are…

      This practice of slicing continua into parts or even into dual poles and giving names to these artificial categories is necessary if we are to think about the world or to talk about it. But we must always remain alert to the danger of believing that our terms are real or refer to reality except by rough approximation. Only by making such divisions can we deal in a rational way with the many nonrational aspects of the world.

      1. Moneta

        In summary, religion will take over as a pacifier, or the promise of a better life in afterlife.

        As for the environmental argument… in Japan, when the Emperor noticed a little too much deforestation, he put a moratorium on tree cutting. Of course, the poor and destitute suffered the most when the twigs disappeared.

        That’s why think humanity will be going through a tough time before it gets better.

        1. from Mexico

          Moneta says:

          In summary, religion will take over as a pacifier, or the promise of a better life in afterlife.

          Well that’s certainly a one-eyed view of religion, a view which the rich and powerful who corrupted Christianity with Neo-Platonic dualism hoped to instill in the Christian faithful: forego rewards in this life because your true reward is in the next life.

          And, according to the liars by omission, that is also what Marx believed. He did, after all, say that religion “is the opium of the people.”

          However, like any literalistic or fundamentalist interpretation, that is a distortion and a half-truth achieved by selective quotation of “scripture,” as Susan Neiman explains:

          Metaphors have long lives, and Marx’s description of religion as the opium of the people helped mislead us all. In fact, though Marx was the first thinker to show how deeply our worldviews may be shaped by material needs, his views of religion are more complex, and less condescending, than most leftist critics who followed. Far from reducing religious needs to economic ones, Marx called the criticism of religion the first premise of all other criticism because he understood its power. Here’s what he actually says in the passage leading up to the one-liner about opium:

          “Religion is the general theory of the world, its encyclopedia, its logic in popular form, its spiritualistic point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and general ground for the consummation and justification of this world….Religious suffering is at once the expression of real suffering and the protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

          Sitting in the British Library, Marx may have got his drugs wrong. On his account, religion is anything but a sedative; in fact it sounds more like cocaine. In Marx’s description, religion is the force that keeps the world awake. Heart of a heartless world calls up love as well as courage; hearts are also sometimes seats of purity, another quality one longs for when one longs for faith. But saccharin allegories aside: anatomically speaking, the heart is the organ that keeps us alive.

          Marx’s judgment of the forces arrayed against religion was just as savvy as his judgment of its power. His description of what capitalism did to the world it found might, with few changes, have been written by believers in Afghanistan—or Arkansas.

          “The bourgeois…drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—free trade…All that is solid, melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.”

          Of course this is irony, and verbal acrobatics, but it’s also ambivalence. Marx’s attitude towards the religious standpoint is hardly one of scorn. Something fateful was lost when bourgeois calculation replaced religious devotion, and we are right to feel bereaved.

          1. Banger

            Indeed, we ought to feel bereaved. Religion is not an option but a constant whether we call it religion or atheism–we bind ourselves to some conceptual of mythological framework. Our current religion is just as real as any of the others–it is seen in the films, shows, and news stories we watch that make up our culture. Our rituals, Christmas, the Super Bowl and so on are religious and re-enforce the values of radical materialism and competition. Fortunately for all of us today’s religion is so confusing and contradictory that unlike the relatively mild contradictions of other religion it cannot be maintained for long. In addition, our current secular religion does not offer satisfying rewards.

          2. Doug Terpstra

            Timeless — Marx could have written this just yesterday about the Wall Street-Washington kleptocracy.

            “…drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor in the icy water of egotistical calculation….resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—free trade…All that is solid, melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.”

            It’s no wonder Marx is taboo, Howard Zinn too. Thanks.

          3. Moneta

            I should have written that religion will be used and/or promoted as a pacifier but sometimes you need to try to find the right one to pacify the baby. Some babies will never take to one and others will bop other babies in the face with them.

          4. myshkin

            I don’t claim to know Marx’s attitude toward religion, no doubt manifold, yet did he not think it would fade away, part of that earlier phase of human history that was irrational and that would be superceded by the later industrial and scientific phase? The passage you end with, “All that is solid, melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.” continues, “And man is at last compelled to face, with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” For Marx, a starting point for building a better world.

            Whether we should take his idea that human history is necessarily a story of progress seriously is mooted. Civilization by its nature is a collective enterprise with interacting components of commerce, politics etc. The usual result is bureuacracy, Hannah Arendt had this to say, “Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act.” That seems to be where we are now and where human enterprise frequently dead ends.

            1. Moneta

              Well the creationist putsch and some other religions are a thorn on science’s side right now.

          5. psychohistorian

            I have a problem with the general concept of religion being the general theory of the world. That theory worked until the Enlightenment where the general theory of the church was shown to be BS.

            We are there again because the inherited rich made a devils pact of relevance for the should have evolved to myth religions in exchange for unquestioned inheritance and accumulating private ownership of property (i.e. the class system of the past few hundred years.

            If religion is the general theory of the world, does it have a theological explanation of the hexagonal clouds on the North pole of Saturn? GRIN

            Why can’t we proceed with the humility of knowing how much we don’t know or will never know and not try and integrate any faith based theories as other than myth.

          6. jake chase

            Marx was a brilliant social critic and the only thing he ever got wrong was his dialectic, which doesn’t make any more sense than other Millennial nonsense. The best thing he ever wrote may be the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonapart.

            Perhaps he just spent too much time in cold rooms fueling himself on Hegel?

        2. LAS

          I don’t think of the Rev. Daniel Berrigan or Rev. Martin Luther King as passive. And if you read what Christ actually said in the bible, you’ll find no pushover, but someone who aroused considerable fear among Romans and other ruling authorities.

      2. LizinOregon

        Looking to religion to provide a solution is just substituting one Daddy for another.

        1. from Mexico

          True enough.

          That point was certainly driven home by Jacques Barzun in From Dawn to Decadence.

          At the turn of the 20th century, Shaw despaired that his hallowed Fabian socialism and other socialisms had failed to overcome man’s “brutish instincts and his propensity to lie and mouth empty ideals,” while another disillusioned socialist, Georges Sorel, in Reflections on Violence, urged the industrial unions towards a final combat with police that would overthrow the capitalist system.

          The scientists of the day were all agog with the latest scientific fads: Social Darwinism, anthropo-sociology and Eugenics. The world of the scientific and artistic elite was all gilded wrapping paper, hermetically sealed off from the hoi polloi:

          With all the preaching and practicing of bloodshed between 1890 and 1914, how can it be that in retrospect the period was seen as an ideal time deserving to be called la Belle Époque? … Here it is enough to say that the intellectual and artistic elites, and to a certain extent high society, lived in their world of creation, criticism, and delight in the new. They were aware of the crises, no doubt, but after one or two had gone by gave little thought to what they might still cause…

          And when the war broke out, their reaction was equally as depraved:

          This haughty ignorance of social and political facts enables us to understand why the cultivated classes reacted as they did when war came: several hundred intellectuals in Germany signed a manifesto denouncing “the other side” as if betrayed by a friend and brother. It was answered, with a like rhetoric, by several hundred of the French. The enemy’s purpose must be wicked since we are innocent.

          A prominent German pacifist responded to the pro-war manifesto with a ‘Manifesto to Europeans’, which challenged militarism and ‘this barbarous war’ and called for peaceful European unity against it. ‘Educated people in all countries should use their influence to bring about a peace treaty that will not carry the seeds of future wars.’ Only three other people were brave enough to sign this peace manifesto; one of them was Einstein. As Barzun explains:

          Looking over the roster of great names in literature, painting, music, philosophy, science, and social science, one cannot think of more than half a dozen or so who did not spout all the catchphrases of abuse and vainglory.

          But despite the depravity of the artistic and intellectual elite, the deportment of the clergy was even worse, as Barzun goes on to point out:

          And everywhere the clergy were the most rabid glorifiers of the struggle and inciters to hatred. The Brotherhood of Man and the Thou Shalt Not Kill were no longer preachable… [B]ishops in various countries spoke out for total war. They enlisted God: “He is certainly on our side, because our goals are sinless and our hearts are pure.” The most moderate said: “Kill but do not hate.” One English preacher spoke of “the wrath of the Lamb” and another speculated that although Jesus would not have become a combatant, he would have enlisted in the Medical Corps.

          But, as Barzun continues, even though the “20C fury recalled the wars of religion,” in “1914 religion was no longer a prime aggressive impulse” and “not before 1914 was the flush of blood lust seen on the whole intellectual class.”

          1. jake chase

            On the other hand, you have Henry Ford, who people think of as an anti-Semite and a fascist, who did everything he could to stop the War.

            Have you read his autobiography? Nobody ever had a better understanding of bankers. That is why he never went public or borrowed any money. It took less than ten years for his descendants to totally fuck up his company.

          2. LizinOregon

            Unraveling the common thread of human atrocities leads inevitably to tribal identity. But without a strong attachment to some group, the individual is left with the lonely burden of always swimming against the tide. I think we can try to understand the past and pretend to predict the future, but cannot hope to make sense of the time we live in because we are the actors who are creating it.

      3. tongorad

        Thank you for mentioning my comment, from Mexico, I am truly honored as I admire your writing on this forum so very much.

      4. nonclassical

        …it’s also known as “Black-White” DUALITY…which is an imperfect point of view, used primarily by reductionists and power monger-manichean-“ends justifies means” advocates…view Hitler-George W Bush propaganda, as perpetrated by “Rendon Group”=John Rendon…as shown here:

        The Man Who Sold the War
        Meet John Rendon, Bush’s general in the propaganda war

      5. Dan Kervick

        Early Christianity doesn’t seem to have had much to do with ministering to humanity’s material needs. It was an apocalyptic cult based on renunciation and waiting for the end of the world. Only after Constantine perverted it into a Greco-Roman style religion of praying to gods for military victories and the like did it turn into a quasi-worldly faith.

  4. der

    When violence is directed toward the state and state supported corporate interests then our militarized police forces will certainly, aggressively, dial up state violence. I agree that a general strike is unlikely mostly for the reason that we’re inculcated to see success as an individual effort. Violence, random or otherwise, will come as a one on one action to self-survival, the have-nots taking from the have just a little more than.

    Pierce writes of it as Stand Your Ground vigilantism:

    On the streets, we are being trained paradoxically to both submit to the authority of the police, and to take the law into our own hands, if necessary, because the police cannot possibly protect us from every danger. Stand Your Ground, though it played no role in the Zimmerman trial per se, is vigilantism hallowed by legislation. That’s all it is. This does nothing but produce a national schizophrenia about crime and fear and weaponry that we inevitably act out.

    1. ambrit

      Dear der;
      It looks increasingly like the organs of State violence are proactively applying ‘maximum coercive force’ against even peaceful and societally accepted forms of protest. See the police response to the feminist protest in Virginia recently as highlighted by skippy. A little overt psychological bullying has become the norm. When will it go over to overt physical bullying, unprovoked? That’s going to be the testing point.

      1. from Mexico

        There exist two equally old and time-honored traditions concerning the basis of political power. One of these — that professed by the likes C. Wright Mills, Max Weber, Voltaire, Clausewitz, Strausz-Hupe, Marx, Bodin, John Stewart Mill, and Stalin — was most succinctly summed up by Mao Tse Tung: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

        However, there exists another tradition and another vocabulary no less old and time-honored, which is that it is the people’s support that lends power to the institutions of a country. This is what Madison meant when he said “all governments rest on opinion.”

        Hannah Arendt fell into this later grouping, which explains why in “On Violence” she wrote: “Rule by sheer violence comes into play where power is being lost.”

        Those, however, who embrace the first tradition — that “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” — probably perceive these as being pretty bleak and hopeless times.

        1. Banger

          Ultimately power does come from brute force at least as we understand it. There are other sorts of power that come from community. However the modern state has sought to destroy community so that those who come to power have more power. In the U.S. there is no need to always use force–they have used the power of science and stage-magic to rule by controlling the collective unconscious to believe that up is down and down is up. Almost all of the mainstream narrative is demonstrably false–yet people, including nearly all of the left accept it as, at least, mainly true.

    2. Jess

      There is a huge misconception among many on the left about Stand Your Ground laws. Granted, there have been times when these laws have been twisted to grant license to acts that had, or were perceived to have, a racist component. But these laws grew out of the absurdity that existed (and still exists) without them. Without a Stand Your Ground law, the rights all reside with the criminal. You, the victim, are required to retreat. The criminal has the right-of-way.

      The classic example is someone being approached by a mugger. Absent SYG, the potential victim is required to retreat and can only exercise a potentially lethal (or even harmful) response AFTER he or she runs out of room to retreat.

      Another classic example: You surprise a thief breaking into your car. You CANNOT attempt to stop him. You must retreat and let him finish the job. (Absent SYG you cannot use potentially harmful or lethal force to protect property, your own or others.) If threatened, it is the victim’s legal obligation and responsibility to defuse the situation by retreating. (Or standing idly by at some “safe” distance.) In jurisdictions without SYG, there have been cases where thieves successfully sued the targets of their crimes for financial compensation for injuries sustained. The criminal was viewed, in the eyes of the law, as the victim. This kind of Kafkaesque, through-the-looking-glass bullshit is what prompted SYG laws in the first place.

      1. LillithMc

        In CA there is only instruction to the jury to be “reasonable” when evaluating the victim while requiring the “aggressor” to retreat or to prove his need to shoot. In contrast to Florida, Martin had the right to stand his ground. Zimmerman, the aggressor, should have stayed in his car or retreated. At trial he had the obligation to prove he was in mortal danger.
        I hope the feds investigate both the obvious racial profiling of Martin using his many tapes from the police on different occasions and the problems with the GOP/ALEC/NRA stand your ground laws passed in all the red states.

      2. Yalt

        In the general case it is not clear who, if anyone, is the “criminal”. Is an older man with a gun, apparently stalking a teenager, a criminal? Or is he an upstanding member of the community carrying out necessary nieghborhood policing activities? Without the telltale shading of the respective skins, who would know?

        Thankfully we don’t have to worry about such subtleties because these laws typically refer to the shooter’s subjective perception of threat without requiring any objective basis for that perception. That allows the application of the law to be more black and white than it might otherwise be.

      3. Lexington

        Yalt’s point about your use of the word “criminal” is spot on, but let’s deconstruct it just a little more.

        When you say “criminal” it is really code for “person of colour”, or “poor person”. When you imagine coming across someone breaking into your car, that’s who that someone is. Strictly speaking someone isn’t a criminal until they have been tried and convicted in a court of law, but to many Americans people of certain racial or ethnic backgrounds and certain socio economic classes are presumptively criminals. And stand your ground, like so many law and order initiatives in the US, is about extending the law to exert every greater social control over them -in this case by giving ordinary citizens -specifically “law abiding”, middle class citizens- the power to act as judge, jury and executioner over their inferiors.

        1. Jess

          Technically, you’re right about the term criminal. After all, on a hot day the guy breaking into your car could just be acting to free a child or pet trapped inside. (Provided, of course, there was a child or pet inside.) And at night, the guy could just be trying to move your car that was blocking his driveway. (If, in fact, you had parked blocking his driveway, which is not at that uncommon in certain communities which are near nightclub hot spots.)

          However, when you’re legally parked on a public street and come out of the restaurant or movie theater to find a guy trying to jack your car, for the purpose of everyday common language and communication, you’re pretty much safe in describing him as a “criminal”.

          1. from Mexico

            @ Jess

            Since when is someone committing a property crime deserving of being shot?

            If you surprise someone burglarizing your car, the appropriate response is to call the police and let them handle it.

            You’re just spouting a bunch of stupid vigilante nonsense, in which a non-violent crime stands a high likelihood of being escalated to a violent confrontation.

            1. Jess

              @ Mexico —
              “Since when is someone committing a property crime deserving of being shot?

              If you surprise someone burglarizing your car, the appropriate response is to call the police and let them handle it.”

              You’re kidding, right? No, I’m afraid you’re not. For you, the criminal has superior rights. I, who has worked hard (sometimes at multiple jobs) just for the ability to drive a reliable car, owe it — OWE IT — to the thief to let him make off with my car or it’s contents. I’ve got a suggestion for the thief: Don’t wanna get shot? Don’t rob people and their cars and homes. But that’s not good enough for you. No, you believe that the criminal has a RIGHT TO ESCAPE. Because, you see, unlike cop shows, cops usually aren’t right around the corner. Even in densely populated urban areas and typical suburbs, police often take 10-20 minutes or more to respond to a call. By then the thief is long gone.

              So what do the police do? Write a report, which you can get within a few days at the local police department — but often only after paying a fee! Then you can get your insurance to pay whatever the residual amount is over and above your deductible, unless your deductible is higher than the damage, in which case you pay the whole thing.

              Got any idea what a replacement airbag costs? About $1,000. Not for a Benz or a Beamer, but for the average car. And that’s not including the installation cost. And you know what?

              a) By your reasoning, the thief has the right to come back the day after your car is fixed and rob it again! Because, again, you — the law-abiding, tax-paying good citizen — cannot or should not protect your property.

              b) Your insurance deductible is usually per-incident, meaning that in this scenario, once again you must go out-of-pocket for the replacement cost.

              c) Insurance claims, esp. repeat claims for the same type of damage, can get your policy canceled or the rate raised.

              d) To prioritize things like food, shelter, medical care, etc., lots of people do not carry “Comprehensive” coverage on their policies, so they have NO coverage for losses due to break-ins and vandalism.

              This is what I mean by the inverted logic that pervades jurisdictions without SYG laws. All the rights belong to the criminal. So how about I exercise those rights? I’m hereby giving Yves permission to give you my email addy. You give me your info — residence location, car license number, etc. Then I’ll come and rob you over and over and over and over again and you promise never to try to stop me and always to settle for just calling the police. (I’m sure this won’t be a problem because evidently you have all the money necessary to continually replace your valuables.)

