Chris Hedges Original

Chris Hedges: Bandaging the Corpse

Biden's bailout will not alter the structural inequities and other fundamental underpinnings of America's death spiral.
Original illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

The established ruling elites know there is a crisis. They agreed, at least temporarily, to throw money at it with the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 bill known as American Rescue Plan (ARP). But the ARP will not alter the structural inequities, either by raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour or imposing taxes and regulations on corporations or the billionaire class that saw its wealth increase by a staggering $1.1 trillion since the start of the pandemic. The health system will remain privatized, meaning the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations will reap a windfall of tens of billions of dollars with the ARP, and this when they are already making record profits. The endless wars in the Middle East, and the bloated military budget that funds them, will remain sacrosanct. Wall Street and the predatory global speculators that profit from the massive levels of debt peonage imposed on an underpaid working class and loot the U.S. Treasury in our casino capitalism will continue to funnel money upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal. There will be no campaign finance reform to end our system of legalized bribery. The giant tech monopolies will remain intact. The fossil fuel companies will continue to ravage the ecosystem. The militarized police, censorship imposed by digital media platforms, vast prison system, harsher and harsher laws aimed at curbing domestic terrorism and dissent and wholesale government surveillance will be, as they were before, the primary instruments of state control.

This act will, at best, provide a momentary respite from the country’s death spiral, sending out one time checks of $1,400 to 280 million Americans, extending $300 weekly unemployment benefits until the end of August and distributing $3,600 through a tax credit for children under the age of 6 and $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 starting on July 1. Much of this money will be instantly gobbled up by landlords, lenders, medical providers and credit card companies. The act does, to its credit, bail out some 1 million unionized workers poised to lose their pensions and hands $31.2 billion in aid to Native communities, some of the poorest in the nation. 

But what happens to the majority of Americans who get government support for only a few months? What are they supposed to do when the checks stop arriving at the end of the year? Will the federal government orchestrate another massive relief package? I doubt it. We will be back where we started. 

By refusing to address the root causes of America’s rot, by failing to pump life back into the democratic institutions that once gave the citizen a voice, however limited, and make incremental and piecemeal reform possible, by not addressing the severe economic and social inequality and dislocation that afflicts at least half the country, the anomie and ruptured social bonds that gave rise to a demagogue like Donald Trump will expand. The American empire will not staunch its disintegration. The political deformities will metastasize. 

When the next demagogue appears, and the Republican Party has banked its future on Trump or his doppelgänger, he or she will probably be competent. The Republican Party in 43 states has proposed 250 laws to limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting and mandate stricter ID requirements, as well as reduce the hours at voting sites and the numbers of voting locations potentially disenfranchising tens of millions of voters. The party has no intention of playing by the rules. Once back in power, cloaked in the ideological garb of Christian fascism, the new or the old Trump will abolish what little is left of democratic space. 

The established elites pretend that Trump was a freakish anomaly. They naively believe they can make Trump and his most vociferous supporters disappear by banishing them from social media. The ancien régime, will, they assert, return with the decorum of its imperial presidency, respect for procedural norms, elaborately choreographed elections and fealty to neoliberal and imperial policies. 

But what the established ruling elites have yet to grasp, despite the narrow electoral victory Joe Biden had over Trump and the storming of the capital on January 6 by an enraged mob, is that the credibility of the old order is dead. The Trump era, if not Trump himself, is the future. The ruling elites, embodied by Biden and the Democratic Party and the polite wing of the Republican Party represented by Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, is headed for the dustbin of history. 

The elites collectively sold out the American public to corporate power. They did this by lying to the public about the consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), trade deals, dismantling welfare, revoking Glass-Stegall, imposing austerity measures, deregulating Wall Street, passing draconian crime bills, launching endless wars in the Middle East and bailing out the big banks and financial firms rather than the victims of their fraud. These lies were far, far more damaging to the public than any of the lies told by Trump. These elites have been found out. They are hated. They deserve to be hated.

The Biden administration — and Biden was one of the principal architects of the policies that fleeced the working class and made war on the poor — is nothing more than a brief coda in the decline and fall, set against which is China’s rising global economic and military clout.

The loss of credibility has left the media, which serves as courtiers to the elites, largely powerless to manipulate public perceptions and public opinion. Rather, the media has divided the public into competing demographics. Media platforms target one demographic, feeding its opinions and proclivities back to it, while shrilly demonizing the demographic on the other side of the political divide. This has proved commercially successful. But it has also split the country into irreconcilable warring factions that can no longer communicate. Truth and verifiable fact have been sacrificed. Russiagate is as absurd as the belief that the presidential election was stolen from Trump. Pick your fantasy. 

The loss of credibility among the ruling elites has transferred political influence to those outside established centers of power such as Alex Jones, celebrities and those, such as Joe Rogan, Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi who were never groomed by the media conglomerates. The Democratic Party, in an effort to curb the influence of the new centers of power, has allied itself with social media industry giants such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Patreon, Substack and Spotify to curtail or censor its critics. The goal is to herd the public back to Democratic Party allied news organizations such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. But these media outlets, which in the service to corporate advertisers have rendered the lives of the working class and the poor invisible, are as reviled as the ruling elites themselves. 

