Chris Hedges Original

Chris Hedges: America’s Death March

Regardless of the outcome, the election will not stop the rise of hypernationalism, crisis cults and other signs of an empire's terminal decline.

By Chris Hedges / Original to Scheerpost

The terminal decline of the United States will not be solved by elections. The political rot and depravity will continue to eat away at the soul of the nation, spawning what anthropologists call crisis cults — movements led by demagogues that prey on an unbearable psychological and financial distress. These crisis cults, already well established among followers of the Christian Right and Donald Trump, peddle magical thinking and an infantilism that promises — in exchange for all autonomy — prosperity, a return to a mythical past, order and security. The dark yearnings among the white working class for vengeance and moral renewal through violence, the unchecked greed and corruption of the corporate oligarchs and billionaires who manage our failed democracy, which has already instituted wholesale government surveillance and revoked most civil liberties, are part of the twisted pathologies that infect all civilizations sputtering towards oblivion. I witnessed the deaths of other nations during the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and later in the former Yugoslavia. I have smelled this stench before.

The removal of Trump from office will only exacerbate the lust for racist violence he incites and the intoxicating elixir of white nationalism. The ruling elites, who first built a mafia economy and then built a mafia state, will continue under Biden, as they did under Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, to wantonly pillage and loot. The militarized police will not stop their lethal rampages in poor neighborhoods. The endless wars will not end. The bloated military budget will not be reduced. The world’s largest prison population will remain a stain upon the country. The manufacturing jobs shipped overseas will not return and the social inequality will grow. The for-profit health care system will gouge the public and price millions more out of the health care system. The language of hate and bigotry will be normalized as the primary form of communication. Internal enemies, including Muslims, immigrants and dissidents, will be defamed and attacked. The hypermasculinity that compensates for feelings of impotence will intensify. It will direct its venom towards women and all who fail to conform to rigid male stereotypes, especially artists, LGBTQ people and intellectuals. Lies, conspiracy theories, trivia and fake news — what Hannah Arendt called “nihilistic relativism” — will still dominate the airwaves and social media, mocking verifiable fact and truth. The ecocide, which presages the extinction of the human species and most other life forms, will barrel unabated towards its apocalyptic conclusion.

“We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it,” Pascal wrote.

[Art by Mr. Fish/Original to Scheerpost]

The worse it gets — and it will get worse as the pandemic hits us in wave after deadly wave with an estimated 300,000 Americans dead by December and possibly 400,000 by January — the more desperate the nation will become. Tens of millions of people will be thrown into destitution, evicted from their homes and abandoned. Social collapse, as Peter Drucker observed in Weimar Germany in the 1930s, brings with it a loss of faith in ruling institutions and ruling ideologies. With no apparent answers or solutions to mounting chaos and catastrophe — and Biden and the Democratic Party have already precluded the kind of New Deal programs and assault on oligarchic power that saved us during the Great Depression — demagogues and charlatans need only denounce all institutions, all politicians, and all political and social conventions while conjuring up hosts of phantom enemies. Drucker saw that Nazism succeeded not because people believed in its fantastic promises, but in spite of them. Nazi absurdities, he pointed out, had been “witnessed by a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course.” Nobody, he noted, “would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite.” The poet, playwright and socialist revolutionary Ernst Toller, who was forced into exile and stripped of his citizenship when the Nazis took power in 1933, wrote much the same in his autobiography: “The people are tired of reason, tired of thought and reflection. They ask, what has reason done in the last few years, what good have insights and knowledge done us.” After Toller committed suicide in 1939, W.H. Auden in his poem “In Memory of Ernst Toller” wrote:

            We are lived by powers we pretend to understand:
            They arrange our loves; it is they who direct at the end
            The enemy bullet, the sickness, or even our hand.

The poor, the vulnerable, those who are not white or not Christian, those who are undocumented or who do not mindlessly repeat the cant of a perverted Christian nationalism, will be offered up in a crisis to the god of death, a familiar form of human sacrifice that plagues sick societies. Once these enemies are purged from the nation, we are promised, America will recover its lost glory, except that once one enemy is obliterated another takes its place. Crisis cults require a steady escalation of conflict. This is what made the war in the former Yugoslavia inevitable. Once one stage of conflict reaches a crescendo it loses its efficacy. It must be replaced by ever more brutal and deadly confrontations. The intoxication and addiction to greater and greater levels of violence to purge the society of evil led to genocide in Germany and the former Yugoslavia. We are not immune. It is what Ernst Jünger called a “feast of death.”

These crisis cults are, as Drucker understood, irrational and schizophrenic. They have no coherent ideology. They turn morality upside down. They appeal exclusively to emotions. Burlesque and celebrity culture become politics. Depravity becomes morality. Atrocities and murder become heroism. Crime and fraud become justice. Greed and nepotism become civic virtues. What these cults stand for today, they condemn tomorrow. At the height of the reign of terror on May 6, 1794 during the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre announced that the Committee for Public Safety now recognized the existence of God. The French revolutionaries, fanatical atheists who had desecrated churches and confiscated church property, murdered hundreds of priests and forced another 30,000 into exile, instantly reversed themselves to send to the guillotine those who disparaged religion. In the end, exhausted by the moral confusion and internal contradictions, these crisis cults yearn for self-annihilation.

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his classic book “On Suicide” found that when social bonds are shattered, when a population no longer feels it has a place or meaning in a society, personal and collective acts of self-destruction proliferate. Societies are held together by a web of social bonds that give individuals a sense of being part of a collective and engaged in a project larger than the self. This collective expresses itself through rituals, such as elections and democratic participation or an appeal to patriotism, and shared national beliefs. The bonds provide meaning, a sense of purpose, status and dignity. They offer psychological protection from impending mortality and the meaninglessness that comes with being isolated and alone. The breaking of these bonds plunges individuals into deep psychological distress. Durkheim called this state of hopelessness and despair anomie, which he defined as “ruleless-ness.”

Ruleless-ness means the norms that govern a society and create a sense of organic solidarity no longer function. The belief, for example, that if we work hard, obey the law and get a good education we can achieve stable employment, social status and mobility along with financial security becomes a lie. The old rules, imperfect and often untrue for poor people of color, nevertheless were not a complete fiction in the United States. They offered some Americans — especially those from the white working and middle class — modest social and economic advancement. The disintegration of these bonds has unleashed a widespread malaise Durkheim would have recognized. The self-destructive pathologies that plague the United States — opioid addiction, gambling, suicide, sexual sadism, hate groups and mass shootings — are products of this anomie. So is our political dysfunction. My book, “America: The Farewell Tour,” is an examination of these pathologies and the widespread anomie that defines American society.