            2. JCC

              Although this discussion is completely off-topic, you both have valid points:

              1) Standing by and waiting for cops is a complete waste of time and you will rarely, if ever, get your property back or be compensated in any way other than the loss of valuable personal time dealing with police, usually on the order of hours and adding insult to injury, insult even from the police themselves. I say this from more than one incident of direct personal experience.

              2) Shooting someone over a radio theft in your car is a little over the top, to put it mildly. On the other hand, in most states, the thief is protected and there is nothing you can do, including the use of pepper spray, taser, or baseball bat/baton, which in my opinion is far more reasonable and appropriate. But most states do not allow even this if you were not attacked directly.

              Which goes to show how unbalanced our society truly is.

              If I cautiosly “swipe” (download) a bunch of 1’s and 0’s intelligently encoded into 3 minutes of music I face 10’s of thousands of dollars in fines and potential loss of a couple of years of feedom, but if I cautiosly jack the radio out of my neighbor’s car very little, if anything, will ever happen to me.

              People like Mark Ames say that the average worker is cowardly but the fact is the average citizen wants to avoid like the plage both the left and their accusations (and no real organized solutions) and the right with their accusations (and their highly organized “solutions”).

              They just want decent jobs, decent children, decent communities, and decent and reasonable law enforcement. Once 3 out of 4 of these things are gone, there will be a reaction good or bad.

        1. Jess

          Nice try at pulling out the old straw man. No attempt to rebut my arguments about why SYG laws came into being, or the factual situation where they do not exist. SYG is a lot like a person’s right to protect themselves in their homes. “(Every man’s home is his castle.”) Prior to changes in laws, it was possible for people to be charged with, and convicted of, murder or manslaughter for using deadly force against intruders WITHIN their own homes. In times past, you couldn’t shoot an intruder who was trying “just” to steal your TV or other valuables. Inside your own domicile you could not protect your own property, own the lives of you and your family or guests. Upside down, ass-backwards, through-the-looking-glass laws? Absolutely. Now, in most jurisdictions, that has changed. In many areas you can now even use deadly force to protect your valuables outside the house as long at they’re on your property.

          The fact that SOMETIMES, in SOME situations, SYG can either be abused or result in a verdict like the Zimmerman one. There have been many cases of family members accidentally being mistaken for intruders and shoot within the home by other family members. Should it therefore be illegal for homeowners to possess firearms? Most people would answer, “No”. (There are, of course, people who believe that citizens should never, ever, EVER, under any circumstances, own firearms, even if they live in areas of Alaska so remote as be reachable only by plane. Never mind the bears feeding on your livestock and threatening your kids, firearms are always and forever intrinsically bad, bad, bad!)

          1. Jess

            “The fact that SOMETIMES, in SOME situations, SYG can either be abused or result in a verdict like the Zimmerman one.” should have ended with “is being used as the logic to strike down SYG laws.”

            My bad. But edit function would be so nice.

          2. from Mexico

            As the article I linked explained, the Stand Your Ground law is the extension of an ancient law, one which allowed someone to shoot an intruder who had broken into their home:

            It was another wild debasement of existing law, this one dating back to a distinctly American iteration of English common law called “castle doctrine,” where the original duty to retreat was rejected and you had the right to use deadly force if your castle, i.e., dwelling, was invaded, though there were subtle differences state by state. But the gun lobby got cracking in the 1960s and expanded the law to include your lawn and backyard, then, a couple of decades later, your car, as well. Now, with Stand Your Ground, your castle was your person and your right to use deadly force traveled with you.

            I remember many years ago, when I was living in West Texas, there was a doctor who shot and killed a teenage boy. The boy was stealing a battery from the doctor’s car and the doctor shot him from the second story window of his home using a high-powered rifle.

            So let me ask you, was what the doctor did morally justified? It sounds like under Stand Your Ground that what he did would have been legal. But is summary execution an appropriate punishment for someone stealing a car battery?

            1. Jess

              As I said in another reply to you (which may or may not show up at some later time) “You don’t wanna get shot, don’t steal.”

              Although in my personal situation, I would have:

              First, demanded that the thief drop to the ground;

              Second, if he tried to flee, wound him in the leg. (But then again, I’m a pretty damn good shot.)

              Third, if he demonstrated any hostile intent toward me, such as reaching for or brandishing a weapon of his own, I’d put two in his heart and before he hit the ground another in the head. (Like I said, I’m a good shot.)

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                You really think theft justifies murder? Not even the bloody Old Testament stands for that: “an eye for an eye”.

                So why don’t you go kill Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein or Joe Cassano? You’re wasting your vigilante energy on the wrong targets.

                I lived in NYC in the bad old days, when pickpocketing and other types of theft were common. But no one was worried about their personal safety, even people who had break-ins. These guys just wanted your stuff, they weren’t interested in killing or hurting you. People carried mugger money, $10 or $20 they’d hand to a robber in case they were accosted.

                You’ve said you don’t even believe they are threats, just robbers, but you feel justified in blowing them away. That’s depraved.

                Plus you are kidding yourself that your precious pop-shooter is any protection if you were to get a hardened criminal pissed off at you. Being good at a practice range or hunting has no relationship to using a weapon in a real life situation. Even cops, who generally have their weapons drawn before going into a hostile encounter, hit their targets only about 15-20% of the time (cops have a higher success rate because they travel in pairs, usually have their weapons drawn and aimed in advance, and can call in backup if they really get in trouble).

                And they’ve studied how effective guns are. The short answer is not very. The Tueller Rule, based on numerous studies, is that within 21 feet, an assailant can get to you before you will get your weapon out and aimed. And cops have them in holsters, far more accessible than they’d be to you.

                Try pulling out a weapon, and a serious bad guy will kick you in the groin or ribs (crushing your liver or spleen depending on how he decided to aim) or gouge your eyes out, and for the encore, slam your head into the pavement and crack your skull open. But be my guest. Try escalating a fight with a robber. Maybe you’ll be right, but if he’s a real criminal, you are the one more likely to wind up dead.

                This advice, BTW, comes from folks who helped develop the hand to hand combat course for the Navy Seals and now teach cops, the FBI, and interested laypeople, and they study tapes of prison fights and police encounters. So the scenario above isn’t theory, it’s what often happens.

                1. Dave


                  I just noticed your response to Jess after I wrote my response to you. You are seriously overestimating the competency of cops! Many are capable, but many are not. Many are a danger to themselves, their fellow cops, and the citizens they serve. They should not be allowed to carry guns. On the other hand, many of my civilian friends are far more capable to defending themselves and others than are many cops. Blanket statements and policies are for governments; they have an agenda.

                  “Just give them what they want.” “Then they will go away!” It is not quite that simple when one is dealing with a sociopath, and there are a lot of them. Freedom of choice fits here too. If one’s freedom to have the means to defend one’s self is denied because of some blanket statement by some element of power in society, then we have lost

                  We then have returned to the law of the jungle, where the strongest and most ruthless rule by violence. The firearm is the only effective available equalizer and it makes the weakest woman equal to the strongest and most vicious man. The police do not protect people except in a matter of pure happenstance. What they do is arrive after the event and take pictures of the mess. Then they try to catch the bad guys before they do it again.

                  1. Moneta

                    When I read comments like these, I get depressed. I am astounded at the depravity in the US.

                    Whys is it that in Canada and Europe, we generally don’t feel the need to carry arms? We can generally walk around anywhere without being afraid of getting robbed or attacked.

                    Why is that? Is it because we have more equality? Gated communities are frowned upon. We believe that it takes a village to raise a child.

                    You know what I find really depressing? It’s that I see the American way of doing things creeping up on us. Gated communities are popping here and there. Our prime minister is accelerating the process with his neoliberal or neocon policies. Inequality has ballooned… it is still being masked by a real estate bubble where equity is making the low middle class do stupid things. But it is appearing here while most do not see it and I have no clue how to stop it.

                    1. Inverness

                      Right on. Creeping neo-liberalism has hit Canada. Even Quebec, which pretends to be so progressive and socialist, has been cutting their $7.00 day cares and unemployment budgets, and throwing in some nationalism to divert attention away from the reality that Pauline Marois is right-wing.

                2. Yves Smith Post author


                  I have more knowledge of this terrain than you might think.

                  1. There are pretty clear indicators of social (male posturing) and economically motivated crimes versus anti-social violence. They stop talking. If they are still talking, it’s still a social interaction. Even a crime can be a social interaction. If it’s social, you may be able to keep it social. Plus you may have no better options:


                  2. As I indicated, guns are far better at getting your loved ones killed in your house than in any kind of self defense. Even cops have trouble using them well in the heat of battle. If someone is in close proximity to you and has bad intent, you are not going to get your weapon out in time to hold him off. Not even close.

                  If you are serious about self defense, take a course taught by people who teach law enforcement professionals. And not martial arts, that’s a sport.

                  1. Dave


                    Thanks for your advice on seeking instruction from professionals. I’m way ahead of you though. For the past 30 years I have been inventing and selling them a few of their favorite tools. Some of my closest friends are prominent weapons and tactics instructors for the FBI, Secret Service, Seal Teams and Delta Force. In some cases I am not particularly proud of this, as some organizations such as SWAT teams and other groups have totally corrupted their original ideals. Nevertheless, I have taken instruction on a regular basis and it has been one on one and free of charge in all cases.

                    You are right about martial arts, as they are not of that much value in reality.
                    These guys deal in reality though, and the reality is that they cannot protect us from violence, simply because they cannot be there at all times. There is an old saying in my social community. “I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.”

                    If you carry a gun, at least you have the option of using it if it comes down to a life or death situation. Freedom of choice again. Of course, one most certainly must have instruction in rules of safety and proper use. Concealed carry permits always require an extensive background check and basic instruction. Blanket statements and policies by government and well meaning individuals restrict this freedom of choice.

                    It is sad that we live in a society that is saturated with the mentality of violence. My visits to western Canada always give me a glimmer of hope. But the reality is that we do live in a culture of violence. Our children are almost constantly entertained by the same computer games our military uses to de-sensitize soldiers to killing. TV and action movies present lethal violence as a normal solution to many problems. Our wonderful country has been fucked up by the mass media and other factors in more ways than one!

                  2. Dave

                    To the moderator:

                    It appears that the truth is way too uncomfortable for this forum. A real discussion is not just preaching to the choir. It involves civilized disagreement and tolerance for diversity. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to present my points of view!

                  3. Jess

                    “guns are far better at getting your loved ones killed in your house than in any kind of self defense.”

                    The studies that presumably make up the basis for that statement have been discredited because they did not segregate out houses and homes used for or by people engaged in criminal activity, most notably drug dealing. And those studies usually linked having a gun in the home to being shot — but NOT by your own gun. (Granted, that does happen from time to time, but it is not nearly as prevalent as the gun-banishment folks would have you believe.)

                    What’s interesting about this debate is a story that was on HuffPo earlier this week. A former husband was shot dead by his ex-wife in their former family home 15 minutes — FIFTEEN MINUTES — after they left court where a judge slapped the guy with an injunction not to come near his former wife. In this particular case, after he broke down the front door she retreated to the bedroom and only after he broke down that door did she shot and kill him. By your reasoning, she should have never had the gun in the first place, leaving her these options:

                    a) Wait however long it took for the cops to get there, and quite possibly being killed before then.

                    b) Climbing out a window and trying to outrun her obviously enraged, adrenaline-pumped up husband. Good luck with that. (Not to mention the idea that fleeing would have left any children in the house at their psycho father’s not so tender mercies.)

                    BTW, just to clear the record of any lingering doubts:

                    a) I am not, and have never been, a member of the NRA and I have nothing but disgust for their stance against background checks and their shilling for the firearms industry.

                    b) I have been a registered Democrat all my life (although after Obama’s betrayals my Dem status merely reflects my desire to vote in the state legislative primaries for my district). In fact, I’m such a racist whacko gun-nut cracker that I worked in Tom Bradley’s first campaign for mayor of L.A. (For those not aware, that would be BLACK Tom Bradley). Among my other liberal bona-fides are volunteering in the campaigns of JFK, RFK, and McGovern, plus over two decades of activism with local initiative and referendum campaigns fighting over-development and bond-issue boondoggles.

                3. Jess

                  “I lived in NYC in the bad old days, when pickpocketing and other types of theft were common. But no one was worried about their personal safety, even people who had break-ins. These guys just wanted your stuff, they weren’t interested in killing or hurting you. People carried mugger money, $10 or $20 they’d hand to a robber in case they were accosted.”

                  So, in effect, the robber has a right to your money or belongings without resistance? Then why do you refer to that time as “the bad old days”? Seems to me that was your perfect world: poor thieves took your money with impunity, no threat of suffering harm, and all was right with the world. $10 or $20 was just “mad money” for you Wall Street types but you made no mention of the people for whom $10 or $20 was a lot of money, enough to buy milk and groceries for the kids, enough to ride the subway to their job for an entire month, etc. And in those days, $10 or $20 bought a lot. Today the equivalent would be what, $50 and $100?

                  And, like the example given of the doctor who shot the kid breaking into his car, you believe that it is the sole responsibility of the crime victim to assess what is the appropriate, or potential, result of any response to the crime? The doctor has to ask, “Is it worth killing some one over a battery?” but the thief NEVER has to ask, “Is a battery worth getting killed over?” That’s how it’s supposed to work?

                  Let’s examine the motivational aspects of the crime: If the thief needed the battery because he’s poor and the battery to his car died, perhaps that mitigates his crime. But it also begs the question, “What does he need his own car for?” If it’s to drive to work or the store/pharmacy for food and medicine for his family, then that’s more mitigation. Conversely, what if he just wants to be able to cruise around, go over to his chick’s crib to get laid, hang with some buds and smoke some weed? (Not that I think there is anything wrong with smoking weed, but let’s face it, that reason pales against the others I’ve mentioned.) Or what if he needs to battery for his car so he can pull off a robbery or deliver some dope to a buyer?

                  Now let’s turn it around and look at the doctor’s perspective:

                  Why should he devote 12 years of studying and a grueling internship to become a doctor, incurring mountains of debt in the process, only to arrive at a position where he has to let a thief steal the battery out of the his own car in his own driveway?

                  What if the doctor gets an emergency call, what if he is a neurosurgeon or a key member of a heart-transplant team and suddenly his special skills are needed, but he is delayed (or even prevented) from getting to the hospital or patient in time because his car won’t start and he has to get a friend, neighbor, cab, etc?

                  What if the patient who dies, or suffers irreversible brain damage, is a close friend or relative of yours? What if it was Lambert? Glenzilla? Naomi Klein? Edward Snowden?

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    You’ve just proven my point to have to resort to such strained hypotheticals.

                    It is depraved to think that theft of property justifies killing someone. Period. Depraved. Take your sick world views and go pollute another site.

            2. Dave

              You are absolutely right that the doctor had no moral or legal right to shoot. I hope that the doctor got life without parole.

              In the Florida M vs Z case though, Mr. Martin’s constitutional right to attempt to bash the brains out on the pavement of someone who irritated him was violated by Mr. Zimmerman.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                The idea that Martin was a threat to Zimmerman was never established. Zimmerman had no serious injuries and the angle of the gunshot that entered Martin could be explained by theories other than that offered by the defense.

                There are really obvious reasons why SYG is a bad idea: male posturing. Guys get in bar fights all the time, and one slugs the other and one guy falls and cracks his head on the floor or the bar and winds up dead.

                The Zimmerman verdict has just officially opened up hunting season on minorities. Some white dude accosts black/Hispanic dude and utters a racial slur. Black/Hispanic dude gives him some lip back. White dude escalates and starts getting verbally abusive, maybe gets in black/Hispanic dude’s face. Black dude backs away and reaches into pocket to pull out cell phone. White dude shoots, claims later he thought black/Hispanic dude was pulling out a gun whether or not he actually felt threatened.

                Rinse and repeat.

                You might as well call it “legalized ethnic cleansing”

                1. Dave


                  Zimmerman had “no serious injuries” YET. As you pointed out in the next paragraph about the bar fight though, “one guy falls and cracks his head on the floor and winds up dead”.

                  Considering “ethnic cleansing”, black folks have a legal right to buy and own guns, just like white folks, and they do. (unless they are a convicted felon of course) When they use these guns on either whites or blacks, there is usually no mention of race. Quite the contrary when whites use them on blacks. Another case of the media trying to create a frenzy.

                  All indications are that Zimmerman is (was) a wanna be cop and a fool. He did not physically attack Martin though. Martin violently attacked Zimmerman evidently just because he felt offended. He was using a deadly weapon, the pavement, apparently to try to remove Zimmerman’s brains from his skull.

                  I would submit that you and many others have been watching too much TV and too many action flicks. They do not begin to accurately portray the ugliness and sometimes brain damaging or even fatal results of a severe beating inflicted in an unyielding environment such as a city street or sidewalk.

                  1. LucyLulu

                    When they use these guns on either whites or blacks, there is usually no mention of race

                    Perhaps not, but if they are caught, they are arrested, convicted, and sentenced to prison. They aren’t acquitted, much less released the same night without an investigation or being charged.

                  2. Inverness

                    Dave, Zimmerman did not physically attack Martin? After stalking him in a van (if you’ve never been stalked by somebody, it is frightening), He SHOT him. To death.

                    Martin was trying to stand his ground, after being psychologically terrorized by a vigilante. Had Zimmerman not done that, nor been emboldened by SYG laws, that boy would be alive today.

      4. facethemusic

        There’s a logical flaw in your statement:

        “Without a Stand Your Ground law, the rights all reside with the criminal. You, the victim, are required to retreat. The criminal has the right-of-way.”

        Both people walking down the street have the rights you speak of. It’s only after one of them assaults the other that you can call them a criminal. Until something happens, both people have the right of way. SYG seems to allow a pre-emptive defensive strike, to something that may or may not be there.

        1. Jess

          “Both people walking down the street have the rights you speak of. It’s only after one of them assaults the other that you can call them a criminal. Until something happens, both people have the right of way. SYG seems to allow a pre-emptive defensive strike, to something that may or may not be there.”