The loss of credibility has also given rise to new, often spontaneous groups, as well as the lunatic fringe that embraces conspiracy theories such as QAnon. None of these groups or individuals, whether they are on the left or the right, however, have the organizational structure, coherence and ideological cohesiveness of radical movements of the past, including the old Communist Party or militant labor unions. They traffic in emotional outrage, often replacing one outrage with another. They provide new forms of identity to replace the identities lost by tens of millions of Americans who have been cast aside. This energy can be harnessed for laudable causes, such as ending police abuse, but it is too often ephemeral. It has a tendency to transform political debate into grievance protests, at best, and more often televised spectacle. These flash mobs pose no threat to the elites unless they build disciplined organization structures, which takes years, and articulate a vision of what can come next. (This is why I support Extinction Rebellion, which has a large grassroots network, especially in Europe, carries out effective sustained acts of civil disobedience and has a clearly stated goal of overthrowing the ruling elites and building a new governing system through people’s committees and sortition.)

This amorphous, emotionally driven anti-politics is fertile ground for demagogues, who have no political consistency but cater exclusively to the zeitgeist of the moment. Many of those who support demagogues know, on some level, they are con artists and liars. But demagogues are revered because, like all cult leaders, they flout conventions, are outrageous and crude, claim omnipotence and disdain traditional decorum. Demagogues are weaponized against bankrupt well-heeled elites who have stripped the public of opportunities and identities, extinguishing hopes for the future. A cornered population has little left but hate and the emotional catharsis expressing it brings.

The engine of our emerging dystopia is income inequality, which is growing.  This bill does nothing to address this cancer. The bottom 50 percent of households in 2019 accounted for only 1 percent of the nation’s total wealth.  The top 10 percent accounted for 76 percent.  And this was before the pandemic accelerated income disparity.  More than 18 million American depend on unemployment benefits, as businesses contract and close.  Nearly 81 million Americans struggle to meet basic household expenses, 22 million lack enough food and 11 million say they can’t make their next house payment.  Only deep structural reforms accompanied by New Deal-type legislation can save us, but such changes are an anathema to the corporate state and the Biden administration.  History has amply demonstrated what happens when income disparities of this magnitude afflict a country.  We will be no exception.  Lacking a strong left, the United States will in desperation embrace authoritarianism, if not proto-fascism.  This will, I fear, be Biden and the Democratic Party’s real legacy.  


[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 2021 Chris Hedges

77 comments

  1. Oh how right you are Mr. Hedges. For me, the thing to fear the most is the lack of exposure the climate emergency is getting. It is a national security issue, a public health issue and a crises management issue. The polar vortex has been shifting from the north pole to over Russia. It is splitting apart and depending on what hPa level you look at there are arms of the polar vortex extending down to the equator. This arm is involved with the equatorial stream and using it’s energies. Being so spread out it is slowing everything down and the jet stream has gone wavy crazy. Now the drift from Russia will hit America this weekend with the potential of record breaking snow and rain. Just as it did earlier in Texas. This is our new normal. No one is saying a word. Why? If you use the null.school Earth Map it is all right there for everyone to see and no one says a word. Why? Hawaii was just hit by this system, you can read the reports, they are everywhere. What isn’t being reported everywhere is the global impact. The loss of life, infrastructure, crops, livestock. It’s global. Our new normal. We get the dog and pony show Mr. Hedges describes so well, look behind the curtain folk’s. You might try reading the website “Floodlist” to see the global picture our reality. The global elites have full pockets of our money that could be used to protect us. I imagine it’s too late for that but that’s me.

    1. Thank you Gilbert for sharing these two informative websites regarding global extreme weather impacts. I agree, the current and ongoing impacts of the climate emergency and biodiversity loss crisis are dire. Politicians are still transfixed on economic growth rather then encouraging the path forward to the ecological societal transformation we need. We have to do it without them.

    2. Global warming is irreversible and accelerating. I am 81 years old and have observed this trend from South America to North America. Things will only get worse and the political will to even attempt at slowing this process is either ignored or totally absent. I cannot imagine the changed world our grand and great grand children will have to endure. Why are we going to Mars when we can not manage our own world???

  2. So the present government and Establishment Empire is very bad, as we all agree. Rule by oligarchy is the worst of all forms according to the ancient Greeks.
    Demagogues are inevitable, necessary for change, but bad too. Although those Greeks said it was occasionally useful.
    Government by Experts (Wonks), as the pitiful American response to Covid-19 has shown, likely would be a spectacular failure as well, but hopefully with a lower death rate.
    Hedges always pushes “taking to the streets”, but of course the ones who have the most to gain also have the most to lose in punishment (and also “no work, no food” if they desert their jobs). As Macron showed against the Gilets Jaunes, and our Media has shown in BLM and 1/6 Protests, all it takes to undercut such protests is to have Police State provocateurs and casseurs to taint the protest, create violent situations or just open doors (some like John Sullivan are celebrities who do this for a living).
    As any right-wing dictator knows, as long as you have the Police and Military in your pocket, you rule! And usually it takes military coups to change government (which the ancient Greeks approved). Yet there is no such tradition in the US (unless you count the 1776 Revolution).
    Possibly there is a “religious fascism” in the wings that Hedges always worries about. However we have an atheistic FASCISM in place today, by Mussolini’s classic definition of the word. When the Elites control Government and have Corporations, their Intelligence Agencies, and the Media doing their bidding to censor/ cancel/ censure discussion, dissent, and the dialectic, you have FASCISM! More sophisticated and powerful than with any other past totalitarian regime.

