Chris Hedges Chris Hedges Original Election 2020 Original

Chris Hedges: American Requiem

However inequitable its bias, capitalist democracy at least offered the possibility of incremental and piecemeal reform. Now it is a corpse.
[Art by Mr. Fish / Original to Scheerpost]

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

Well, it’s over. Not the election. The capitalist democracy. However biased it was towards the interests of the rich and however hostile it was to the poor and minorities, the capitalist democracy at least offered the possibility of incremental and piecemeal reform. Now it is a corpse. The iconography and rhetoric remain the same. But it is an elaborate and empty reality show funded by the ruling oligarchs — $1.51 billion for the Biden campaign and $1.57 billion for the Trump campaign — to make us think there are choices. There are not. The empty jousting between a bloviating Trump and a verbally impaired Joe Biden is designed to mask the truth. The oligarchs always win. The people always lose. It does not matter who sits in the White House. America is a failed state. 

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

There were many actors that killed America’s open society. The corporate oligarchs who bought the electoral process, the courts and the media, and whose lobbyists write the legislation to impoverish us and allow them to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth and unchecked power. The militarists and war industry that drained the national treasury to mount futile and endless wars that have squandered some $7 trillion and turned us into an international pariah. The CEOs, raking in bonuses and compensation packages in the tens of millions of dollars, that shipped jobs overseas and left our cities in ruins and our workers in misery and despair without a sustainable income or hope for the future. The fossil fuel industry that made war on science and chose profits over the looming extinction of the human species. The press that turned news into mindless entertainment and partisan cheerleading. The intellectuals who retreated into the universities to preach the moral absolutism of identity politics and multiculturalism while turning their backs on the economic warfare being waged on the working class and the unrelenting assault on civil liberties. And, of course, the feckless and hypocritical liberal class that does nothing but talk, talk, talk. 

If there is one group that deserves our deepest contempt it is the liberal elites, those who posture as the moral arbiters of society while abandoning every value they purportedly hold the moment they become inconvenient. The liberal class, once again, served as pathetic cheerleaders and censors for a candidate and a political party that in Europe would be considered on the far-right. Even while liberals were being ridiculed and dismissed by Biden and by the Democratic Party hierarchy, which bizarrely invested its political energy in appealing to Republican neocons, liberals were busy marginalizing journalists, including Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, who called out Biden and the Democrats. The liberals, whether at The Intercept or The New York Times, ignored or discredited information that could hurt the Democratic Party, including the revelations on Hunter Biden’s laptop. It was a stunning display of craven careerism and self-loathing.

Biden’s campaign was utterly bereft of ideas and policy issues, as if he and the Democrats could sweep the elections by promising to save the soul of America.

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are, the election has illustrated, oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country. They stand for nothing. They fight for nothing. Restoring the rule of law, universal health care, banning fracking, a Green New Deal, the protection of civil liberties, the building of unions, the preservation and expansion of social welfare programs, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, the forgiveness of student debt, stiff environmental controls, a government jobs program and guaranteed income, financial regulation, opposition to endless war and military adventurism were once again forgotten. Championing these issues would have resulted in a Democratic Party landslide. But since the Democratic Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate donors, promoting any policy that might foster the common good, diminish corporate profits and restore democracy, including imposing campaign finance laws, was impossible. Biden’s campaign was utterly bereft of ideas and policy issues, as if he and the Democrats could sweep the elections by promising to save the soul of America. At least the neofascists have the courage of their demented convictions. 

The liberal class functions in a traditional democracy as a safety valve. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. It ameliorates the worst excesses of capitalism. It proposes gradual steps towards greater equality. It endows the state and the mechanisms of power with supposed virtues. It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements. The liberal class is a vital component within the power elite. In short, it offers hope and the possibility, or at least the illusion, of change. 

The surrender of the liberal elite to despotism creates a power vacuum that speculators, war profiteers, gangsters and killers, often led by charismatic demagogues, fill. It opens the door to fascist movements that rise to prominence by ridiculing and taunting the absurdities of the liberal class and the values they purport to defend. The promises of the fascists are fantastic and unrealistic, but their critiques of the liberal class are grounded in truth. Once the liberal class ceases to function, it opens a Pandora’s box of evils that are impossible to contain. 

The disease of Trumpism, with or without Trump, is, as the election illustrated, deeply embedded in the body politic. It is an expression among huge segments of the population, taunted by liberal elites as “deplorables,” of a legitimate alienation and rage that the Republicans and the Democrats orchestrated and now refuse to address. This Trumpism is also, as the election showed, not limited to white men, whose support for Trump actually declined.   

Fyodor Dostoevsky saw the behavior of Russia’s useless liberal class, which he satirized and excoriated at the end of the 19th century, as presaging a period of blood and terror. The failure of liberals to defend the ideals they espoused inevitably led, he wrote, to an age of moral nihilism. In Notes From Underground, he portrayed the sterile, defeated dreamers of the liberal class, those who hold up high ideals but do nothing to defend them. The main character in Notes From Underground carries the bankrupt ideas of liberalism to their logical extreme. He eschews passion and moral purpose. He is rational. He accommodates a corrupt and dying power structure in the name of liberal ideals. The hypocrisy of the Underground Man dooms Russia as it now dooms the United States. It is the fatal disconnect between belief and action. 

 “I never even managed to become anything: neither wicked nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect,” the Underground Man wrote. “And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent man of the nineteenth century must be and is morally obliged to be primarily a characterless being; and a man of character, an active figure – primarily a limited being.”

The refusal of the liberal class to acknowledge that power has been wrested from the hands of citizens by corporations, that the Constitution and its guarantees of personal liberty have been revoked by judicial fiat, that elections are nothing more than empty spectacles staged by the ruling elites, that we are on the losing end of the class war, has left it speaking and acting in ways that no longer correspond to reality. 

The “idea of the intellectual vocation,” as Irving Howe pointed out in his 1954 essay This Age of Conformity, “the idea of a life dedicated to values that cannot possibly be realized by a commercial civilization — has gradually lost its allure. And, it is this, rather than the abandonment of a particular program, which constitutes our rout.” The belief that capitalism is the unassailable engine of human progress, Howe wrote, “is trumpeted through every medium of communication: official propaganda, institutional advertising and scholarly writings of people who, until a few years ago, were its major opponents.” 

“The truly powerless people are those intellectuals — the new realists — who attach themselves to the seats of power, where they surrender their freedom of expression without gaining any significance as political figures,” Howe wrote. “For it is crucial to the history of the American intellectuals in the past few decades — as well as to the relationship between ‘wealth’ and ‘intellect’ — that whenever they become absorbed into the accredited institutions of society they not only lose their traditional rebelliousness but to one extent or another they cease to function as intellectuals.” 

Populations can endure the repression of tyrants, as long as these rulers continue to effectively manage and wield power. But human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded. This was true in Weimar Germany. It was true in the former Yugoslavia, a conflict I covered for The New York Times. 

The historian Fritz Stern in The Politics of Cultural Despair, his book on the rise of fascism in Germany, wrote of the consequences of the collapse of liberalism. Stern argued that the spiritually and politically alienated, those cast aside by the society, are prime recruits for a politics centered around violence, cultural hatreds and personal resentments. Much of this rage, justifiably, is directed at a liberal elite that, while speaking the “I-feel-your-pain” language of traditional liberalism, sells us out.

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

We are in for it. The for-profit health care system, designed to make money — not take care of the sick — is unequipped to handle a national health crisis. The health care corporations have spent the last few decades merging and closing hospitals, and cutting access to health care in communities across the nation to increase revenue — this, as nearly half of all front-line workers remain ineligible for sick pay and some 43 million Americans have lost their employee-sponsored health insurance. The pandemic, without universal health care, which Biden and the Democrats have no intention of establishing, will continue to rage out of control. Three hundred thousand Americans dead by December. Four hundred thousand by January. And by the time the pandemic burns out or a vaccine becomes safely available, hundreds of thousands, maybe a few million, will have died. 