The economic structures, even before the pandemic, were reconfigured to mock faith in a meritocracy and the belief that hard work leads to a productive and valued role in society. American productivity, as The New York Times pointed out, has increased 77 percent since 1973 but hourly pay has grown only 12 percent. If the federal minimum wage was attached to productivity, the newspaper wrote, it would be more than $20 an hour now, not $7.25. Some 41.7 million workers, a third of the workforce, earn less than $12 an hour, and most of them do not have access to employer-sponsored health insurance. A decade after the 2008 financial meltdown, the Times wrote, the average middle class family’s net worth is more than $40,000 below what it was in 2007. The net worth of black families is down 40 percent, and for Latino families the figure has dropped 46 percent. Some four million evictions are filed each year. One in four tenant households spends about half its pretax income on rent. Each night some 200,000 people sleep in their cars, on streets or under bridges. And these stark figures represent the good times Biden and the Democratic Party leaders promise to restore. Now, with real unemployment probably close to 20 percent — the official figure of 10 percent excludes those furloughed or those who have stopped looking for work — some 40 million people are at risk of being evicted by the end of the year. An estimated 27 million people are expected to lose their health insurance. Banks are stockpiling reserves of cash to cope with the expected wave of bankruptcies and defaults on mortgages, student loans, car loans, personal loans and credit card debt. The ruleless-ness and anomie that defines the lives of tens of millions of Americans was orchestrated by the two ruling parties in the service of a corporate oligarchy. If we do not address this anomie, if we do not restore the social bonds shattered by predatory corporate capitalism, the decay will accelerate.

This dark human pathology is as old as civilization itself, repeated in varying forms in the twilight of ancient Greece and Rome, the finale of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, revolutionary France, the Weimar Republic and the former Yugoslavia.

The social inequality that characterizes all states and civilizations seized by a tiny and corrupt cabal — in our case corporate — leads to an inchoate desire by huge segments of the population to destroy. The ethnic nationalists Slobodan Milošević, Franjo Tudjman, Radovan Karadžić and Alija Izetbegović in the former Yugoslavia assumed power in a similar period of economic chaos and political stagnation. Yugoslavs by 1991 were suffering from widespread unemployment and had seen their real incomes reduced by half from what they had been a generation before. These nationalist demagogues sanctified their followers as righteous victims stalked by an array of elusive enemies. They spoke in the language of vengeance and violence, leading, as it always does, to actual violence. They trafficked in historical myth, deifying the past exploits of their race or ethnicity in a perverse kind of ancestor worship, a mechanism to give to those who suffered from anomie, who had lost their identity, dignity and self-worth, a new, glorious identity as part of a master race. When I walked through Montgomery, Alabama, a city where half of the population is African-American, with the civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson a few years ago, he pointed out the numerous Confederate memorials, noting that most had been put up in the last decade. “This,” I told him, “is exactly what happened in Yugoslavia.”

A hyper-nationalism always infects a dying civilization. It feeds the collective self-worship. This hyper-nationalism celebrates the supposedly unique virtues of the race or the national group. It strips all who are outside the closed circle of worth and humanity. The world instantly becomes understandable, a black and white tableau of them and us. These tragic moments in history see people fall into collective insanity. They suspend thought, especially self-critical thought. None of this is going away in November, in fact it will get worse.

Joe Biden, a shallow, political hack devoid of fixed beliefs or intellectual depth, is an expression of the nostalgia of a ruling class that yearns to return to the pantomime of democracy. They want to restore the decorum and civic religion that makes the presidency a form of monarchy and sacralizes the organs of state power. Donald Trump’s vulgarity and ineptitude is an embarrassment to the architects of empire. He has ripped back the veil that covered our failed democracy. But no matter how hard the elites try this veil cannot be restored. The mask is off. The façade is gone. Biden cannot bring it back.

Political, economic and social dysfunction define the American empire. Our staggering inability to contain the pandemic, which now infects over 5 million Americans, and the failure to cope with the economic fallout the pandemic has caused, has exposed the American capitalist model as bankrupt. It has freed the world, dominated by the United States for seven decades, to look at other social and political systems that serve the common good rather than corporate greed. The diminished stature of the United States, even among our European allies, brings with it the hope for new forms of government and new forms of power.

It is up to us to abolish the American kleptocracy. It is up to us to mount sustained acts of mass civil disobedience to bring down the empire. It poisons the world as it poisons us. If we mobilize to build an open society, we hold out the possibility of beating back these crisis cults as well as slowing and disrupting the march towards ecocide. This requires us to acknowledge, like those protesting in the streets of Beirut, that our kleptocracy, like Lebanon’s, is incapable of being salvaged. The American system of inverted totalitarianism, as the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin called it, must be eradicated if we are to wrest back our democracy and save ourselves from mass extinction. We need to echo the chants by the crowds in Lebanon calling for the wholesale removal of its ruling class — kulyan-yani-kulyan — everyone means everyone.


[Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for Scheerpost twice a month. Click here to sign up for email alerts.]

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. 

Copyright 2020 Chris Hedges.

71 comments

  1. Well then, Mr. Hedges, we’re doomed as a nation because we will never see mass civil disobedience.

    1. Is this sarcasm? Or are you forgetting that we’re literally in the midst of the largest protest movement in the history of the United States? Like, at this very moment??

      1. RJ: where is it going? what will it do? Is there a national leader? Even the Populist Party movement of the 1890’s (rooted in the Farmer’s Alliance after the Civil War) petered out. Mr. Hedges is talking about MASSIVE civil disobedience. All, or mostly all, of the people. And I cannot see that happening. Too many factions in our nation.

      2. Really?! The largest protest movement in the history of the United States? How about the civil rights movement? The anti-war movement in the 1960’s. Pray tell us where this new protest movement is actually taking place right now and is the largest ever. I sure don’t see what you are talking about. I wish it were true. There needs to be millions of citizens protesting non stop in the streets. And somewhere around 38% of the US citizens are against the protests that you say are happening.

      3. the monolingual inevitably confuses style with content
        George Simmel
        amerikan radicals, both black an white adopted radical style without any radical content
        Christopher lasch
        BLM—a ruling class slogan…do u have their credit card? how revolutionary…LOL
        100$ million CIA/ford foundation
        20$ US corporations
        33$ Soros who remarked in BILD 2014 that blacks were easiest to manipulate in the USA
        even the disgraced linguist, Chomsky denies this looting and vandalism is devoid of any political content—children with no manners
        “amerikan parents teach their children to have bad manners–they believe this is rebelliousness”. Geoffrey Gorer

      4. looting/vandalism is protest? “the monolingual inevitably confuses style w content”. George Simmel
        “amerikan radicals both black and white adopted radical style without any radical content”. Christopher Lasch
        do you have the BLM red card? that is revolutionary

  2. Identify one U.S. domestic boogeyman that boomers will crucify while risking the prosperity they’ve enjoyed compliments of their parents being used to rebuild the world that their grandparents protested against – the more contemporary the better. And, leave the executive branch out of it. There’s gotta be a Carl Ichan or Milliken type that they can hate on enough due to the reduced purchasing power of their portfolios.

