Chris Hedges Original

Hedges: Papering Over the Rot

The staggering concentration of wealth at the top has deformed our governing institutions — new window dressing will not end oligarchy.
Original art by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

The death spiral of the American Empire will not be halted with civility. It will not be halted with the 42 executive orders signed by Joe Biden, however welcome many are, especially since they can, with a new chief executive, be immediately revoked. It will not be halted by removing Donald Trump, and the crackpot conspiracy theorists, Christian fascists and racists who support him, from social media. It will not be halted by locking up the Proud Boys and the clueless protestors who stormed the Congress on January 6 and took selfies in Mike Pence’s Senate chair. It will not be halted by restoring the frayed alliances with our European allies or rejoining the World Health Organization or the Paris Climate Agreement. All of these measures are window dressing, masking the root cause of the demise of America — unchecked oligarchic power and greed. The longer wealth is funneled upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal, who put Biden into office and whose interests he assiduously serves, we are doomed.  

Once an oligarchy seizes power, deforming governing institutions to exclusively serve their narrow interests and turning the citizenry into serfs, there are only two options, as Aristotle pointed out — tyranny or revolution. The staggering concentration of wealth and obscene avarice of the very rich now dwarfs the hedonism and excesses of the world’s most heinous despots and wealthiest capitalists of the past. In 2015, shortly before he died, Forbes estimated David Rockefeller’s net worth was $3 billion. The Shah of Iran looted an estimated $1 billion from his country. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos amassed between $5 and $10 billion. And the former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was worth about a billion. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are each at $180 billion.  

The new wealth comes from a cartel capitalism far more concentrated and far more criminal than any of the cartels built by the old robber barons of the 19th century. It was made possible by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton who, in exchange for corporate money to fund their campaigns and later Clinton’s foundation and post-presidency opulent lifestyle, abolished the regulations that once protected the citizenry from the worst forms of monopoly exploitation. The demolishing of regulations made possible the largest upwards transference of wealth in American history. Whatever you say about Trump, he at least initiated moves to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other Silicon Valley monopolists, none of which will happen under Biden, whose campaign these corporations bankrolled. And that has to be one of the reasons these digital platforms disappeared Trump from social media. 

The new robber barons peddle the classless identity politics of the Democratic Party to deflect attention from their stranglehold on wealth and power, as well as their exploitation of workers, especially those that make their products overseas. Corporations such as Walmart have 80 percent of their suppliers in China. These corporations are full partners in China’s state-controlled capitalism and suppression of basic labor rights and wages, where most Chinese workers make less than $350 a month and toil in Dickensian conditions. 

There is no political will among the ruling elites to defend the rights of Amazon workers who are aggressively blocked by the company, the country’s second largest employer, from forming unions, work all night in drafty, COVID-19-infested warehouses or deliver packages for $15 an hour, which leaves thousands of Amazon workers dependent on food stamps. Likewise, this is no political will among the elites to defend the rights of workers in China, often forced to work 100 hours of overtime a month in sweatshops for as little as $2 or $3 an hour. 

History has repeatedly illustrated the dire consequences of extreme social inequality. It foments revolutionary ferment, which can come from the left or the right. Either a leftwing populism that smashes oligarchic power takes control or its counterfeit, a rightwing populism, built on the poisoned solidarity of hate, racism, vengeance and violence — and bankrolled by the hated oligarchs that use it as a front to solidify tyranny. We are barreling towards the latter. 

The soaring levels of social inequality are laid out in stark statistics that are reflected back to us in the pain, despair and suffering afflicting perhaps 70 percent of the US public. The wealth of US billionaires has increased to over $1.1 trillion since mid-March 2020, when the pandemic began to ravage the country, a nearly 40 percent leap during the past 10 months. The total wealth of America’s 660 billionaires, $4.1 trillion, is two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans. An additional eight million Americans were recently classified as “newly poor” as the poverty rate increased 2.4 percentage points from June to December 2020. It is now at 11.8 percent, although many economists argue that the official poverty rate of $26,500 for a family of four masks the fact that perhaps half the country lives in real poverty. 

The official poverty rate for Blacks has climbed 5.4 percent to 23.6 percent just between June and December, but again is probably at least twice that number. Blacks, along with Hispanic and Native American people, are also dying from COVID-19 at almost three times the rate of white people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, despite the fact that many Blacks work in the health care industry they are being inoculated at percentages far below those of whites. In Maryland, for example, Black people make up 30 percent of the population and 40 percent of the health care industry yet account for just 16 percent of those who have been vaccinated. Since the beginning of the pandemic, landlords have filed more than 227,000 evictions in just the 27 cities in five states that the Princeton Eviction Lab tracks — and that is with a national eviction moratorium. Twelve million renters, who owe an average of $5,600 in back rent and utilities, now face being thrown out of their homes. By the end of 2020 there were an estimated 50 million food-insecure Americans, up from 35 million in 2019. One in four households with children, according to a report from Feeding America, experienced food insecurity in 2020.

The response by the ruling oligarchs is the equivalent of tossing coins from their gilded carriages to the despised masses. The Democrats have proposed raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15, but not until 2025. Biden has actually called for reducing the proposed third stimulus check — a $1,200 check for eligible adults was issued last spring and a $600 per person check was issued earlier this month — from $2,000 to $1,400. The oligarchs have bristled at even these meager responses. Larry Summers, Clinton’s treasury secretary who orchestrated the Wall Street bailout in 2008, called the $2,000 checks — crumbs compared to the trillions handed to Wall Street speculators —- a “serious mistake.” Elon Musk, now one of the two richest humans, said that a second “government stimulus package is not in the best interests of the people.” 

The response by a morally bankrupt ruling class are symbolic, given that we are enduring the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and an estimated one-third of all Americans are struggling to pay their bills. It illustrates how woefully disconnected the elites are from the lives of those they dominate. 

Unless families receive regular monthly payments of at least $2,000 until the pandemic ends; unless the country has access to universal health care, especially during a national health crisis; unless the nation radically pivots from fossil fuels to halt the looming ecocide; unless the crippling debts that are draining the bank accounts of American families are reduced or forgiven; unless there is an unassailable moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; and unless manufacturers at home and overseas are forced through stringent trade agreements and labor laws to pay decent wages, abide by strict labor regulations and permit independent unions, the oligarchs will only accelerate their pillage. 

The class warfare is global. Not until workers in sweatshops in China, Mexico, Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh are lifted out of poverty will the American working class be lifted out of poverty. This class war is the real fight, which corporate-owned media platforms and bankrupt liberals refuse to discuss. 

“In a real sense all life is inter-related,” Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” 

Liberalism, which Rosa Luxemburg called by its more appropriate name — “opportunism” — is an integral component of capitalism. When the citizens grow restive, or when capitalism goes into crisis as it did in the 1930s, liberals ameliorate capitalism’s cruel excesses. Franklin Delano Roosevelt correctly said his greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism. 