The inevitable social unrest will see the state, no matter who is in the White House, use its three principle instruments of social control — wholesale surveillance, the prisons and militarized police — buttressed by a legal system that routinely revokes habeas corpus and due process, to ruthlessly crush dissent.

The economic fallout from the pandemic, the chronic underemployment and unemployment — close to 20 percent when those who have stopped looking for work, those furloughed with no prospect of being rehired and those who work part-time but are still below the poverty line are included in the official statistics — will mean a depression unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s. Hunger in US households has already tripled since last year. The proportion of US children who are not getting enough to eat is 14 times higher than last year. Food banks are overrun. The moratorium on foreclosures and evictions has been lifted while over 30 million destitute Americans face the prospect of being thrown into the street. 

There is no check left on corporate power. The inevitable social unrest will see the state, no matter who is in the White House, use its three principle instruments of social control — wholesale surveillance, the prisons and militarized police — buttressed by a legal system that routinely revokes habeas corpus and due process, to ruthlessly crush dissent. People of color, immigrants and Muslims will be blamed and targeted by our native fascists for the nation’s decline. The few who continue in defiance of the Democratic Party to call out the crimes of the corporate state and the empire will be silenced. The sterility of the liberal class, serving the interests of a Democratic Party that disdains and ignores them, fuels the widespread feelings of betrayal that saw nearly half the voters support one of the most vulgar, racist, inept and corrupt presidents in American history. An American tyranny, dressed up with the ideological veneer of a Christianized fascism, will, it appears, define the empire’s epochal descent into irrelevance.      


[Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for Scheerpost every two weeks. Click here to sign up for email alerts.]

Chris Hedges
Chris HedgesChris 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

91 comments

    1. “If there is one group that deserves our deepest contempt it is the liberal elites, those who posture as the moral arbiters of society while abandoning every value they purportedly hold the moment they become inconvenient.”

      Sweeping comments like these lend credence to Trump fascists who rail against liberals.

    2. you are way to optimistic. And pushing a corona narrative that is by and for fauci.
      i think you should check out the Off-Guardian article in the non msm news feed @ The Saker where a few doctors have compiled his list of failures and lise since 1984.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjLyVmmQEkw
      Whoa mule whoa and a 100 years from now fits “the now”🤷‍♂️

  1. It seems a mistake to call the disease “Trumpism” when, as you are clearly aware, Trump is merely a symptom. For one thing, it lends credence to the idea, unfortunately prevalent during this election, that ridding ourselves of Trump is an effective step towards treating the disease. It is not: it is merely mitigating the most obvious and superficial symptom. Sadly, we are, as you say, “in for it”.

  2. Dear Mr. Hedges,

    My dear friend asks, “is it just mere irrelevance that we shall descend into, or possibly so much more?”

    Irrelevance sounds almost benign…

    Thank you so much for your crystalline writings. For us, they pierce to the core with such beautiful precision.

    You are one of a handful we cherish, honor and respect so very much.

    Blessings to you and all!

    1. I don’t find him dour at al. The truth of lifting many false things of my shoulders make me feel hopeful

    2. Yes he is dour. Democratic politics was finished many years ago, but the people aren’t finished. At least they have woke up enough to know they are being fucked over. They don’t know how it works yet, but it’s still quite possible that they will figure it out.

      We still have elections. They haven’t them away yet. We just need more candidates with integrity and guts.

    3. “Sauron’s glare now sweeps over us”???

      Somehow it makes sense that Hedges’ cult followers use middle-earth imagery…

      Maybe someone should tell them it was a novel, not history…

    4. Mr. Hedges,
      What does * (bluestar) with “Loading…” after it mean?
      One can “reply” now to only the first four comments. Why? Someone responded to a comment of mine, but I can’t reply back.
      Thanks, Rob Roy

  3. Thank you Chris. However, the truth of what you write here is one that most of the people I know (Democratic voters / cheerleaders) will be refuse to expose themselves to. And if I were to even attempt to share it or talk about it, they would refuse me too and wonder why I wasn’t “happy” like they claim to be at the apparent victory of Biden ( I am glad to see tRUMP go). The truths and criticisms of our broken unrepresented politics will continue unabated now that the “good guise” have achieved victory. Chris – you are generally very unwelcome in your views of our troubled republic because most of the citizenry can only pretend that we are what we claim to be.

  4. “epochal descent into irrelevance”. I fear that this descent will foster a vile recklessness not only in the Excited States, but around the world as the wounded giant flounders on everyone else’s shores. This will not end soon, nor definitely peacefully.

  5. Have a nice day. / u.s.a. (repeat) / #1 (Repeat) OBEY? NO. Shut it down (someone is at the door banging, gotta go).

  6. I think it’s far from over. The people have figured out who their enemies are. They haven’t yet realized that the oligarchs own both parties. They will figure it out.

    When the government loses all legitimacy in the eyes of the people, its cops and its military won’t save it. I think we’re in a pre-revolutionary period now.

    1. Someone said if you get 10 or 20 percent who are actively against the government it can’t survive. After a couple of years of Biden it will be more than that.

    2. In Chris Hedge’s book, “Wages of Rebellion” he makes a case that actually just 5% of the population needs to be involved in active sustained revolt to pull off a revolution and if, as you say, if the revolution is based in truth it will garner the support of the rest of a populace majority. This was clearly demonstrated in the aftermath of George Floyd protests where enough of the population was in such open revolt of state (police) repression that elite seriously considered a military option (which would have been disastrous for liberal elite and status quo by essentially playing their hand too soon). As Hedges writes, this unrest will happen again and will be met with more severe state repression. The question is whether this repression will be welcomed by enough of the people to abort revolution or ignite civil war. This is still perhaps years away as collapse grips the nation more severely. And as empires collapse, they fragment in every sense. And in this fragmentation there are pockets of resilience, independence, and even possible progressive revolution (hence why Portland OR, in the provinces as far away from the imperial seat, has shown the clearest signs of both unrest and legal autonomy by legalizing schedule 1 narcotics, instituting its own universal health care, and is battling climate change and fire while it’s national guard helicopters are in Afghanistan.

      By the time the Visigoths made it to Rome they were greeted as liberators, not barbarian hordes. “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

  7. Yeah, what Chris said. Strap in folks, we hate to see it, but many people love it.

  8. Of course Chris is right, but Saint Obama seems to have got away with the actions shown up now. he spent the first two years of his first term when he had majorities in House and Senate doing NOTHING at all progressive- just the opposite, pandering to the Repugs. He was so close to Republicans that the GOP put up a cipher to oppose him in 2012-who needs a new man when Barack is doing your bidding? The Dem.losses in House, Senate, State governors piled on all during his 8 years-who could be surprised when in 2016 the Dem lost to Trump? It seems the Dems prefer to lose than to win with a progressive candidate who would actually help the people.

    1. Rosemerry,
      True. The DNC has ruined any hope of a decent president. They are worse than the RNC who openly run on hate; the DNC pretends to be good.
      Chris is always right.

  9. America will continue to march boldly to its self-inflicted death and that’s because its citizens really don’t care. Americans want this life. The majority do, at least. They don’t stop worshipping mega rich celebrities, because they hope to be them. They don’t hold mega rich corporations accountable, because they’d do the same thing in their place. Everyone wants to be rich in America. Everyone wants fuck you money. And the people who get fuck you money… Do you know what they say to the masses? FUCK YOU!

    1. Maverick just happens to be fucking right.
      Let’s all move to New Zealand.
      I forgot. They don’t want Americans.
      And then there’s the fucking pandemic.