          Wrong. SYG only allows you to SYG after you have been threatened. Two folks walking opposite directions, both have equal rights. But absent SYG, once the other guy pulls a gun or a knife or a lead pipe and demands your money, he has the right-of-way. You must retreat and/or fork over to avoid confrontation. It is your responsibility to insure that the situation does not escalate. Forget the guy aspect; if you engage in hand-to-hand combat with the guy, you’re liable for his injuries because you didn’t comply with his demands and/or retreat or flee. This is the absurdity of jurisdictions without SYG laws.

          1. Jess

            Should be “forget the gun aspect”.

            Can we please have an edit function? Pretty please?

          2. Lambert Strether

            Wrong. Not “have been threatened.” Feel threatened. Unfortunately, racists tend to feel threatened by black people. CNN:

            A Florida man charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a [black] teenager amid an argument over loud music at a gas station pleaded not guilty Monday.

            Michael Dunn, 45, entered his plea during a hearing Monday morning at the Duval County, Florida, jail.

            Dunn told investigators he fired at a car in which Jordan Davis, 17, and three of his friends were sitting because he felt threatened by them. No guns were found inside the teens’ car, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.

            So, if open season on black people sounds like a good idea to you, by all means support lost cause “stand your ground” laws.

            1. Jess

              And you’ll notice the man has been charged with murder. That’s what gets the whole SYG issue confused. As I understand it, any SYG defense predicated on the idea of “feeling threatened” rests on having some valid reason, such as the presence of a weapon, menacing behavior, etc.

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  6. middle seaman

    Hedges mentions the Swedish success of eliminating poverty in the 80s. This success belongs to Social Democrats which, in this country, means the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party before Reagan. Social Democrats don’t equate with socialism. Socialism which, at least most of its 20th century life, means a very limited capitalistic economy. We know that system doesn’t work.

    The left has weakened drastically during the late 20th century years and since then. The US is not alone in that. The Israeli left deteriorated to almost a joke. Many European countries went the same way.

    The US left became increasingly frustrated with its inability to respond to popular affinity to low level affluence. It became Tea Party left. Hate became a major factor in everything. They gang raped Hillary. They abandoned labor unions, they rejected poor whites, they hated everything right wing and developed a racial rejection towards Israel that was copied from its European equivalent whose source, mainly a Millennium of European Anti-Semitism.

    Uprisings don’t help. Million demonstrated, with limited violence, in Madrid, Athens and Tel Aviv. The rich couldn’t care less. The Arab Spring, a historical and universal achievement of the Arab youth, has been kidnapped by Fundamentalists.

    In the two segments so far, Hedges provides important information, but his prescription for solutions are awfully misplaced.

    1. Chris Rogers

      Hugh Sir,

      Sorry to rain on your parade, but most left-of-centre parties in Western Europe were founded on Socialist, as opposed to Communist, foundations and principles – as an example, within Germany from the states founding in 1871, and until the mid 1950’s the German SDP group was an avowed Socialist movement – the KDP, an off shoot of the SPD, was an avowed Communist Party.

      Here in the UK, the Labour Party founded at the beginning of the 20th Century was an openly Socialist and progressive movement – even if its leaders when in power failed to honour Clause IV of the party’s constitution.

      The UK Labour Party under one Tony Blair ceased to be an avowed Socialist/Labour Party with the removal of Clause IV in the mid-1990’s – the rest is history, for as with the US Democratic Party, the UK’s Labour Party is as addicted to neoliberal economics and self serving careerist politicians as the Democrat Party.

      The German SPD had its Blair moment in the 1950’s, but was still a credible left-of-centre progressive movement well in to the 1990’s – not so now I’m afraid.

      In a nutshell, most Northern European left-of-centre political groupings favoured whats referred too as a ‘mixed-economy’ with state and private enterprises – Southern European nations, among them France, have a somewhat different history as far as Communism and left-of-centre political groupings are concerned, much of this religious-based, namely the Catholic Church.

      Whilst its been a while since I’ve studied European comparative politics, you had common threads in Europe in the more Northern states.

      Its all interesting stuff, but Communism, not to be conflated with Socialism or social democratic movements, was always more stronger in the Southern European nations – we should discount Weimar Germany’s experience, which was an exception to the rule as politics became more polarised due to economic dislocation.

      What is a fact, and one usually well hidden from the US populace, is how brutally repressed anything with a hint of left-of-centre smell to it was in the USA, this from the time of the Irish diaspora through to the treatment of OWS.

      Its truly shocking now that Nixon could be accused of being a Socialist by those running both the Dems and Republican’s presently – which gives an indication of how much to the right US politics has moved in less than 40 years, and this trend coincides with the ascendency of the economic philosophy now referred too as ‘neoliberalism’, which in reality is a backwards looking system of governance and economics born out of the Victorian era – it really should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

      As for myself, born and raised in the South Wales valleys of the UK, I have no issue calling myself a Socialist, which is a philosophy again that favours a so called ‘mixed-economy’ wedded to a strong welfare state – I’m certainly no Communist, although have o issues with much of Marx and Engels output, as well as many other noted left-of-centre progressives and revolutionaries of the later part of the nineteenth century.

      1. from Mexico

        That’s a great comment, but I think socialists have to do some really profound self-examination and soul searching.

        Lawrence Goodwyn, for instance, in The Populist Moment renders a rather harsh criticism of socialism:

        On the available evidence, twentieth-century people around the globe are paying a high price for their submission to the hierarchical languages of political analysis that have grown out of the visions of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The problem that will doubtless interest future historians is not so much the presence, in the twentieth century, of mass political alienation, but the passivity with which the citizenry accepted that condition.


        But while American socialists, for reasons they themselves did not cause, can be seen in retrospect as never having had a chance, they can be severely faulted for the dull dogmatism and political adolescence of their response to this circumstance… [I]ndividual righteousness and endless sectarian warfare over ideology came to characterize the politics of a creed rigidified in the prose of nineteenth-century prophets. As a body of political ideas, socialism in America — as in so many other countries — never developed a capacity for self-generating creativity. It remained in intellectual servitude to sundry “correct” interpretations by sundry theorists — mostly dead theorists — even as the unfolding history of the twentieth century raised compelling new questions about the most difficult political problem facing mankind: the centralization of power in highly technological societies. If it requires an army responsive to a central political committee to domesticate the corporate state, socialism has overwhelmingly failed to deal with the question of who, in the name of democratic values, would domesticate the part and the army. In the face of such a central impasse, it requires a rather grand failure of imagination to sustain the traditional socialist faith.

        Perhaps this is what Hedges means when he speaks of the “inability to articulate a viable socialism.”

        1. Moneta

          One of the issues I see hindering the liberals in North America is their focus on materialism.

          What I have noticed is that those of a conservative mindset tend to see the pie as limited in size and those of a liberal mindset tend to think that the size of the pie can be unlimited. Admittedly, there are those with a conservative mindset who do think resources are unlimited but their primary goal is often to corner the markets so they can control a bigger portion of the pie and this caps the size of the pie.

          I believe the pie can be unlimited but not as long as our money and economic systems are primarily based on hard goods and materialism.

          I think the liberals will always lose when the resources become scarce within the scope of the economic system at the time. When the hard assets got scarce in Europe, we got the righties digging their heels and mass exodus.

          Now that all land is owned in the US, we are slowly seeing a creeping rentier society. And globally, there is not much more land to go to that is free for the taking.

          Materialism individualism will need to shrink for our situation to improve. I am optimistic humanity will improve and technology will help but I don’t think this will happen with 7 billion people on the planet.

          1. Dave

            We need to put birth control chemicals in the water! Personally, I would tax children rather than greedy capitalists.

        2. Yalt

          I have a different impression of US labor history. “Bread and roses” in Lawrence, those iconic “I am a Man” signs in Memphis, the Wobbly soapboxes in Spokane…all pretty creative if you ask me, and hardly passive.

          “Intellectual subservience to sundry correct interpretations?” Not down in the trenches, where it mattered.

          1. Lexington

            Goodwyn’s point is perhaps not inaccurate when discussing the history of socialism in America, but you’re point is equally well taken: history isn’t destiny.

          2. from Mexico

            @ Yalt

            Your take sounds closer to that of Reinhold Niebuhr:

            The American labor movement was almost completely bereft of the ideological weapons, which the rebellious industrial masses of Europe carried. In its inception it disavowed not only Marxist revolutionary formulas but every kind of political program. It was a pragmatic movement, born of the necessity of setting organized power against organized power in a technical society. Gradually it became conscious of the fact that economic power does try to bend government to its own ends. It has, therefore, decided to challenge a combination of political and economic power with a like combination of its own…

            More recently, housing, medicine and social security have become matters of public and political policy. All this has been accomplished on a purely pragmatic basis, without the ideological baggage which European labor carried.

            –REINHOLD NIEBUHR, The Irony of American History

            Niebuhr may not be an unbiased source, though, because he was a member of the Socialist Party up until 1940. Niebuhr’s break with the Socialist Party, however, was related to pacifism, and not specifically due to labor or welfare society issues. Niebuhr had been a pacifist, but his position had changed so that it was no longer reconcilable with that of the anti-war Socialist Party. It was also over the issue of pacifism where the Rev. Martin Luther King parted ways with Niebuhr.

            1. Yalt

              No, that is not my take.

              Niebuhr’s use of the term “baggage” is telling. The Wobblies were as principled, as “ideological” in the true sense of the word, as any labor movement I can think of. “Bread and roses,” the demand for the satisfaction of spiritual and not just of material needs, was anything but pragmatic. The Seattle free-speech soapbox action was a sophisticated civil demonstration and a deeply political act.

              Their deeply-held principles, their ideology, gave them a moral power that organized US labor has never regained. For Niebuhr this is “baggage”.

              There’s a reason he found it so easy to make his piece with the militarists, and there are few people I would less want to see my views conflated with.

        3. Chris Rogers

          @Down Mexico,

          Can I first refer you to a post I made in yesterday’s comments on Hedges first Real News interview, namely, due to the elaborate language he utilised in his opening missive, he’d already lost the argument due to the fact that if you are from a non-universiry educational background most would not have a clue what he was talking about – I do not blame a persons ignorance on them personally though, this issue has much to do with the education system and other modern distractions – this applies in equal measure in the UK and USA.

          Further, and when you reference ‘socialism’, it seems to me you always do this from the vantage point of having read it in a academic book, rather than actually lived or experienced it.

          To be perfectly honest, I do not believe you can learn about socialism from a book or academic study – socialism must be in the heart and learned from real life experiences and real life struggles and only the poor, or, as I refer to it, the working class, can have a true and meaningful understanding of what socialism is, and again this is learn’t from real life experiences – for this and this alone, I’d always rather read Thomas Paine, than anything written by the supposed great minds of political philosophy, i.e., I cannot abide John Locke.

          Now, you are instructing members of the working class, whom many would believe should be well versed in socialism, to re-evaluate what socialism and left-of-centre politics is about, this despite the fact that the vast majority are not versed is such matters. And this is because, on the whole, the State denies them an education whereby by they can be versed in left-of-centre political philosophies, never mind, there own history and contribution to the formation of the USA, both prior and after 1776.

          Further, in the USA at least, talk of the working class is avoided, i.e., as far as I can tell, the USA has no working class, you are either middle class or blue collar – but never working class.

          This I find strange, for where I grew up, we were all fully aware of what class we belonged too and the socialism and working class solidarity I often refer too originated in actual real and oppressed communities, where working class solidarity was essential if we were to better ourselves and reverse class injustice – to all extent and purposes, one is talking about ‘communtarianism’, which our friend Rousseau discussing in much of his own output.

          Now, as highlighted, and thankfully I was lucky enough to have a good education paid for by the state, whilst I may be able to cotton on to much of the debate, dialogue and academic-based research and philosophy many here highlight continually, the fact remains, that many of those who are required to combine forces to change matters, be this by legal means, or revolutionary means, to be frank, have little idea what many are discussing on these boards – and yet, these are ‘socialists’, they just do not understand it because class and education are denied in the USA and many other nations.

          Anyway, that’s my two bobs worth, but, its no good preaching to the converted and highlighting how well read we are and expect revolutionary change, if those forces that can bring about said change cannot understand us – might as well speak in Latin.

          So, I do not think left-of-centre grouping, namely the working classes need to re-evaluate themselves – progressives and academics perhaps, the working class that’s denied a class consciousness certainly cannot do that – and these are your socialists and the vanguard necessary for a better tomorrow.

          1. charles sereno

            Just came late upon this discussion and was impressed (and maybe missed some of it). I see several viewpoints, not particularly contradictory, though typically ones employing the kind of arguments that lead to non-productive cat fights. One bit that I can add based on experience is this — the “masses” (or fill in the blank) are not unattracted to the intellectual elite, on one condition. That condition being that the person espousing views, (even when offensive to those they currently follow), has risen up from their own background and have experienced enough of it to understand how they think. Once that happens, they swell with pride and are eager to learn new ways. This is the makings of a true revolution. The acid test of a leader is this — Does he/she fully comprehend that one’s own competence in a particular area must be accompanied by a quest for leaders in many other areas?
            The problem Chris Hedges has (not his fault) is that his audience doesn’t suspect how much he’s shared their own experiences.

    2. digi_owl

      I suspect the academic left in the Nordics and elsewhere were too effective at selling the message of education as a road to a high wage.

      To take my home country of Norway, the supposed labor party has become something of a bureaucrat’s party. And their “socialist” splinter party has mostly focused on students, academia and foreign issues.

      In its place has risen a populist right wing party focused on entrepreneurship and the myth of the self made man. Meaning that there is no political party that think about the industrial and service worker from their own point of view.

      It is either from the professional administrator/bureaucrat point of view, or the budding business man point of view (where the laborer becomes a one man business doing contract/consultant work rather than wage work).

    3. Massinissa

      Parts of your post are sort of facepalm.

      Firstly, what is wrong with not supporting that center right clown Hillary? Do you really still think she would have been any different than Obama? Or Bill Clinton for that matter?

      And the antipathy towards part of the left of Israel, which by the way is certainly a minority (DiFi is part of the ‘left’ for gods sakes! Shes practically Israel’s representative to the Senate!), is most certainly not based on racial grounds. To suggest as such is a thorough misdirection and strawman, and quite insulting.

      Though I agree with most of the rest of the post, with the exception of your attitudes towards socialism, which Rogers debunks far more ably than I.

    4. Banger

      Most social-democrats are described as being proponents of a managed economy. You allow capitalism to thrive where it thrives best and you guarantee that citizens do not suffer from deprivation. When capitalism goes awry you stem pin. Scandinavia was never socialist–it always had capitalism at the center of the economy.

    5. Tokai Tuna

      I thought the Arab spring was promoted by NGOs and the like, but billed as an authentic youth uprising. Fundamentalists are fine as long as they still behave like Mubarak did. Behave as ‘Murica prefers and we’ll call it a Democratic incubator of Jeffersonian Fundamentalism, the weapons and money are on the way – it’s getting harder to buy people off these days.
      Part of the problem with the “American Tinderbox” is the torrent of misinformation and propaganda aimed at everyone. Right next to Hedges columns for example, you’ll see Eugene Robinson, who chops out the type and posts a civil whimper of protest. Starbucks readin’.

      1. Yalt

        I suspect it was both at the same time–that was certainly the case in the Ukraine, where the great majority of the Orange demonstrators were blissfully unaware of the fact that the movement they embodied was being funded by and steered from the West.

        It’s not so different here–our local Tea Party crowd really believes they’re a genuine grassroots movement set off by a completely unscripted and impromptu television rant. They know nothing about the Kochs, if you told them they wouldn’t believe you, if they believed you they wouldn’t care.

    6. OIFVet

      Respectfully, that which you describe as “left” is nothing more than a faction of the neoliberal movement. Faux “progressives” of the MSNBC variety are nothing more than useful stooges for the official narrative which seeks to convince us that the Democrat party is a leftist party, that Obama is the best thing since sliced bread, that there is an actual alternative to the neoliberal sociopathy which is leading us into the serfdom of the new Dark Age. And I refuse to recognize anyone named Clinton as a leftist, what with NAFTA, Graham-Leach-Bliley, and the unhealthy Rubinite dependency…

      1. Massinissa

        AMEN. My thoughts exactly.

        I fail to see why some ‘leftists’ are STILL upset that Obama beat that Rubinite Hillary. For those folks, whenever Obama does something bad, they say, “Ah, Hillary would have been so much better!” with absolutely no evidence at all that she would have done anything different. Its sort of nauseating to me.

          1. Synopticist

            I don’t agree with that. I think Clinton would have been a fair bit better than Obama. Obama is a centre-right corporatist, Clinton’s a centrist.

            But the big difference is she would have understood that there was no room for compromise with the republicans. Obama is a bit of a pussy basically, whereas Clinton isn’t, and shew also understands the need to keep your base happy, which in her case included unions.

            1. OIFVet

              Lesser evilism again. Really?! Let me guess, her Secretary of Energy will be Ed Rendell… No thanks. And I will never buy the “Obama is a pussy” meme, he gets precisely what he wants.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Yup, different puppets; same string-pullers, same show. Obama is puppet V2.0, artificial sentience, apparently without conscience or soul.

  7. Tenney Naumer

    It is utterly amazing how the introduction of fracking has galvanized Americans on both sides of the political divide. Anti-fracking movemnts are growing like wildfire across the country and they are also partnering with the anti-pipeline movements. People are looking at the role of city and county governments like never before. The battle between ordinary people and oil and gas companies and all the campaign money flowing in to state legislators have awoken the passive public.e

  8. MikeNY

    As it’s said in politics, things can move quickly from the impossible to the inevitable, without stopping at the probable.

    If we keep pumping a million or more college graduates into the workforce every year without decent prospects for employment, very soon we will have a critical mass of 10+ million who may be ready simply to “withdraw from the system”. Young, educated, indebted, and unemployed.

    I believe, of course, that power will try to cling to power: when social unrest emerges, the federal government will find the money for a massive jobs program. It’s the least risky option, the most conservative, for the plutocracy.