  3. I made Hedges point on a comment for common dreams just a day or two ago. What happens in 6-8 months when these goodies run out?
    Let’s face it, the utility company’s, landlords, student loan processors, banks, hospitals, and credit companies, are already ending their moratoriums, and surprise, they already have their hands out in an effort to grab that measly $1400 before it gets to your wallet. The extra checks for children, tax breaks, extra UI assistance and the like, will all be gone before years end. All the while, unemployment is still high. Tens of millions who worked full time before the pandemic, are working part time now, and for lower wages than they (enjoyed) before.
    America has broken its leg on its rickety back staircase. However, our leadership class and institutions have merely set our broken bones, and warned us to avoid the stairs.
    The USA needs systemic foundational change. What we’re getting from Biden and the democrats is a coupon book.

    1. Nice to see you again Big B, onedman here and as always, your assessment is correct.

      1. Good to be seen Gilbert, thank you.
        I don’t comment so much on the boards any more (mostly over at common dreams) but I have taken to perusing this site now as well. There’s some pretty good work here.

  4. Thanks, Chris! Another excellent article and this one has glimmers of hope.
    Take care and keep on writing!

      1. LOL. Mr Hedges is the St Paul of dystopian gloom.

        Easy to criticize, countless opinion articles do so daily, but it is much harder to provide solutions, hypothetical or viable to that which is critiqued.

        Should one publicly criticize without providing solutions to that which they critique? It’s rhetorical pugilism to ask hard questions but provide no answers.

        You recognized a problem, now offer a solution. To do otherwise is the equivalent of doing only half of a math theorem, incomplete and lacking any teleology clarity.

        Mr Hedges gospel is in the language of criticism. On his road to Damascus Mr Hedges was shown the power of asking questions, but not the intuition necessary to provide answers to those questions.

  5. What a conundrum we are in. Extinction rebellion seems like the only group that outlines and alternative. It’s difficult to read Chris hedges but at the same time you can’t help feel that it’s the brutal truth. I’m hoping for a turnaround in New York city if Andrew Chang is elected. Otherwise I just don’t know what the answer is.

    1. Yeats and Gramsci can be our guides, by memory, forgive ellipsis.

      “The falcon cannot heed the falconer..
      The center cannot hold”

      “I am a pessimist due to intelligence, and an optimist by force of will.”

      And both’s lines re monsters. But aren’t monsters always with us?

      Some great change is coming, and we have no idea when, from where or from whom. I like and admire Hedges, but there is no use in constant pessimism now.

  6. Hedges strips away the temporal emotional reactive performances purposefully induced and promoted via deadly smoke and mirrors to produce a coup of the world’s democracies by obscenely rich elite cabal.
    Nothing but a force of comparable energy (passion, commitment, depth and clarity of vision, strength, will, with the sophistication and precision of a vibrantly strong immune system) can effectively cripple and bring this center of integrated malevolent energies down so democracy can have space to thrive.To what am I contributing the energies of my life force beyond daily self maintenance? What does Extinction Rebellion need that a physically old person can offer? Open to suggestions. Thank you.

    1. Selina:

      I wanted to respond to your questions, but please take it as trying to answer this for myself as much as anyone else, as I too have asked similar questions. If any of this response is helpful or you’d like to reflect on what was said, I would welcome that.

      Classical Greece, which contributed so much to American culture, from art to science to politics, would not have come about if not for the fall of the Minoan Palace Culture that came before. Homer’s tales of the Iliad and Odyssey come from that time, roughly a thousand years before Classical Greece. The Palace Culture, as I understand, was a centralized system much like ancient Egypt and based on the island Crete. Ironically, there may have been a climate shift at that time which affected many emerging cultures, and the palace system collapsed. Had the Palace Culture found a way to persist on Crete and in Greece, as it did in Egypt, the beauty in art and ideas that flourished in the time of Plato or Aristotle might never have happened.

      When I think about some of the best parts of American culture, a lot of credit goes to the black community. Jazz, Blues, Rock ‘n Roll, Soul music of all varieties is one their greatest gifts to the world. This musical tradition is what helped sustain many people through the horrors of slavery: it was an act of defiance that helped them sustain their spirits and overcome great odds. The Civil Rights movement and all the seeds it planted, and the good it tries to create in American society, owes its origins to the suffering of the black people. Would I wish for Jazz music at the cost of such suffering? No, of course not, and yet many people were able to create such beauty of sound and human spirit, in spite of that.

      Would it be better if there was a cultural awakening and people freely chose a different path in America? Sure, but the odds are heavily against that. If each of us resigns ourselves that we can’t make a difference, nothing will change. If we give in to despair and don’t resist at all, there is zero chance things will get better. It would be unfair to say that any seeds we plant, as individuals or collectively, cannot bear fruit, even after a long time or great suffering.

      Take this website, for example. Robert Scheer and his family and friends could kick back and not struggle to publish and manage these stories, comments(!) and interviews . Robert, for sure, could just quietly enjoy his retirement. I don’t know all of how their work has affected me personally, but it has helped me clarify my own thoughts, be more confident when I speak on these subjects and in no small part, helps a bit with my own sanity (assuming I’m qualified to judge that, ;).