      1. New Zealand does not want Americans, unless they are rich.
        Friend of a friend just purchased a year visa for the family.
        The price, purchase $2 million in NZ government bonds.
        I’m no expert but I think bonds are like a bank account. They are loaning the NZ gov’t $2 million and will get it back when they leave.

        Not a bad deal if you got that kinda cash sitting around.

      2. You really don’t want to move to New Zealand, as indeed many wealthy Americans have.

        The country, such as it is, spans a plate margin – Subduction Zone – which pretty well splits the North Island.

        It moves slowly and the three volcanoes are fed off the same one Hot Spot.
        I photographed all three, in a line, from a distant location.
        It’s an impressive view.

        When it goes, anytime between now and the next 100, 000 years, you’ll be underwater and it won’t be nice . . .

        JS.

  10. I think your arguments are undeniable and that you are always many years ahead of your time in thinking. It indeed seems that this whole sordid mess reveals exactly which end our leaders are on, on the hero to insect spectrum. Just like the pandemic has advanced here probably past some kind of tipping point in the community spread, our deteriorating nation and democracy has devolved past some kind of point-of-no-return. As has climate change. And clearly Chomsky is wrong about the lesser-of-two evils strategy, look at what is has brought us, like it couldn’t get any worse really. Mckibben is similarly clueless, giddy with enthusiasm that this is some kind of “victory” for the environment. WTF? And a big thing is that the Senate will remain republican and I assume will block Joe’s tepid relief and reform stuff. Hello Homelessness!! We’re really screwed now.

    1. Screwed in the short term leads to learning in the longer term. We can learn. We need to put more effort into internet news and opinion broadcasts.

  11. Father Time repeats the past Mother Earth now toils to nurture Revolution should come fast For our Children of the Future

    1. There are many ways to “revolt” other than with pitchforks in the streets.

      Mr Hedges, over and over, has insisted that our electoral system is useless, and that we must have “prolonged sustained mass movements in the streets” (quotes my own) – in other words a non-violent “revolt” against “the system”.

      Lotsa luck, we won’t even revolt at the polls – discouraged from even trying by our various progressive gurus who, like Mr. Hedges, say that our system is “useless”.

      For some time, everywhere I could (limited to little boxes like this on various sites, as I have no “platform”) I have been arguing that perhaps it is not our “system”, rickety as it is, that fails us, but rather how we use it – over and over we use it to elect D/Rs – as long as we do that, of course it is useless – but our choices are not limited to voting LOTE or staying home. Contrary to what the Ds tell us, and quite frankly, to what too many of our own “thought leaders” tell us, we DO have somewhere else to go and have had for decades.

      Hedges: “Championing these issues would have resulted in a Democratic Party landslide.” But there WAS a party, certainly in ’16, and before, that WAS championing those issues at the polls, a party that was on enough state ballots then to win BOTH the popular and the EC vote if enough folks had pulled its levers – where was Mr. Hedges then … And this time around he, himself, eschewed an opportunity to run on this party’s ticket, describing it as “quixotic”, because, apparently, he would have to give up his “platform” on RT. Why not use other platforms, such as this, to flesh out such a “quixotic” endeavor – after all, “tilting for windmills” is now the thing to do.

      Hedges: “At least the neofascists have the courage of their demented convictions.”
      The question is – do we. They have used the electoral process to advance “their demented convictions”, while progs have eschewed it to advance “our” own, not only eschewed it, but, at best, ignored or marginalized, at worst, belittled, mocked, and opposed, those who do try to use it, and have, for decades – and here we are. We hear all sorts of excuses “3rd parties can’t win” – nonsense, anyone on a ballot can win if enough folks vote for ’em; 3rd parties are “spoilers” for the LOTE, something I’m sure Mr. Hedges knows is a specious argument (they hung that on Nader, who was at one time Mr. Hedges supported candidate on a 3rd party line) – but don’t we WANT to “spoil” it for BOTH “major” parties?

      Progs have earned the sobriquet “snowflakes”, because we melt when the time comes to “screw our courage to the sticking place” – if, instead of melting away when “an awful Rep” was wagged in our faces, we had voted in GREATER numbers for Nader in ’04 than in ’00, and then again in ’08, the DP would have gotten the message – “we better do what they want or we are toast!” – like the Whigs in the 19th Century – remember the Reps were once a 3rd party.

      Does Mr. Hedges seriously expect us to have mass prolonged “movements” in the street when we won’t even do that at the polls? I suggest that, though pressure outside the ballot box is important, without the ballot box it is like a one legged man – he can hop around a lot, make a lot of noise, but, in the end, he won’t get too far ….

      I know that Ema Goldman is reputed to have said, “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal” – well apparently the Reps know it can be used to change things – they are, indeed, mounting a sustained effort to make it “illegal”, aka “voter suppression” – it’s about time we too figured out that it CAN be used to change things, iff we use it to get what we want and need instead of just to vote against what we don’t via LOTE …

      I am sorry, but any dissertation, no matter from whom, that tells us that our only choices are, stay home, “amass in the streets”, or vote LOTE then “pressure” our LOTE schmuck, is doing our desire to improve things for ourselves and our fellow humans (and other critters) here and abroad an enormous disservice, is self defeating.

      Folks fought and died for the right to vote – and what is said here, and in too many other places, now – “fuhgeddaboutit, it’s worthless!” and, in any case, “we can’t win (at the polls)”, implying that those of us who try are, by definition, “losers” – hmmm, let’s see, who else has used that term …

      But who is the real “loser” here?

  12. After reading the Irving Howe essay The Age of Conformity linked here I find it on a continuum from outrageous to disappointing that neither that essay nor the Guy deBord book Society of the Spectacle made it to my eyes — let alone millions of other eyes — until I reached age 68. Especially given my sojourns in grad school.

    Requiem indeed.

    And the David Attenborough film and series Our Planet/Life in Our Planet on Netflix strike me as a magnificent, spectacular, amazing, and loving elegy to the current status of Earth and the amazing species of life that Natural Selection has gifted.

  13. I am reminded of D.H. Lawrence’s essay on Melville in Studies in Classic American Literature. His reading of Moby Dick was that American would be the destroyer of the world — all nationalities were on the Pequod when it went down. He also thought that the truth of the matter was that all hands went down; Ishmail only lived because Melville needed someone to tell the tale.
    …whether or not the American empire descends into irrelevance, the turmoil and suffering involved depresses me

  14. “Every nation has the government it deserves”.
    Joseph de Maistre 1753-1821

    1. Yes and no.
      Did the Iranian people deserve the ruthless tunnel-visioned theocracies that took hold?
      Did Brazil with its billion poor deserve Bolsonaro?
      Did South Africa and Rhodesia deserve their cruelly racist apartheid?
      It is the hyper-wealthy who tend to choose the governments that conform to their greed and cruelties.

      1. I think it might be equally pertinent to ask if the Iranians deserved the Shah (Mohammad Reza) who was installed by force in order to ensure Western access to Iranian oil?

        Did the Argentinians deserve Jorge Rafael Videla?

        How about the Bolivians and Hugo Banzer?

        The Chileans and Augusto Pinochet?

        The list could go on for quite a while. See if you can spot the common theme.

      1. If that is a response to me, Maverick, or even it you are referring to the responder above me, I would ask you to hold off.
        Civil disagreements, no ad-hominem.

    2. “the state always reflects the values and desires of its people”. Durkheim
      “amerikans love big because they feel so small….amerikans have always been genocidal, enjoying killing from afar”. Philip Slater

  15. It’s an open question whether democracy can be conducted over a large scale over a long period of time. I don’t think it can. Some tendency toward authoritarianism is always there, whether it’s ideological or corporate. The Iron Law of Oligarchy maintains, eventually. And it maintains for normal, comprehensible reasons having to do with human nature, a topic no longer studied in university.