But capitalism, Luxemburg argued, is an enemy that can never be appeased. Liberal reforms, such as the New Deal legislation, are used to temporarily stymie organized resistance and then later, when things grow quiet, dismantled to reinstitute capitalist slavery. The history of capitalism illustrates this constant seesaw between liberal reforms and unregulated, capitalist exploitation. The last century of labor struggles in the United States, which has seen unions largely obliterated, and the advent of neoliberalism, austerity, rampant militarism and deindustrialization amply prove Luxemburg’s thesis.

Fascism is the result of a failed liberalism. With liberalism corrupted, as it has been in the hands of the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton, all self-identified liberals have left to peddle is cloying appeals for tolerance and civility, shorn of economic justice. This politesse, which epitomizes the Biden White House, fuels an animus towards the ruling elites, along with the feckless liberals and the liberal values they purport to defend. 

The elevation of women, people of color and those with different sexual orientations to managerial positions in the oligarchic state is not an advance. It is a species of corporate colonialism. It is branding. It is the substitution of cultural politics for real politics.  

When the Belgian colonizers could no longer openly exploit the Congo, they installed the corrupt and compliant puppet Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, after, of course, assassinating the courageous independence leader and first prime minister Patrice Lumumba. Mobuto, who embezzled between $4 and $15 billion during his bloody dictatorial reign, served his colonial masters until the end. Expect the same prostrations before corporate power from the diverse appointments in Biden’s cabinet and, should it be required, the same state repression. 

The political, cultural and judicial systems in any capitalist state are centered around the sanctity of private property. Laws and legislation are instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or, as Luxemburg writes, “those who have some property against those who have none at all.” This inherent bias in capitalist societies, however, becomes criminal once monopolies, from Wall Street Banks to Silicon Valley, seize the organs of power. These monopolists create, by abolishing regulation and oversight, as political economist Karl Polanyi writes, first a mafia economy and then, inevitably, a mafia state. 

The Democrats and Republicans have legalized a level of greed and fraud that even heirs of the robber barons thought unsustainable. David Rockefeller’s “enlightened capitalism,” however self-serving, along with his call for a nation of stakeholders and his formation of the Trilateral Commission, have been pushed aside to license unchecked corporate pillage. 

Bill Clinton and his two treasury secretary enablers, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, instituted a system of unregulated capitalism that has resulted in financial anarchy. This anarchic form of capitalism, where everything, including human beings and the natural world, is a commodity to exploit until exhaustion or collapse, is justified by identity politics. It is sold as “enlightened liberalism” as opposed to the old pro-union class politics that saw the Democrats heed the voices of the working class. Financial anarchy and short-term plunder have destroyed long-term financial and political stability. It has also pushed the human species, along with most other species, closer and closer towards extinction. 

The more workers are dehumanized, as Polanyi notes, the more the ruling elites are morally degraded. Unheard-of wealth creates unheard-of poverty. “Scholars proclaimed in unison that a science had been discovered which put the laws governing man’s world beyond any doubt,” Polanyi writes of laissez-faire capitalists. “It was at the behest of these laws that compassion was removed from the hearts, and a stoic determination to renounce human solidarity in the name of the greatest happiness of the greatest number gained the dignity of a secular religion.” Workers, abandoned by the state, reach a point where they resemble more “spectators that might haunt a nightmare than human beings.”

The shipping of jobs overseas, where workers toil in conditions that replicate the worst abuses of the early industrial revolution, leaves those in the industrialized world unable to compete. A living wage, job security and benefits are replaced by the insecurity of the “gig” economy. This global market forces workers, whether in the Rust Belt or in China, to surrender before the dictates of their corporate masters. The bondage of the working class, at home and abroad, cannot be corrected by legal or legislative reform when the political system is hostage to corporate money and political office is defined by legalized bribery. 

Global capitalism relentlessly searches the globe to exploit cheap, unorganized labor and plunder natural resources. This is its nature, as Karl Marx understood. It buys off or overthrows local elites. It blocks the ability of the developing world to become self-sufficient. At the same time, it strips workers in the industrialized world of good paying jobs, benefits and legal protections, pushing them into crippling debt peonage, which further swells the bank accounts of these global speculators. Its two unrelenting goals are the maximization of profit and the reduction of the cost of production, which demands that workers be disempowered and treated like prisoners. This global assault on the working class is fueling a global rage. And its visage, as we see among the white, dispossessed working class in America, can often be very ugly.

Apple, one of the most profitable companies in the world, is the epitome of “enlightened” global capitalism. WIRED reported that “employees at Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Oracle have contributed nearly 20 times as much money to Biden as to Trump since the beginning of 2019. According to data released by the Federal Election Commission, which requires individuals who contribute $200 or more to a presidential campaign to report their employer, employees at these six companies have contributed $4,787,752 to Biden and just $239,527 to Trump.”

Employees at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, WIRED reported, are Biden’s biggest financial backers in Silicon Valley. They donated nearly $1.8 million, more than one-third of the money raised from employees of the six companies. Open Secrets, a campaign finance watchdog, found that contributions from Alphabet’s employees and political action committee to the Biden campaign collectively exceed those from any other company. Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, Open Secrets found, account for five of the seven largest donors to the Biden campaign on that basis.

Apple in China, however, treats its workers little better than 19th-century serfs. Jenny Chan, Mark Selden and Pun Ngai in Dying for an iPhone, chronicle the endemic labor abuses, including substandard wages and wage theft, long hours, union busting, a refusal to pay sick leave, unsafe labor conditions, a harsh work environment and pressure to meet quotas, that contribute to a high rate of worker suicides in factories that make Apple products. Workers are crammed into overcrowded dormitories next to factories “to facilitate high-speed, round-the-clock production” and are forced to put in as much as 130 overtime hours a month.

The disenfranchised white working class embraced Trump because he taunted and belittled the globalists and monopoly capitalists who destroyed their communities and their lives. For  them, Trump’s vulgarity was a welcome respite from the cloying language of inclusivity and political correctness used by the oligarchs to mask the crimes of monopoly capitalism. The connecting tissue, in the United States, between these disparate, disenfranchised groups of white workers is Christian fascism.

Biden, a tool of global oligarchy, who naively intends to resurrect the ancien régime, is paving the way for a frightening despotism, one where voices of dissent, from the left and the right, are censored and all who refuse to accept the new global order are labeled as domestic terrorists and pounded into submission. Societal breakdown, which is looming, brings with it grotesque political distortions. Trump was a symptom of this breakdown.  He was not the disease.  This dystopian future, one that will probably end in the United States in a form of Christian fascism, has been bequeathed to us by the ruling global elites, who in another era would have been found promenading through the halls of Versailles or the Forbidden City. 

[Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for ScheerPost. 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 2018 Chris Hedges


  1. The Democrats won and Hedges needs to accept that fact. It’s the “return to Normalcy”, to America run by the MICIMATT in a war-based imperial economy.