      We just don’t know what seeds will sprout from our efforts. Any act of decency and/or defiance against a culture of death, in any of its forms, is important and meaningful. As people, we have to decide how we want to live, the examples, the legacy we want to try and leave, whatever else is happening around us.

      1. “Classical Greece, which contributed so much to American culture ….”

        That’s funny. I would have said “Medieval Feudalism with some Enlightenment window-dressing,” but I focus pretty heavily on worker rights, healthcare, and housing, so my perspective is skewed.

    2. I wanted to add to and clarify my previous comment a bit:

      I think it comes down to, as Chris has mentioned, organizing and preparing alternatives to our society, XR being one of those alternatives. The surveillance and police state is being organized and prepared on the other side of the coin, and will likely crack down in the event of any late or desperate attempt at revolution from a starving or angry populace. I think ultimately the privileged classes or elites will suffer the same fates as the masses if climate change fully runs its course, so embracing alternatives is in their families’ interests as well.

      A few examples of alternatives:

      While I have reservations about his labor practices or focus on Mars, Elon Musk has organized and developed electric cars and infrastructure and pushed other countries and car makers to follow suit.
      It’s that kind of organization and pressure to change how we live, how we travel or grow and distribute food, energy, housing, etc, that I think is needed, and I think we need to take part in. An interview I saw with Chris Hedges and his show On Contact with Kali Akuno, showed how the black community in Jackson, Mississippi are organizing to provide food, housing and public services that the state or the market no longer is for them (link is here: https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/420413-akuno-jackson-cooperation-transformation/). Vandana Shiva is a leader in India working with farmers to protect their lands and seed stocks from companies like Bayer/Monsanto (interview here: https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/455179-lawsuits-who-life-forms/)

  7. Another spot on critique Chris! Once again adult personal responsibility as you point out is what is required of all of us along with a spirit of genuine sacrifice for the good of others; two concepts sadly missing from most nominally Christian north Americans today. The American Dream (Nightmare) of the good life of wealth, comfort, pleasure in the excess based upon uninhibited greed must be permanently put to bed. Our very survival depends on it. Engaging in active resistance, radical civil disobedience against capitalism, its endless wars, and all the combined evils is our only hope. A 78 year old white man in the White House who all his life has stood for nothing but white supremacy and empire is a recipe for disaster. Our fate lies in our own hands! Thanks Chris for telling it like it is!

  8. So fuck it! Just give up! There’s no future! The sky is falling! We have no hope!

    1. What did you want him to say? “Everything’s fine, nothing to see here”?

    2. There is no doubt the Democratic Party has allied itself with the social media companies to censor and curtail content from its critics. If Hedges is accurate and Substack is no different than YouTube, Twitter and Facebook in this regard, I’d hate to be the one to tell Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi. It’d be an easier conversation telling two five year olds Santa Claus isn’t real.

      1. Um, you do know that SubStack PAYS a lot of the writers who went there as early adapters of their site?

        We publish them here when we think they make important or at least healthily provacative arguments, but they are no more saints then anybody else, and both reportedly make a LOT more money than most of the rest of us…which should raise a least a few questions for anybody who sees some value in Marx, class consciousness, unconscious bias, etc.

        Personally, I would rather Greenwald spend more time reporting and less picking ugly fights on Twitter…but in today’s world, that is a pretty great way to build out a brand.

      2. It’s an interesting comment! I subscribe to GG now, and did to Taibbi. Greenwald isn’t holding anything back as far as I can see, and for his pains, has a lot of centerDem pushback. I don’t know if Hedges means Substack is limiting criticism of econ policy.

    3. I understand your reaction to this Hedges piece. Your comment is similar to replies I’ve received from angry people I’ve sent his opinions to for the past 20-years or so. My suggestion is – don’t read his stuff.

      I appreciate his work because I know about his life, his work and his journey to this point in time. The man has integrity and doesn’t mince words. I would rather know what’s going on in the world reading his work than to watch or listen to someone willing to sweeten any story so as not to scare me and give me false hope.

    4. You’re not drawing the proper logical inferences from what Hedges writes. We *do* have hope, but only if we play hardball with the people who are impoverishing us and destroying the planet while tossing out the occasional handful of crumbs.

  9. Well, this is my 3rd or 4th attempt to get notifications after subscribing that many times. I just finished reading this latest Chris Hedges piece in Consortium News as I did the last one. It was on the one prior to that that I went through the sign-up and confirmation click process in my email once again for nought.
    Fourth time a charm?

    I just checked my email & refreshed but nothing came through so I suppose it is responding to my previous ‘confirmations’ by now. I dunno. I just dunno.
    I DO have the “Notify me of new posts by email” checked. Also the “Save my name, email, and website, etc. Both were already checked when I got to the comment box here.
    At this point I’m all “whatever….”
    I did another refresh just now, for the hell of it. Nada. Whatever#2

  10. “The established ruling elites know there is a crisis.”

    What exists today is not a crisis… for those ruling elitists.

    Elitists (they are most certainly NOT “elite”) have no reason or motivation to change anything about anything about Themselves or The World. They have never been fatter, richer, more self-satisfied, and more giddy with delight over making the People of the World act like frightened children for the past 12 months than They are now. Elitists believe that They belong right where They are way up in Their exalted positions of privilege grounded in morality deficiency, and everyone else in the World belongs broke and down in the dirt. Elitists do not have a moral sense to appeal to, or a conscience to prod Them into self-reflection or toward changing Their ways in any way.