    Most people don’t want to put in the effort that maintaining democracy requires, and that’s not their fault. Many of the ancient Greeks didn’t want to do it either. They had and we have work to do and children to raise, and that takes almost all of our time. Do we want to run down to the community center after dinner to talk about even mundane neighborhood policies? Some do, just to do the right thing. But many do who have a taste for politics, and see it as the first rung up to the money mill in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist or politician. The effort “to be a good citizen” requires being informed about the issues of the day. No one today is. Who can keep up with the torrent of rhetoric, much of it meant to deceive, much of it only coherent to a lawyer, that is vomited out of government and the media? So magical thinking and celebrity opinion fills in the space. Most people probably think they are informed, when they know almost nothing. That’s the evidence from social media. We are distracted to death with the most degraded popular culture imaginable, available to anyone with an Internet connection.

    Walter Lippmann worried in the early 20th century that even in that newspaper age, it was unclear whether you could have an informed citizenry, which is supposed to be required for democracy. There was too much information in the 1920s, and that was a trickle compared to today. A scientific approach to propaganda had just been invented; today complex computer algorithms work us over and we pretend to make “choices” using our free will. Instead we are guided to the brand names, whether consumer products or political ideologies, that fit our data profile. Do we trust a news organization to sort the important stuff for us? That used to work, somewhat, but consumer-directed news is the name of the game today. We subscribe to the news that alternately soothes and outrages us, in turns, as if we were hunting for our cyclical fix of heroin. You can’t feel that relief without feeling the pain first. It is impossible today to have an informed electorate. Media people don’t see this because it’s their job to be informed.

    The reasons for the United States’ apparent and short-lived success, compared to many other political entities–for example, the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium–have nothing to do with our being a city on a hill, a new chosen people. That sounds silly today to any normal person. The USA succeeded for awhile only because it was built on a huge landmass with unexploited natural resources. It was the land of low-hanging fruit available to be grabbed by the quickest robber baron. The myth was that, like the character in the “Grapes of Wrath” who could just “stick his hand out the winda” in California and grab an orange, America was the Land of Opportunity, and all you had to do was apply yourself. This was always a lie propagated by the people most adept at exploiting resources, whether in nature or man. Still applies today. Why don’t people pull themselves up by their bootstraps? It’s America. Everyone has the same opportunity. If that’s not true, my opinion of myself might take a hit.

    What was America’s heyday? When was it “great”? When it was flush with cash in the post-WWII economic boom. Plenty of money and opportunity to go around, certainly if you were a white man, and soldiers returning from the war were able to get new houses in the suburbs with a bit of lawn, instead of returning to the tenements or shacks they left. Other than a few brief moments, America was a money grab and is a failed experiment. We are that rough beast, its hour come around, slouching off, with a full magazine of bullets.

  16. I am puzzled how Trump’s purported racism actually led to an increase of minority votes for him. He did far better in that department this time around than in 2016, particularly among Latinos.

    But what Hedges really misses, in this otherwise excellent piece, is the coming biosecurity state. ID2020, Trust Stamp, the Covid Credentials Initiative, Common Pass, CoviPass, “health passports”—these are real, well into development, and will be used to drastically reduce liberties once rolled out. If you can’t produce your “papers” to prove your “immunity” to Covid-19, your movements will be restricted. Australia’s health minister, for one, has already announced they will be piloting this technology for all people flying into the country. Biosecurity measures will start with travel, then, very likely, branch out to more and more areas of our lives.

    This, along with the pandemic’s enabling of a massive upward wealth transfer to elites and companies like Amazon (see Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine), are two major and immediate threats we must counter. But countering them depends on truly understanding how the pandemic has been used against us to destroy liberties and livelihoods. Thank goodness the world’s doctors and health professionals are waking up—over 40,000 of them are now signatories to the Great Barrington Declaration worldwide—but citizens must follow their lead.

    1. The ‘Great Barrington Declaration’ is a crock of shit, put out by corporate shills & ‘owned’ so called scientists. The whole thing is funded by the Koch family foundation, the very people Hedges is talking about in the article. Do some fucking research 🤦‍♂️

      1. I’ve been researching 4-5 hours a day for eight months (I have the time, since I lost my career to this so-called pandemic). The authors of the declaration are some of the world’s top epidemiologists–from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford. Gupta in particular has self-admitted left-wing views, and responds to critics of the declaration in the following op-ed:

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8899277/Professor-Sunetra-Gupta-reveals-crisis-ruthlessly-weaponised.html?amp%3Bito=1490&amp%3Bns_campaign=1490

        ANY doctor or medical scientist who has spoken out against lockdowns—and there are many of them, including a Nobel Prize winner–has been ruthlessly attacked and censored. No honest debate on this topic is permitted in the public sphere. Why do you suppose that is?

        I don’t care if Daffy Duck funded it, I care if it’s the right course of action–as it was in Sweden, which is doing just fine now, thank you very much. Unless you want the rest of our economy imploded and more lives destroyed–for a virus with a 99.7% recovery rate according to the CDC’s own data–you might reconsider your viewpoint.

    1. I have heard this same thing over and over from Hedges for years – “it’s hopeless!” But I have never heard him say anything about what, in the face of all this, we could/should do, – nothing, apparently. What is he doing – writing more and more pieces saying the same thing – which amounts to “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”.

      I feel sorry for him – he obviously has been beaten down so much that he cannot pull himself up, let alone give us a hand – his persistent cynicism certainly can’t be good for his, or anyone’s, health – it’s too bad he doesn’t use his writing, and speaking, talent for something better than this.

      Indeed, the truth will set one free, but free to do what, Mr Hedges ….

      1. “But I have never heard him say anything about what, in the face of all this, we could/should do, …”

        I carefully read the rest of your response, eagerly awaiting the moment when you would not commit the same oversight of which you accuse Mr. Hedges. That moment when you would enlighten us all with your well thought out, comprehensive proposal for constructive action under the circumstances, but…nothing.

        Crickets.

        Imagine my surprise.

      2. Might I ask that you read my first comment on this article …. (@9:30 AM)
        I have been arguing for 3rd party support for years, actually decades …. have worked on 3rd party campaigns and ran for office some years ago ….
        Hedges dismissal of the political process as a venue for change – leaves us with what, exactly ….

      3. I’m delighted to see you do indeed have a proposal for a positive course of action: support a third party. Although I also see that in that comment you acknowledge Hedges too has a proposal for action: “prolonged sustained mass movements in the streets”.

        Its neither necessary nor possible for me to say which of these courses of actions is more likely to be effective: I lean towards supporting third party candidates myself (and have done so, as, I gather, has Hedges), but maybe that is just because I am (like many of us are) too lazy or too complacent to “take to the streets”. I have to say, that you could certainly make the case that the current two party political system is so heavily weighted against the emergence of a successful third party that the quest is, as Hedges apparently alluded to, quixotic. And maybe one way to address this unfair disadvantage would be a “prolonged sustained mass movement in the streets” in support of said third party.

        Long story short, you do Hedges a disservice by claiming he has no proposed course of action: he simply has a different proposal than yours, and as far as I can tell, either, or even better both, of your alternatives deserve to be tried.

      4. Thank you for taking the time to read my first comment and for responding to it in a civil manner! That, in my experience, is an all too uncommon practice these days ….

        In my time of “paying attention” (some decades now) I have both participated in, and observed the outcome of, “mass movements in the streets” – but, if you notice, those like Hedges, who propose them as “the only answer” invariably say they must indeed be “massive”, meaning nationwide, and prolonged, meaning months at a time. I have yet to see one, no matter the cause, that hasn’t petered out in a relatively short period of time – we Americans, as a whole, it would seem, in this age of Amazon “next day delivery”, don’t have the patience nor the degree of dedication it takes to do this. (Of course, as you might well point out, that seems to be equally true of working on a 3rd Party, but at least with the former, unlike the latter, we have names like Hedges urging us on) E.g. with regard to “Black Power”, revived now as “BLM” (that’s another issue that “troubles” me), I have watched it ebb and flow over the decades, under different names, and nothing has really changed, has it. I have some ideas about how to deal with that as well, but, alas and alack, they are not “politically correct”, are related to “identity politics”, which Hedges, without elaborating, mentions as well.