    My only big concern is that the US is rejoining the WHO. The same people who said in mid-January that Covid-19 was NOT spread person-to-person. Who followed up saying travel bans and border closures would be “Counterproductive”. (This was the mindset of a bunch of AIDS virologists. Asian countries immediately shut their borders with China, and any country with high infection rates, and have done a remarkable job using straightforward Public Health procedures– testing, isolating and quarantining the infected that get in and their contacts, and offering free treatment, to keep their death rates mostly in the 0-20 per million range ( the US is at 1362 per million and climbing). The single most effective drug class for serious Covid-19 cases is glucocorticoids, announced by the Chinese in MARCH and by the Brits in midJune, grudgingly accepted by the WHO in August and still not approved by the FDA for Covid-19 (only remdesivir which the WHO has called “worthless” is a small molecule drug FDA-approved for Covid-19.) The WHO supported the no mask plan of Fauci early on, and has suppressed the drugs used by countries globally with much lower death rates than the US (glucocorticoids, heparins, vitamins including D3, Zinc, ivermectin, HCQ, Betadine in Neti pots, among others; all safe unless overdosed, and at least as effective as the $3000 a shot remdesivir). Since Covid-19 is a disease of the elderly– 95% of victims over age 65, half over age 80 (of our 450,000 Covid-19 dead almost all are from the 2.2 million over 65 that die each year), the obvious response should be to protect the Elderly and those other 5% vulnerable due to serious medical conditions. But the WHO seems to have never acknowledged this fact. At least the WHO backed off of support for lockdowns as the PRIMARY control during the pandemic (although most US Governors, who control Public Health have tasted power and won’t relinquish control). Let’s hope the vaccines make a big impact, but it should never have come to that. Maybe we should hire Singaporean epidemiologists for the next pandemic.

    1. You have to accept the corruption of the DNC. The blind loyalty knows no party or the duopoly
      Puppets are easy child’s play, they know this.
      Curiosity must be shaped by education. We don’t educate.

    2. This is another seminal analysis — thank you !!
      Of course, there is another near-term domestic element of high concern by ruling oligarchs — the scam of the century — Russia-gate hoax as well as DNC/Biden-family massive corruption..

      The entire anti-Russian narrative has been a deliberate fabrication. Clapper, Brennan & Hayden trio were among top former Obama 50 intelligence officials stating that Hunter-laptop is classical “Russian disinformation”.
      – They were also key promoters of the three-year Russia-gate hoax.
      – They were also key intelligence executives in Obama/Biden/Hillary government – the government which hunted Snowden (forcing Bolivian plane with Bolivia’s president to land to search it) and armed Al Qaeda (including “white helmets” hoax) and staged all chemical attacks in Syria to remove its government.

      Trump’s utter incompetence in handling Covid-19 created the human and economic catastrophe that will be called – Trump-virus; he brought into government religious extremism and racism (Christian fascism).

      Bur — the Russia-gate hoax and Ukraine-impeachment “entertainment” was concocted by Obama/Hillary/Biden/Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, etc. and their intelligence and DNC executives on behalf of their Wall Street and military industry donors, i.e., the imperial War party

      The censorship will now only increase — there are taboo otpics. The outrage and infamy of, e.g., Intercept’s chief editor Betsy Reed, Ryan Grim, James Risen & Co. is that she/they wholly accepted and still promote the Russia-gate hoax. Like Cenk+Ana duo of TYT, Intercept is now just another stenographer outfit for corporate owners and the war industry

      1. What happened to Intercept is horrendous….One of our greatest journalists, Glenn Greenwald , whose conscience forced him to leave this site because it prevented him from telling the truth about Joe Biden….Yes, intercept is no better than CNN, the NYT, etc.

    1. Completely agree! From Melbourne, Australia, my friends and I totally rely on Chris for his insight and fearless analysis about what’s REALLY going on in the USA. Bless you Chris, you’re a national treasure!

      1. Good hit Chris, thanks for keeping the light of life protected. We are being divided and confused with distorted media perspective that sidesteps the reality in every story., It’s not worth listening to anymore except to hone critical thinking and see what they don’t want us to see. Don’t get cut from the herd.

  2. Powerful piece.

    Humanity as a whole has been in a state of intoxication for centuries now and no hope of it snapping out of it. Plagues, economic miseries, rotten oligarchs, spiritual decadence, opioid crisis, social rupture, corrupt institutions, sadist elites, consumption and celebrity culture, fiction, illusions, wars, gangs, drugs, prostitution, money laundering, eugenics, brutality, massacres, genocides etc. won’t help mankind crawl out this abyss. It’s in a state of death and human effort cannot resuscitate it back to life. Only God can but humans, or at least a sincere portion, must try then God will help.

    1. If your god is all-powerful, why hasn’t it helped already?….Yes, I know, we must not question the will of your god….It has a purpose for everything….I’m sorry to say, the god thing has its limits.

    2. Mohammed,

      1st off AAwRwB!

      2ndly, as far as Dr Hedges’ article & your response, you’re not so bad yourself. You’re spot on too ya know. So one little detail here…let’s see…a proportion of sincere humans must “try”. Er uh… try what? The Salat, zakat, sadaqah, sawm, the iqrah, my brother from another mother these things aren’t cutting it, not cutting the mustard. What is it we do? Can we [] a billionaire banker in his face? Oops, but we have to be peaceful. No amount of math/economics, no rules/laws, no moral/ethical, no rational inferential discursive analytical- nothing will they listen to. Not even that they catalyze & drive sociocide, ecocide, omnicide. So what then? Protests, rally, picket, march, demos? Sign petitions? Nothing works unless you are shayateen- then merely burping or farting you succeed w/o any effort, no fatigue, unable to miss or even have a bad hair day. What? Try what? What do i do? JZK. Barakallahu Fik. Xuda Hafez.

      1. “What do i do?”

        Within – Examine yourself and what (if any) religious/political/social/economic/etc. propaganda you might have embraced. Why? Who does it benefit for you to hold these ideas as truth? What if you changed?
        Two quotes I like to keep in mind when contemplating just about any action or attitude…
        “Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen, and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be any use to him.” – Mahatma Ghandi
        “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

        Without – Find meaningful and effective methods of rebellion. Clearly – at least in the US – voting isn’t a viable mechanism for real change. And I don’t believe you can protest (or censor) someone into morality. The options that remain are to either break or abandon the broken system(s) as much as possible.
        One example is the various squeezes the WSB Redditor group are enacting on the hedge funds through the stock market.
        Another example is abandoning the corruptible and failing fiat monetary system in favor of moving into crypto.

        Continued willing participation in a system designed to ensure your suffering – whether it be economic, social, political, whatever – is madness.