    Our Times today are the completion of Their long-game blueprint and roadmap for everything in the World they have lusted for in Their multi-generational elitist quest over hundreds (thousands?) of years of massive societal engineering and tampering. For the first time in history, They can see the fulfillment of Their journey close ahead on the horizon and Their sense of fulfillment and Elitist Ecstasy washes over Them as never before.

    It is hard to find an example anywhere of a Nation (or World?) that entered into a steady slide of decline that later righted itself and began to renew and prosper once again. There seems to be something built into the national and human-collective software that dictates that decline must result in either utter collapse or at the least a much lowered status and World position such as the old once great Empires that are still around in name only but which are now mere shells of what they once were. No third option seems viable.

    It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So it is with “crisis”. One person’s crisis is another person’s source of pure delight and climax of existential fulfillment.

    1. This is an important point. The ruling class does not have control of the overall development of the capitalist system. The ruling class is itself a function of the capitalist system. The ruling class is not all powerful, and the system does not entirely serve its own individual existence. The point Hedges is making is the capitalist system itself is in crises, which gets played out in different ways. Of course the crises the capitalist system is in has a huge impact on the ruling class as their position is challenged and put into question with rebellions to their power. BUT always remember, the ruling class does not control the capitalist system. The ruling class must serve the needs of the capitalist system or they are pushed aside. So when people talk about crises, they are referring to the system, not the ruling class itself. There is a difference.

    2. “It is hard to find an example anywhere of a Nation (or World?) that entered into a steady slide of decline that later righted itself and began to renew and prosper once again.”

      China, Japan (post WW2), Germany (post WW1,post WW2), France (post Napoleonic wars, post WW2), Turkey, Russia (aka Soviet Union post 1917 revolution) and so on….
      It is not easy, sometimes is very ugly but it can be done.

      1. “It is hard to find an example anywhere of a Nation (or World?) that entered into a steady slide of decline that later righted itself and began to renew and prosper once again.”

        He means, without having some catastrophe destroy the existing system. Corrupt systems are able to resist change.

      2. Let’s see, the collapse of the USSR was peaceful. There was the movement led by Ghandi that ended British rule. Peaceful movements can succeed. It certain is a lot more pleasant.

  11. Extinction Rebellion worries me in the sense that they take a neo-anarchist approach to the crisis which is very likely to fail just like all previous anarchist experiments in the world have failed. And yes, that includes the failure to win civil wars and/or defeat foreign military interventions. For a system is no less a failure if the failure comes as a result of the inability to defend itself.

    America only got the New Deal of the 1930s due to the threat that strong labor unions, socialist and communist parties posed to the US capitalist system in the midst of the Great Depression. So in the midst of the current set of economic and environmental crises, the answer is to rebuild the labor movement along with real socialist parties who will not turn off and divide the working class with identity politics, but will instead focus on the class struggle and the struggle to preserve a livable planet for present and future generations.

    So cancel your Jacobin subscription, exit the Democratic Party, leave the DSA, and join a real socialist party! For the choice we face is no longer between socialism or barbarism, but socialism or extinction.

    1. I agree with your general analysis. To add to it, remember that when the far left socialist and communist movements in the U.S. that won the concessions of the new deal DID SO ONLY in the context of the revolutions and communism in other parts of the world like Russia. If the revolutions in Europe were not so successful and a threat to capitalism, the movements in the U.S. would not have won those concessions. My point is today there is no Soviet Union, there is no counter-threat of communism to capitalism in the world. There is no base of real socialism or of real revolution. Capitalists today do not need to give concessions based on a threat of a socialist base. So what is the outcome of this? What it will do is push the ANTE higher, with higher risk for both sides. But the potential for real revolution is now shifted to within the U.S. itself, and this is a massive risk for the capitalist class. It’s time for a real radical left to emerge in the U.S. that for once takes responsibility for the privileges it has sat on for decades while the world suffers. We need a NEW REAL socialist and communist movement in the U.S….not the old 60s fuddy duddy reformist or revisionist cult garbage of the RCP or electoral politics of democratic socialism. We need militancy, organization, and a NEW communist revolutioary path forward full of life, rebellion, and truth.

    2. Mr. Benn Redward, I suggest you read the book by Joshua Muravchik
      “Heaven on Earth” The Rise and Fall of Socialism” it may enlighten your thoughts a bit!

      1. Mr. JZ, my thoughts are already getting enlightened at the moment as I read the book “Blackshirts & Reds” by Michael Parenti. Still I thank you for your suggestion, and offer you one of my own: the book “Socialism Or Extinction” by Ted Reese.

    3. “real socialist parties who will not turn off and divide the working class with identity politics, but will instead focus on the class struggle and the struggle to preserve a livable planet for present and future generations.”
      What if the working class is more interested in identity politics than in class struggle? Who exactly qualifies for membership in the working class? Does Chris Hedges?
      Change this to real representative parties commited to democracy, which will focus on rational and fair policies and I am all in!

  12. Yet, “amorphous, emotionally driven anti-politics is fertile ground for demagogues, who have no political consistency but cater exclusively to the zeitgeist of the moment” …is exactly the essence of Extinction Rebellion.