  9. Skeptic

    I wonder what role Professional Sports (including NCAA) and the Entertainment Complex (including Iphones, Ipads, other entertainment devices) play in the Pacification of America. Seems most folks have their entertainment if nothing else.

    Professional Sports all have virtual Monopolies granted by government fiat. They all get huge government tax subsidies either directly through stadia financing or other means. Every city in America has its team. Many of these teams are owned by Wall Street types or hedge fund guys (Boston Red Sox). Bernie Madoff was using NY Mets to get clients. The airwaves are full of Sportz Talk. Every newscast has its Sportz Update. The only alternative commentator I have ever heard really go after Professional Sportz is Alex Jones.

    Universities too have all their Sportz, generally acting as feeders into the Big Money Sportz. Many Latin Perfessors will tell you that Sportz runs the University.

    If I am not mistaken, is that not an ADIDAS shirt Tsarnaev is wearing on the cover of Rolling Stone? ADIDAS one of the biggest domestic and international Sportz suppliers and advertisers. So even Tsarnaev has been Sportz brainwashed? I have seen this many times. Michael Moore wearing Sportz hats. I have seen demonstrators at labor rallies wearing NYYankees hats. NYYankees, the team of Wall Street.

    Then there are numerous Progressives and Liberals who all have their favorite teams. Really remarkable, they do not even understand the link between Sportz, the State and the Great Deterioration. No, they need their lighter moment at the ballpark where they can forget, guzzle ten dollar beers and be advertised to.

    Then there’s Hollywood, Disney, and all the Entertainment conglomerates who control that Industry. Not exactly Occupy material.

    Lastly, all the Tech Toyz. Ipads, phones, Facebooks, etc. to divert and entertain us all on the way down. Get all the latest Sportz scores and Celeb Chatter. Cheaply too. If things get really bad, the 1% can just give free sat TV and the newest Apple trinket to the 99% and just keep on truckin’. Just like buying Manhattan for $24! Maybe throw in a ticket to the BIG GAME.(Obummah gave away free cellphones.)

    Why are Sportz, Entertainment, Tech Toyz all ignored as factors in the Pacification of America? Is it because we all have our favorite teams, conglomeratized entertainments and Tech Toyz? Seems that there is one Big Elephant no one is mentioning.

    So, being from Boston, go Red Sox, Patriots (there’s a name a revolutionary can love), Celtics, Bruins, BC Eagles, Harvard Crimson,…. etc.

    What’s your favorite team or TV show or Tech Toy?

    When is NC going to have a Sportz Section?

    1. Boston Scrod

      Skeptic doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that our founders freed us from the yoke of colonial oppression so that we could use our hard won freedom to commit our lives to the enjoyment of spectacle and entertainment, both real and virtual. Wake up and smell the coffee, man!

    2. mark worden

      Neil Postman: Amusing ourselves to Death. comes to mind.

      not to mention….bread and circuses

    3. Adam Noel

      Good comment and one with many here agree. This is why I am completely fatalistic about change coming as long as the entertainment-media nexus exists. No change can occur because change would entail missing Glee, The Kardashians or the Football game.

      From an evolutionary perspective the current system is novel. This system, through pursuit of the profit motive, has been optimized (selection of products that produce the most profit will result in more of those products. These products, if they are to be extra-profitable, most exploit psychology in some shape or form) to override our instincts and drive consumerism.

      To a certain degree even those who profess to be proponents of change (Michael Moore, etc) view such events as “just fun” while they are nothing like the sporting events, plays, etc of the century prior. These events, once you are plugged into them, are marketing machines optimized to ensure you keep coming back.

      Huxley is ultimately more right then Orwell. Most people read Huxley and are terrified at the idea of soma yet fail to recognize such a system already exists. Through exploitation of evolutionary novel contexts to produce rampant consumerism we are already enslaved. Like you said, as long as the entertainment-media complex keeps on churning out content nobody will notice.

      People who promote wanting a simpler life cannot compete with sky-diving out of planes recording the experience with google glass, jumping off ramps and then zip-lining (Or something) into a press release. Life is Hollywood now, baby. You either go big or go home.

      1. F. Beard

        Quit blaming the victims!

        Back when most of us were on the family farms the banks stole, there was plenty of wholesome entertainment and work to do.

        But now most people have to make do with the mess of pottage they’ve been given in return – cheap entertainment and mass consumption.

        1. Adam Noel

          I do agree with you that it is not anyone’s fault. It is a way of life now pretty much and as I said to a friend before… when I look behind it all sometimes there is still a distinctly human character to some of it. (i.e. all is not lost)

          For example, watching a television show with a sibling eventually becomes part of the bond between those two siblings. Sure, to a certain degree, it is a mass produced pile of garbage but the bond formed through the mass produced pile of garbage is still meaningful.

          It is never the victim’s fault and to a certain degree it isn’t even the oligarch’s faults. The system itself is the problem.

          1. F. Beard

            I do agree with you that it is not anyone’s fault. Adam Noel

            I’ve never said that. Those who set up the money system and those who continue to support it in the face of a just alternative are certainly at fault.

            1. Moneta

              If you were them, you would do the same thing.

              Empathy is what will help us get us out of this hole.

              1. F. Beard

                Speak for yourself.

                I’ve lent people money quite a few times but never charged them interest. So it appears I can’t even get to 1st bank when it comes to being a banker.


                1. Moneta

                  Cognitive empathy: the drive to identify another’s mental states.[14][17] The term cognitive empathy and theory of mind are often used synonymously.[18
                  It’s not a question of putting the person you are in someone else’s shoes because the reality is that if you had the genetics, upbringing and experiences of the 1%, you would not be the person you are now.

                  Another reality is that you never really know how you would act in intense situations until you live it. I know, I’ve been there and it’s an eye opener.

                  1. F. Beard

                    Actually dear, (now that I know you’re female) I do realize that we’re in a tragic situation and I don’t blame very many at all. For example, I hate usury but I’m pretty sure my pension depends on it. I hate credit creation but realize pension funds are invested in banks.

                    I do seek a painless way out for everyone except sadists and those who seek to profit from misery.

                    1. Moneta

                      I do realize that it is very difficult to get our worldviews across in blurbs.

                      And I do also realize that each one of us has a few pieces of the puzzle. Some more than others but each piece counts.

      2. Chris Rogers

        Noel Sir,

        First, I concur with your analysis that a large part of the populace, be it in North America or the more northerly parts of Western Europe do seem to be addicted to Soma – of course referencing Huxley’s Brave New World, which as with Orwell’s 1984 is a wonderful dystopian novel predicting a ghastly future for mankind – indeed, if we mix both Huxley’s dystopia with that of Orwell’s, I think we are more or less 99% there in those northern nations where unemployment is at or below 10%.

        I don’t think we can say this for places such as Mexico, or many of the Southern European nations – many of whom due to poverty are unable to enjoy the ‘paid for’ bread and circuses our masters wish us to consume.

        However, and what’s perhaps even more interesting, and shall I say I think Yves’s misses the point a little in Hedges second RN interview – there is actually no commons so to speak, no hallowed and commonly owned ground where critics can air a grievance and communicate effectively face-to-face. Indeed, we have to all extent and purposes become digitally atomised – and as others have noted, one cannot launch a revolution via digital means blogging on sites like NC. Indeed, NC actually benefits TPTB by the very fact we are stuck in front of a monitor or with a iPad posting comments on these boards, rather than socialising and rioting – which our friends in Southern Europe seem adapt at doing, namely in Spain, Greece and Italy, and sometimes in France.

        So, my analysis for what its worth, which may be a little deterministic for some, is this: At our present juncture in the profit-driven proto-fascist nations such as the USA and UK we have the drip feed of SOMA, or as I refer to it as, bubblegum entertainment of the lowest kind, much of which you have to access via paid subscriptions. Now if you have high employment levels and a decent welfare safety net, its possible to keep persons of the street and from interacting at a personal level – be this in work, taverns, sports grounds whatever – what happens though, when the majority due to lack of funds cannot actually access these dumbing down services>

        And this is where our trajectory is taking us, for not only under neoliberalism does every thing have to be paid for and a profit derived thereof, but by the very act of cutting wages and increasing unemployment to unheard of levels, our masters are digging their own graves.

        I will make one further addition based on observations in the UK. Its been approx. 40 years since the neoliberal inspired counter revolution was launched, in which time we have witnessed a huge increase in inequality, unemployment and real poverty, exacerbated by the GFC – unlike its bedfellow though in the USA, so demented are our neoliberal baboons in the UK, that they have adopted a policy of austerity in a period of stagflation and high unemployment, however, the cutbacks are not only on the welfare state, quite the reverse in fact has happened to that in America, namely, even the forces of law and order, and the military have had huge cutbacks – with the only increase in spending on our secret services. So, instead of militarising the state apparatus, as in the US, our masters have done the reverse, i.e., they are so greedy and tightfisted that they will not pay for their own protection.

        So, don’t be surprised to see further outbreaks of public rioting and disorder in the UK over the coming years as further austerity is embraced – for if you cannot even afford the Soma, like most addicts you’ll turn to crime, or combine with others and riot – as for political change, I think this will only come when this inflection point is reached, which is basically what Hedges is saying, and if the UK goes, so does much of Europe – particularly given we are about the most passive of all our European neighbours I’m ashamed to say.

        Funny that!!!!!!!!!

    4. from Mexico

      Carlos Fuentes called it the new Baroque, a Baroque that had devolved into its Rococo extreme. There is no empty time and no empty space, as every space and every moment is filled with dazzling, lavish, elaborate, swirling splendor. Here’s an illustration of the orginal Rococo:

      It was also used in religous settings. Here’s an example from Mexico, where the Rococo perhaps was carried to its most elaborate extreme:

      Other terms for it are, in Mexico, pan y toros, or in Roman times bread and circus.

      It didn’t work out too well for Luis XVI or Marie Antoinette, nor for the Bourbons in Mexico. And some argue it wasn’t a sustainable form of social control in Rome either, although I’m sure you are aware there are about a thousand different theories on why the Roman Empire declined.

    5. Banger

      Yes, the whole entertainment industry and consumerism did not arise randomly as everyone including nearly all leftists belive. It was engineered as surely as Hedges has carefully examined the origins of manufacturing consent by the power-elite. The current narrative we live under is not a random interaction of market forces–i.e., giving people what they want. I used to think that. One book that changed my mind, is Captains of Consciousness, Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture written in the 70s that contains numerous quotes from the power-elite on how to condition the populace to create the culture you describe.

      This is not the sort of natural result of freedom of expression and all that. Our fetters, our narratives have been carefully constructed using the best minds, the best materials, the best research available to enslave us not by jack-booted thugs–that clearly did not work but through what would have once been called “magic spells.”

      I believe that the interest in magic and fantasy has a lot to do with the fact that consciously we are not allowed to admit to ourselves that we live in a world manipulated by, frankly, evil magicians–they use our desperate need to believe we actually are “individuals” who want to be free to create our own identity. We’re not, we’re food for predators. Hedges, by the way does an excellent jobs in several of his books describing some of this though he and I disagree on some of his conclusions.

      1. reslez

        We are ruled by evil magicians. Objectivism falls on the same slice of the alignment pie as True (or Neutral) Evil:

        A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has.

        Neutral evil beings consider their alignment to be the best because they can advance themselves without regard for others.

        This ethos holds that seeking to promote weal for all actually brings woe to the truly deserving. Natural forces which are meant to cull out the weak and stupid are artificially suppressed by so-called good, and the fittest are wrongfully held back, so whatever means are expedient can be used by te powerful to gain and maintain their dominance, without concern for anything.

        Neutral evil characters are primarily concerned with themselves and their own advancement. They have no particular objection to working with others or, for that matter, going it on their own. Their only interest is in getting ahead. If there is a quick and easy way to gain a profit, whether it be legal, questionable, or obviously illegal, they take advantage of it. Although neutral evil characters do not have the every-man-for-himself attitude of chaotic characters, they have no qualms about betraying their friends and companions for personal gain. They typically base their allegiance on power and money, which makes them quite receptive to bribes.

        The neutral evil is an unscrupulous, self-serving character who is only out for himself. Power, glory, wealth, position, and anything that will make his life more comfortable is his goal. It matters not who gets caught in the middle, as long as he comes out smelling like a rose. This person will lie, cheat, and kill anyone to attain his personal goals.

        from The D&D Alignment System: Neutral Evil

  10. Schofield

    The class war is ultimately based on the failure to understand how both human nature and money works. Ultimately it’s a failure to understand the importance of balance. Balancing self-interest against other-interest and public creation of money against private creation.

    1. JCC

      That’s for sure, ir as Henry Ford said many years ago before things got really out of hand, “It is well enough that the people of this nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

      I’m reading Bad Money by Kevin Phillips at the moment, and although outdated by 5 years or so, the patterns he describes have gotten worse.

      The first thing the Left needs to do is read this, have all their acolytes read it, and then ban all discussions on his nuanced politics (such as always describing the presidents of countries that castigate the U.S. as “strongmen” while using the polite honorific for those presidents/prime ministers that are our allies) and pay attention to the bare facts, as well as read NakedCap :)

      I’m not done with Bad Money yet, maybe I’ll change my mind, but until you get the average person on the streets to understand our system of money, nothing good will be accomplished.

  11. profoundlogic

    If you’re looking for a real tinderbox, check out the Comex. JPM’s eligible gold down 66% in one day. LOL! One has to wonder how long the bullion banks and Fed can keep this game up? Any coincidence that the Fed is now reconsidering banks’ commodity trading actions? Things that make you go hmmmm.

    Perhaps Hedges should begin a movement to expose the gold leasing actions contributing to the obfuscation of balance sheets? In an age when regulation has become a joke, this is looking more like another MF Global waiting to happen. It’s pretty hard to tender delivery of what you don’t have.

    1. Bam_Man

      And when they declare Force Majeure and offer settlement in cash only, the COMEX will finally be recognized as the “bucket shop” that it is.

  12. Jennifer

    I agree that Obama has been terribly destructive-whether by design or by accident doesn’t really matter. And I agree that there is nothing very hopeful about the political “left”. But there are pockets of hope and resistance everywhere-the low-wage organizing happening all over the country, the ripple effects of Snowden, the fight in Texas over choice. More and more people are recognizing class war, even if they don’t call it that. And there are mainstream allies in this, even if they don’t have the same rationale. It’s always a question of how this dissatisfaction will channeled, if people think they can vote for Democrats indiscriminately and get change, than no, that is not going to work. But if a few independent voices could be elected, and/or if people can organize around specific issues, and hold accountable whoever is in office for those issues, things could happen. It’s true that Americans don’t take to the streets the way others do, but seriously what has all that street protesting got Europeans? As far as I can tell, nothing. I don’t want to say protests are useless, of course not, but it’s just as silly to suggest that’s the only way significant change will occur.
    I will tell in Chicago there is organizing all over the place, mostly by young people who fully understand what is at stake.

    1. Banger

      Actually, street demos have gotten the Europeans almost everything. The governments feared the public and provided them with the benefits they now receive because of that fear. This began to change in Europe starting in the 70s, like here, it’s a long story but, at this time, the European left has been outmaneuvered pretty easily.

    2. OIFVet

      Jennifer, as your fellow Chicagoan I have to ask: do you honestly think that the organizing by the young people will overcome King Rahm’s fundraising muscle and his court of 50 merry yes-men alder-creatures? I agree that in the past year the general level of awareness has increased given the events surrounding the teachers’ strike and the total war on public education, but come 2015 will that be enough to overcome Rahm’s ability to raise $2 mil every quarter? I think not. As a fellow “lakefront liberal” (from Hyde Park), let me share what I see on the South Side: struggling minorities who are unhappy with the status quo, but happily accepting a few minimum wage crumbs thrown their way by the Penny Pritzker/UChicago Hyatt development, (paid for with TIF money taken from their public schools of course), and asking for more of the same. I see an ever-accelerating stripping of the public assets and an administration which makes me long for the days of Little Daley. And worst of all, I see a majority which is too damn apathetic to do anything about it, with or without organizing. I am sorry but I do not share your upbeat view of the events in Chicago.

        1. OIFVet

          Thank you for the advice, but I do get out plenty. I suspect I go to places where you do not. Hint: the North Side is not all there is to Chicago. I do have some very dear friends living in your neighborhood, good ‘lakefront liberals’ one and all. Their problems couldn’t be further removed from the problems of the South Side populace, and I don’t think one can organize people whose problems they don’t understand. Regarding schools, Rahm is careful not to push north siders too far, something which he has no compunction doing to the minority south and west sides. That’s because he knows only too well that north siders have the money and muscle to cause problems while on the south side power comes from churches and precinct captains, institutions which are in his pocket. Outside organizers as yet stand no chance given Chicago’s racial history. Again, learn about the people you want to organize. I suspect that will require stepping outside Lakeview every so often. I am sorry if that sounds mean-spirited, I certainly do not intend it to come out like that.

    3. Dave

      Your protests will be tolerated and held to be constitutional as long as they have no real effect. If they start to have an effect, they will be ruthlessly suppressed.

      1. Thor's Hammer

        My instinct tells me that “Jonestown”has has more prediction probabiliity than all the dreams of tecnosalvation.

  13. Shutter

    Don’t expect anything from the ‘people’. Expect the gov’t to go publicly HARD right and crash the economy in the effort to wring every last penny out of it. When power distribution, communications, dollar collapse and fuel shortages isolate us, the country will fragment. We’ll see what shakes out after that.