  3. All the King’s horses,
    And all the King’s men
    Couldn’t put Humpty
    Together again.

  4. For a few years now I’ve come to the conclusion, as I suspect Hedges has, that the US, much like he says of the Democratic Party, is utterly irredeemable. Irreparable, incapable of being fixed. I would say I have no hope of seeing this country being restored, but the deeper question is “restored to what exactly?” Freedom and liberty? Those obviously didn’t exist for nonwhites and poor whites throughout America’s relatively short history. Democracy? We never had one; the Constitution never mentions that word nor any variant thereof. Nor is it mentioned in any of the Amendments. Gee, I wonder why?

    We preach to the world we were founded on liberty and freedom when in reality it was built on genocide and slavery. We write crap like “We The People” but in reality the Founders wanted nothing to do with who they called “The Rabble” (i.e., regular people who would hold them accountable in a real democracy), which paved the way for Corporate rule. We tell people to go out and vote but then allow to exist a political device deliberately meant to overturn the will of the people at any given moment (Electoral College). And when a true and good leader rises and actually attains the most powerful office in the land and even so much as mentions positive change for the people, they get assassinated (JFK, Lincoln, Garfield). I’m sure FDR would have been assassinated had he not died in office; after all there was a coup being brewed up against him. Even today we’re told, during this pandemic, that ‘we’re all in this together’ while the rich scurry to their yachts and go out to see where it’s safe and while the rest of us continue to get into physical confrontations with each other in public places over…. masks. OK.

    I’m not sure there’s a bigger hypocrite in world history. Other countries point and laugh at us, and they should. Just look at us for Christ’s sake.

    I’m afraid that the only way for this country to go in any better direction is for it first to completely collapse. I’m not sure if it’s just its empire status that needs to fall or if the entire country needs to self-destruct, breaking apart into smaller countries like the USSR did. The grand signal of this is when the US dollar ceases to be the world’s reserve currency, which other countries are preparing for by hoarding gold (China, Russia, India, Turkey, and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten). When that happens, it’s over. What happens after that, I don’t want to think about it. But until that happens, we have to continue to endure this country’s perverted version of ‘democracy’.

    In a decade I’m sure we’ll look back at these times as the good old days. As people with their heads in their asses always do.

    1. I don’t see a way back from the edge. I don’t see that possibility when all the would-be controls and relief valves are taken over. The real problem may like with those in the populace who don’t want to see the ugly truths behind the shiny facade. We need more people willing to let it all go and imagine a better way to live. I can’t see enough of those kinds of people being able to get into enough places of political and corporate power to transform them from within. The design of this system is purpose-built to make change difficult so with that, the likely outcome is a fracturing as you said. Still, it’s a frightening thought given that we’re becoming a sh*thole country with nukes.

    2. Yours is one of the most thoughtful and well said comments i’ve read this year.

      It should be an article in itself.

    3. The USA is akin to a raging violent alcoholic. And the citizens who keep on voting in such a corrupt system are the family enablers. Complete collapse is the inevitable outcome of a country founded on genocide and slavery. And we currently living now have a front row seat to watch as it collapses into a dystopian nightmare. The chickens are now falling out of the sky en masse.

    4. Spot on! Spot on!

      Anyone thinking of going back to normal is what I call batSH** insane at this point. Normal was roughly 75 years ago.

    5. Thanks. There might be small groups practicing a decentalized, humane life but there is little hope beyond that. I would move to New Zealand or Ireland if I was younger. They are not utopia but have some hope for less insane behavior. Your analysis is astute. You can see some of my writing under my name on the Internet. Best to you and your family. Edmiggins@gmail.com

    6. Very insightful and I agree w everything you just annotated! More so than political components, I believe media and the world wide web are the most divisive factions of information warfare and need complete dismantling.

    7. try living in a third world country for a while, Americans dont know how good they have it. Good Luck,

      1. Agree with you, Charlie! For over 40 years I live in Turkey for six months out of the year. I have watched this country improve yet struggle with things we take for granted. How about some optimism about the United States.

      2. My parents and grandparents came from Soviet Ukraine back in ‘49. After living here a while my grandfather said that the US is a country of miscreants. He said that things as they are in the Soviet Union are like no other country in the world. My mother said that her piano lessons, college education, and healthcare over there was free. The culture was rich. Can’t say the same about this country, can you? Yes, the US is indeed #1 in several respects: #1 in homicides, suicides, obesity, wage inequality, arrogance, ignorance, mental health problems, tattooism – should I go on? No, sir, we’re not so great. A country’s greatness is determined by the character of its people, not by the stock market or material wealth.

  5. The people who were heard to say public schools are “rotten to the core”, and that they personally prefer private school charters (for profit ventures), are now milutantlt lobbying for all children to return to school unmasked and with no restrictions on keeping schools sanitary and safe..

    It’s as though they can simply “punch the virus in the face” at will and avoid the costs of reality knocking on their own doirs, that they fearfully take to the streets with their own despairing American Anomie Ideology – a Millenarian death cult tied to a post apocalyptic ‘refreshinging’….

    A Death Cult has arisen and it needs the lives of those who have given up on themselves as the walking dead but they don’t know it…

    The puppet masters do….

    Keep cutting the strings of manipulation Chris…

    Read all your books Chris…Isnt reality depressing?

    Not so much so when guys like you, Chris, walk-thru it with a torch in your heart lighting up the darkness…

    Thanks for your contributions Chris, but your work has really only begun…You are forced to labor unceasingly the rest of your life…But you grew up that way, I know…:-)

    1. Indeed they loathe public schools. I’ve seen comments to articles I’ve read on a local southern newspaper website, and these commenters say that if teachers don’t want to show up for school and teach, then the people should get their taxes back. I’ve also seen comments outright calling to ‘defund public schools’. I don’t use the word ‘literally’ much because it’s overused and thereby misused a lot, but that’s what these people literally wrote in comments. These types want to defund public schools but ramp up funding for police. They’re ass-backward and IMO don’t deserve to have their voices heard because no one should be obligated to listen to utter stupidity. The deliberate ignorance and hatred these people have are breathtaking and give you a pretty jarring clue as to why the South has the reputation it’s so richly earned.

      I’ve known plenty of these right-wing, thoroughly ignorant types throughout my life, and you’re description is quite correct. The stories I could tell would strip any leftist who might have sympathy for these people under the guise of that they’re just Trump-voters who are just struggling. There are indeed those people, but there are also those as you depict and I know.

      I’ve said it here before on this site and others, and while I’m no HRC fan in the least she was absolutely correct in calling these people Deplorable. In her infamous video, she recognized that many of Trump supporters feel their government has betrayed them, and they’ve been screwed, etc, and she said she understood that. But then she also recognized not all Trump supporters were merely like this; they are indeed sexists, racists, xenophobes, homophobes, etc. In short they’re flat-out Fascists if not Nazis. But to hear some leftist commentators, we’re to believe that HRC felt all Trump supporters are Fascists. Many are, but not all of them and she said that. It’s in the video. Furthermore, HRC lived in Arkansas for a good portion of her adult life. I’m sure she’s seen and heard things that were very educational for her. The Deplorables, as she depicted them, are indeed just that; they’re disgusting, repulsive people and anybody who is a socialist, progressive, liberal or whatever who doesn’t believe that has never been around them. As I said earlier, I’ve been around them all my life having been born and raised in the South, they’re exactly as the mainstream non-southern media has portrayed them.