    Extinction Rebellion is a loose coalition of middle-class environmentalists without a coherent worldview. It backed the CIA/State Department/NGO complex’s chosen ‘ecosocialist’ candidate in the current (and much meddled with) Ecuadorian presidential elections (Yaku Perez Guartambel). It supported the coup against Bolivia’s Evo Morales, falsely accusing him of starting the Amazon forest fires (as did Brazil’s fascistic president, ‘Captain Chainsaw’ Bolsonaro). And Extinction Rebellion’s leaders excused these egregious acts of grovelling to power as the ‘autonomy’ of its various chapters. So much for “organizational structure, coherence and ideological cohesiveness”. Absolute middle class tripe. For more truth on this, see Ben Norton’s exposes of Extinction Rebellion with respect to Ecuador and Bolivia at the GrayZone.

    Extinction Rebellion’s ‘cohesiveness’ in fact serves nothing less than as a ‘green’ cover and vehicle for imperialist domination of its neo-colonial possessions — to prevent the latter, heaven forbid, from exploiting their own resources for their own peoples rather than for the imperial overlords (who are ‘woke’ and of course always act in the name of the ‘environment’). It would be wonderful if Bolivia, in league with other neo-colonies with large lithium deposits, simply withheld all lithium outputs to corner the world market, exchange it with China for their own development, but drive up its price in the capitalist world market and drive Elon Musk, his US political puppets and the Pentagon nuts.

    Roger Hallam is no professional revolutionary, and no-one should ever pay any heed to these types peddling their illusions that ‘nonviolent civil disobedience’ is some kind of viable strategy for humanity’s survival. Extinction Rebellion’s “clearly stated goal of overthrowing the ruling elites and building a new governing system through people’s committees and sortition” is just so much eyewash. The ruling class will inflict the violence of its state, no matter how non-violent the ‘civil disobedience’ might be. “Overthrowing the ruling elites” means social revolution, and no social revolution in history has ever occurred peacefully.

    The struggle for power is not some nauseating Christian turn-the-other-cheek strategy, which only gets people needlessly killed to satisfy a tiresome middle class pacifist moralism. While it’s certainly true that without “disciplined organization structures, which takes years, and articulate a vision of what can come next”, Extinction Rebellion ain’t that. It’s the opposite. Extinction Rebellion is the guarantor of defeat.

    Overthrowing ruling classes requires a social revolution, which is far more than “civil disobedience”, that requires political, social and military organisation and co-ordination. And sorry to all the sensitive souls out there, a social revolution will entail civil war to carry it out and a red terror to complete, as history has shown.

    And what’s this ‘sortition’ nonsense, other than a silly utopian joke? Those elected to positions of representation and power, in soviets for example, must be elected on the basis of program, of “coherence and ideological cohesiveness”. Not some random ragtag of ‘lottery winners’ who so easily would be co-opted by those with actual “organizational structure, coherence and ideological cohesiveness”. Politics is the battle for hearts and minds, for power, not a bloody ‘lottery’.

    In these times it thus would be preferable if everyone read more of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky — ie, professional revolutionaries. And some history of actual revolutions, particularly the Russian revolution, would also help. Not the likes of Hallam et al. who, at best, are merely re-inventing the ‘same old crap’ that Marx and Engels demolished in their work against the utopian socialists and anarchists 150-170 years ago. In short, Hallam et al. are just the latest, ‘fashionable’ expression of the retrogression of political consciousness to pre-Marxian times that accompanied the restoration of capitalism in the USSR in 1991-92.

    1. I think the most positive thing about Extinction Rebellion is that it brings attention to ecological breakdown in the media. It’s naive to think any violent war can be won. The only war that can be won is the War of Information, as Hillary Clinton called it. That war is both political and cultural.

      What is necessary is decentralized sustainable food, energy and waste-management. This is technologically feasible. This has to be fought for both through the state in movements like Diem25; and more realistically because corporate control of the state, by communities and individuals developing open-sourced technology and relevant developments among each other more and more. People need food and energy before anything else. It is increasingly possible to share and grow affordable local food and energy. Worker insecurity and poverty has been the main way of controlling people. It is positive that over the next decade we can get on with a lot of worthwhile work.

      1. If you read your history, you’ll learn that revolutionary classes don’t wage civil wars by choice but are forced to do so by the rulers attempting to repress them with the brute force of the state. If they don’t prepare for that eventuality, the revolutionaries lose. And of course, on its own, the revolutionary class would be smashed by the military might of the rulers.

        However, all successful revolutions have depended on rebellions and mutinies in the military, and the revolutionaries must do all they can to take advantage of any given situation to foment discord and such mutinies. When a significant proportion of the rank and file of the military comes over to the side of an uprising, when the rulers can’t rely on their machine of repression, ie, when ‘dual power’ becomes an actuality, then revolution in on the agenda.

        The US military, as powerful as it’s made out to be (to strike fear in the domestic population as much as in any ‘disobedient’ nation), comprises a large chunk of economic conscripts embroiled in imperial adventures all over the globe only distantly related to the oath they took of ‘defending’ the US, is no exception to being split at the appropriate time.