    1. Phrase

      Shutter, i tend to agree with your statement : ” Expect the gov’t to go publicly HARD right and crash the economy in the effort to wring every last penny out of it. When power distribution, communications, dollar collapse and fuel shortages isolate us, the country will fragment. ”
      For me, i would nuance your statement so that the focus ends up clarifying the force and monied long-term strategic planning that has concentrated the neoliberal agenda’s implementation into supra-national institutions, tireless working at destroying national sovereignty by for example, multi-national trade agreements with corporate controlled investor-state resolution bodies. … For me, civil soceity clearly realizes how ‘illegitimate’ those publically financed economic bank bailouts are. … But TBTF banks are global institutions fighting to maintain hegemony and the maintainance of the status-quo which is ever needy, and always greedy. … It is inherent to ‘the system’.
      But, i really just wanted to mention Gar Alperovitz. His writings, to me, convey the role that ‘pain’ has in gradually becoming the catalyst for the building of the ‘critical mass’ needed to bring about … if not global institutional change … maybe regional pragmatic transformative change as communities take back control. … I do believe in people, the spirit of co-operation, innovation, and regional communities reclaiming sustainability. … Hedge’s thoughts and writing continually throws cold water as a wake-up call.
      Yes …, and as you may agree, … the battle is one of economies of scale ! … It is also about redefining the dominant narrative so that the moral, ethical, environmental, health of the eco-system, rejection of solely the fiduciary commitment, … etc., concern for the public good, …etc., … gets inserted into the policy making agenda. … ALEC has to go!
      I don’t think that a more equitable horizontal hierarchy can co-exist with the imperialist, militaristic, financialized, neoliberal global vertical hierarchy … furthered by some unrepresentative national governments. … The more regional ‘pain’ that we see the more daunting and yet also related we see different pluralist struggles. … I guess the question here is, how large can regional civil society friendly communities/regions become before the represent a threat to rule from the stratosphere. …
      So, to come back to your comment, I also am very concerned the disaster capitalism’s monsters are getting ready for profit from the fire sale ! … phrase

    2. Banger

      Personally, I don’t think so. The hard right today has a strong and growing part that is against war, for civil liberties and sees our own government as the enemy. I believe they are far in advance of what is left of the left and offer the only avenue for change at this time. The government fears an armed and motivated public. They certainly try to manipulate the right by trying to induce racial hatred and all that but I don’t think it is working so well anymore. The far right in this country is not fascist but libertarian–though there is a real fascist right I believe it is more a construction created by billionaires that, without considerable funding, would collapse.

      1. Jim

        Great point…I’m seeing that too here in flyover country. There have recently been publicly displayed banners supporting the 4th amendment, which may explain why some Republican politicians have actually been skeptical of Obama’s position on surveillance. I think many here are finally getting that social issues are just a way to distract people from the corporate hegemony built in Washington.

        Personally, I’ve been monitoring what I call the “Bullet Price Index”. A couple of acquaintances of mine are avid gun collectors, and when I get a chance to speak with them, I always ask what the price of ammunition is, not at Wal-Mart, but amongst themselves in underground transactions. A typical .22-caliber round is what I ask about. About a year ago, the price was around 80 cents. The last quote I received, in June, is about $1.80 to $2.

        Feel free to debate the implication of this, but I think this creates an opposing argument to the “frustrated individual” theory in this post. Anger is more widespread than even NC readers might think, and creates a risk that the possible results of this may neither be social-issue friendly, nor big-corporation friendlly…just another data point to throw into the mix.

        1. Banger

          Yes, I think if you live in the South as I do you see a lot of interesting developments particularly among the young who see the influence of the government as toxic. I had an interesting talk with someone not too long ago who came from Kentucky who told of her community being destroyed by Social Security disability checks and crooked doctors writing pain-killer prescriptions. She was looking for a way of just dropping out of society she was so disgusted.

          1. The Rage

            Don’t agree with this at all. The “right” are just goons global capitalists want to use to abolish the bougeois states and turn all law to the capitalists.

            fwiw, it ain’t ‘social security’ checks that are doing anything, stop issuing them, the price would just go down and drugs would still be flowing.

            1. Banger

              Some, particularly the growing movement of pro-gun, anti-corporate, pro-libertarian, anti-globalist, anti-chemicals in your food are beginning to coalesce–I see it in young people in the fly-over country. That’s where the action is.

          1. Dave

            The armed far right has a large number of religious zealots. If there ever is an armed rebellion, religion will be a major factor. The wars against the Muslims have been a significant issue. Many have been to Iraq and Afghanistan and actually consider those campaigns to be a Christian crusade. Many active duty officers certainly do. Coups have occurred in other countries when similar wars have been “lost”. So if there is a revolution, it’s possible that it may be a military coup.

            1. Banger

              My own experience is that the people who are into guns aren’t necessarily religious–they use religion as a frame of reference but aren’t that dedicated to it. I think they are more suspicious of the the political order and think civil society is disintegrating.

  14. Pogonip

    Americans will demand change when their vehicles are taken away, or their ability to drive those vehicles whenever and wherever they please (curfews, $15/gallon gas). Not before then.

    1. John

      No, not until the cable and the electricity are turned off.

      Then fantasy world America is over and survival America will begin.

  15. F. Beard

    Here, Hedges laments the lack of an effective left, and blames its death on the “inability to articulate a viable socialism”. Yves Smith

    The Left speaks of sharing and equity but have never, to my knowledge, been against central banking which promotes usury and debt.

    1. Inverness

      His discussion of socialism was vague. He seemed to suggest social democracy as the solution? Then just say it. There is such a lack of willingness to discuss concrete plans, with the exception of people like Richard Wolff, who has shared how worker cooperatives can be quite successful.

      Of course, the social democratic state was preserved as an alternative to communism in Europe. Since “there is no alternative” to crony capitalism, the social democratic state is in pretty lousy shape in Europe, especially for those in the EU, although even Sweden has been privatizing its public schools (!) How viable is that model? It’s better than the virus that’s spreading throughout North American and Europe now, although there will always be some inequality under social democracy, albeit significantly less.

  16. Inverness

    Agreeing with Yves’ misdiagnosis of Obama, oddly referred to as merely “mediocre” by Mr. Hedges. Bush is venal, and Obama is just average? No, Obama is brilliant, because who saw it coming? The same man who wrote so eloquently about black male suffering in Chicago in his memoirs, could be so indifferent to children in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Who thought such a nuanced thinker could be such a brute, and thug? There you go.

    He’s a new breed, one of Morris Berman’s hollow men with no moral compass and reminds me of another highly accomplished “progressive” with all the right academic credentials, Ms. Samantha Powers, who also proves to have a similar shaky moral compass. Now, she’s totally cool with Israeli atrocities! Who saw that coming? But if it gets you ahead, why not? She’s moving in high places, with the right books behind her (she has “proven” she cares about humanity), yet the monstrous capacity to work for this administration, and everything that entails (legitimizing mass murder and torture as foreign and domestic policy).

    These people are so much scarier than Bush. What’s that line from the Usual Suspects? The greatest trick the devil played was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Obama and his ilk are real-time, real world shape-shifters.

    For Morris Berman’s talk:

    1. Patricia

      Berman analysis is precise, but I am realllyyyy tired of intellectuals soaking their analysis of the US public in a wretched judgmentalism that rivals any Calvinist. It emerges from a deep sense of superiority. And anyone who thinks US public is too stupid to get that is too stupid themselves.

      Thus the first question that Berman fields (24:50) is from someone bemoaning the failure of democracy and wondering about a benevolent dictator (via Plato, of course, right?). And Berman answers, among other things: “…de Tocqueville mentioned that democracy can only work if the population is fairly intelligent and we don’t have that.”

      The next questioner tries to address this, asking about “A General Theory of Love” (Thomas Lewis ed) from which Berman quoted: “A good deal of modern American culture is an extended experiment in the effects of depriving people of what they crave most.”

      Berman says, further, “In other words, what we are channeled into by this system is substitute satisfaction. Because human beings want is what they’ve always wanted: community, friendship, sex, interesting things to think about, safety…And what this system does is it takes those things away and says, ‘here, here’s a cell phone…here’s television’. It gives you stuff that basically is crap and it says, “You’ll be happy with it” and generally people aren’t, on some level. And that’s part of the crisis, really.”

      This isn’t part of the issue, it is at center. What underlies community, friendship, sex, etc, is the need to be to be loved and to believe that one’s life is meaningful. When these things are methodically stripped from humans over decades (over generations) by a culture ruled by big business’ bottom line of maximum profit, they will take the allowed substitutes, and they become defeated. Of course it follows that they will also become stupider. How could they not? They suffer malnutrition.

      Stupidity is not the problem but a symptom. No wonder the working class remains alienated from the remaining handful of intellectuals. No wonder the liberal educated class never cared all the much about labor unions. And, FWIW, the working classes include all groups of color, because that is where they also predominantly reside.

      Failure by superiority. Talk about stupid!

      1. Banger

        Terrific comment!!!! I agree with you on Berman, someone who does have the some of the best analysis around, certainly, for me Hedges and Berman, who are friends, should be at the center of any discussion on culture and politics. But Berman’s demonization of U.S. culture comes from his own sense of alienation from the rest of us not his analysis, in my view.

        We need all the things you say and we are malnourished on a psychic level. I’ve made the argument that we live in a new age of magicians. I maintain that Americans have been victim of a carefully calculated and engineered mind-control system. How and why this happened has been well-documented but isn’t generally known. Both Hedges and Berman touch on it but they miss the power of the magic. By magic I mean both traditional stage magic and careful manipulation of the subconscious. Nearly everyone I talk to that is reasonably intelligent categorically denies that they are influenced by advertising. Well consciously, most people reject advertising claims–but unconsciously, if it’s done right their subconscious accepts it and waits for the opportunity to express that acceptance. Much of our problem lies in our refusal, despite over a century of theorizing and research that most of our motivations come from the unconscious and this is most true in American intellectual culture. If you don’t understand the overwhelming force of unconscious desires both individual and collective you cannot possibly understand contemporary society in any way–you would just be blindly throwing darts or coming to Berman’s conclusions that we are just stupid and, eventually, to the conclusion that human beings are base creatures. My experience is that human beings are splendid beautiful creatures and this gap between beauty that I see inside people and the reality of their sad state has always struck me and pained me almost beyond belief. It is like seeing people being flogged and tortured from the inside–no wonder so many people are in pain physically and emotionally!!

        1. Inverness

          Yes — those propagandists are the ultimate wizards behind the curtain, aren’t they?

          It’s true that if we dismiss most Americans as unintelligent, we might fall victim to a kind of snobbery that alienates the very people with whom we need to build solidarity. I also agree that we shouldn’t underestimate the well-oiled machine started by Bernays (Adam Curtis does a fine job of establishing this timeline).

          Frankly, when I hear that Germans, Canadians, and British people aren’t freaking out in massive numbers over the Snowden allegations, nor storming the American embassy, I start to realize that more and more people have been seduced and lulled by sophisticated lies, not only Americans.

          1. Banger

            Europe may have changed more than the U.S.–the dynamic there is fascinating. I see less hope there than here.

            1. OIFVet

              I disagree. It is true that Europe has changed more, but what is still true IMO is that unlike us in the US they don’t have to deal with the chimera of the “American Dream” and its attendant belief in individualism over society. Class conscience there is still strong unlike here in the US where, as Chris Rogers has correctly noted, we act as though there are no class divisions. Never underestimate the capacity of the European masses to make important heads roll, figuratively and literally.

              1. Banger

                You maybe right there. But my instinct is, no offense to Europeans, that European society strikes me as being as even more confused than Americans by contemporary society. I agree that Europeans have more communitarian values one hopes that young people will find a way to move things in a more radical direction.

                1. OIFVet

                  I am not sure precisely what you meant by “contemporary society” but I will admit that you may have a point, though from my experience it may only apply to some parts of Eastern Europe. I was born in one of the former “communist bloc” countries (one which is currently racked by protests), and what strikes me is the reactionary venom against anything perceived as “left”, never mind that most people seem to have trouble defining “left” and “right” and never mind that it was the supposed “socialists” who imposed flat taxation. So we have the paradox of protests for social justice and complete public resistance to social spending or anything with the word “social” in it. Though it is due in part to the well earned distrust in the corrupt ruling elites, your point about the propaganda used to control, blunt, and misdirect the anger also applies. But this is Eastern Europe so I wouldn’t use it to generalize about the rest of the continent. In my experiences and observations, Southern Europeans and the French are in no way confused about what is going on; the problem there as I see it is that the populace has yet to find an effective way to overcome the loss of sovereignty which has come with the rise of the EU and the financial control of international institutions like the “troika”. And witness the explosive bitterness in the UK which manifested itself after Thatcher’s death: the people didn’t seem to have trouble identifying the source of their issues and remembered only too well how this new economic order was imposed upon them.

                  Perhaps I am biased by my euro origins, but I truly see Americans as far more compliant and easy to control. The myth of the “American Dream” I already mentioned. The myth of the “American Exceptionalism” is where I see the tool used to control the American people: we are exceptional so we must protect that at all costs, including sacrificing treasure to pursue our imperial interests abroad and sacrificing essential constitutionally guaranteed freedoms at home to “protect” us from “evildoers”. I only wish I knew who would protect us from our “protectors”…

                  1. Moneta

                    One important issue with Europe is its dependency on banking and the US. They can not deforest and energy is limited. So they really have to limit their materialism, something they have not managed very well over the last couple of decades.

                    If they really want to keep their material way of life, they will have to be extremely productive… hard to see with their ageing population.

                    Once again, materialism is at the core.

                  2. Banger

                    Sorry, by “contemporary society” I mean the modern social contract that devalues family and community and encourages atomism, i.e., people live without reference to traditional values–in all sections of Europe these ties have been more important than in the States and therefore, in my view, the trauma may be greater.

                    As for the American Dream and all that, I think that is changing–the youth, increasingly, don’t believe in it.

        2. Moneta

          One morning, in my mid-20s, while I was pulling up my 3rd pair of stockings in 5 minutes, I had an epiphany. I realized that I was one of the brainwashed by culture… why do we women wear such wasteful an uncomfortable accessories?

          Every time I think I am so “independent or special”, I remember this incident and laugh at my hubris.

          1. Dan H

            I was sure you were male, and would have gauged my ability to make that call as rock solid…I look out for your handle, have a well formed conception of your outlook etc…at least I thought I did. Your moment of self introspection has caused one of my own. Thank you.

            1. Moneta

              LOL! I majored in math-economics and work in finance. I have spent most of my life in men centric circles… I’m here because in real life I’m surrounded by people who have no interest in the subjects I find captivating and the top 20%, most of which are deluded and drive me nuts!

              I guess I have been forced to be an actress for 20 years, no awards lined up though…

          2. F. Beard

            Gee wiz, gal!

            I’ll not be able to get so mad at you now.

            But I sure disliked you as a male!

    2. OIFVet

      “who saw it coming?” Adolph Reed did, as far back as the mid-90’s:

      “In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of
      authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program — the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics,
      as in Haiti and wherever else the International Monetary Fund has sway. So far the black activist response hasn’t been up to the challenge. We have to do better.”

      “The Curse of Community,” Village Voice, January 16, 1996

  17. indianaboy

    The closer you were to the Soviet Union, the more meaningful socialism your society enjoyed. Scandinavia > UK > USA

    The key to upper class concessions is a real fear on the part of the upper class that without compromise they risk revolution. Working class revolutions are usually only possible if they are supported by an external superpower: the USSR in the the 20th century played this role for the West.

    Today, interestingly enough, the US is providing this same benefit to the working masses of China. As someone who frequently travels to the PRC and closely watches the party-state it is clear that they’re continuing policies of raising the minimum wage and extending health insurance, and subsidized education are being motivated in part, by a real fear that without these concessions, the lower classes will revolt and demand democratic freedoms, inspired in no small part by the (actually inaccurate) perception that the US is both a democracy and a superpower (in PPP terms the PRC is a much, much larger economy; the US is being propped up only by its overvalued currency)

    The lower and middle classes in the PRC will sorely miss the US when it is gone. We may be entering into a new conservative period akin to 1815-1848 Europe when a concert of authoritarian monarchies kept a firm hand over the restive European lower classes.

    1. Chris Rogers


      No, no, no.

      Your analysis is wrong to say the least, particularly with regards the development of more socially democratically orientated states in Western Europe.

      I don’t wish to belittle your analysis, but by focusing on post 1917 developments in Europe after the Communist seizure of power – Russia after all was a democracy in 1917 for a few months – is wrong.

      First and foremost, you need to acquaint yourself more with German History after unification in 1871 following the Franco-Prussian War and consequent Paris uprising and the Commune – the first true elements of a modern welfare state, which is now associated with social democratic nations, were actually sown by Bismarck, and wether we like it or not, Germany under Bismarck was a functioning democracy despite its three tier voting system that favoured the ruling elite – remember in the 1912 German elections the SPD had the largest share of the vote and were a formidable presence in the Reichstag – so fear of the Soviet Union had little to do with it in Western Europe.

      As an illustration, the UK suffered a pretty severe recession from the early 1870’s until the 1890’s, welfare provision was limited to say the least – we had the Poorhouse/Workhouse and a philosophy of its the poor’s fault they are poor – not the states – a wonderful attitude if you are the sole Superpower, not so good when you had the French, Germans and USA biting at your heels – now, if you look at international relations in Europe during the timeline 1871-1914, there is an emerging trend, not only a growth in the power of the working class, but the development of an alliance system that ultimately led to WWI – further, and with regards the development of a welfare state in the UK, it was the Boar War and UK’s inability to field a strong and healthy army that resulted in the post 1905 Liberal Government reforms, and, the requirement for a large standing army to deploy in France as a result of the Duel Entente – until that requirement, which needed strong healthy cannon fodder, the authorities could not give a toss – a similar effect rippled over much of Europe – not so Tsarist Russia.

      So, one of the reasons for the development of a welfare state in Western Europe, was not so much the demands of the Working Class, but the huge demands of fielding massive armies when the populations were far smaller than today.

      Hence, it was actually the struggle for supremacy in Europe after German reunification that resulted in what we’d term social democratic states – indeed, such was the dire poverty in the Scandinavia states prior to WWI that emigration to the New World was a major problem.

      Hope this illuminates a little?