    3. Salam Mo,
      Surahtul Talaq 65:8,9
      (8)And how many a township rebelled against the command of its Lord, and against His messengers, so We called them to a severe account, and punished them with a punishment that was unimagined by them. (9) Thus they tasted the evil consequence of their acts, and the end of their conduct was loss.

      i can see it happening again like so many we have been warned of before. Born, raised, spent all my life in Tx., so i see it front row. What i do not see in the ayat nor in Dr. Hedges writing of his foreign 1st hand direct experiences is what are the few do-gooders surrounded in the system’s matrix supposed to do in the middle of socio-politico-economic juggernaut megamachine implosion & immolation? Something pathetic & symbolic like renounce my citizenship out of disgust? i agree with you about Wahi, that only Providence can guide truly. i’m not seeing in the deen what to do as the golden calf, bull market worshipping taghoot satanic system of postmodern relativist scarface fantasies hits real world limits. That other response mentioning William I. Robinson, yeah but again just like environmental critical mass of the biosphere or any of it. i see it…but…what to do with no more Rasools coming, no more Mr. Green running around righting wrongs to join, no Mu’Min army to join. Dr. Hedges placing a bet on extinction rebellion is misplaced. Check Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green, Art of Annihilation, etc. b/c they’ve already been assimilated by the Borg bourgeoisie. i agree with Hedges about we should go down swinging. No matter. Reguardless. The thing is, how? The thing is its been like 30 years of Pacifica & just like woody harrelson said noone has figured out how to stand against these corporations. Even revoking a charter does nothing. Nothing dents, not even a speed bump. Not even govts. can withstand & retain sovereignty. In the meantime until the wages of sin or the methane clathrite bomb or whatever whichever of several synergizing dooms…what to do? Realistically, as an individual schlepping down the sidewalk? Because reduce, reuse, recycling, canvas bags, & new specialty lightbulbs ain’t gettin’ it done. Allah Hafez

  3. This present reality is what I began to see, and dread, with the advent of Reagan. As ever, Hedges cogent assessment is cheerless but spot on — and that is oddly reassuring. At least we know we’re not mad, in this relentless maelstrom of crazy. I notice there is no remedy offered — likely an unspoken observation that we have traveled beyond available fixes and are just in for it now. Time to explore options with every ounce of imagination you can sum up. Simple survival — for ourselves and the planet — is the only rational goal left to us.

  4. Mr. Hedges I think you have hit the nail on the head with your article. The only thing is I believe that race pays a greater role in this analysis than you acknowledge. This article is color blind and it shouldn’t be. The analysis is good but too VANILLA!

  5. “resulted in financial anarchy. This anarchic form of capitalism, where everything, including human beings and the natural world, is a commodity to exploit until exhaustion or collapse, is justified by identity politics”

    Chris, PLEASE update your understanding: anarchy is the OPPOSITE of lawlessness. Anarchy is *democracy*: no rulers, not no law.

    You’re talking about “chaotic Capitalism”, “lawless Capitalism”, “criminal Capitalism”, or similar. Anarchism has nothing to do with lawless or criminal anything.

    Just as dictators routinely name their country-sized autocracy “The Democratic Socialist Republic of XXX” when there’s nothing of democracy, socialism, or republicanism involved, so do their ilk like to malign anarchism by equating it with lawlessness.

    1. Well put, Margaret. “Anarchism” has become synonimus with “Lack of Rules & Regulations”, Errico Malatesta would not be happy with this distortion of socialist thinking.
      Still, excellent piece, Chris. You are right on the money predicting dark clouds ahead.

    2. Well said Margaret. I agree. Chris please update your understanding of anarchy, and stop using the term as the uninformed and/or the cynical do. Read some Malatesta! Maybe you’ll discover that you’re an anarchist too.

      “By definition an anarchist is he who does not wish to be oppressed nor wishes to be him self an oppressor; who wants the greatest well-being, freedom and development for all human beings. His ideas, his wishes have their origin in a feeling of sympathy, love and respect for humanity: a feeling which must be sufficiently strong to induce him to want the well-being of others as much as his own, and to renounce those personal advantages, the achievement of which, would involve the sacrifice of others.”

      1. @Margaret, @Davide @Robin – Good to see fellow anarchists trying to set Mr. Hedges straight. We don’t want no damn rulers. There is a good example of people getting rid of the police and politicians in a small town in Mexico. I met the town fathers in Anarchapulco 2019.

    3. I appreciate your informed comment – which is spot on. Obviously Chris knows what anarchism is and I don’t think he was necessarily slamming anarchism.
      It’s unfortunate though that anarchism (a non-authoritarian form of social interaction) and anarchy (disorder and chaos) share the same morphology.

    4. I suspect that Margaret has an appreciation for the illusion of knowledge and the resolution of contradictions [which is to say, logic].
      I could be wrong.

      “Anarchy is ‘democracy’: no rulers, not no law.”
      Virtually impossible but powerful when [where] realized or so it has been my experience in a few tiny groups – what a blessing.

      to close…
      The verb, “to be” is expedient and it is virtually all we have in the English language to express our beliefs, but the literal statements of fact are toxic to logic. The quick and dirty caveat to logically distance oneself from that toxicity is to close with…

      I could be wrong.

    5. Hedges is not referring to anarchy in terms of a political theory – he is accurately describing the condition of unregulated finance capitalism.

      Hedges understands and has written in depth – on a historical and theoretical basis – about anarchy.

    6. From the Oxford English dictionary, “anarchy” has TWO meanings: one general; one political:

      1. A state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority or other controlling systems.

      2. The organization of society on the basis of voluntary cooperation, without political institutions or hierarchical government; anarchism.

      Chris Hedges is using the first definition of the word. It can be applied in all sorts of situations. For example, an anarchic family structure in which the kids are allowed to do anything they want, and stay up as late as they want, watching whatever they want. Not many people would agree that such a lack of authority and rules (a controlling system) is a good thing for kids. Ditto corporations and the super wealthy!

    7. SMH. The world is literally collapsing and here we are, mentally masturbating over which interpretation of “anarchy” people would like to agree on. See everyone on the other side.

  6. As sweepingly as Chris lays into our species for the ways we find ourselves relating to one another, I believe there’s still a lot more room for doing more to impart the enormous scope of the disappointment we’ve so long been proving to be as human beings.

    I’d love to see all social commentators of the progressive persuasion work night and day together to train their listeners and readership to widen the angle on the scrutiny applied to how H. sapiens is doing here 3 hundred thousand or so years after we kicked off this march of human progress to where we are now.

    I believe it might be useful to infuse the zeitgeist with the undiluted truth that we’re all performing awfully as so-called social creatures with amazing brains that have long offered us the blown-off promise of our thinking up ways to stop all this squandering of all our human promise by such means as refusing for millennia on end to use our amazing brains to learn the simple lesson that as long as we don’t put a cap on how powerful and self-important some of us can become we’re never going to stop squandering our human promise.

    With steady and strong enough doses of this truth maybe we could build up a herd immunity to the stupid delusions that keep diluting this truth.

    Perhaps a shared sense of the senseless ways we’ve been proceeding as a race could reach some kind of critical mass that led to all of us feeling so awful about the part we’ve played, for instance, in letting something like an oligarch continue to be a thing that we all together quit letting something like an oligarch continue to be a thing.

    1. It’s interesting to consider the genesis of our devolution into what we’ve currently become as a species. Many native/aboriginal/non-civilized cultures lived in harmony with one another and nature for hundreds of thousands of years. Yet around 10,000 years ago with the domestication of agriculture and subsequent domestication of our own species we see the rise of what eventually we would become today.