    2. You are very correct. I see the far right fascist movement continuing its rolling coup to the point when the police state allows it to clean out the far left, literally and physically. Dismantling the failed reformist and revisionist far left remnants from the 60s is a necessity in order for a new revolutionary left to emerge. The RCP is the only possible group which might survive this change, but I doubt it. Probably some of the RCP membership will contribute to creating a new organization, which is needed. But the old RCP I think is far too ruined. Of course the state will come out with its own fake front groups to counter any real threat, something far too obvious with BLM and even the anarchist groups in Portland/Seattle. But this is temporary. The system crises in the U.S. will deepen, there will be a real fascist far right movement in the U.S. that cleans out the old far left, and there will be a new genuine far left revolutionary communist movement that will emerge in response and necessity. Out with the old, in with the new (on both sides). This confrontation of two different systems cannot be avoided and the price is going to be very high, higher than ever before in history. A perfect storm of historical development. It is a privilege and responsibility to be around to observe and engage it.

    3. I agree with everything you wrote about XR. I may add that XR endorsement by some Wall Street managers turned “green” financial capitalists as well as rich celebrities and pundits (apparently also joined by C.H.) as well as direct pre planing and COORDINATION of XR protest with local police while telling people to get arrested pay huge fines, with no resistance at all to make police work easier for me are kisses of death for XR.

      That is confirmed by hypocrisy of supposedly quasi anarchist anti systemic proclamations, while what they actually demand, like any political party, is not overthrowing system but changing policy of existing governments along lines of corporate GND.

      In the same time copywriting their symbols and charging businesses or foundations for using them royalties (like Greta) , even entering certain shoddy business deals to finance the movement. That hypocrisy extends to supposedly self governed committees that were stripped of any influence like calling protests and even shockingly dismantled like socialist or Marxist or anarchist one or simple outright prohibited.

      One point I want to raise however, the point about inevitable violence of real revolution as you wrote:

      “And sorry to all the sensitive souls out there, a social revolution will entail civil war to carry it out and a red terror to complete, as history has shown.”

      I would not agree with interpretation that socialist revolution is inherently deadly and violent .

      It is automatic counterrevolution that is brutal and deadly and most dangerous to ideals of social revolution as it solicits effective defense of revolution which inherently may fuel distrust among revolutionaries and people , forming new political elites of power and control using brutality and violence not as much to further revolution but to empower themselves as history teaches us. Stalin grew up from such elite.

      The socialist Revolution is welcome not opposed by vast majority who were marginalized and struggled to survive under brutality of capitalism and could be mostly peaceful if state including banking system is paralyzed first.

      1. All revolutions that replace one ruling class with another involve the old rulers using their cops and military and other auxiliaries to drown the revolution in blood. If those who aspire to make a social revolution — one that completely changes the social order and replaces one ruling class with another — don’t prepare for the inevitable repression the capitalist rulers will unleash, then they’ll be dead revolutionaries (to paraphrase J Edgar Hoover referring to black militants). The ‘inherent violence’ comes from the rulers defending their privileges, power, wealth and ruling status. That’s why thay have a state.

        It’s a suicidal illusion to think that the leopard that brutally repressed the George Floyd uprisings would somehow change its spots when its actual existence as a ruling class is put on the line by general strikes, occupations, uprisings and insurrections that make the protests following Floyd’s murder look like a garden party.

    4. Great rant! You are probably more right about revolution than we want to admit, though civil rights movement and Ghandi’s pacifist anti-colonial movements did produce results different than post-1917 Russia.

      I don’t think the goal need be complete revolution, for constitutional democracy can probably accommodate systemic, “eco-socialist” solutions.

      In any case, US news has dropped reports from Myanmar, whose population is currently full-on engaged in this deadly, experiment of civil-disobedience versus brutal military state. We should all pay close attention to what is happening there right now – protests globally portend unrest in US.

      There will be much more unrest in the US and I guarantee we will have the opportunity to debate these points of revolution in real time.

      1. ‘Constitutional democracy’ was created by capitalists and landowners to preserve their existence and dominance, to provide the illusion that those they rule have some say in their own oppression. Under capitalism, where private ownership of resources and the means of production dominates and is propped up by a state machine with all the trimmings of ‘constitutional democracy’, ‘eco-socialist’ solutions are a hopeless myth. Unless the capitalist class is expropriated, there’s no possibility of rationally planning production or exploitation of nature’s resources for our species to survive. This requires collective efforts that will always be undermined by the ‘sanctity’ of private property. That circle can’t be squared.

        The capitalist class is the root cause of humanity’s crises and is the main barrier to ‘eco-socialism’.

    5. Thank you for elucidating that, Stephen.

      Extinction Rebellion’s nothing more than a dead-end coalition with a catchy name. At a gathering they held in Brooklyn last year, I asked if we could criticize the US military for being the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world. I was told that if we spoke out against the military, we would not have the blessings of Extinction Rebellion, because they wanted to build a “large tent for everyone”, including the architects of our empire.

    6. Good luck with “Das Kapital” and “Anti Duhring”. You can skip the Dialectic Materialism bits (“Hegel for the Masses”) which have been overtaken by events.
      You can add Mao to the mix but leave out the history of actual revolutions as they may dampen the enthusiasm ( you know, the Ceka, Stalin purges, Gulag, Red Guards Revolution and other slightly disturbing and unpleasant events)

      1. It’s time to move on from repeating all the bourgeois myths about how bad revolutions are. If trouble is actually taken to read how and why the Russian revolution produced the gulags, Stalin and his murderous purges and so on, then such ‘disturbing and unpleasant events’ might be understood and addressed somewhat better than through the foggy lens of hypocritical moralism pushed by school textbooks and the bourgeoisie’s ideological and ‘educational’ apparatus. I can recommend Trotsky’s ‘Revolution Betrayed’ as a start.