      1. Banger

        I think both of you are right so some degree but I mostly agree with you. Nation states, from their inception, let’s say with 17th century France had as their goal the enrichment and prosperity of society. Yes, the royals got caught up in wasteful stupid wars but their non-war policies tended to favor having a prosperous country whether just to have revenue or not–it was generally accepted that the privileged should take care of their dominions.

        This caring about their subjects was also a factor in the early history of the U.S. Lasch in his great work Revolt of the Elites points out that oligarchs in small towns and cities often competed with each other in buiding libraries, beautiful parks and fine schools for the populations under their control until the post-Civil War era gradually changed all that. The movie It’s a Wonderful Life is an example of the old noblesse oblige that was present in smaller communities as late as the 1930s and 40s.

        Our own system is a result of the fact that authority began to be unstable and up for grabs so that there was a competitive advantage to be immoral, selfish and ruthless. So the George Bailey’s were replaced by the Mr. Potters and the those were replaced by Mr. Potters sons with MBAs.

        As for the Chinese, their culture has consistently pointed themselves in structuring their society with central authorities motivated by what is best for the society as a whole not out of fear of the peasants but out of logic. That is why their society of guaranteeing that a certain class maintains power and that class be very limited so that while dynastic struggles are present there is no direct need to ruthlessly repress the people as a whole because those people are quite happy to be well-ruled. Good governance, not political freedom, is how people prefer things. Americans too would be happy if they had good governance without political freedom–sadly we have neither which is why we are probably headed for trouble.

  18. mcgee

    Change is the only constant with the shape of change being the great mystery. Society has to offer a standard course for success to keep the majority on similar paths that maintains the status quo. The financial crisis was too large a shift towards the oligarchs/plutocrats and left many without a clear path forward. The wild cards are the surveillance state, militarized police, and constatnt propaganda intermixed in the steady drip of infotainment being capable of the level of control necessary as the number of disaffected grows. I lean towards thinking that the surveillance state is a real game changer and has forever upset the familiar historical cycle of government.

    The built in safety valves to bleed off societal stress have been reinforced by active social engineering and the very real threat of violence by the state. Conditions are going to need to get much worse before change happens on the ground in America. The shape of the future isn’t one conducive to individual rights and an egalitarian society. Far from it in fact.

    Current population growth and enrironmental degradation will eventually trump the contrivances of modern society but as is standard throughout history, it will be the 99% that will suffer the harshest consequences. Mother nature is one helluva of a clean up batter when the bases are loaded with the excesses of humanity.

  19. sharonsj

    I watched the first Obama-Obama debate and gave up after 15 minutes. I was talking to a reporter friend, who commiserated that she had to watch the entire thing. I explained that after 15 mintues neither man had said anything I didn’t already know and I wasn’t going to waste any more of my time. She said the same thing about the entire debate and added that in fact she had decided to become a Socialist. I started laughing because I’d come to the same conclusion after a lot less time.

    This country desperately needs a real revolution…any kind will do. The level of anger in the country really is alarming and I’d hoped that we’d see more large protests. I wonder if people are just exhausted or if they’ve given up? Chris, I don’t think you can blame a weakened left for the lack of people in the streets. But the generations that used to march are getting to old to do it again. We need the younger generations to wake up and get out there.

    1. Jim Haywood

      ‘I watched the first Obama-Obama debate and gave up after 15 minutes.’

      Hell, I don’t blame you.

      What was the preening narcissist doing — talking to himself in the mirror?

      Likely the backward reflection of the teleprompter confused him, never having learned Leonardo’s skill of reverse writing.

    2. Banger

      Very LOL–cool comment. I agree, almost any change is good. Sadly the left is indeed dead for reasons I’ve given below and other Chris’ reasons as well. But that change is likely to come from the right not the left. In fact, I believe the new left will come out of the right somehow by magic perhaps.

  20. barrisj

    The late Tony Judt had gone over some of the same ground in his book, “Ill Fares The Land” – albeit from a “Western” perspective (Europe, North America) – in lamenting the fecklessness of contemporary Social democracy in the face of a radical challenge from the Right. Moreover, he asserts that the best a progressive agenda can hope for is, “…[I]ncremental improvements upon unsatisfactory circumstances…”, an exceedingly modest and indeed a near-defeatist posture. For Judt as well has all but conceded Advantage Neo-liberalism, and also despairs of any sort of “bottom-up” revolt against abusive capitalism and its enablers and protectors in government.
    In fact, “It is the Right that has inherited the ambitious modernist urge to destroy and innovate in the name of a universal project. From the war in Iraq through the unrequited desire to dismantle public education and health services, to the decades-long project of financial deregulation, the political Right – from Thatcher and Reagan to Bush and Blair – has abondoned the association of political conservatism with social moderation which served it so well from Disraeli to Heath, from Theodore Roosevelt to Nelson Rockefeller”.
    Were Judt alive today, he certainly would have included Obama – with his unprecedented expansion of state surveillance, connivance with the financial overlords, suppression of dissent and transparency in government, and continuation of a militaristic foreign policy – as an avatar of the neoliberal or neofascist project. Both political parties, the courts, corporate and financial interests, “law enforcement”, all are united in preserving or extending this “project”, and in fact consolidate their stranglehold on the people in the aftermath of each inevitable crisis that continues to befall late-capitalism. How, one asks, can a severe pessimistic reading of any chance of meaningful reform be anything other than a realistic assessment of where the future lies.

  21. Banger

    The left in the U.S. has, traditionally, three sources of “energy”: (1)religious/spiritual/ethical people; (2) intellectuals and artists; (3) the labor movement. These forces have been divided and may never come together again in large part due to what was termed identity/ethnic politics. The sixties ended up shattering the alliances that were already fraying–we can’t blame any one group of movement other than say that the left was, by the seventies pretty much shattered.

    All the contradictory forces were in conflict of course but the problem, at the time, was that the central figures that offered a clear and realistic alternative vision were shot-down like mad dogs.

    My critique, unlike Hedges, is that the big mistake was to accept, without criticism the official stories on the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There are thousands of researchers that have meticulously deconstructed the official narrative on those assassinations but almost no one on the left has the courage to even look at the evidence–usually they cite the famous Richard J. Hofstadter essay of 1964 “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Of course Hofstadter made good points and so on but basically it was, as an essay, a typical work of sophistry–certainly conspiracy theories abound about many things most of them based on rumor and fantasy by radically misinformed people. But the 60s assassination “conspiracy theorists” had mountains of evidence and even more now that would, at the very least, be an invitation to dialogue. Instead the liberal and radical left have both categorically rejected the direct evidence in those cases in favor of the official narrative. This is why I consider the American left the “Stasi left.”

    To nearly all prominent leftists in this country official government narrative on the assassinations (and nothing else) was a priori as true as the fact the Moon circles the earth. Any contrary opinion cannot be discussed–if you bring the matter up you are clearly insane and belong on medication or in a mental hospital.

    Worse, the left, along with the mainstream, refuse to believe political conspiracies exist in the Unites States. Other countries and other eras, of course had conspiracies as anyone who has read the classical historians can attest but when the U.S. was born conspiracy only existed in a box called “crime” and the political elite are incapable of assassinating rivals or breaking the law to fix elections, plant false stories in the press (except very rarely–in fact the left ignores much of what Frank Church managed to expose about the CIA).

    In my view the intellectual left, by ignoring the assassinations of the 60s, literally has put an end to the rationality and dialectic as a legitimate mode of inquiry. Is it any surprise that so many Americans reject science and rationality? Of course when it’s done on the right everyone laughs and I can only think “hypocrites.” At least right-wingers usually have the excuse of lacking the tools of analysis.

    The most obvious evidence I know because it is quick to describe and takes a very simple Google search is to cite the fact that Thomas Noguchi’s Cornoner’s Report was never entered into evidence in the Sirhan’s trial. Do you get that? Why? Because it showed that RFK, who would have been the next POTUS, was killed by a gun shot at point blank range from the back and pointing upwards. That’s just for starters–the official case is a lie from start to finish as are all the other cases and I won’t waste my breath beyond that except to add that sound analysis clearly shows that more than nine shots were fired–you’ll have to find for yourself what that means.

    Once you start looking into these matters you will be stunned by how obviously wrong the narrative is. It’s not a matter of careful detective work it is staring you right in the face. My own analysis is that all the major assassinations were hits by professional killers and all the assassinations were covered up by all the agencies involved. This is where, of course, the critics of conspiracies balk and say “too many people were involved”, again, I have a counter argument but I shouldn’t have to argue that–one starts from evidence and then works towards a theory and you cannot discount a theory before looking at the evidence and the American left along with the security services and their stooges in the press have been signing from the same song-book. My experience of being around power at various levels tells me that these people don’t f!ck around–if you’re in the way they don’t blink to kill you or even millions to get what they want and this has been true throughout history.

    So there’s my rant–my guess is that none of you have the courage to address this if you accept the official narratives about the history of the past few decades–I’ve seldom, in any forum, been exposed to anyone willing to debate this issue other than dismiss me as conspiracy nut or kook or whatever which obviously means that I’m hallucinating Thomas Noguchi’s Coroner’s report because it can’t possibly exist. This is the chief reason the left has failed in this country and will continue to fail until it decides to deconstruct the official narrative. Until then, I maintain that the only possibility of positive change comes from the right not the left.

    1. Chris Rogers

      I’m not one for conspiracy theories, and being British, perhaps I’m not the best person to get involved in the detail of your argument.

      I can tell you this, under the UK judicial system, a mock trial was actually held with regards the person accused of slaying MLK for the UK’s Channel 4, and the accused, based on all known evidence and forensics was deemed not guilty.

      its also a fact the USA denies much of its own horrendous history and portrays itself purer than the white driven snow – a point Oliver Stone often makes in both his movies and documentaries.

      In the UK, do not fear, conspiracies abound, its now a well known fact that elements within the UK security services in the mid 1970’s wished to have an actual coup in the UK and depose a sitting Labour Prime Minister, one Harold Wilson, whom many considered was a Soviet stooge – Mr. Wilson being the British leader who told the US to stuff its Vietnam adventure up its arse – hence we were never involved in that war with you – if only that were true of one Tony Blair.

      However, I do think your attacks on the left are a little unfair, in the UK at least, there has always been a lot of distrust between academics and leaders of the real working class, never mind other progressive movements that constituted the Labour Party.

      to my mind, and understanding of US politics and history, there has never been a true working class party to represent the workers interests, indeed, the closest you got to this was the Wobblies, and look what Woodrow Wilson did to them.

      Indeed, US history is replete in the states utter aberrance and detestation of populist working class movements, its the reason for the 1788/89 Constitutional Convention and creation of a Federal State, rather than the loose alliance or Confederate states that the anti-federalists desired – the anti-federalists being the real supporters of democracy and other rights, rather than that rag you now revere, namely the Constitution, which established a Federal Republic that favoured property and wealth over actual human and civil rights.

      1. Banger

        In the thirties and forties there was a fairly close connection between the intellectual left and the American labor movement that carried up until the McCarthy era and that is all a very interesting story too long to get into.

        The UK situation is very different and always has been.

        As for conspiracies–in the case of the RFK as I cited there can be no doubt–you either accept that the official story is wrong–the evidence is very obvious or you live in a fantasy world. There was a MLK trial in the U.S. The NYT reported the verdict: Note that no mainstream media reporters sent reporters to the trial. No one commented for or against, as far as I know, on the merits of the evidence. Generally the story was ignored. That is, in my view, a conspiracy right there.

        Again, no one ever answers my sort of allegation other than say that they don’t believe in conspiracy theories or don’t indulge in them as if it was a vice–you cannot understand history without it so then throw out Herodotus, Theucidities, Livy and all the rest of them and burn Machiavelli while we’re at it.

        But I enjoyed your comments and appreciated you non-insulting answer.

        1. Chris Rogers


          Actually, the biggest conspiracy at the moment, at least here in Europe, is the lack of comprehensive media coverage concerning the anti-austerity protests in most of Southern Europe – no doubt, our masters learn from the experiences of the media and the Vietnam War, would prefer to with hold all news of protest from us.

          As for differences between the UK and US, its the growing lack of difference that frightens me – our ruling elites being virtually identical, although the Uk’s has always been more ‘stupid’ than its US counterparts.

          1. psychohistorian

            Hey Western Bloc country slaves! The ruling elites are not virtually identical, they are a global sect of plutocrats. They play nationalism off between their slave nation states as needed to divide and retain control.

            Wake up and smell your enemy!

          2. Andrew Watts

            There’s always been a deep relationship between the US/UK power elite. Even during the American revolution leading British opposition leaders like Charles Fox portrayed it as an English civil war. This attitude has always been offensive to the pretenses of American exceptionalism. Or to the average British subject. I believe the 4th of July is called “Go home Yankee!” day in Great Britain.

            As for how stupid the American elite is, TARP was a complete rip-off of the British bailout plan. According to Hank Paulson, the US Treasury had a worst case scenario plan that was judged to be inferior within days of writing it.

            1. Chris Rogers

              Andrew Sir,

              I’m unsure on that one, yes in one respect the US War of Independence was an ‘English Civil War’ to all extents and purposes, however, many a historian is of the opinion that the last ‘English Civil war’ was the actual US Civil War itself, or, as it should more aptly be called, ‘the War of Secession’, and here the UK was highly supportive of the Southern cause, or State’s Right’s – its not one of my strong points as far as history or politics is concerned, and obviously, its regrettable that the debate of ‘slavery’ was very much tied in with the War itself – although not the main cause at its outset.

              Indeed, I’d say the US Civil War was the eruption of violence between the ‘anti-federalist’ forces in the US and pro-Federal forces, and I for one have always sided with the Anti-Federalists, who cause was just, if regretfully tainted with the horror of slavery.

              Anyway, that’s my two cents worth here.

              1. Andrew Watts

                That makes sense. I’ve always secretly harbored the opinion that the seeds of the United States’ dissolution was sown by the English Civil War. The English people who came to the colonies during and after that time were just as divided by the conflict. With Roundheads settling primarily in New England, and Cavaliers immigrating to Virginia and the southern colonies. It helps explain the cultural and political differences between the Mason-Dixon line.

                As for the future, America is quite advanced in undoing the Glorious Revolution. Many of the rights that were originally derived from it and enshrined into our Constitution have become a dead letter.

    2. The Black Swan

      But ignorance is such bliss. I spent a lot of time over the previous winter digging through the internet and have come to almost the same conclusion. Everything we’ve been taught in History class in school and everything taught by the media is purposefully designed to obfuscate the truth. Maybe it’s not all outright lies, but when we get the truth, it’s only the truth that TPTB wish us to know. Once you accept that everything you’ve ever known and believed is a lie, it becomes very easy to see the truth and understand much more of how our modern world works. But I’ve yet to meet (in person) anyone who was willing to challenge their false beliefs and start to look at the truth. It is a painful experience to confront reality and something most people are not prepared for and mostly uninterested in.

      1. Banger

        Exactly. It is very painful to experience this. How can you live in normal society and function and understand that most of what other people believe to be true is false. More and more people I know believe being interested in politics is a form of “escape” because it is meaningless–I think they have a point and I’ve tried to move away from it. But I’m haunted by it since my life has been spent in vicinity to Washington and the whole scene there until recently.

        Well, for me it’s not so hard because people I know don’t think about public affairs other than when the media makes a big deal of something like the Zimmerman trial and that kind of thing but it’s all quickly forgotten in a week and people go on to their private affairs. People are more interested in the TV shows they watch or see politics as comedy. My wife is, for example, utterly uninterested in public affairs (other than local) other than what she watches on Comedy Central–she isn’t stupid she understands that the news is bullshit so she may as well laugh about it.

        I think most people, deep down, really don’t believe the narrative but they need some kind of intellectual framework and they look around and see nothing so they accept whatever they see. I suppose Comedy Central is better than CNN.

    3. Yalt

      One of the things I’m struggling to understand with this is what the fate of the Kennedys is supposed to have to do with the fate of American socialism. Is the idea that JFK was a leftist, knocked off by counterrevolutionaries, and the left’s fatal error was to not understand this?

      I supposed by contemporary American standards the Kennedys were, indeed, on the left. Of course, so was Nixon.

      Workers trying to hitch a ride on the wagon of one or another faction of the ruling class seems to me to be a big part of the problem. Warping history so as to be able to do it retroactively doesn’t seem likely to be part of the solution. It’s not that I think you’re wrong so much as I think it’s completely irrelevant.

      1. Massinissa

        I agree with you in a sense.

        I dont think the Kennedys would really have saved us or anything. That sort of thing is wishful thinking to me.

        But how can we have faith in a political system, where those of the ruling class who buck the status quo in even the very smallest amounts, can get knocked off by even more influential sectors of the ruling class?

        I think understanding that the kennedy’s were assasinated in a conspiracy is more important than the influence the assasinations themselves created. The fact is not that it was the Kennedys who were assasinated, but that anyone was assassinated by the PotB at all. How can we have faith in the PotB or our ‘democracy’ when the elites pull this shit on eachother when they get out of line?

        1. Banger

          Whether you believe JFK was on the left or not is irrelevant. The fact he was killed in an illegal coup d’etat is a concern of everyone. He was a social democrat but a careful one. He was killed because he wanted to end the Cold War so the world could resume the movement toward egalitarian societies. The world would have been transformed.

          Go back and read what RFK proposed–I was in the midst of all that at the time and followed events closely. MLK would have united all the left social movements that later dispersed because he may have been the most brilliant leader of his time.

          Frankly, Americans just don’t want to face what happened back then. I find this as yet another example of our collective insanity. If read the correspondence between JFK and Khrushchev you will be touched by the desire of both men to get out of the trap they found themselves in. If you just examine closely the Cuban Missile Crisis and what was said–you will realize that almost the entire U.S. military wanted a first-strike on the USSR. Their bloodthirsty evil almost got us all killed but for JFK and Khrushchev. Also in the mix were others including another great man Pope John XXIII.

        2. Yalt

          I, personally, think these conspiracy theories have been deliberately nurtured by the authorities to distract the masses from useful analysis of their own plight.