        If you noticed, I used the analogy of the “one-legged man” – we do indeed need 2 legs – my quarrel with Hedges and other influential “thought leaders” is that they keep kicking one of those legs in the shins – it seems that the only time he was interested in “3rd party” politics was when Nader was involved as the “3rd party”. His recent flirtation with running as a Green lasted “about 15 minutes” before he burped and decided it was “quixotic”.

        I don’t think that such politics are substitutes for folks “too lazy” to engage in “mass demonstrations” (was that tongue in cheek?) – done well, they are every bit as labor intensive as, if not more so than, mass demonstrations, not as exciting nor as exhilarating – slogging through the snow to get signatures or pass out literature doesn’t have the same “kick” as marching, chanting, singing, or even getting arrested with, ones “comrades” (though i admit getting arrested, being charged and going to trial was not exactly “exhilarating” for me, though it was one hell of an experience).

        So where are the “progressive thought leaders” who lift up 3rd parties – don’t find ’em here or in many other “popular” prog sites – The only “progs” most seem interested in are those who run as Ds – to paraphrase Biden (to the black fellow, “if you aren’t for me, you are not Black) if you are not for a D, you are not a progressive. For Hedges it seems, if you are into electoral politics, you are not progressive … or not a “critical thinker” or etc. etc.

        Always it’s – “well yeah, we need a 3rd party, but not this time …” With folks like Hedges, there will never be a time – THAT’s my beef ….

      5. I agree with you that a viable third (or fourth) party would be a welcome addition to the political landscape. How much money did the two major parties spend on this latest election? Spoiler alert:

        https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/28/2020-election-spending-to-hit-nearly-14-billion-a-record.html

        I’ll support your third party. I’ll write you a check. I’ll vote third party. But until/unless these changes are somehow *preceded* by some major structural changes to the current system, quixotic is by far the most appropriate adjective I can think of.

      6. Ah yes – something else I have heard so often – ” Indeed a 3rd party, but first we have to do/have (fill in the blank)”
        The idea that who spends the most wins – isn’t always true, now is it … Sanders supporters didn’t feel that way, they raised a hell of a lot of money, knowing full well that Clinton would have more – raised it for a candidate from a “major” party, who turned around and betrayed them, abandoning their agenda, not once, but twice, when, at the same time, a 3rd party candidate, Stein, would have carried their agenda all the way – what a waste. But I detect a note of “I’ll give a party $ only when they have a lot of it from other places”.
        OK, what’s next …

      7. “The idea that who spends the most wins – isn’t always true, now is it …”

        I apologize if I gave the impression that money is the only structural impediment (it is merely the most obvious) in the way of an alternative (Sanders) or third party (Stein) candidate winning an election. Heck, I would be happy if they didn’t win but that the reality of their appeal to the broader public caused the 2 major parties to alter their policies accordingly. I am not, however, holding my breath.

        “I’ll give a party $ only when they have a lot of it from other places”. Umm, I never said that. In fact I have given, and will continue to give, money and votes to third parties (and even alternative candidates like Sanders). I firmly believe tilting at windmills can be exhilarating, amusing, and necessary. I just don’t expect it to be successful.

      8. Do you realize that if all the people who didn’t vote, had voted for Stein, she would have been president?

      9. “Do you realize that if all the people who didn’t vote, had voted for Stein, she would have been president?”

        I did not: in fact, I doubt its true. I suspect nobody would have been more astonished by such an event than Howie Hawkins.

        Do you realize that they would have had to write in her name since she wasn’t running in this election?

        Do you further realize that 9 states do not allow write in ballots? And of the 41 (plus DC) that do, in 34 of them the candidate must file pre-election paperwork registering as a candidate, etc. (actual requirements, or course, differ from state to state)? That leaves exactly 7 states where the voters could have spontaneously written in Jill Stein’s name and have it counted.

        Would you like to continue the discussion of structural impediments to third party (or spontaneous write in) candidates?

      10. Perhaps there is some confusion here – can’t be sure, but I think the poster was referring to the ’16 election when Stein was on enough state ballots to get enough of both the popular AND the EC vote to win if enough folks had pulled that lever – the poster’s comment is quite factual … In spite of that the CPD, or actually because of that, the CPD, run by D/Rs kept her off the debate stage….

        Cracks me up, every time I hear from either “major” party that the election is about “saving democracy” …. we have to save it from 3rd parties …

      11. I do apologize if I mis-characterized your comment about $, but that’s the impression I got, thank you for correcting it.
        For me, simpleton that I am, it seems to me that if we voted in electoral polls the way we do in opinion polls re such things as M4A, loan forgiveness, etc. we would have a “Green”, or its equivalent in the DP, gov’t by now – so the question is, why don’t we do that. The Ds know that is true as well – else why keep 3rd parties out of the debates, as with Stein in ’12 and ’16, why even keep progs in their own party out of debates, as they did with Kucinich – because they know they would get a bunch of votes, as Perot did in ’92 – their response is NOT to reform and adopt those policies, but to squash those who back them – do you honestly think we would ever get a (real)GND or Med4All from a party that chooses as its standard bearer one who openly opposes, say, banning fracking, or vows to veto M4A if presented to him

        Why anyone would continue to support a Dem Party that is so demonstrably anti-democratic, I do not know.

        I have thought of a couple of analogies – folks who attach their political cart to the DP donkey have to go where the donkey leads them and the donkey will follow the golden carrot in front of its nose – they may remonstrate, jump up and down – but their choice is to stay in the cart (for “pragmatic” reasons, of course) or get off and walk a different path. Most, Sanders. et.al. choose the former – some, e.g. Stein, know what the choice would be and never attach their cart there in the first place – those are the folks that represent what we say, and have said over and over – those are the folks we need to back –

        As you say there are other barriers besides $ – and the biggest ones, IMO, the mental games that are played – the baloney we fall for, e.g 1) “It’s a 2 party system written in stone” – really? our early history belies that, there were many parties – first there was one, the Federalists, then the Democratic- Republicans and the Whigs who had been Federalists. The D-Rs became the Democrats, when the Rep party broke away. Lincoln was a staunch Whig before he became a Rep. Then the Rep party shut out the Whigs. Maybe we invariably wind up with 2 “major” parties eventually, but not the same two. Right now an argument could well be made that once again we have a Democratic-Republican party, the Ds have (re)joined the Rs, and what is being fought over is not which Party wins, but who will head that Party – a “crude bloke” or a “nice guy”. I simply suggest we follow an old American tradition of replacing parties – replace the DP as the Whigs were replaced. We have a party that has been around for decades on the ballot – though the Ds keep trying to kick them off ballots and debates, building a “political wall” for obvious reasons – “they are going to take over our wonderful country! They threaten our (DP) jobs and (corrupt) way of life!”

        2) 3rd parties can’t win – more nonsense, anybody on a ballot can win if enough folks vote for ’em

        3) they are “spoilers” – for whom precisely, every candidate is by definition trying to be a “spoiler” for another candidate – voting for an R”spoils” it for a D and vice versa, not to mention if either gets elected, it “spoils” it for the rest of us and has been doing so for years.

        4) “you have nowhere else to go” – baloney, we do and have for decades (see above.)