      Indeed they are the type whose, to borrow from an old saying, only tool is a gun so every problem looks like a target. Like you said, if they can’t go punch the virus in the face, or shoot it dead with a gun, they don’t know what to do so they just lash out at otherwise innocent people (like those who wear masks, who don’t believe Covid-19 is a hoax, etc).

      But on the other hand, they’re cowards. They may be bullies but only to the weak, because bullies and cowards are synonyms because, in spite of all their weapons and alleged marksmanship, they never actually confront the powerful. Not really. They strut around with guns all over the place, even the most safe, benign places. Even here they walked into the state legislature during session with long-barreled rifles and sat in the balconies, dressed up like cosplay commandos, attempting to look intimidating. But with all their strutting around and trying to give off a tough-guy vibe, how many times have they actually opened fire? None that I can recall, and they won’t do it when in the various halls of power in this country, because again they’re cowards at their core. The relatively few times there’s been gunfire, they get arrested and thrown into prison (Dylan Roof & Richard W. Preston come to mind), and the lot of them know that. But despite all their bloviating and lashing on about government tyranny, they’ll never actually open fire on politicians or the rich, because they’re wusses. And deep down, I think they know that.

      1. Too much “They” not enough “We”. In the comments. I love the article, though, despite a little discomfort at the way that “Mocking verifiable truth and fact” is lumped in among the warning signs. To be clear, I see how said mocking is problematic, but I worry that presenting it this way reinforces the divisive role “verifiable truth and fact” play in our political dialogue (See all the instances of “They” in the comments). I see too many of my compatriots end or outright avoid potentially healing conversations by refusing to engage without the safety net of verifiable truth and fact. I am afraid of the growing cleft between different ideological factions who really share the same goal (not getting screwed by the rich assholes) that appears to be widened by the continued appeal to “objective fact” by lefties like me. Does anyone else get the feeling that appeal to authority, in this case in the form of “verifiable fact”, is poisoning our political discourse?

      2. Marble Rye, I agree with you on many points. I also live in the South and find it so frustrating that any whiff of a critical opinion is so easily dismissed by even the most “reasonable” people, because it may be labeled as “socialism”. I also find it laughable that so many howl about there second amendment rights, but have no intention to use it to defend their fellow citizens from the politically/economically powerful or influential. They cannot differentiate between those that punch up and those that punch down. I think that for anyone, who was really paying attention, the “writing-on-the-wall” back in 2017 during the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Thirteen-hundred personnel of regional law enforcement and national guardsmen were in attendance, but still did not have the common sense to commander people’s firearms. I noticed this again in spring of 2019 as Detroit police escorted Neo-nazis, who were armed with assault rifles, in close proximity to an (LBGTQ+) Pride parade. Again, it should have been evident then that our government – regardless of which party is in power – and law enforcement are more interested in keeping us fighting each other, than protect us or our “assumed” liberties.

        Anyhow, I found you comments really interesting, and spot on.

        P.S. – Good Luck, if you get a writing gig with the publication!

  6. Powerful work as always Chris. Thank you so much.

    kulyan-yani-kulyan!
    kulyan-yani-kulyan!

  7. Could it be that the ruling psychopaths sense the collapse and are making preparations for the final world war, to hasten the end?
    “IF WE CAN’T HAVE IT ALL NO ONE CAN!!”

    1. Well, the plutocrats have stolen and hoarded decades of U.S. wealth and have hidden it throughout the world…so hopefully they won’t try to end it because they can live in luxury for the rest of their filthy lives.

  8. Come on, fellow citizens. Yes, it’s bad, it’s very bad, and has been so for quite some time. But let’s try to speak the truth, organize, reach out to our neighbors, and keep hope alive. I am sorry that Chris Hedges, whose thinking I respect, has written such a pessimistic/depressing piece, leaving one little glimmer of hope in only final paragraph.

    We are not doomed to repeat history. We can learn from it, and do better.

    1. I agree. The conjured scenario doesn’t need to happen. I believe the majority in this country want a different America and are willing to make sacrifices to get us there. Biden and Harris can not fix everything but they can move the needle towards a just and peaceful society.

      1. Agree with both Marlyn and Kathleen! If Mr. Hedges’ article was the only scenario, we all should move from this country or live in gloom & doom. Who wants that? I hate to think he believes the optimists like John Lewis have no meaningful place in the United States.

  9. To the Editor:

    Is it enough to report on these issues, or do journalists need to become activists and not just gather information, but help others act on it? The CIA or FBI gather information, and then use it to disrupt progressive movements. I cannot speak for them, but I believe the Real News Network is an example of trying to not just report, but actively organize and help bring about the changes Chris speaks of, that are needed.

    It seems to me that Chris is not only trying to prepare us in his writing, but himself for what is to come. Anyone who would speak out or take leadership against the status quo will not be able to enjoy simple pleasures, a normal life anymore. Just look at how the State is treating Julian Assange. I was listening to Cornel West, and agree that anyone who becomes a threat to the state will be on the path of crucifixion.

    About the predicted Ecocide: Robotics and AI of the future will be immune to climate change: robots do not eat and they do not drink. Depending how far advanced they become, it is possible robots will outlive us, and it is speculated, with enough awareness and agency, can continue to evolve.

    Sure, this is science fiction right now, but future technology is a wild card that may create a human legacy, rather than threaten it, like the nuclear weapon arsenals. At least, it is something hopeful to conisder.

    As for civil disobedience on a large scale: I have no doubt that when push comes to shove, and people are starving, they will bring down the system (assuming it still exists). I think the capitalist system thrives on Scarcity, even promotes it and it is fear of losing control of your resources, fear of job loss or for the wealthy, somebody else choosing what to do with your money, that holds people back.

    Are there any countries or regions that are truely transforming to a sustainable future, and creating an abundance society? If there is a part of California or a country in Europe or South America that is committing to a Green Revolution, please let me know.

    Thank-you, Robert and Chris for your decency and all your efforts.

    Regards,

    Dean Gross (writing from Canada)

  10. Excellent Hedges piece as always, but he is out of his depth saying anything about the pandemic. I wish Chris would turn his critical eye on how Covid-19 is being used by governments worldwide to institute more severe curtailments of civil liberties, including our First Amendment right to assembly. Masks and social distancing are only the beginning. Once a vaccine is rolled out–it will likely be an RNA vaccine, a type never before used on human beings–governments will begin discussing vaccine mandates to overturn your right to informed consent. And as Bill Gates has said openly in the media, “digital certificates” to prove vaccination status will be a requirement to return to “normal life.” (“Papers, please.”) We are seeing fascism unfold right before our eyes under the guise of a public health emergency–a “pandemic” with an actual lethality rate of .2% to .3% according to numerous antibody studies. In no past pandemic–including the Hong Kong Flu of 1969 that killed a million people worldwide and 100,00 in America–has there ever been lockdowns, mask mandates, or social distancing measures. More and more whistleblower doctors are risking their careers speaking out about this absurb overreach of government control, and we should join them.