      It is heartbreaking and immensely frustrating to see how defeated and desperate our collective spirit has become. We have no one to blame but ourselves and no one to help us but ourselves. And I sincerely doubt we are anywhere near rock bottom or any other place we can evolve positively from to become harmonious with ourselves and our surroundings once again.

  7. Excellent piece…..well written and straight forward. I would add that we have to understand the workings of The Transnational Capitalist Class. This is where the real power lies in terms of everything that Chris has written about.

    Chris mentions the new world order that is in store for humanity but he does not mention the World Economic Forum and the Great Reset. I am wondering why he does not go into this analysis? I would like to see an article by him that comments on this subject.

    Also… Covid 19 being used as a global tool to lock out workers, lock in the public and lock down the global economy?

    Are we headed toward a Global Police State with all of these restrictions due to Covid 19 and all of the social and economic unrest that is now raising it’s ugly head on the horizon? William I Robinson’s book “The Global Police State” is a good read for those who are questioning where the world may be headed. Peace.

    1. I thought conspiracy theories are exclusive to the Right, but apparently I was wrong.
      Are you also afraid of the Bill Gates chip in the vaccines?

      1. Oh no, conspiracy theories appeal to many on the left, as well. They are a natural product of state secrecy, whidespread anger and a loss of a sense of personal efficacy in shaping our community culture and decisionmaking.

      2. I am afraid that you don’t see what is right before your eyes. It is more than a conspiracy, it is called stealing. The Transnational Capitalist Class has amassed more wealth since this Covid 19 hustle has begun. They have raked in $3.9 tillion dollars and the rest of humanity have lost jobs and have decended into poverty. This is disgusting and it sickens my soul to actually know that the Global 1 per cent have no regard for the welfare of the overall well being of humanity. Peace.

  8. “The root cause of the demise of America — unchecked oligarchic power and greed…soaring levels of social inequality… pain, despair and suffering afflicting perhaps 70 percent of the US public…these monopolists create a mafia economy and then, inevitably, a mafia state…a level of greed and fraud that even heirs of the robber barons thought unsustainable…unchecked corporate pillage…a frightening despotism… this dystopian future has been bequeathed to us by the ruling global elites…”

    All of these are symptoms of the same eternal demon that has claimed the human psyche for countless generations: Spiritual Rot. Some choose to call this Original Sin. In modern computer terms, it is malware or a virus that takes over the whole host human’s system. Whatever one calls it, it comes in countless disguises and forms but achieves the same outcome: The perversion of a Human Soul who chooses (or just passively allows) The Rot to become that person’s Operating System.

    The answer? You take out from that human the bad hard drive and replace it with one that has not been perverted (“Born again?” Spiritual enlightenment? Again, label this as you wish). Or, you run a detox program and try to cleanse the original operating system that you started with and hope to outrun the devil that’s always trying to claim you again.

    As the sages have told us, we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. Most people don’t seem to know that, and this is where the problem really begins… We don’t even know who or what we are or why we’re here at all. You can’t win a game if you don’t know what the game is.

    The Elitists (please don’t ever call them “Elite”) believe that they are fundamentally different (and better) Beings/Entities/Creatures than everyone else. This gives them (in their twisted opinion) a blank check to gather all the wealth and power and issue edicts and decrees to the people of the World (their “lessers” since They are “cut above” everyone else). Again, this is a spiritual defect – malware, a mind/soul virus – that perverts all that They are and believe and do. And since They do not see this trait as a virus but as the source of their strength and “specialness” and “legitimate” rule over all things, They are beyond redemption. The problem is within Them and They never, ever look there.

    None of this is by accident. The Great Spirit that set all this up has a purpose. We are here to learn what we truly are. We are here to meet These Devils along our path and see Them for what They are. And we are to overcome Them in our own personal ways and evolve passed the cesspool that They choose to wallow in and seek to pull us all in to. Everything else is just scenery for the Main Plot.

    1. HEY!….I have an idea….Why don’t you just tell your “Great Spirit” to topple the bad guys….Simple, isn’t it!?

  9. “The root cause of the demise of America — unchecked oligarchic power and greed…soaring levels of social inequality… pain, despair and suffering afflicting perhaps 70 percent of the US public…these monopolists create a mafia economy and then, inevitably, a mafia state…a level of greed and fraud that even heirs of the robber barons thought unsustainable…unchecked corporate pillage…a frightening despotism… this dystopian future has been bequeathed to us by the ruling global elites…”
    All of these are symptoms of the same eternal demon that has claimed the human psyche for countless generations: Spiritual Rot. Some choose to call this Original Sin. In modern computer terms, it is malware or a virus that takes over the whole host human’s system. Whatever one calls it, it comes in countless disguises and forms but achieves the same outcome: The perversion of a Human Soul who chooses (or just passively allows) The Rot to become that person’s Operating System.
    The answer? You take out from that human the bad hard drive and replace it with one that has not been perverted (“Born again?” Spiritual enlightenment? Again, label this as you wish). Or, you run a detox program and try to cleanse the original operating system that you started with and hope to outrun the devil that’s always trying to claim you again.
    As the sages have told us, we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. Most people don’t seem to know that, and this is where the problem really begins… We don’t even know who or what we are or why we’re here at all. You can’t win a game if you don’t know what the game is.
    The Elitists (please don’t ever call them “Elite”) believe that they are fundamentally different (and better) Beings/Entities/Creatures than everyone else. This gives them (in their twisted opinion) a blank check to gather all the wealth and power and issue edicts and decrees to the people of the World (their “lessers” since They are “cut above” everyone else). Again, this is a spiritual defect – malware, a mind/soul virus – that perverts all that They are and believe and do. And since They do not see this trait as a virus but as the source of their strength and “specialness” and “legitimate” rule over all things, They are beyond redemption. The problem is within Them and They never, ever look there.
    None of this is by accident. The Great Spirit that set all this up has a purpose. We are here to learn what we truly are. We are here to meet These Devils along our path and see Them for what They are. And we are to overcome Them and evolve passed the cesspool that They choose to wallow in and seek to pull us all in to. Everything else is just scenery for the Main Plot.

    1. The link YOU placed shows plenty of cause for alarm in that a) with an ADDITIONAL 2.5 percent or nearly 300,000 of all renters in the sample group (which itself covers only about 25 percent of the 43 million housing units occupied in the United States), did not pay rent compared with the same month a year earlier — when about 8 percent didn’t pay their rent at all and another 12 percent paid significantly late. When you consider that not paying rent, or paying late, is a MAJOR deal that can lead directly to eviction, late fees, etc., it is callous to pretend there is not a housing crisis in America. That this doesn’t even take into account the vastly increased housing issues in the PLACES WHERE THE JOBS ARE, or that a single renter may have one to ten fellow tenants counting on that roof over their head…methinks you are a too clever by half.