        So why do we keep voting for a party that realizes the only way it can win is by keeping others out building walls against and defaming them – “all welcome as long as you have a ‘D’ on your ass and do what our ‘funders’ tell us to do.” Our problem, IMO quite simply, is that enough of us don’t have the courage of our convictions – to hang in there in spite of all the abuse we take when we do – snowflakes indeed.

        We keep hearing about how FDR, the aristocrat, was “pushed” into a New Deal, etc – you’re damn right he was pushed, by the existence of (hordes of) thriving, populated, active socialist parties who were gaining membership and strength – “threatening our (capitalist) way of life!” Even putting Debs in jail wasn’t enough to stop them! Good heavens what is to be done! Hmm, let’s try New Deal, CCC, SS, etc.

        Does anyone really think the corp Dems are going to do anything really worth while without an opposition party from the Left to “scare” them, to threaten their hegemony? And I really don’t give a damn if they give us what we have told them we need and want in that same attempt to “save capitalism” – they can save face with their fat cat funders by saying “we haven’t abandoned it, we are just ‘re-arranging’ it a bit” – you know, as when they re-framed “firing” into “downsizing” then “right sizing”,etc. etc.

        C’mon folks, we can do this – we have to do this … Let us make this a new “force of habit” 😀

      12. You’re preaching to the choir SH.. Oodles has been written, and it is well established that both main parties are two sides of the same bought and paid for plutocrat/oligarch political machine. What the average citizen wants is of no interest to them. They abuse the electoral process as a thinly veiled sham that gives them license to continue to amass money and power at the expense of the rest of us.

        And we’re back to where this debate started: third party vs sustained mass protests. Both need to (continue to) be tried. Sadly, imho, both are unlikely to successfully, peacefully reform our electoral system. As Hedges said, and I agree, “We are in for it.”

      13. The only reason I started my “binge” here is that all i seem to see from folks like Hedges is that the electoral process is useless – that the only thing that will (potentially) save us is mass demonstrations in the streets – If you know of any influential opinion maker printed or “podcasted” on any major site that argues for the importance of 3rd parties, please let me know.

        There is the “inside/outside” line of thinking – where the inside is “elect more progressive Ds!”, and the outside seems to be “mass demonstrations in the streets” – I posit that the “inside” has been tried for decades, but though patience is a virtue, it never helped a rooster lay an egg, likewise the outside proposed, in the absence of a supported voted for 3rd party, hasn’t worked either – it is time, past time to add that “3rd element” to the mix.

        Is there anyone else out there, saying what I am saying, who is being given a platform to say it ….

      14. LOL! “True Democrats” – we have seen the True Democrats for decades, what a sorry bunch – but your rational for participating is the same as mine – no matter what you call them the idea is to vote for them in such numbers that the those “True Democrats” will get the message that unless they incorporate the demands – M4A, loan forgiveness, maybe UBI, stop wars, shrink the defense budget, GND etc – they will not win any more elections. They will lose because – they don’t have enough votes to win – does that mean the “bad guys” may win until either we do or the Ds get the message – yeah, but the “bad guys” won anyway without a 3rd party being CREDIBLY blamed. In ’00, though Nader wasn’t to blame, the Ds blamed him anyway, if we had voted 3rd party in larger numbers in ’04, ’08 etc. the Ds would have gotten the message by now. Their choice would be clear – commit to our demands or disappear as a party

        What you are proposing is precisely what loyal Ds say they want to do – reform the party from the inside – at this rate the planet will be fried, etc., etc., before you succeed, if you ever do – folks have been trying for years.

        Remember the Rs were once a 3rd party – let’s make the Ds go the way of the Whigs

        Your dedication to the Ds, whether “True” or not, is touching – but misplaced and becoming more and more “problematic” all the time

      15. OK, let’s see – you wanted a party “called the True Democrats” yes? no? you just didn’t want to call it a “3rd Party” – yes? no? So we would have the (official) Democrats, the Reps and the “True Democrats”? OK, so if the True Democrats are not to be called a 3rd party, which one, in this trio, is? If, on the other hand, you conceive of the True Democrats (interesting name, btw) not being a separate party, but the D version of the Rs Tea Party, then you ARE suggesting that the traditional D party be taken over from the inside ….

        That concept is what I responded to – and now, with your “steel trap”, and “you can do better” lines – you are descending into what I have found so often – let’s insult the poster because (s)he “doesn’t get it”. And I know where that is going, but I will not insult you even though you don’t get it either …

      16. It’s true, I do have defects in my character, being the “poor dumb human” that I am, the principle one in the present instance is a masochism that continues to respond to a fellow (gal) who insists on insult upon insult, ad hominem, shoot the messenger comments which now comprise the bulk of your “responses”

        So, as per you, as it is “a 2 party system” which you are adamant about preserving, it seems clear that your “new party” must either be an internally reformed DP (yawn, yawn, how mundane), or a replacement of same by another party, which is my solution.

        I am glad you still “have faith” in me, even with my “rudimentary skills” – I did have faith in you, which is why I hung in there in spite of all the insults, but I can no longer retain it, having found, amid all the fancy verbiage a same ole, same ole …

        Good luck with your “new party” – you’ll need it ….

      17. LOL! even as you apologize for insults, you pile more on! I am glad you “like” me in your condescending, patronizing way. I have met many like you in my travels through the internet over the years – plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

      18. I am not his “enemy” – RBG and Scalia were “friends” even as they “fought” each other’s ideas in court. Indeed, he studied in Seminary (not Catholic), I believe his father was a preacher who was attacked for not being “dogmatically” correct – being raised Catholic, I know the difference between dogma and spirituality, as does he. And his experiences as a war correspondent (I read his War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning), I cannot help but think induced a PTSD that has, still, a hold on him.

        Indeed he is a brilliant writer and speaker – all the more reason to separate his style from the substance of his offerings (how many were, and still are, seduced by Obama. e.g.)
        It is easy to be seduced …

        So I agree that what he is offering is, in effect, a “bummer” for this and coming generations – your comment on the role of a “warrior” to soldier on when “all hope is lost” is a great one – maybe here is where one could unpack this a bit – a soldier fights because that is what he has vowed to do, where his/her “honor” lies – but it seems to me that (s)he has to believe in what (s)he is fighting for, and there’s the rub … what IS Hedges fighting for ….

        As for flaws, hey, believe me, I don’t need to be reminded about those, I (try to) remind myself of the litany of mine on a regular basis – but I DO want to challenge and BE challenged, and not only by those who live in the same bubble as I. I have for some time bemoaned the almost universal tendency to accept or reject an idea on the basis of (the perceived “worth” of) who is propounding it and not on its intrinsic potential worth.

        Thanx for the dialogue – I have been starved of it for some time 🙂

  17. I haven’t read any of Hedge’s writings in at least three or four years. This piece was posted at a news aggregator web site. I see nothing has changed Hedges is still the limited hangout he always was as he is too intelligent to be that blind. He, and his ilk, are the very sheep herders that keep the majority of progressives from ever obtaining the real truth that all major and minor social institutions and sources of information are all compromised. The true progressives, often wearing old conservative values now, that are being censored in the full sense of the word and not under going fake censorship as cover, are the real voices for human freedom and dignity Yes, still the same ol’ limited hangout Even this critique, while getting the main correct, fails to hit the nail other than with a glancing blow but it’s better than nothing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcy8uLjRHPM

  18. The incremental reform that Hedges cites as a possibility offered by capitalist democracy was never of value to the people because it implied that a very powerful authoritarian establishment might prevail. But it cannot prevail because this would mean the people would deny ourselves the pursuit and achievement of our peak potential. As you can see, Hedges is helping to obscure from our very minds our aspiration to reach our peak potentiall. The only legitimate reaction for Hedges is to declare in this comment section his commitment to support the people’s aspiration to reach our peak potential.