          It’s a conspiracy.

          1. Banger

            So then you are just don’t believe in evidence. You are saying that I made up the fact that the official story of the RFK assassination is correct despite the fact the coroner’s reports says it’s false. Stop hurling accusations around when you are not acquainted with the obvious facts.

      2. Banger

        JFK and RFK were opportunists as all politicians are but were both social democrats, clearly. MLK was a radical leftist and regarded as “the most dangerous man in America” by J. Edgar Hoover and, I believe, all the power-elite. JFK confronted the entire power-elite and lost. RFK was going to continue the job and MLK would have represented the social forces that would assure RFK would succeed.

        JFK wanted to end the Cold War and that was the main reason he was killed. RFK would have ended the war and instituted social democracy beyond LBJ and in concert with MLK.

        The left died in ’68 not just from the assassination but continuing the denial of what happened.

        1. Andrew Watts


          I don’t buy that story. It was well-known at the time that the Kennedy family were aspiring social climbers. The Kennedy patriarch stood a good chance of being nominated as a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. If it wasn’t for his pro-Hitler views during his time as American ambassador in London he probably would’ve been. The fact that he was able to realize his ambitions through his progeny did not make them the natural leaders of the left-wing in American politics.

          The Cold War was still in it’s early formative years. Despite that one individual no matter how powerful, was not going to stand against the tide of history. This was a socio-economic and political struggle between aspiring global hegemons. That individuals like De Tocqueville foresaw well in advance. The cult of Kennedy resembles the Obamabots in too many disturbing ways. At some point you have to accept that the Democrats cannot possibly satisfy the grievances of every American radical/dissent group.

          1. Banger

            Of course you don’t buy the story because you are ignorant on the matter–you have not studied the issue because you are afraid to and you are in excellent company. No one wants to look at this stuff–your characterization of the Kennedy’s is simple-minded and part of the propaganda of the center. Kennedy was clearly prepared to take concrete steps to end the Cold War–he wanted to blow up the CIA and he opposed all his generals who did want a nuclear war with the USSR because they felt they could destroy the USSR for good and believed that the U.S. would only lose 30 million people. That’s a f!cking fact and there is much else you are afraid to look into.

            1. Andrew Watts

              Banger, that hurts. It was only a week ago in the Snowden post that I mentioned how close we came to atomic warfare over the Stalin-Tito split based upon declassified documents. I am not ignorant of how crazy some of those old Cold Warriors were.

              It was under the Kennedy administration that the top marginal tax rate got a tax cut. What sort of left winger would support that action? Neither Presidents Truman or Eisenhower consented to a tax cut for the very richest people in the country. As for your assertion regarding the CIA… Bay of Pigs. Eisenhower couldn’t be fooled into such a moronic plan by the CIA. Truman loathed the CIA so much he openly referred to it as the American Gestapo.

              I can overlook the Kennedy brother’s personal and political faults, but it seems extremely unlikely that they would accomplish either of the things you think they would’ve been or become in the future. Besides the whole not starting a nuclear war bit.

              1. Banger

                Look, Kennedy was a kind of fool–he was constantly fooled and manipulated by the powers that be and then got his head blown off–his instincts were good and his heart was, in my view, in the right place as many men of courage, however foolish, have their hearts in the right place. Compare his travails in WWII with the coward G. Bush senior or junior who was even worse.

                I don’t mean to insult you–I respect your thoughts expressed here always thoughtful and well written. But I get impatient with the following: that the assassination reflect a coup d’etat that makes the Civil War pale in comparison. These events are the single most important events to have happened in the history of the U.S. Maybe the Kennedies and MLK were a bunch of mad dogs who would ultimately endanger the world–I certainly can’t be sure that they weren’t. But it f!cking happened and these people who did these deeds, and the evidence is overwhelming that they did, stole our history from us. I can’t possibly see how these events can be ignored. And I assert that no left-wing movement can even come close to having more than a slight effect on politics unless it confronts this reality. This may be one of the chief reasons I believe change can only happen from the right who tend to be more open to alternate visions.

                If I’m wrong and the coroner’s report on RFKs murder does not indicate that they got the wrong killer then, of course, I’m a deluded paranoiac. If what I say is true then everything in the mainstream narrative collapses like a house of cards.

  22. Publius

    I think we have to go back to Carlyle and Ruskin in England to grasp our present situation. Theory needs to be broomed into the dustbin. The question is a moral one. “Signs of the Times” and the Condition of England Question

    O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky;
    But can ye not discern the signs of the times? — Matthew 16:3, King James Bible

    In June 1829,the Edinburgh Review published Carlyle‘s “Signs of the Times,” (text) in which he anticipates the Condition of England Question he raised a decade later in Chartism (1839) and Past and Present (1843). As G. B. Tennyson notes, “Carlyle more than any man before him perceived the changes being wrought by the Industrial Revolution” (XXVIII). He criticised vehemently the ethos of the Industrial Revolution, which, he believed, was destroying human individuality. He expressed his distrust of the spirit of the “mechanical age”, which was manifested not only in the technical progress of English society but also in an overwhelming feeling of inanition: “The King has virtually abdicated; the Church is a widow, without jointure; public principle is gone; private honesty is going; society, in short, is in fact falling to pieces; and a time of unmixed evil is come on us” (33). The essay was aimed to draw the attention of the reading public to the spiritual price of social change, caused particularly by the frenetic industrialisation. In “Signs of the Times” Carlyle warned that the Industrial Revolution was turning people into mechanical automatons devoid of individuality and spirituality. For Carlyle, machine and mechanisation had double meaning: they meant literally new technical devices, but also metaphorically mechanistic thought that suppresses human freedom. Carlyle strongly criticised the mechanisation of the human spirit and indicated the high moral costs of industrial change.

    Were we required to characterise this age of ours by any single epithet, we should be tempted to call it, not an Heroical, Devotional, Philosophical, or Moral Age, but, above all others, the Mechanical Age. It is the Age of Machinery, in every outward and inward sense of that word; the age which, with its whole undivided might, forwards, teaches and practises the great art of adapting means to ends. Nothing is now done directly, or by hand; all is by rule and calculated contrivance. [34]

    In this sermon-like essay, Carlyle led a crusade against scientific materialism, Utilitarianism and the laissez-faire system. He believed that the freedom of the emerging mechanical society in England was a delusion, because it made workers into greater slaves than their ancient counterparts had been and mechanisation of society threatened the human ability to think and act creatively:

    Men are grown mechanical in head and in heart, as well as in hand. They have lost faith in individual endeavour, and in natural force, of any kind. Not for internal perfection, but for external combinations and arrangements, for institutions, constitutions, for Mechanism of one sort or other, do they hope and struggle. Their whole efforts, attachments, opinions, turn on mechanism, and are of a mechanical character.

  23. Brooklin Bridge

    No matter how bleak things appear, the reality is probably much much worse.

    The greed and corruption that we are discussing will play itself out, possibly with minor social upheavals and attempts to rectify things, and along with that “playing out of corruption” will be irreversible additions to C02 emissions and other climate change triggers that take us way way beyond the tipping point we have already recently crossed. Each degree of temperature rise means a new degree of unstoppable catastrophe. And while that will certainly bring governments down, and corruption along with it, it will do the same to civilizations.

    The idea that if we just stop everything now, right now, we will avoid the existential threat is absurd. We are going full steam ahead with exploitation of the most lethal substances in earth by the most powerful unstoppable global force of corruption in recorded history. We are not going to stop the madness. We are the madness.

    Sure we could stop it (if we were suddenly transformed, say, into angels). But short of something along those dubious lines, we won’t stop it any more than we would stop the sea level rising with a tea spoon.

    If we are lucky, humankind will essentially be made up of small nomadic groups of hunter gatherers within a hundred and fifty years (probably made up of the descendants of the 1% no matter how grotesquely unfair that seems). Keeping hold of technology seems iffy. I remember hearing that there is a point of critical mass, population wise, below which we probably go extinct. Either way it will be a blessing for the other species that manage to survive.

  24. casino implosion

    Does Chris Hedges deal with any actual people in the course of his activities?

    We’re about as close to a revolutionary uprising as we are to the orbit of Neptune.

    1. Chris Rogers

      Actually Hedges analysis is correct if we use history as a guidance, i.e,. sooner or later an inflection point will be reached and chaos will be unleashed – what will cause this is certainly unknown, but, and on the continuing trajectory the US is following, something will give – and I doubt very much, your so called ‘middle class’, once the funds run out, as they will given the unlimited greed of your masters, will like the concentration camps your post 9/11 governing officials have in mind for you.

      1. Greg T

        Agreed, Chris. Hedges actually knows quite a bit about the mood of the country. He is first and foremost, a reporter. His book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is based on his travels in some of the worst economic pockets in the country. If he says the US is a tinderbox, we should take him seriously.

        I don’t think he’s as optimistic as Yves suggests. In Part 1, he says he’s existentially optimistic but practically pessimistic. I think that means he is confident people will come to realize their condition and who is responsible for it, but changing it will be difficult. He does say in the interview that he’s not naive enough to believe that 500 K people marching in Washington will immediately change anything, but it would be a necessary step.

        Chris, I think you are correct. With each crisis, more and more people will become ‘ excess baggage ‘. Theres something about survival that tends to galvanize people to a purpose.

  25. Mark Stevens

    We have indeed become a culture that is a mixture of both Brave New World and 1984. One aspect of the current situation which is overlooked is the state of our physical health. I can not see a revolution led by people who are too fat to walk a few blocks. How much of the population is dependent on the government for medicaid and medicare? Many of them would be literally risking their lives if their source of medication and treatment were to be cut off. With 50 million food stamp recipients how many would starve without that assistance? I can not see those so dependent leading the charge on Capitol Hill. When the system collapses under its own weight and the population has started to decline there will be nothing to lose, so maybe then.

    1. Massinissa

      When the food stamps are cut, and medical care becomes less and less due to the effects of austerity, we may see uprising, at least of a small sort.

      When people cannot survive, they get angry.

      But right now they CAN survive, albeit pitifully. So there is no revolution at the moment.

      People will not revolt until they are forced by their desperation to do so.

      1. Inverness

        Massinissa, so many people are absolutely not surviving right now. There are American counties that lack running water, tent cities propped up for the newly homeless, whose numbers continue to rise, not to mention suicides.

        Many of Americans have already reached that breaking point. Maybe we need more of the formerly middle class to join their ranks? I don’t know. But the situation has already grown so severe…

  26. Tokai Tuna

    “I suspect we’ll see more and more random violence as frustrated individuals lash out.” That’s cynical, but it will be very much welcomed as it potentiates opportunity through crisis.
    Business has long succeeded profitably by designing things to fail, or engineering failure or setting things up to fail.
    Controlling information, wind shield wipers or human capital, destroying things to save them. It’s worth reminding people that frustration or anger can be helpful and doesn’t necessarily mean violence or lashing out.

  27. allcoppedout

    Socialist alternatives have been articulated for a long time and most primitive societies are more egalitarian than our clown fest. The communism of the free table was articulated in a slave economy that was sexist. The China of Mao and the USSR of Stalin were disasters. One might even put forward Thatcher as the most Gramscian of our politicians, destroying the hegemony of communities and their representation (unions).

    Philosophy has long had a radical theory,which we might put as Wittgenstein noticing the long history of the subject had produced a hill of beans and language was worth looking at as the cause and re-grouping it a potential solution, complicated by the solution being expressed in language. There is a shed load of critique across the social sciences and our literature, even on how dominant ideologies arise and are maintained. Science, which is apolitical in teaching and practice, produces liberals in massive preponderance, with a tiny GOP/Tory rump – we are not, in the main, products of Critical Theory classes or the excellent line of Mexico. Of course, science as it reaches the public is not what we go through in learning it, but the dunnage on the next diet-fad as Banger tells us.

    I dislike blaming the current squalor on the US – we need to identify the real shadows. We know who they are – the people with massive, hoarded wealth across the planet. Detroit is interesting here because the bankruptcy threatens another form of what we thought hoarded wealth, that expected to pay pensions. This money is probably long gone across the US cities and down a Ponzi drain. I note a judge who co-authored a book on Ponzi unwinding is in charge in Detroit. This could be the tipping point that tells us as a society that our politicians have been engaged in a vast cover-up (or so dumb the could not read the writing on the wall) – I was teaching this as far back as 1992 but may as well have been walking the streets in ‘the end of the world is nigh’ sandwich-boards. Cops could retire here on two-thirds pay back then.

    Detroit, Gary (Indiana), Birmingham (Alabama) … might just be the touch-paper if substantial numbers of middle-class people find their income gone. We have similar situations in the UK, as does much of the EU. Not long ago we were being told pension pots were brimming full!

    The key thing we don’t grok is that most people don’t learn very much and are very easily swayed by cultural rot – look how many cop and secret service hero shows hinge on will they won’t they sex and a sub-text of personal revenge, heroes nice to children, animals (NCIS is the utter classic) and the notion we the public will do what is right when asked. Young South African boys queue up for ritual humiliation to become ‘men’ (whilst losing ‘manhood’ in botched circumcision) – I see little difference in Western cool.

    Young populations are much more likely to rebel. Analysing internal conflicts in 175 nations during the second half of the 20th century, Urdal found that “with every percentage point increase in the youth population, relative to the [total] adult population, the risk of conflict increases by more than 4 per cent.” When young adults exceed 35 per cent of all adults, the risk is 150 per cent higher (International Studies Quarterly, vol 50, p 607). The relationship persists, he says, even when factors such as the state of national economic development, democracy and conflict history are filtered out. In a study for the non-governmental organisation Population Action International in 2003, Richard Cincotta, a researcher who currently advises the US government’s National Intelligence Council on demography, found that countries in which more than 40 per cent of the adult population is aged between 15 and 29 are more than twice as likely as older societies to experience some form of civil conflict.

    We may not be on the streets because we have become pathetic/apathetic with age. Perhaps we oldies are to blame and should make the trip to ‘Lemming Hill’ (though lemmings don’t actually commit suicide), as a gesture to the future of our species? Bees leave the hive when ill in a form of altruism.

    History tells us any kind of revolution will not do. Why should we have more success if we take to the streets than the Egyptians or most of Eastern Europe? Do we feel racial superiority? The older academics when I was a student almost all supported massive change as we want now. We got human resource management instead (an evil).

    The question has always been how we get things done after the revolution and hanging bankers has become a bore. Money needs to go in its current form as thirty pieces of silver, or whatever the globally arbitraged level that has sunk to. We hardly discuss the needed attitude changes and the new constitution

    1. Chris Rogers

      Hate to break the news to you, but any change at all, if its to come out of the UK will be driven by the grey haired brigade, i.e., those most likely to vote, and not the youth you allude to.

      Given the ConDem government in the UK now has its mindset on another 5 years of austerity after 2015 and proposes attacking the benefits of pensioners as it decimates social welfare – somehow, i can’t see pensioners buying into this crap.

      Don’t expect any change from Ed Miliband’s NewNuLabour Party – an absolute disgrace and I certainly will not be voting for them – Green and Plaid Cymru all the way for me from now on.

      1. Lambert Strether

        FWIW, I think it has to be the diamond geezers plus the youth. This picture from Moral Mondays encourages me:

        Note the younger person also being arrested in the background.

        I heard a similar anecdote locally: Three geezers like me and two young women stopping an oil tank car train.

        * * *

        All defensive, though. Stopping stuff, not starting it. So, back to TINA. Maybe Alperowitz is pointing to the way forward to a real alternative. I’m not sure.

    2. Banger

      Really nice analysis. Hope you continue in this vein in the future. As for the youth contingent you are right of course and that may be the reason we are all standing around waiting for something to happen.

      However, we can take courage on one central fact: we live in a world that is so radically different that the old criteria just no longer count–something deeper is at work here and we haven’t yet been able to grasp it.

  28. LillithMc

    The tinderbox was last week with the Zimmerman trial. For the left it was a repeat of the south before the Civil Rights movement. GOP/NRA/ALEC laws passed in all the red states included the Florida version of “stand your ground”. The right began an immediate portrayal of Martin as a thug who deserved what he got. Zimmerman was sent home with his gun for 40 days until civil unrest demanded a trial. The right claimed “stand your ground” was not part of the trial although the juror said instructions were from that law. It could be the tinderbox will be something like the Martin trial, the massacre in Newtown or some other event that incites crowds and brings out the armed militia of Homeland Security. Occupy was clearly under Homeland Security attention just as the Civil Rights movement was covered by the FBI with local police alerted to any protest in order to prepare a bloody response. A map of all the red states shows where the new laws are in effect. They involve voter suppression, extreme gerrymanders, restrictions of women’s health care rights, corporate reduction of taxes and increased rights to pollute. When the red states show the effects of no health care for the poor (no medicaid), back-alley abortions, millions with concealed gun permits but questionable backgrounds like Zimmerman, we may see a tinderbox. That could also be part of the plan like the billionaire funding of the tea party.

  29. Waking Up

    Regardless of his past part in our current state of affairs as a nation, I have to say that I was surprised to hear a former President of the United States… Jimmy Carter… acknowledge the truth that the United States is no longer a functioning Democracy.

    Bravo to Jimmy Carter for speaking the truth!

  30. Jill

    I am getting ready to approach my neighbor who belongs to the tea party and the Libertarian party to discuss opposition to the surveillance state. I would also like to talk about the economy, but one thing at a time. I believe a few liberal friends should join in and we should schedule small group talks about this. I picture doing this at our homes or the libray etc.

    I think we should do this together to show that fighting a surveillance state matters to people on both the right and left. We need to come together and I believe this is one area where we share things in common.

    Should anyone like to give me advice on what to say, how to say it, etc. please offer it. I want to hear it. If you have advice on speaking about the economy in plain language, that can cross ideological divides, I want to hear that also.

    Thanks, Jill

    1. Lambert Strether


      I thought I posted on this somewhere, but I can’t find it. So I hope I tell the story the same way….