      The number paying their rent by the end of the month in THIS SAMPLE. Here is how the data is gathered:

      The data comes directly from five of the apartment industry’s leading property management software (PMS) providers—Entrata, MRI Software, RealPage, ResMan and Yardi. These software platforms help apartment firms conduct many aspects of their business, including rent payment processing. This dataset is based directly on millions of actual leases from thousands of apartment firms that use these five PMS providers. All collected data is anonymized by the PMS providers and standardized for a high-quality dataset. The final numbers have been weighted to account for variations in the size of the databases provided by the data providers.”

      Now, I have no idea if that sample accurately reflects the larger market, but even using what is listed here, the reality is this: MILLIONS and MILLIONS CLEARLY ARE RISKING EVICTION. How many will end up being evicted (or quitting the premises in fear of being locked out with a sheriff’s bolt) is both hard to track and depends on what happens next.

  10. Trump’s inept attempt to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other Silicon Valley monopolists had nothing to do with the public interest. Trump didn’t like that big tech wouldn’t support him and wouldn’t say nice things about him to feed his ego. So just to be clear and not to give Trump credit where credit isn’t do, it is always about him trying to destroy his enemies and not taking action in the public interest.

    1. “So just to be clear and not to give Trump credit where credit isn’t do [sic]”. Nixon put a man on the moon, and was upset when Kissinger received the Nobel prize. Of course, Trump would take credit, but at some point the motivations are not that important, the results are. Trump will get credit for the fastest creation of vaccines in history (and blame for any long-term issues), but so what?
      Nancy Pelosi held up $2000 checks because Trump wanted his name on them “and that ain’t gonna happen.” Politics is always about screwing and blaming your enemies by both Republicans and Democrats. When people refuse to do their jobs because they don’t want someone else to get the credit, the system is totally whacked!

  11. I’m old enough to remember when we workers were personnel; ya know, like actual people. Now we’re human resources. Just like other natural resources–things to be clear-cut and strip-mined, the useless (to capitalism) remnants discarded and dismissed as mere irrelevant “externalities.”

    Trump’s own painful upbringing, one that damned any trace of empathy as the weakness of a loser, gave him the instincts to voice the rage of white men whose deepest fear is that they are impotent, powerless losers. Who cling to a desperate show of strength by waving guns or flags or the invasion of 1/6. None of which is effective against an unseen power, that invisible hand constantly slapping them down.

    In Jungian terms, Trump is also the liberals’ collective shadow. The type who claim they just don’t see color. Who could never, ever be racist…yet do nothing tangible that disrupts their own privileged lives. And who have managed not to see 4 decades of working class suffering. The shadow is that which individually and collectively is the most repugnant; any trait the group or person can never admit to having. Acknowledging that requires a formidable challenge to the deepest sense of self and group.

    In Jungian terms, individuation, the process of psycho-spiritual maturity, goes through a reconciliation of opposites. For political reasons of commonweal, as well as for collective psychological health, it would therefore be a serious and possibly fatal error to scapegoat any group. We leftists can see that both liberals and conservatives have their faults, faults that have brought us to crisis. That doesn’t make them entirely wrong or render them as some subspecies of human.

    What alternatives will we offer?

  12. Aside from proposing no solutions, the fundamental gap in this essay (extremely common in most assessments of the current period) is that the role of the misleaders of the organised labour movement is either downplayed or completely ignored. It’s not without reason the capitalists call their 40-year assault on the working class in the US and internationally a ‘one-sided class war’. With very rare exceptions, for those four decades all the heads of the trade union bureaucracy have successfully stabbed elementary workers struggles in the back and drove them to defeat; they all paid fealty to the Democrats and continue to do so; and ultimately all of them have been responsible for not only allowing the decimation of workers jobs and of industry to bequeath the rust belt, but have presided over the destruction of the organised labour movement itself.

    Many workers who would have voted for Sanders and who previously voted for Obama, voted in despair for Trump in 2016 and in 2020. Of ~75,000,000 who voted for Trump in 2020, probably 50,000,000 of these were working class who were either precariously/under employed, on the brink of unemployment and bankruptcy, or had been wiped out completely. 50,000,000 is true desperation.

    But it’s simply untrue to imply that it was routine or part of the political landscape that “…the old pro-union class politics [that] saw the Democrats heed the voices of the working class.” The only times the Democrats ever ‘heeded’ the voices of the working class was when they were forced to by major working class struggles against the bosses that were actually winning, as exemplified by massive working class upheavals of the 1930s and FDR’s New Deal response. Otherwise, up until Clinton the Democrats at ‘best’ paid lip service to working class issues and legislated some regulations that primarily served to prevent some capitalists gaining ‘unfair’ advantage over others. Post-Clinton, the union bureaucrats were less and less able to sell such symbolic ‘victories’, or the Democrats themselves, to the working class because none were offered or to be had. The bourgeoisie, so assured in its ‘victory’ over the class enemy, saw no need for any such lip service. Consequently neither did the Democrats. Yet the craven union bureaucrats have continued to back the Democrats. Talk about the classic definition of insanity.

    The Democrats have never been ‘persuaded’, or successfully ‘lobbied’, by hard-earned union dues handed over to them by sellout trade union bureaucrats to ever do anything that goes fundamentally against capitalist class interests. After all, the Democrats are a bourgeois party, not a workers party. A bourgeois party, not a workers party (repeat 10 times). Just like the GOP, they’re the party of the class enemy (with some identitarian politics thrown in); they’re the party of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I, Libya, Syria, countless other lesser wars and ‘police actions’, and of course myriad CIA-engineered coups, including the installation of fascists in Ukraine under Biden.

    As a consequence of such a bleak political landscape, many US workers either quite sensibly choose not to vote or otherwise partake in the charade of bourgeois ‘democracy’, or out of desperation vote for anyone who’d stick a thumb in the eye of the ruling class. Most of the rest remain tethered to the Democratic Party class enemy by their misleaders or by other sheep-doggers like Sanders, the squad and so on — the latter elected on basic, needed reforms but once in office never mention them again.

    As there’s no mass workers party in the US, the only advanced capitalist country without one, this situation will only continue. Certainly as this crisis deepens with no respite in sight so to will the working class further polarise toward ‘extremism’. In the absence of a pole explicitly fighting for working class interests, many desperate workers on the brink of unemployment and bankruptcy will be attracted to populist demagogues. It might be charismatic leftwing one (eg, another Huey Long) or a rightwing one. If the latter, in the absence of a mass counterweight in the working class, then things indeed will get ugly.

    It’s also a profound illusion to expect that “There is no political will among the ruling elites to defend the rights of Amazon workers who are aggressively blocked by the company,…”. Why on earth should the leopard be expected to change its spots? There can be no ‘political will’ among the ‘ruling elites’ to ever defend the rights of any workers. Full stop. Get over that.