  19. I admire Chris Hedges for his stoic outlook. I am a Canadian watching all this is dismay. What has happened to liberals who speak up against the neoliberal machine? They were marginalized and called Marxists out to destroy America, as the popular Jordan Peterson says, or criticized for even insisting that things are more complicated than they seem on the surface. At least so far they have not been jailed or disappeared, which was a bit of a concern .
    In a country were children no longer learn civics and ,God forbid, how other countries function, how exactly are the liberals to inform or encourage deep thinking? In a nation that is unable to even investigate, let alone emulate how other countries have handled the pandemic ,for instance, and is politically divided, what hope is there in intellectualism? Most adults don’t read books or I suspect, watch documentaries about anything serious.
    In Canada we gave laid off workers regular payments to keep people afloat. Our Prime Minister said that we will sort any fraud out later but give help now . We have a good health care system which has absorbed the pandemic quite well. We will probably face a tax increase. Most of us won’t mind that for the common good.
    Of course the real true cause of problems for people who are enraged are not the liberal elites, but the corporate elites who control the governments. But ordinary people can only see what is in front of their eyes. My step mother in England could readily see the benefits cheat down the road, but had not a clue about corporations and elites piling up millions of quid in London tax free and hiding it in tax havens . In her imagination a lay about who sponged 100 quid was ruining the country. The Daily Mail reminded her of that every day. She could not fathom how that theft from the public had led to Austerity and the gutting og her local council to manage local issues as they had for many years.
    We all know where the rage of limited imagination leads. To callousness and ultimately violence against the already precarious .
    Our only hope now is in community cohesion .

    1. Excellent observations, Ms Hughes! But (of course there’s a “but” :)) I think it would truly be helpful if we started out (in all areas) with a definition of terms. (I learned this half a century ago, being on a HS debate team) Words matter, not only who gets to define them, but what they “mean” to each of us. Take “liberal” for example, it would seem, at least to me, that it means something different to Mr. Hedges, for whom, it seems, it has nothing but negative connotations, and you, for whom it is a worthy position. What is the difference, say, between a “liberal” and a “progressive”?

      I have seen similar issues with regard to, say, the term “socialism”, or even “capitalism”. What they mean to some is often entirely different from what they mean to others. Some would say let’s not get bogged down in “definitions”, but I would argue that until we slog through those bogs, we will never be able to have productive discussions. We may not be able to “agree” on a definition, but in the process of trying we often find that, in fact, we do agree on, or at least feel the same way about, many things, fundamentals, and it is those things we have in common, whatever we call them, we need to focus on, after all the sturm und drang. Re your observations, e.g., is the problem “elite liberals” vs “elite corporatists”, or is it “elite”, period?

      Being “well educated” used to mean “reading books” (you can guess how old i am), does it still, and if not what does it “mean” now? It seems that for many it means “having a college degree”, but many of the best thinkers whose books we read were auto didacts. We “of the elite” undervalue “street smarts” and do look down upon “manual labor” and those who perform it, even as we clap for our “essential workers”, granting them their 15 minutes of fame. What does it mean to be “a critical thinker”?

      I am sorry, I am sure you may not consider this a cogent response to your comment, let alone coherent – but it opened up a sluice gate of thought for me, of which this is only a trickle. I do long for the opportunity to actually “sit down” and discuss things like this with folks like you, but it seems, ironically in the name of “progress” with “more and more choices” – we are limited to little boxes like this (and many sites have eliminated even these) or permitted a set number of words on “(anti)social media”.

      Good luck to you and stay safe …

  20. the systemic collapse certainly seems unassailable, its causes now practically omnipotent. all exits have been closed, and the beast has armored itself successfully from head to toe. its nihilism infects its back-scratchers and victims alike — enablers have replaced conscience with convenience, and the prey have replaced hope with either rage or apathy. I recall your piece long ago about niebuhr, his idea that imagination is revolt: if you are just one person on the street holding a sign, however impotent the act might be, whatever danger you might face for doing so — there’s hope. if you are entombed in one of our gulags all alone 24-hours a day, if you can merely imagine something else — there’s hope. let’s refuse to deny the beauty that’s bigger than our stupidity.

    1. But resolve to do what? To carry out our duty? Duty to do what? Fight for others? – but who are we fighting and why are we fighting them ….

      I would suggest that the opposite of hope is despair – and when we need to reach into the depths of our being to find the energy to muster the discipline to continue doing our duty, methinks the black hole of despair is not the place to look … As I have heard it said, hope dies last – and it is also said there are no atheists in foxholes, so why do we fling out “prayers” in those moments of dire distress – because we “hope” that someone, or something, is listening. I will not allow anyone to take that “hope” away, and will argue against any attempt to do so – no matter how eloquent or rationally presented such an attempt may be. Is that “irrational”? Methinks not – it is quite pragmatic, indeed

      I wonder, as a former seminarian, does Mr. Hedges pray …

      1. “Why are we fighting? Uhh … Really?? ”

        Not sure, but I seem to remember reading somewhere, or hearing someone say, something like “Violence begets violence.” or “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” or similar such sentiments.

        “Can someone else tell this person why we owe it to our children? ”

        I am, or at least aspire to be, more of a lover than a fighter. tbh, I think [my] children prefer it that way.

      2. Hmmm – you seem to want to find fault, personally, with anyone who dares to appear to critique you, even mildly, what happened to “we should be friends”

      3. I knew this conversation would continue to deteriorate – with more denigration (What color is the sky? will someone tell this good citizen)

        Did it ever occur to you that there seem to be different versions of who “the enemy” is we need to fight – according to the Ds, that you seem to want to keep in power, albeit in a more “progressive” form, it is the “Russians” or the “Chinese” or the “Iranians”, etc. who are out to do us in and that is who we must fight to protect our children.

        Then, finally, you clarify – it is the “greedy folks” that are destroying everything – no argument there – but it is those same folk that both the Ds and Rs are facilitating – those folk that I would put a 3rd party up against, a solution you reject … May I ask how you voted – or is that another “what color is the sky” question?

        I understand why you “tire” of the conversation – you want to stop because I keep coming back and you seem unable to answer without more insults – and that is not, IMO, a good way to win an argument or continue a discussion. If you have decided I am not “intelligent” enough to discuss anything with, fine – but I will not insult you in the same way …

    1. Frankly I would say the first thing is to stop listening to the folks who tell us to give up on the political process …. start using it to vote for what we want instead of against what we don’t …

    1. tens of millions of people voted in every presidential and congressional election for as long as there have been tens of millions American voters, and m@r@ns like Hedges and you would reduce it to regurgitated Elites’ narrative?

      Talk about delusional arrogance and a humiliating disregard and disrespect to the electorate!!!

      The rights of minorities is encoded in the constitution, as is the right of majorities, and we have to find ways to make it function as it was intended, not be told by demagogue, propaganda buff, and useful !d!ots like yourself and Hedges that it doesn’t work.

      If arrogant pr!cks like Hedges and co. would devote half the time and space they waste to berate the system on finding better ways to implement and/or improve it, which is precisely what Obama tries to do, we’d be in a far better place.

  21. Millions of honest, hard working and skilled Americans have been dumped on and duped by those infected with avarice and the lust for total control.
    It’s a NATIONAL TRAGEDY.
    I hope they somehow find their peace.

  22. Let’s not attach liberal class to notion of past social progress as Hedges continually is doing as if at all they were about not social progress but about progress of capitalism.

    And today they serves crony oligarchic capitalist interests and war machine the collect bills for them worldwide.

    Liberal class was originally created as bourgeois liberal class of radical revolutionaries, a splinter group of feudal power elites with aim to overthrow feudal socioeconomic system by means of government Decrees, policies and Laws as feudalism put to much political/legal constrain on inherent dynamism of modern capitalism of exponential growth via massive Global expansion and Financialization of capital.