      * * *

      Last month I was driven home from a permaculture event in Northern Maine with a nice churchgoing couple and they asked me what I did. I explained, in fairly general terms, and the husband asked me What I thought the big stories of the day were, mentioning that he heard a lot about Benghazi. [oh-kaaay…]

      I responded that I felt that most of the big stories weren’t covered at all, at least in the news. For example, “Why haven’t any bankers gone to jail?” Big nod from the husband, bigger nod from the wife. So commmunication is possible….

      1. Jill

        Thanks Lambert and Otter!

        To All: When I read these comments I was struck by the amount of love behind them. Even people who disagreed with each other, or whose ideas I personally do not hold–I could tell they were motivated by good will and the desire for things to turn better for other people and our nation.

  31. LAS

    Let’s not forget to look for resistance in other ways than street protest. Immediately after the Nazi take over of France in WWII, it seemed that the French were compliant to rule by Germans and the Vichy French collaborators. Gatherings by more than 5 persons was illegal. But, in fact, hearts and minds were continuously defecting as each day continued under the occupation. People of all backgrounds joined the resistance and many of them behaved with great heroism performing relatively small acts of sabotage.

    Although they may not be marching in Washington, a high proportion of Americans obviously do distrust schemes of man at a relatively high rate. Where it goes from here, I’m not sure.

  32. barrisj

    The late Tony Judt had addressed similar issues to those of Hedges in his “Ill Fares The Land”, where he lamented the inability of Social democracy to either preserve the gains made earlier in the 20th Century, or indeed repel the savage attacks on them by “the neoliberal agenda”. In fact, Judt concedes that ““incremental improvements upon unsatisfactory circumstances are the best that we can hope for…”, a rather tepid and underwhelming outlook, I’m afraid. Judt notes that the forces of reaction have indeed stolen a march on progressivism, and writes: “It is the Right that has inherited the ambitious modernist urge to destroy and innovate in the name of a universal project. From the war in Iraq through the unrequited desire to dismantle public education and health services, to the decades-long project of financial deregulation, the political Right – from Thatcher and Reagan to Bush and Blair – has abandoned the association of political conservatism with social moderation […].”
    He surely would have included Obama as an avatar of the neoliberal project, as his administration has connived with major corporate and financial interests to further protect their interests, has extended the Surveillance State into unprecedented territory, has continued a militaristic foreign policy – fine-tuned, really, with his drone-based “projection” of US power – and generally rewarded “the malefactors of great wealth” at the expense of the vast bulk of the US public. In fact, as late-capitalism careens its reckless way through Western economies, each national or international crisis fomented by the plutocracy elicits even further punishment of its victims. How can anything but an acute pessimistic expectation of any sort of meaningful reform be a valid position?

  33. Lambert Strether

    I dunno where the touch paper or the spark is, but I’d be thinking seriously about supply chain vulnerability, since AFAIK the supply chain has been highly optimized — i.e., is fragile — since “just in time” days. The supply chain is the common terrain of anti-fracking, anti-pipeline, Walmart protests, and even efforts like local food sovereignty. I’m sure there are more….

    Granted, drones, surveillance, militarized police forces, besides other Leviathon-like tactics but (a) our military just lost two wars applying such tactics internationally, (b) it’s a big continent, and (c) check out Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper and Millenium challenge.

    1. nobody

      You might enjoy a paper introduced at Zero Hedge awhile back as “Nassim Taleb meets Edward Lorenz meets Malcom Gladwell meets Arthur Tansley meets Herman Muller meets Werner Heisenberg meets Hyman Minsky meets William Butler Yeats, and the resultant group spends all night drinking absinthe and smoking opium, while engaging in illegal debauchery in the 5th sub-basement of the Moulin Rouge circa 1890.”

          1. nobody

            It’s not from ZeroHedge, I said it was introduced there. I wanted to quote the sentence about absinthe and opium.

            The paper comes from the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability:

            “Feasta was launched in Dublin in October 1998 to explore the economic, cultural and environmental characteristics of a truly sustainable society, and to disseminate the results of this exploration to the widest relevant audience.

            “The position Feasta has adopted is that many of the world’s problems are caused not by bad people but by dysfunctional systems and it sees its purpose as designing better systems. For example, the economic system demands continual growth if it is not to collapse into a catastrophic depression, and this leaves politicians with little alternative but to pursue short-term economic growth more-or-less regardless of the damage that that pursuit might be doing to longer-term environmental and social sustainability.

            “Feasta has spent a lot of time examining the reasons for this growth compulsion to see if an economic system can be devised without it. Feasta has also looked at money systems, agricultural systems, carbon systems, energy systems, taxation systems, rationing systems, land tenure systems and democratic systems and come up with ideas for these.

            “We take it as given that sustainability must benefit everyone in a society, rather than merely those who are financially or otherwise privileged. We consider a society to be sustainable if it can expect to survive for several hundreds of years without being forced to change because it is currently destroying or undermining something on which its survival crucially depends.”


  34. RBHoughton

    I agree with you that 1/ Obama has done as well as might be expected and 2/ many young people have probably been disabled from taking their usual leading role in protest.

    I should like to make the case for retirees. They are usually dependent on the economic system for their pensions and that will mitigate the effectiveness of many but some will have more freedom to act and they all recall the America of ‘Burns and Allen’ and ‘Happy Days.’ They know it does not have to be like it is today.

    Marching does not concern the elites any more but not voting in elections, non-payment of taxes, boycotts of particular products, barter of goods and services and many other tactics can force political attention.

  35. ohmyheck

    Anecdote— after reading this article this morning, I sold an item I had on Craigslist. The person who bought it was a man around 40. Very clean-cut, and Mormon.

    He proceeded to tell me that he lost everything–home and a growing business, in 2008. He now works at the North Dakota oil rigs cuz the money is good.

    He told me that in his travels he meets a whole lot of folks who understand very well what is going on in this country, and they believe that there will be a revolt, and that many of them are preparing.

    MSM and others can call them nutjobs, but when the nutjobs reach a certain percentage, well, who is the nutjob? The one who knows the truth or the one in denial?

    Out here in fly-over country, this is very real.

  36. VietnamVet

    This is the best commentary on current affairs I’ve read.

    With the fall of the Soviet Union, the Western Elite ceased to fear a workers revolt and commenced to accumulate wealth any way they could.

    Modern Consumerism works to calm and divert our society. Marketing satisfies our human needs; but, only if you have money to spend. When all your earnings from slinging hash are going to pay off your student loan; material consumption is impossible except to survive. Corporate propaganda continues to message that this is the best of all possible worlds. When it isn’t, it’s the dead beat’s fault. This works i.e. the 28% increase in the middle age suicide rate. But, at some point, when the middle class realizes they about to lose everything; then the aristocrats’ heads will roll, once again.

    1. Chris Rogers

      @Vietnam Vet,

      You are absolutely correct that since the demise of the USSR the Western Power elite have become reckless in their pursuit of more wealth and more power – combined with the establishment of both a single world currency and single world government for want of a better word – this triumphalism is epitomised in Fukuyama’s “The End of History and the Last Man.”

      Regretfully, TBTB are better advised to read Kennedy’s “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”, rather than Fukuyama’s trash.

      It should be no surprise that with the fall of the USSR the Power Elite felt safe enough to begin the final part of its neoliberal economic assault on the masses – epitomised by the election of Clinton in the US and Tony Blair in the UK – the rest is history, but Reagan and Thatcher may well have begun the neoliberal counter-revolution, but it was their progeny in the Democratic Party and NuLabour Party that finished off what they begun.

      Indeed, think how much different history would be if George Bush had won the 1992 Presidential election – not as if I’m a supporter of the Bush clan or the Republicans by the way.

  37. Paul Tioxon

    There is ongoing work by many people all over the world and all over America to strengthen the things that remain. I just finished “THE PEOPLE’S PENSION” BY ERIK LAURSEN. Bill Black covered it in post here a month or so ago. It is much a manual to understanding the opposition and how to counter it as it is a useful history of recent American politics. Social Security First has been the driving force for a United Political Front of different groups to rally behind. I know I am even more so than before will be using it as an instrument of political organizing in everyday conversation.

    As to building a better future out of the chaos and ruble that is all around us, again, many different anti-Establishment initiatives are taking place. But if you are looking for some great big blowout, it is not predictable or even recognizable at first. Sometime an event is so large as not to be measurable unless it is well past its mid point as a social process. Trayvon Martin, Occupy, The Texas Women Filibuster Movement, The Unions in Wisconsin and Ohio, Teachers in Chicago and Philadelphia and on and on, don’t have to been operated out of central control from commie pinko HQ, but a lot is happening now that hasn’t been in long while.

  38. cadams

    The problem with the egalitarian position, and with most of the posters on this website, is its hollow materialism. Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity will probably always kick your asses because they can speak the cultural language of the American religion: atavist and manichean, of God, religion and family, and the battle between good and evil. Orwell, often mentioned on this website, described brilliantly the problem of the soulless idealist in his essay “Can Socialists Be Happy?”

    The first problem of the egalitarian is the problem of language and semantics (see also Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”). The language of H.G. Wells, Huxley, and other empty utopians can never compete with that of Dickens, Churchill’s 1940 speeches, or of the Four Gospels in the King James Version.

    You can’t ever win over people to egalitarian principles if you are also joined to the hip with ideas that are perceived by them as leading to the breakdown of the family, or are perceived as morally wrong. You can’t fight culture; you must learn to work within the culture of the American religion.

    1. RanDomino

      Just because SOME people adhere to that world does not mean that all or even most do. There are many more people in the US who are not part of “American” society than you think.

    2. Lambert Strether

      And the act of corruption starts with corrupt language.

      However, being able to sense or indict corrupt language (Hedges is not only an English major but the son of a minister) is not at all the same as inventing a new language.

      1. Emma

        Corruption on a massive scale is constantly disguised with perverted language so it looks like a Big Mac which the masses are happy to eat up.

    3. Patricia

      Cadams: I’ve been recently reading in the online US Evangelical community because I want to see what’s going on. I’ve been away from the church for 35 years.

      I’ve been fascinated to find deep conflict there over the same issues as in our larger culture. Abusive opaque authoritarianism is rampant with its usual demeaning/controlling of membership (demands, tithing, but getting no voice). Leaders grab/misuse tithes as our gov’t does to taxes. There is propagandistic exceptionalism (Christians are “righter and better”) that rivals our nation’s propaganda of US exceptionalism. Etc.

      And more and more membership are rejecting it. There’s been a slowly increasing exodus of members even while many of them do not reject the faith itself.

      In that context, Fox and Beck are the propaganda. Of course, propaganda is not complete BS. It works best in mixture.

      On various sites, I have been commenting about the similarities, here/there, and there’s been receptivity, so that’s good.

      Thus, your accusation of hollow materialism is merely beam-off propaganda from that corner of the world.

  39. Ep3

    Yves, here’s my thoughts about when this “neo-fascist” rule began; July 4, 1776. Those guys wanted to be kings too. They were mad that the only way to get there was thru birth. So they opened up the requirements. But I want to fast forward to the depression. Social stirrings were already roaring outside the US. And when they began inside the country, amists the depression, I believe the elites became worried. They felt really threatened that the depression was gonna be the end of their power run. they opened up the pocketbooks and slowly implemented marginal socialist policies. by the time the US was out of the great depression, they had effectively stopped “benefits” and resumed their campaign against “communism” (communism being this fear of an economically healthy middle class). I also think it was partly to do with the fear of the baby boomers. Their voting power had to be contained and focused. Here, by providing well paying jobs with extensive benefits, boomers could be lulled into complacency and a sense of false optimism (they did well, and the myth that the next generation always does better) so that they were no longer a political threat (ongoing). In the 1970s, the political parties and campaign strategies were given the green light. And Reagan was their man. Carter went along with their plans, but Ronny gave then free reign. The absence of active govt from Ford and carter, who appeased the pent up tension from Vietnam and watergate (apathy breed apathy), released the ‘Reagan revolution’. Ppl wanted change, and a great media campaign focused that blame at govt.
    So my point is that this “neo-fascism” has been going on for a long time. It’s just had a different name and face. It didn’t start with Obama, w, Clinton, reagan, etc. it has always existed. And blaming the latest figurehead is just parlor tricks

    1. Jack Heape

      Maybe not 1776, but for sure when the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation. The end of the Civil War consolidated the Federal government as the supreme law of the land, and ever since then the elites have worked to centralize and monopolize. They did this by the creation of the Fed, granting corporations legal personhood and immortality, the income tax (allows the creation of favoritism toward certain classes), public schools (state run propaganda), and media centralization and ownership. Americans have been propagandized into thinking they are exceptional. I see no future for the US. The neo-facists will take over and we will follow 1930’s Germany down their road into dictatorship. The game is rigged, elections are a joke, and the police state is in place.

      1. The Rage

        Uh, Public Schools were in America since the beginning. Just about all the founders were a favorite of them. If anything, it is the private schooling industrial complex that is the problem.

        The Civil War frankly, “created” the United States. Without it, the country couldn’t survive. Capitalism has built up enough. Now Capitalists want to destroy the Federal Government………what does that tell you?

        Your whole post is pathetic and full of internationalism.

  40. Chris Maukonen

    I will amke the same comment here that I made at FDL to a similar post:

    I agree whole heartedly with Hedges assessment of the situation. His analogy of this being a neo-feudalistic society is spot on. And that the democratic party is an extreme right party with an extreme right agenda.

    HOWEVER I disagree that any solution will be achieved in the voting booth. Any more than it would have been in Stalinist Russia.


  41. tongorad

    It is going to be nigh near impossible to get a mass movement underway in our current police/surveillance state, which is only growing stronger and more severe. The tipping point would almost have to be some mega-catastrophic event. Before that, people will be weighing the trade-offs and coming down on the side of passivity and acceptance. For example, should I risk an arrest at the protest down the street that would potentially jeopardize my current and future employment? Previous generations of activists had their own set of problems, we have the computer database.

    1. ictus92

      To paraphrase Madeline Albright: “What’s the point of creating a totalitarian police state if you’re not going to use it?”

      So where is the American totalitarian state going? If you look at the NDAA and the discussion around repealing the Posse Comitatus Act, the key words include quelling “domestic civil unrest”… So what are the “deep government” types anticipating so hysterically?

      Well, the financial crisis keeps grinding away and is about to enter another phase of collapse as “quantitative easing” has run its course. Interest rates are rising, posing “technical insolvency” of the Federal Reserve itself. What this means is that time’s up for the 46 million in the Food Stamp Supplemental Program; 56 million getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and at least 20 million more needing full time employment. Obviously there’s some overlap, but the total number of people living on the margins of subsistence pushes 30% of the population.

      For these, they face an immediate “Final Solution”… not exactly direct extermination, but death by deprivation, illness etc. Can work camps be far off for these tens of millions and the many millions more living paycheck to paycheck? This population and their sympathizers comprise the tinder for “civil unrest”. Hence the corollary to the famous “Collect it all” (communications) is “control it all” (civil disorder following further economic collapse).

      Furthermore, prolonged neglect of key infrastructure will lead inevitably to severe food, water and electric power access — another source of civil unrest potential.

      Of course, overseas the totalitarian police state eliminates all expression of opposition that can change policies in the quest for “Permanent War” and “full spectrum” military dominance. This ends in global military confrontation… just as the financial crisis of the 30’s gave rise to another World War… only this time around world war will pitch towards thermonuclear war in short order. That’s how totalitarian regimes collapse into catastrophe, dragging the rest of us to an unpleasant demise.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a damn thing any of us can do to arrest this beserk Levithan…

      1. The Rage

        The Totalitarian state is called “Capitalism”…….once you understand that as the decadent phase of the merchent class.

        The lack of reasoning on this thread is amazing. People simple DO NOT GET IT!!!!

  42. tongorad

    I do think that things are a lot worse than people want to recognize or realize. I’m in my late 40’s and so many of my friends are out of luck and out of hope. One of my friends is currently squatting in a house and is near suicide.
    The situation sure looks hopeless now.

    1. Nathanael

      Suicide is what they want. Never commit suicide (unless, y’know, your problems really are your own fault); better to murder whoever ruined your life. I realize this view is unpopular, but it is a view with a pedigree dating back to ancient Sumeria.

  43. aljamo

    Banger has it right when questioning the murders of JFK, RFK and MLK. I add JFK jr. to the list. He was a threat to the establishment in 2000. Nearing the 50 year anniversary of JFK’s murder, the existing facts completely wash over the obvious blatant lies of the Warren Commission findings. This murder and subsequent murders of important American citizens are still as relevent as the day they happened. These murders have erased our civility as a justice and freedom caring nation, clearly by design of those oppressing our constitution. The truth about JFK’s murder is all important.

    1. Banger

      The issue is actually greater than just political. The issue is whether we choose to abandon reason or not. The fact that one cannot have a discussion on these issues but, rather, that people who do not believe in the official narrative are simply dismissed as irrational and deluded. No discussion is necessary. We either choose to confront the truth or we don’t. I believe the vast majority of the left-intelligentsia refuse to face the truth about the assassinations and, I believe, most everything else in favor of comfort. The sad part is that they criticize religious people for doing just that.

    2. Nathanael

      Derren Brown demonstrated that Sirhan Sirhan’s story of being hypnotised into assassinating RFK was completely, 100%, plausible.

      So he probably was hypnotized into assassinating RFK.

      I don’t think the people who ran the assassination of RFK actually got what they wanted though. If they wanted to stop the Civil Rights movement… fail. If they wanted to promote the Vietnam War… well, the war was lost anyway. Et cetera. Even evil conspirators can be remarkably incompetent when it comes to long-term thinking.

      1. Nathanael

        It’s worth looking up the Derren Brown show. He hypnotised a random man into assassinating Stephen Fry in a theater. (With a trick rifle, so that Stephen Fry didn’t die, obviously). He followed a procedure corresponding tightly to Sirhan Sirhan’s memory.

  44. santana

    Santana Valdez Says
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