    And it’s also untrue to claim that “The connecting tissue, in the United States, between these disparate, disenfranchised groups of white workers is Christian fascism.” The connecting tissue is the despair of ordinary people left to twist in the wind in a major economic and health crisis, which manifests in different ways, not simply in some ubiquitous, all-enveloping ‘connecting tissue’ of ‘Christian fascism’. Other outlets of white working class despair and desperation are manifest and include escapism into drugs, alcohol, resort to crime and all the rest, which also afflict desperate black and Hispanic workers. Not exactly the stuff of Christian fascism. But in the midst of the COVID crisis there’s also been a growing grass-roots self-help and mutual aid movement which — in the absence of working class struggles against the bosses that are far more fundamental to scourging racism from the working class — in small ways is beginning to break down racial barriers within the US working class.

    Finally, it’s not completely true that “Fascism is the result of a failed liberalism” because it’s not a necessary outcome. ‘Failed liberalism’ produces other regimes as well, as might be deduced from the ostensible liberalism prior to its failure with Reagan spawning what followed, including ‘neoliberalism’ of the Clinton regime and all that’s followed. Failed liberalism can also produce the conditions and/or working class movements for the overthrow of capitalism.

    What mostly spurs the rise of fascism, however, is squandered or unfulfilled revolutionary opportunities, as occurred with the 1920 occupation of the factories in Northern Italy, the 1923 German ‘Stillborn Revolution’, and of course the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). If, especially, the revolutionaries don’t capture the middle class and lumpenproletariat facing bankruptcy and worse in the midst of a revolutionary crisis, then these layers in their frenzy will run to fascism to become its shock troops, and the revolutionaries, and the working class in general, will pay the price in blood.

    1. Read Hedges’ book “Death of the Liberal Class” – he goes into great detail about failed institutions, including unions.

      1. Hedges in his book may have covered the demise of trade unions as an ‘institution’ of US capitalism, but its mention in this article fails to impart any understanding at all as to why and how this has happened. Lack of effective working class opposition to the gutting of the US industrial base, which was accompanied only by the occasional whimper from the misleaders of the organised workers movement, is a rather important factor behind the demise of the US empire itself.

        The trade unions are accepted as an ‘institution’ under capitalism only as long as they’re thoroughly tamed and never used as effective weapons of class struggle. Presently, after being gutted almost completely by four decades of lost working class struggles, the ‘institution’ of trade unions in the US is all but a withered shell. The revival of the trade unions can only be brought about by ousting the current sellout misleaders and replacing them with leaders willing to take on the bosses using the social power of the working class — so that the organised workers movement becomes the real non-institution of capitalism that it ought to be.

  13. Endless discussion about how bad it is or how bad it will be is not helping anyone.
    We need a new idea.
    Every person must find one moral truth for them. All human action must give life. Now life takes life. People can stop that . The answer lies in the emancipation of the individual but…

    Man cannot be told how to live; he must have his own experience and come to his own realizations; no man is another man’s authority. Coercion won’t work; acquiescence is not an answer. Whom can we trust to lead us? We must trust ourselves. We must begin there. Politics doesn’t work. We the people is a downright lie. I am an individual, not a “we.”

    The people can agree on one moral, ultra-simple truth of life. Show them certain, non religious morality they can KNOW is a tangible and real. Knowing that truth, they can wake up to the untruth of capitalist/oligarchic criminality and be justified by their moral truth to gain clear knowledge of how life should be. They can strengthen themselves and build their resistance and power in secret. In doing so, populations can be liberated and transformed in knowing that their truth is tangible, real, just. It is all around them, they always just took it for granted.

    I just finished “How to save the human race without politics, religion or money” 60 pages to change our world.” if you want a copy you know my email

    All media concern for how bad things are get us nowhere and will lead to more misery and tyranny We can change that but we have to look outside the box.

      1. Oh no not the Bible quote again. Hasn’t the Bible got us into enough trouble with wars, fanatics, gay people, evangelicals and its endless historical baloney? The bible quote though admirable and righteous, is known by everyone and dismissed by most of them as “yesterday, old and who needs the Bible anyway? ” For me, the Bible denies the truth of life. It offers us life after death in a supposed heaven. We must follow someone we don’t know and give our life to him. Our Christian politicians are leading us to death.
        We need a new way based in life itself. I hope to soon publish “How to save the human race without politics, religion or money” its heart each person must find his truth for himself based on his/her own idea of the truth of life
        Right now we are all mixed up and the Bible and its quotes have had their day (for me)

  14. It is somewhat amusing to see Neo Progressive demagogues and propaganda buffs like Solomon, Taibbi or Hedges here scrambling to counter the obvious improvement and progress the Biden administration and a Democrat Congress represent. So Solomon urges us not to hope, Taibbi warns us that forgiving student debt is pointless, and Hedges here, with his colorful prophetic delusions and conspiratorial ‘oligarchic’ boogeyman, warns us that the real, meaningful and all-encompassing progress the first days of the new administration demonstrate do not really happen.

    But only somewhat.

    In truth, the fact that these creative and imaginative people waste the media space they have on hateful nonsense is not only discouraging, but primarily amounts to inexcusable waste of talent that can and should be spent on trying to propose creative solutions rather than regurgitated doom-and-gloom BS that serves no one and amounts, even under the most forgiving examination, to absolutely nothing.

    1. I guess you missed Hedges’ irony in the title: “Papering over” is obviously an allusion to Biden Executive Orders and the media’s cheerleading for them.

  15. I felt a wave of nostalgy when reading this article and most of the replies. They remind me of my school days studying Scientific Socialism, Dialectic and Historical Materialism and such. Long Life the class struggle!” But at least we also were made aware of such a thing as formal logic and “non sequitur arguments and I was sure that this notions were also current in the West.
    Just a few examples:
    1.Who exactly is part of the working class in our time? Workers in factories (that easy- that what Marx and Engels had in mind), software developers, MacDonald’s hamburger flippers, Amazon warehouse sorters (about that – I thought 15$/hour is the magic number for the minimum wage but it appears it is a hunger wage), teachers, various bureaucracies office workers ? Are they expected to rise and sing “The International” together with their equivalents in China, India and the rest of the world ? My humble opinion is that we will get better results waiting for the Messiah …
    2. I expect that the lack of will of the political elites (American elites I suppose) to defend the rights of workers in China may have something to do with the fact that the CCP won’t like it very much and may get a little upset about it.
    3.The cloying language of inclusivity and political correctness is an oligarchic ploy? Are all their proponents on campuses aware that they are the unwitting dupes of global capitalism i.e. its useful idiots in V.I. Lenin words?
    4. I thought Silicon Valley is a location of tech firms generally ferociously competitive and not a monopoly (of what)
    5. I very much doubt that at any time global elites have been promenading in the Forbidden City (forbidden means something) or Versailles (unless the French Court of Louis XV and his descendants are your idea of a ruling global elite).
    I understand that that we are fast approaching a class war Armageddon but what is the alternative?
    European Style Social Democracy? Chinese style State Capitalism? Abolition of private property ?
    Good Luck with that!