    1. As a registered nurse, I absolutely agree. Mask and lockdown mandates continue in my home state of NC, although the mortality rate has been approximately 1.6% for weeks now. People are suffering terribly: not so much from Covid-19 as from economic devastation (job loss, evictions, small business closures, bankruptcies, etc.) And then there is the social isolation (especially but not limited to the elderly and children in “virtual” classrooms), and the increasing rates of addiction and suicide. Enough. The response in Sweden to Covid-19 was more humane and efficacious than the response of Norway, Spain, Italy, and certainly the U.S.

  11. Excellent Hedges piece as always, but he is out of his depth saying anything about the pandemic. I wish Chris would turn his critical eye on how Covid-19 is being used by governments worldwide to institute more severe curtailments of civil liberties, including our First Amendment right to assembly. Masks and social distancing are only the beginning. Once a vaccine is rolled out–it will likely be an RNA vaccine, a type never before used on human beings–governments will begin discussing vaccine mandates to overturn your right to informed consent. And as Bill Gates has said openly in the media, “digital certificates” to prove vaccination status will be a requirement to return to “normal life.” (“Papers, please.”) We are seeing fascism unfold right before our eyes under the guise of a public health emergency–a “pandemic” with an actual lethality rate of .2% to .3% according to numerous antibody studies. In no past pandemic–including the Hong Kong Flu of 1969 that killed a million people worldwide and 100,000 in America–has there ever been lockdowns, mask mandates, or social distancing measures. More and more whistleblower doctors are risking their careers speaking out about this absurd overreach of government control, and we should join them.

    1. This is misinformation.

      Safety (and, yes, masks) mandates, shelter-in-place, etc. have been used in of plagues since time immemorial. And they were controversial then, at times:
      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/us/mask-protests-1918.html
      https://www.curbed.com/2020/3/18/21178053/coronavirus-pandemic-public-space-influenza-history

      As for the antibodies, let’s see these studies, so we can look at the data and the error rates. Overall surges in mortality are well-documented, and if you are going to ignore the medical crises that hit Wuhan, New York, North Italy, Qom, etc., it seems you are just trying to fit this to a narrative at the risk of endangering the elderly, minority and low-income populations and the disabled.

      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/07/coronavirus-deadlier-than-many-believed-infection-fatality-rate-cvd/
      “What’s more, scientists today have a better sense of how to measure COVID-19’s lethality, and the numbers are alarming. Using a more sophisticated calculation called the infection-fatality rate, paired with the past few months’ worth of data, the latest best estimates show that COVID-19 is around 50 to 100 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, on average.”

      Using a statistical model, epidemiologists at Columbia University estimated the infection-fatality rate for New York City based on its massive outbreak from March 1 to May 16. Their results, published online as a non-peer reviewed preprint on June 29, show that the coronavirus may be even deadlier than first thought. According to their data, the COVID-19 infection-fatality rate is 1.46 percent, or twice as high as earlier estimates (and much higher than a misinformed rate being widely shared on social media). This risk varies by age, with those older than 75 having the highest infection-fatality rate, at 13.83 percent.

      – C. Scheer

      1. Per your request, here is an excellent summary of seroprevalence studies from international sources, including the Stanford study, showing IFRs generally in the .2%-.3% range:

        https://swprs.org/studies-on-covid-19-lethality/

        The trends indicate that though the virus is highly contagious, it is no more lethal than a bad seasonal flu if you are infected. (The average age of the deceased and % of cases with co-morbidities is in line with the flu.) This confirms what the Dr. Anthony Fauci stated in March in the New England Journal of Medicine:

        “If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

        As for Wuhan and northern Italy, it is widely know that those areas have some of the worst air quality in the world (northern Italy has the worst in Europe, an area notorious for upper respiratory infections to go with an aging population). This is not conducive to immunity from viral infections. And New York’s outbreak was not helped by that governor’s policy of placing infected patients in nursing homes–a mistake also made by Sweden and leading to 75% of the fatalities there–which is like dropping a match into gasoline.

        Contrary to your claim that my viewpoint would endanger at-risk groups: On the contrary, the first priority should be to protect these groups–but the data so far suggests that is not what we have done. A wiser approach to Covid-19 would be to isolate these groups humanely while letting the rest of us live our lives, since 80% of infected people show no symptoms. (Can anyone name a pandemic where we quarantined HEALTHY individuals?) The solution is not to implode the economy with never-ending partial or complete shutdowns, which is leading to massive collateral damage with lost incomes, suicides, domestic violence spikes, and especially delayed medical procedures for those who need them. (My local hospital lost over a million dollars a day clearing beds for a Covid surge that never happened.)

        There are myriad more pieces to this puzzle–the specious PCR tests, the CDC’s fuzzy coding guidelines for classifying deaths (dying with Covid is not the same as dying from it), or Dr. Fauci’s blatant disregard of President Obama’s moratorium on viral gain-of-function studies and his funding of a lab in Wuhan (read more about that at https://www.newsweek.com/dr-fauci-backed-controversial-wuhan-lab-millions-us-dollars-risky-coronavirus-research-1500741).

        In conclusion, labeling my post “misinformation” is just plain lazy. Perhaps you have not seen the videos of a woman in Germany beaten by police for passing within six feet of another person, or a father in London separated from his toddler for not wearing a mask, or drones harassing people out for a simple walk in the park. This stuff is straight out of Orwell, and regardless of the actual threat of Covid-19, we should take heed of Edward Snowden’s warning that “A virus is harmful, [but] the destruction of rights is fatal. When we see emergency measures passed, particularly today, they tend to be sticky. The emergency tends to be expanded, and authorities tend to become comfortable with some new power. This is fundamentally in conflict with the concept of a free and open society.”

      2. Much of what you say in both notes, especially what you say about the usual suspects exploiting crisis for other aims (authoritarianism, corporate looting, etc. — disaster capitalism), represents valid concerns, with logic, which is why I approved it rather than spiking it as conspiracy nonsense. And it is certainly fair at this point to argue about what the government policy should and shouldn’t be NOW after months of experience and study of the disease.

        However, not only is that hindsight pretending to be insight, the evidence you provide for the limited danger of COVID-19 is weak, and full of glib exceptions (how many people in the world ALSO breathe crap air? How easy is it really to keep old people isolated in poor neighborhoods or care homes tended by poor people? Many of the studies collected on that Swiss blog have been largely debunked (in particular, the Stanford study) partly because all the antibody tests are based on crappy tests (lots of false positives) and guesswork as to how representative the polled are. Finally, the comparison to the flu is misleading on several points: Only severe flus (which are themselves pandemics) are even comparable; the “0.1” percent IFR for a typical flu year is shown to be too high; and, perhaps most importantly, covid-19 is a MUCH more damaging disease to those who survive it, leading to high rates of intubation, induced comas, organ damage, neurological problems, etc. The people I know who had had it are still recovering months later.