    Liberals introduced ideology of liberalism including individual freedoms, protections and liberties but only in socioeconomic realm that was devised to free “animal spirits ” among capitalists driving for domination, accumulation and profit. Such ideology of progress was used to justify destruction of old existing socioeconomic structures and radical expansion and marketization of economy encapsulating vast swaths of population, if compared to feudalism. Similar process continues today.

    Liberalism was always ideology of economic progress of capitalism not necessary society itself making its destructive exploitation look respectable presented by propaganda as natural realization of individual freedoms.

    That is why liberals were always supporting all rights their own money can buy with complete lack of concern about working class socioeconomic situation.

    Liberal class was never as source of its ideas but was simple expressing changing requirements of capitalist class.

  23. Yes, it was depressing to read that Wall St is happy with the election outcome, because it means nothing radically socialist will happen, removing any uncertainty from their plans.

    CH is right; just like Australia, where I live, you have a narrow choice between “dry capitalism” and “damp capitalism”, nothing more.

  24. I think Hedges is right about his general analysis but I think he seriously misses the boat on the danger of fascism from the other right-wing party, the Democratic Party. Some decades past Gore Vidal noted in his expert view of Washington (that mirrors my own view) that there is only one party and it has two right-wings. I see the main danger of totalitarianism coming from the Democratic Party with their insistence on radical conformity in thought, their assault of civil liberties, their championing of censorship and cancel-culture that is deeply harming discourse inside the Academy, inside corporations, and inside governments. It is the Democrats who most favor war and the culture of punishment whether in the treatment of prisoners or in foreign policy. For me, the Russiagate story now defines the mentality of the Democratic Party–a totally invented story by the CIA and MI5/6 it has been accepted, despite its debunking by numerous commentators on the real left, by the mainstream media and their faithful true-believers.

  25. with respect chris, only 6% of the 223000 deaths were due to covid alone–and a serious % didnt have any covid–the hospitals collect $59,000 from the govt for an “official’ covid death certificate

    c02 is only 4% of the atmosphere and cannot by itself cause what is being predicted–also think in terms of eons of atmospheric cycles

    your take on both those issues happens to match those whose agenda is power. not humanity
    i wish orwell had writtrn a book on the last 10 years leading into 1984

    i have spent many hours ‘with’ you on video overat least 10 years–i am a psychologist and it is a fair reach to think that your pain is coloring, not your basic perceptions , but maybe covid and climate, perceiving them as a greater threat than they are
    HOW they are exploited is the real threat

    charley mayer your classmate from harvard is my cousin in law.

    1. Hmmm – if I recall those “atmospheric cycles” would predict we are about to enter a new ice age – but golly gee, that ain’t what’s happening now, is it. The amount of CO2 in ppm in the atmosphere had been pretty stable for quite some time enabling our “civilizations” to develop – but in the last couple of centuries has been steadily rising, more rapidly all the time – and the Arctic icecap is disappearing, the Greenland and large chunks of the Antarctic ice sheets are melting at unprecedented rates -,not to mention all time high temp readings and average planet temps, not to mention the increasing acidification of the oceans – but that’s all a coincidence, eh?

      And then there’s Covid – I am so glad that your training as a psychologist tells you what folks are dying of, it’s all in their heads, right? – shucks, as just a money making scheme, why didn’t the medical establishment think of this years ago –

      So what does your cousin-in-law have to do with any of this …. he was a classmate of Hedges, so what?

      It seems to me that it is YOUR take on those issues that is much more in line with those whose agenda is power – power to drill into, dig up, and burn every last resource on the planet to make as much money as they can -but maybe that’s just a coincidence too, eh?

  26. Dear Mr. Hedges,

    We are tired of this same old cynical, pessimistic schtick.

    Sorry you’re upset that your bosses at RT are scrambling because Trump is out of office.

    For OVER 75 MILLION OF US, MORE THAN HALF WHO VOTED, THIS WAS A VICTORY.

    And you’re just pissing on it because it’s all you know how to do. You’ve outgrown your usefulness, and should evaluate what you’re doing or just go away.

    1. 75 million idiots voting fascist is a victory?
      “amerikans are ignorant and unteachable”. George Santayana

  27. It sounds like Chris would have more optimism IF we the people elected people in the States who CANNOT be bought by the oligarchies and the elites.

  28. This was addressed in more extensive detail in The Death of the Liberal Class by Chris, and yes all true. But who should we blame? “Liberals” however they are defined, or is it stronger powers at work.? As outlined in the book, money itself drove the left rightward, so that they “had” to abandon a pure left wing ideology that would benefit the middle class. And what is to blame for that? You can condemn the drift into identity politics, but it leaves out the most important identity, the money identity, which the SC has declared has free speech. Capitalism itself is to blame, as was laid out in extensive analysis beginning in the 1840s by those who shall remain nameless and their fellow travelers, who predicted all that has come since, with over accumulation of capital leading to successively larger and larger bubbles and collapses. Were “liberals” supposed to stem that tide? OK, but how? Humans are human and their are forces bigger than they are. So yes humans failed but we need to see the larger picture as to why. What then to do? Some people get some fortitude to stem the tide, then what? Hedges suggests here that if only Democrats had said this or done that they would have triumphed. Or would they have become even further marginalized as “socialists” (a word which none of the people who use it understand). What one person should stand up against the odds? Let’s suggest Kennedy did. Look what happened. And let’s not pretend that everyone who has worked on every political campaign since then doesn’t know the inside story of how that went down in at least a broad outline, and informs their candidate of what can and can’t be said or done.

  29. “the amerikan world view is nihilism with a happy ending”. Alan Bloom\Maxists are far harsher when examining the amerikan character
    that there r so many idiots in amerika that believe biden is less fascist than trump explains plenty
    a people so stupefied, shallow, bereft of individuality, insecure and anti-intellectual, it is expected that they would vote in an oligarchy where both political parties are devoid of principles except money—observed by Tocqueville, Gore, Ostrogorski who wrote: “of all peoples in an advanced stage of economic civilization amerikans are least accessible to long views, always and everywhere in a hurry to get rich they give no thought to remote consequences, they see only present advantages…amerikans do not feel, they do not remember: amerikans live in a materialist dream”

  30. The ouster of a fascist through election is a clear indication that democracy works. So of course head demagogue and propaganda buff Hedges comes out with a requiem.

    One of the main reasons for the hatred of liberals by the likes of him is that time and time and time and time again they mock the Neo Progressive doom-and-gloom, end-of-the-world revolutionary narrative through marked and measurable improvement they infuse into democracies everywhere (e.g., the tens of millions Obamacare gave access to healthcare, or Obama’s LGBTQ in the military, or his DREAM act), holding conservative attempts to end liberal democracy and turn it into authoritarian populism at bay.

    It is sad to witness a left that is as delusional and devoid of any true sense of reality the likes of Trump.

  31. You could have summed it all up in just four words, Mr. Hedges:

    “It’s hopless; we’re screwed” ( or that more vulgar word starting with “f” )

  32. In his book, The Russian Revolution and the Unfinished Twentieth Century, David North analyzes the disastrous role of Stalinism and the Moscow Trials of 1936-38 in the demise of liberalism in the US. Liberals, led by Malcolm Cowley of The New Republic and by The Nation, enthusiastically embraced the Moscow Trials. After the War, a “ferocious anticommunism swept the ranks of American liberalism … contributing to a wave of political reaction that was to have such a devastating effect upon the intellectual level and political climate of the United States.”
    A vague Liberalism which does not question the economic and property foundations of the present system of capitalism – but seeks to tweak it with a few reforms, as espoused above – is doomed to failure.
    Correspondingly, the turn away from the working class as a revolutionary class, into the miasma of identity politics, has laid the basis for the current crisis. The World Socialist Web Site seeks to educate and mobilize that force.

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