    1. Not going to argue all of this, but there are a couple misunderstandings of the column that can be corrected:

      — Silicon Valley is a competetitive place only for start-ups, to prove their mettle, who then are purchased by the few few monopoly’s at exorbitant mark-ups by monopolist entities who have more money than god. Thus does Facebook buy Instagram to maintain dominance, Google buy everything, Amazon copy and undersell its own wholesalers, etc. Yes, they all have some competitive overlap at the edges of the their empires, and they must compete with Chinese imitators on the mainland but the percentages are clearly at the de facto monopoly level: Amazon had 40 percent of all online sales this past year for the US, Apple has 39 percent of US phone market, Google has 87 percent of GLOBAL search, etc. Even when you add the Samsungs and Dells, etc., it is a tiny number of megadolons which dominate tech, and they keep expanding. Apple just entered the car market! Tesla has a TINY share of all car sales, yet is valued at a level where it could buy half its competitors right now if it wanted to.

      As for the Forbidden City/Versailles, his point was to compare the placement of the elites in the stratosphere in the halls which history assigns symbolic value as the height of pomp/wealth/imperial arrogance, where leaders sought to separate themselves from the common human with all means at their disposal.

  16. Large Challenges for Human Society to overcome:
    1. Advantage to having wealth – longer life expectancy, boost self-esteem in community and oneself, advantages of obtaining reproduction
    2. Plenty of Fiat Currency but a limited amount of true wealth (Environment collapsing as human society continues to capture more physical wealth)
    3. Like budgets, once a person obtains wealth, very difficult for that person to give it away (go back to 1)
    4. American culture says if you are not wealthy, you are less worthy (king of the hill mentality)
    5. Humans want certainty in a time with a tremendous amount of uncertainty (technology, environment, knowledge, political, business, etc.)

    Basic summary
    Exponential changes are occurring when humans have lived in linear societies throughout history – Expect a lot of stress

    Lastly, if society wants to change the current inequity, two ways can include:
    – People will just compete and take the wealth from the top
    – Make Status/Self-Esteem not about how much a person has but by how that person gives it away to help others

  17. As part of the bay area biotech world, it is obvious that most here are oblivious to the continuous sweeping of homelessness and food insecurity under the table. They are oblivious to the rot completely because they continue to get their >3% raise they believe that that have worked hard to earn. How do we wake up the lazy liberals to the dire situation the majority of the people in this country face?

  18. As I read this camping in the lovely Sonoran desert about 20 miles north of the Mexican border Wall, USAF fighter jets screech not 100 feet over my head on their way to training bombing runs in the nearby Barry Goldwater range. Stop the insanity!!

    I first read Polanyi 40 years ago in a graduate course on planning theory at Cornell (Bill Goldsmith). We also read “The Deindustrialization of America”, which documented the rot already setting in as a result of global finance corporate capitalism (The Washington Consensus) that is today’s hegemonic Neoliberalism.

    I knew then that I was engaged in sham, but lied to myself to avoid the hardship of living out my convictions and understanding of political economy.

    Like Henry Adams, I was “educated”.

  19. This is a very insightful analysis but it collapses with the bigoted introduction of your bogeymen, Christian fascists. Was Jesus a fascist? Are those concerned about the murder of the un-born fascists? Are those who want to protect their families against all ever-encroaching State fascists?

    Christian fascist is an oxymoron. No true follower of Christ is at either end of the spectrum where hatred and bigotry prevail.

    1. Um, the religious right is a thing. Kind of a big deal here in the United States. Go listen to AM radio anywhere in the country outside a few urban bubbles. Don’t be naive or defensive.

  20. It’s a hopeless situation and Hedges knows it. Even when I just simply scroll through my social media news feeds, there are so many people that think now that Trump is gone, the fight is over. The way people jump to the defence of Biden and his cabinet after the slightest criticism is very problematic. Not to mention the continued Russiagate narrative appears to have not slowed down in any way, gaining new momentum. I don’t see anything good coming in the next years. The system is going to continue the way it is with the brainwashed supporters of “both” parties and the millions of non-voters who don’t see any purpose in playing the system’s game.
    It just amazes me that some people with no job, no healthcare, no food and possibly no house can ardently defend Biden, or whomever is in office. Maybe they just have hope, but that shows you how the truth never makes its way to those who need to hear it most.

  21. I wish he would stop using the term “right wing populism” Populism and the People’s Party of the late 1800s had nothing to do with anything right wing. It was a workers and farmers party with populist left ideas. Find another term . If you can’t we can help you out

    1. Um, from dictionary: “Populism – a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.”

      1. Well, it’s up to you whether you wish to use the historical definition or the more current one…..Besides, EVERYBODY’S interests (except for the Corporates’ and very rich ) are being ignored by both political parties….It is a shame that true Leftists have not organized a group as powerful as the White Racists.

      2. Setting aside who is a “true” Leftist, I think there have been many periods where left organizations have been as powerful as white racist organizations are currently. Unless, as might be pretty valid at this point, we are going to count the entire Republican Party…

        But no, this is not about the “historical” vs. the “current” — populism has always been a concept, and many groups/movements through the world and history have used it as part of their name.

      3. I am curious: When were Leftists as powerful as the Right?….I’ve been always of the impression that the latter killed, tortured and imprisoned the former.

        “True Leftists” as I see it are above all, those who support the interests of the vast majority (99%) as opposed to those who care only for the very rich.

        I guess how we define “Populism” doesn’t matter much in this context.

      4. I don’t think many Leftists have been ”killed, tortured and imprisoned” in the US or anywhere in the Western world recently .On the other hand in many times and places Leftists have done this to Rightists or anybody not toeing the party line (Gulag rings a bell?)
        Anyhow, I find hard to believe that 99% share exactly the same interests and that they are so unbelievable stupid to vote time and time again for people totally ignoring them!

      5. The CIA and the US War Machine (as Right as you can get) under the auspices of the US government, HAVE killed, tortured, imprisoned and displaced human beings all over the world, and continue to do so to this day….They have overthrown Leftist-Leaning (Socialist) leaders and sponsored coups against their countries, putting Right-Wing death squads in their place.

        As for the Gulag, a nightmarish place indeed, I don’t think of the KGB or Soviets as Left-Wing, just a bunch of sadistic politicians, similar to those alluded to above.

        The 99% certainly do share certain interests, particularly good-paying jobs, decent Health Care and free education.

  22. o.k. , he can stop using the term “fascism” because it is being used incorrectly . Mussolini coined that phase, and we need to use it the way it was intended . How about Christian tyranny or Christian authoritarianism . Maybe Christian political oppression . How’s that ?

    Fasicism is the melding of corporate power and political power . We already have that , but to use that term for Trump and his followers, is just a made up usage of the word “fascism” . Changing the meaning of these political terms just leads to more ignorance and confusion.

  23. Hedges is right to write with a sense of urgency Some call him an alarmist, but it’s not alarmist if it is true. A breath of fresh air to see an indictment of this society and the Democrats. But I don’t think all hope is lost. We are living during an awakening, and there is a lot of potential for revolutionary change.

    On a similar theme, check this out: Capitalism is in a state of emergency, bringing all of humanity to the precipice. There is still a window of opportunity for the revolutionary power of the proletariat to intervene and carve out a path towards socialism. But that window is closing, and time is not on our side.

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