        Excess mortality puts the lie to this being no big deal. From CDC on NYC:
        “During March 11–May 2, 2020, a total of 32,107 deaths were reported to DOHMH; of these deaths, 24,172 (95% confidence interval = 22,980–25,364) were found to be in excess of the seasonal expected baseline. Included in the 24,172 deaths were 13,831 (57%) laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated deaths and 5,048 (21%) probable COVID-19–associated deaths, leaving 5,293 (22%) excess deaths that were not identified as either laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths.”

        From Time: “Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch … believes the fatality rate is ‘clearly above 0.2% and probably above 0.4%,’ likely lying somewhere between 0.2%-1.5%. “I would put most of my money in the intermediate range,” he said.”

        Finally, comparing this to MERS or SARS is just a red herring. COVID-19 has proven magnitudes more deadly than those diseases precisely because it is so much milder, creates so many asymptomatic cases and has a delayed onset which allows secret spead.

        But, yes, like Snowden said, we can agree that every crisis opens a new can of worms. On the hand, they bring new opportunities, as we see with the massive Black Lives Matters protests which were certainly boosted by the whole country being stuck at home with no sports or bars to go to when they watched a man murdered by a policeman.

      3. Cuba, Havana, November 1958.

        The well heeled upper middle class travelers were oblivious to the events that would transpire in the following thirty days. They were going about their lives of extraordinary privilege without a moment’s concern for the people who made it all possible.

        We were walking back to Hotel Nacional from the Tropicana extravaganza. There is a bridge across a deep ravine with a navigable river and berths for yachts. The people of privilege were dancing to loud music aboard the well lit yachts. In the darkness of the ravine were corrugated roof lean-to structures, each with a small fire in front, cooking food.

        One month later the Cuban Revolution would go to work on eliminating the degradation of that reprehensible scene; inequity at a glance.

        When Obama confronted Raul Castro, the cameras were rolling. He charged Raul with having political prisoners. On camera Raul said, “Give me a list. They will be free in the morning.” I’ve been told Raul asked “how many homeless people in New York City?” The cameras were shut off to relieve Obama of his embarrassment. New York City and Cuba have about equal populations. Not one person in Cuba is homeless.

        This is a remarkable achievement in itself but considering the lack of natural resources (oil) and the embargo it is extraordinary; an accomplishment of the age.

        The latest exemplary accomplishment is the pandemic numbers. I read two days ago that Cuba has a new outbreak, people sick with the virus. An Italian cruise ship brought the initial disease and it was immediately contained. Since then they have had 3000 cases total and 88 deaths. New York City has had 23,602 deaths as of 8 11 2020.

        The US State Department is continuously afflicted with these comparisons. They have pumped additional propaganda into the media. We Americans should not despair. We have the power to turn things around. The great Chris Hedges just turned out a splendid account of our coming “Doom and Gloom”. He clearly identifies the areas that need our attention. If the Cubans can do it with all the difficulties imposed on them, we will be able with all our great gifts, to transform our society with ease.

        Brian Lindquist 8 12 2020

      4. Actually labeling something you disagree with as “misinformation” is a bit insulting, although it was nice that you did not censure Jeff Johns.
        As a retired scientist, we are a querulous bunch, dissent is expected, and opinions change with the data. When the WHO said in mid-January that covid-19 was NOT transmittable human-to-human, that was misinformation. When Dr. Fauci said February 29, that there is nothing to worry about, that was misinformation (his lie about masks being un-necessary was also misinformation). Generally such misinformation is unintentional. Actually one would expect Public Health to err on the side of caution, as Asian countries did when they ignored the WHO and implemented THEIR Public health protocols requiring travel bans. That has served them well as the relatively rare infected person and his/her contacts are easily tested, tracked and quarantined and the virus is controlled. The virus is far too widespread in the US to do that, except in Hawaii and Alaska.
        Covid-19 is unusually contagious relative to other viruses. Even with PPE (which help of course), health care workers have infection rates 3-fold above the general population. That said 94% of deaths occurred in those over age 60 in Europe (97% in Australia); it is a disease of the elderly, almost exclusively (not sure about the US?)
        Singapore has had 27 deaths out of 55,497 cases (case fatality rate of 0.05%); almost all their cases are Bangledeshi or Indian foreign construction workers, almost all their deaths are old Singaporeans. The aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt had one death in 2800 of 4800 very healthy crewmen who were infected (by serology tests). So death rate is dependent on the population studied. Probably deaths per million for a state or nation is most accurate.
        The good news is that Sweden, without masks or lockdowns, seem, cautiously, to have beaten the virus. Their apparent herd immunity (both infection and deaths are down 100-fold from peaks) seems to be due to memory T cells, which appear to give much more effective and longer lasting immunity to covid-19 than antibodies (excellent Nature paper from Singapore last month; wouldn’t it be nice to have such better assays?) If these findings hold, the data suggest that larger cities in the NorthEast and most nations in Europe already have herd immunity to the virus.
        The goal is to protect the vulnerable as best possible (very difficult as rest home deaths have shown), and not to worry about infections in the young and healthy where the flu is more dangerous.

      5. It is a sensitive topic, so I will try to be less insulting or stay out of it altogether. I have relatives sick with COVID-19 in ICU and a lot of elderly people on my watch who are living in various states of terror.

      6. Good luck with your new site. Obviously Chris Hedges is a great draw. Thanks for being tolerant of dissenting views (the world has become so strident lately).
        There is so much we don’t know about covid-19, but we are steadily learning, and there are hopeful signs.

  12. Chris Hedges’s writing always reminds me of the old Midnight Oil song “Beds Are Burning” – “How can we dance when our earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning?”

    1. My favorite band. They were on tour as late as last year and videos of their shows are on YouTube.

  13. Yes, we know.
    American elite has been slowly degrading for decades – the process no developed nation could escape.

    American culture does not value public education, and now poorly educated people have become a tool for manipulating policies in the favor of few super rich.

    Too many Americans do not understand the nature of political power.

    End I could go on and on and on.
    So, Mr. Hedges, after writing for decades and no seeing any progress, how does it feel to be a don Quixote defeated by a windmill?

    [links deleted as spam]

    1. ‘So, Mr. Hedges, after writing for decades and no seeing any progress, how does it feel to be a don Quixote defeated by a windmill?’

      It’s a big question isn’t it? How to address the reality that the status quo is largely maintained – not just no matter what – but with an active support from the majority who are exploited by it? Still, the scorn is equivalent to a sewage plant worker pointing and laughing at someone outside of the plant who has just happened to walk by and stood in dog shit.

      We are not, wherever and whomever we are, immune to the ill effects of a society in such degradation. At its extreme, even just a hundred years ago we could not have destroyed the planet that sustains us if we tried. Today, that is not only not the case but it is actually happening.

      Of equal weight should be the value in remembering that what luxuries we in the developed world have today were never given but fought for and it is the likes of Chris Hedges that serve as the agitators in that constant fight. Robert Tressell (Noonan) wrote The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists in 1914, he died very much a don Quixote, and unlike Mr. Hedges, unknown in his lifetime.

      Though his book pretty much describes attitudes of the willingly exploited today, in the country of both his birth and death, however, was seen since a National Health Service, 28 days of guaranteed annual leave, statutory sick pay, pension rights, an hourly working week limit, safety in the workplace and, etc.

      Today, the current generations in that same country are not only allowing their rights to be signed away but actively support the act of doing so. So I get your point, the majority are sheep, there’s a reason goat is not mass produced meat, and the writings of Mr. Hedges et al. seems to fail to reflect that the same conviction that such orators have themselves in the ideals of a more just society is met with an equal conviction in minority exploiters and ignorant majority followers of far far less admirable ideals.

      It is as far as I can tell a problem with understanding but not much solution. Like watching animals eat their own young. What can you do with that?

      The film My Dinner with Andre alluded to/posited that the majority are like the prisoners in a concentration camp, only that they have helped build, run and enforce the life in it. The psychology is one of contempt and scorn for those who fall foul of it (including themselves and their offspring) and pride in the camp’s existence and success.

      This makes complete sense to me having been active in trade unions at the workplace, yet I would support any who tried to turn the tide for they swim in the same direction as I.

  14. This is a response to several of the above posts:

    Jeff Johns and Editor’s discussion about COVID: There are good points raised by both parties, and it is too easy to dismiss each other in this age where almost any source can be discredited, and people just end up hurling their “facts” at each other. Trust and cooperation are hard to build, but needed to resolve the problem of COVID. That is so hard to do when people can be deceitful or not communcate in good faith, but such is free will.

    If we had a more caring society in North America, the vulnerable could be protected and given resources to outlast the virus. What Chris documents so thoroughly is the lack of a decent society and the fallout from that, both now and in the future.

    It’s pretty clear to those on this website that American society is failing, and it’s only a matter of time until the currency collapses or the environment collapses. Nature will recover. As others have said, it may take millions of years to restore full biodiversity, but it will happen. Perhaps another sentient species will evolve on Earth (given a billion or so more years of habitability) and their archaeologists will learn the fate our civilization.

    To Marble Rye regarding deplorables:

    I have met people like you talk about, living in Alberta, Canada which can be called Texas of the North. Our culture’s materialism and hyper-individuality has led to much of this toxic culture. Human beings function as much on instinct as rational thought, especially under stress, as most of us have experienced sometime in our lives.

    It is too easy to write people off as failed human beings. Virtue and compassion are often thought of as a weakness today, especially if you can get away with being rich. The consequences of ignorance and bigotry are clearly leading America to become a wasteland in the future, whether from economic, military or environmental collapse.

    If compassion and wisdom were seen as strengths (which in the long run they are), we would have a healthy society, honest and cooperative discussion and have a bright future.
    Where and how can an example of a healthy society be created at this point? The Black Lives and anti-police protests are a start, but as Chris pointed out, any short-term or boutique activism (where you protest for a few hours and then go home to creature comforts) is not enough. Constant pressure and participation from a wide array of the public is probably the only enduring way to push through change.

    Regards,

    Dean

    1. Excellent comments. Noam Chomsky has rightly characterized our society (or what’s left of it) as “atomized”. I think that Americans are getting a very rude awakening to the myth of their “exceptionalism” and I consider the installation of this appalling man-baby, Donald Trump, as a grave symptom of the trajectory we are headed down. I don’t believe that Trump could have been elected even 20 years ago. It was the accumulation of stupidity and prejudices spewed by right-wing media that has had a dreadful effect on so many of us.

  15. Excellent article. I am 50 days short of 68 years of age. I fear the aftermath of this election (whoever’s wins) will be full of strife and further ripping apart of this country. I mention my age as I am looking to live my remaining years in peace and quiet in another country – if I can find a country that let’s Americans in!!

  16. Very dark, but a disturbingly real possibility. Still, not inevitable. If enough of us realize our individual and collective responsibilities to form a plurality, we can weather the successive waves of various storms, and fix/remake democracy. I am reminded of a thought from Soren Kierkegaard: “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true. The other is to refuse to accept what is true.” My point is not this obvious fact, but a question that must follow. What has history shown to be our best (though not perfect) ‘tool’ for figuring out what Is true? …. It is not to chose from among humanity’s many claims-based systems of belief, but to sort out ever-improving realizations of truth by taking a science-like approach to things. We must put ideas, even our own cherished ones, to the best and most honest tests we can, and then respect the evidence, being willing to update, to change our minds, to realize when we had been wrong. When we face evidence, whether we Like it or Not, we can do our best of problem solving; when we deny or ignore or twist evidence, we can’t. Applied beyond the pure sciences, to all aspects of life, and adding the ethics developed in recent centuries that All of us do deserve equal rights, that we can’t save the ship of civilization by cutting it up into individual life-boats, and that our Founding Fathers were right to include “promote the general welfare” as one of the few central purposes for organized societal action (government), we do have a way forward, if we’ll take it.

  17. I just cannot believe you can know and write these things and still believe in the pandemic, citing a CNN article, no less that the CDC says 300,000 “could” die by December, 400,000 by January. The CDC. You know them. You know who and what they are. You must know how skewed and misrepresented the case numbers and death numbers are; how ill-suited the PCR test is to proving cases, how foolish the rush to vaccines when so many doctors and scientists have been working around the clock to understand this disease and develop alternate treatments — that are still largely withheld from the public, such as HCQ/zinc, or pure oxygen. How can you not know, how can you feed the fear of the virus? I am heartbroken by this.

    1. I am sorry you are heartbroken, but if you don’t provide actual evidence then there is nothing really to argue about. The current “excess deaths” (200,000) on a regular year exceed, but not awkwardly, the actual COVID-19 death rates published by many different sources gathering information from thousands of local public health agencies, and both are somehow unfathomable to you. I am highly skeptical of conspiracy theories that involved MANY people, especially when so many of them have different agendas, power bases, etc. If we are at 150-200,000 now and see the higest daily death rates since NYC’s explosion, how are the CDC numbers so unfathomable? And are you arguing that CDC, which is being bullied and circumvented by Trump, is making up HIGHER death tolls that would weaken Trump’s election chances?

      The stance of those who work on this site, up through Robert Scheer, is to work to find facts, always treating every source with a critical, skeptical eye, to further a dialectical approach to truth. This goes back to his groundbreaking research on the lies and misapprehensions and hidden agendas that led us into the Vietnam/Indochina wars, before almost anybody else in American public life was even paying attention. Personally, as a journalist, I covered for many years the buildup to the Iraq War, closely examined 9/11 and all its attendant conspiracy theories, and spent 15 years documenting attacks by privatization forces on the public schools. It is not hard for any critical thinker, whether grounded in Marxism or any other scientific-based thinking framework, to see that conspiracies happen in the real world. However, I find reality, in general, to be much more complicated and nuanced than many (most?) Americans believe.

      Logic and facts aren’t everything, and distrust of all power is essential. So go with your gut instincts, informed by your own research, experiences, etc. Promulgate alternative cures to those who might benefit on your social. In my opinion, however, anybody who excessively plays down the threat of this virus has likely not seen its effects up close and/or is overconfident in their ability to detect truths the rest of us “can’t see.”

  18. From the article: “Banks are stockpiling reserves of cash to cope with the expected wave of bankruptcies and defaults on mortgages, student loans, car loans, personal loans and credit card debt. The ruleless-ness and anomie that defines the lives of tens of millions of Americans was orchestrated by the two ruling parties in the service of a corporate oligarchy. If we do not address this anomie, if we do not restore the social bonds shattered by predatory corporate capitalism, the decay will accelerate.”
    Question: Does Mr. Hedges see the banking system itself and its corporate leaders as part of the “corporate oligarchy” that is practicing this predatory corporate capitalism which the political parties are in service to?
    It seems to me that Mr. Hedges is not willing to challenge the very system of money itself, the very means by which money itself comes into existence, the very notions and structures of attempting to use debt as money, and instead, leaving this question aside, is left with nothing but the effects of the system to criticize. But is only this behavioral and moral analysis of the author sufficient enough to get at the core problem or to find solutions? If the system itself produces effects by design then the players using that system will get the effects despite their moral stature or lack thereof.

    But is it reasonable to expect an abstract representational economic unit system of money based on the unit of account being a unit of debt that has fees and costs assigned to the very existence of and the use of the unit to produce anything but instability and debt? And if the system of money cannot produce anything but instability then how can any populace using this kind of system (The history of this includes all the societal citings Hedges lists.) not also be unstable? Moral condemnations are pertinent when the systems and structures are already sorted out as to their influence. But the system we have and the structures we are inside of go all but unchallenged in lieu of moral indignation as though there is not real challenge to be made of them. That seems a lot like telling kids playing Musical Chairs that they have moral problems if they push and shove despite the fact that the game itself is based on structural and progressive scarcity.

    I have not seen Mr. Hedges take a close look at the very premises of using banks as the place from which the abstract economic unit of account originates. (Maybe he has and I just have not seen it.) But the effects of doing money in this fashion are experienced by all despite their awareness or ability to challenge the structures that have been implemented and gone unchallenged throughout the history of capitalism. What seems missing in the analysis of Mr. Hedges is his seeming assumption that the problems we see around the world and down through history are only based in personal moral failings of the players while not challenging the very structure and assumptions and definitions of the system they are using. This cannot make for a very good prognosis if the system itself can only produce that which it has thoroughly demonstrated enough times that one should have already shifted one’s focus. But I have not seen much of a monetary systems analysis from Mr. Hedges and wish he would look at that.

    One such group that is doing so from a systems dynamics analysis offers hope and the chance to get out of impending disaster by challenging our very definition of money here: https://mrcenter.info/Doc/ConferencePapers/2015/MRC_2015_Gauvin_Meira_Final_Release_Amendement_for_Publication.pdf
    They then go on to make these proposals which any populace in any governing jurisdiction can bring to their own self governance: https://www.moneytransparency.com/msta-resolutions

    I am not willing to condemn all of humanity to a simple lack of abstract representational acuity which we all can easily acquire. Once the entire populace thought the earth to be the center of the solar system.

  19. I basically agree with this article but being from Alabama I would like to set the facts straight. Most of the Confederate monuments in Alabama were erected from 1898-1916. There are 122 identified monuments with 17 in front of courthouses in the central square. The three main Confederate Memorials in Montgomery were erected in 1898, 1908, and 1940–not within the last 10 years. Other public monuments (not in front of courthouses) of note throughout the state totaled 28 in number with 17 of them constructed from 1900-1916, 6 constructed from 1923-1960, and 1 each in 1977, 1988,1992,2000, and 2010. You can go to Wikipedia to check it out: Jimmy Wales was from Alabama….. In my hometown of Huntsville, the Confederate statue on the square was placed in 1905. There are too many memorials to count in cemeteries.

  20. Mr Hedges,
    I loved your book America the Farewell Tour. I grew up near the Ringside bar you wrote about. Your writing, while depressing, helped me realize the only help we have is in each other. I’ve started volunteering at food banks and homeless shelters and while it isn’t much in the grand scheme of things it gives me hope and brought me out of a deep depression. Thank you.

  21. Cuba, Havana, November 1958.
    The well heeled upper middle class travelers were oblivious to the events that would transpire in the following thirty days. They were going about their lives of extraordinary privilege without a moment’s concern for the people who made it all possible.
    We were walking back to Hotel Nacional from the Tropicana extravaganza. There is a bridge across a deep ravine with a navigable river and berths for yachts. The people of privilege were dancing to loud music aboard the well lit yachts. In the darkness of the ravine were corrugated roof lean-to structures, each with a small fire in front, cooking food.
    One month later the Cuban Revolution would go to work on eliminating the degradation of that reprehensible scene; inequity at a glance.
    When Obama confronted Raul Castro, the cameras were rolling. He charged Raul with having political prisoners. On camera Raul said, “Give me a list. They will be free in the morning.” I’ve been told Raul asked “how many homeless people in New York City?” The cameras were shut off to relieve Obama of his embarrassment. New York City and Cuba have about equal populations. Not one person in Cuba is homeless.
    This is a remarkable achievement in itself but considering the lack of natural resources (oil) and the embargo it is extraordinary; an accomplishment of the age.
    The latest exemplary accomplishment is the pandemic numbers. I read two days ago that Cuba has a new outbreak, people sick with the virus. An Italian cruise ship brought the initial disease and it was immediately contained. Since then they have had 3000 cases total and 88 deaths. New York City has had 23,602 deaths as of 8 11 2020.
    The US State Department is continuously afflicted with these comparisons. They have pumped additional propaganda into the media. We Americans should not despair. We have the power to turn things around. The great Chris Hedges just turned out a splendid account of our coming “Doom and Gloom”. He clearly identifies the areas that need our attention. If the Cubans can do it with all the difficulties imposed on them, we will be able with all our great gifts, to transform our society with ease.

    Brian Lindquist 8 12 2020

  22. To the latest post from Charlie. Chris is right and you are right. We will have to rebuild the whole world and Chris has laid out many of the areas that need immediate attention. The third world has sustained immense devastation from Imperial Capital and Feudal Imperialism before. Please don’t despair. In 1948 we thought the UN would solve our problems. We have a lot to do and we can save the planet in the balance. To start, Greta for president of a world federation. Be well.
    BBBb

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