    7. Sorry, I forgot to add that you at least propose some kind of solution, albeit one tried unsuccessfully ( but who knows , perhaps America is really different and exceptional).
      And I agree 100% with you on sortition!
      Good luck to the people trying to have an Amendment on randomly selecting the finger on the red button!

    8. Stephen, I’m with you, except that I don’t think Stalin “betrayed the revolution”; although he made mistakes and certainly rubbed some people the wrong way.

  13. You write: “Only deep structural reforms accompanied by New Deal-type legislation can save us . . ..” Wrong, Mr. Hedges. Only socialism can save us. Rosa Luxemburg wrote an entire book entitled “Reform or Revolution” and made plain that revolution was the only choice. She also was clear when she stated that the choice was between socialism and barbarism. You have continued to adequately describe the barbarism that we now have. It is time to choose the other side.

  14. The U.S. may be in decline, but be careful about singing the praises of China. It’s more of a left wing conservative regime than a socialist one. Lately, it’s added nationalism to its repertoire.

    1. The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend but more likely your temporary ally of convenience in some respects. China has more US-dollar billionaires than the US, and its GINI Index (38.60) is not markedly lower than the United States’ (41.50). If you care about mass surveillance and censorship, it’s one of few countries that are worse than the US in this respect. As for the notion that China is somehow magically immune to the temptations of military imperialism, like no other major power in history, has everyone already forget its annexation of Tibet? Or of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia in centuries past? Or its threats to re-annex Taiwan? Does anyone really expect that it won’t use its Belt and Road Initiative to extract resources from other countries and keep as much high-end R&D and high-value-added manufacturing as possible for itself? On the other hand, China has dramatically improved the lives of the bottom 90% since the 1980s. So did the US between the New Deal and the later 1960s (at least for Whites). I don’t buy into the US government’s anti-China jingoism — most of the villains are solipsitic, short-term-focused, profiteering outsourcers located right here at home — but I don’t look at China through rose-colored glasses, either. China is poised to become the world’s great hegemon when the US’s military and reserve-currency empire collapses, and I don’t expect it to behave any differently than any other world hegemon has in the past.

  15. Hi Chris,
    You unfortunately have disappointed me, in that you have not been doing your research. You are not talking of the most important “conspiracy” of your lifetime. That has deep implications to the corporate coup d’etat.

    Articles you should look at:
    Professor of Philosophy Zizek: https://jacobinmag.com/2020/12/slavoj-zizek-socialism-great-reset

    An artist/philosopher view:
    https://thewallwillfall.org/2020/10/30/the-great-reset-for-dummies/

    Please take this into consideration.

  16. I wonder if the organized stalking and harassment which is widespread aka psychological warfare or in East Germany the STASI called it Zersetzung is typical of a dying country.

  17. “The [Republican] party has no intention of playing by the rules” – because they make the rules, and the rules mean whatever the ruling class wants them to mean.

  18. I usually agree with Chris Hedge’s analysis , but while he mentions the lunatic fringe group Q Anon , he also supports another lunatic fridge group , Extinction Rebellion . They are the climate alarmist group that want to convince you that humans will become extinct after 2030. Why doesn’t Chris Hedges interview a credible environmentalist , with a long history of activism like Michael Shellenberger . He wrote the book “Apocalypse Never” , which acknowledges the climate problem without the alarmist , unscientific extremism of Extinction Rebellion. Get the other side of the story . On second thought, I just it really doesn’t matter since we all have only 9 more years to live until we are all gone and there are only cockroaches left . If you are concerned about CO2 and global warming and you are not a supporter of nuclear or thorium reactors then you are either ignorant , a dope , or have been brainwashed . Sorry folks but wind and solar are just not going to do it.

  19. “This is why I support Extinction Rebellion, which has a large grassroots network, especially in Europe, carries out effective sustained acts of civil disobedience and has a clearly stated goal of overthrowing the ruling elites and building a new governing system through people’s committees and sortition.)”
    I am a little confused : how are the ruling elites going to be overthrown and how the new governing system based on soviets and lotteries solve the “income inequality cancer”?
    I lived in a country with a Gini coefficient very close to 0. Incomes were pretty equal, the State owned practically everything .
    The real inequality was in access to resources (houses, cars, special shops, etc) which were allocated by the Communist Party based on loyalty to the faction currently in power.
    This is your ideal society?

    1. It is true but this on only proof that socialism did not fail there since their was none of it.

      Eastern Block societies were class societies (not class free as required by socialism) where formal individual ownership of resources was replaced by control of resources by ruling parties (millions members strong) who were equivalent of capitalist ruling classes.

      There was no socialism implemented according to official party documents, they only proclaimed a will to establish socialism in undetermined future. Meanwhile they imposed social democratic policies (electoral and parliamentary charade) borrowed from the west including establishment of welfare state. Anyone who bought any newspaper directly funded ruling parties as they controlled distribution of most goods of daily use, like newspapers, most popular books, cigarettes or shaving cream, while receiving massive direct subsidies from governments they controlled.

      In such conditions what we had was cliques ruling their countries for benefit of party elites who became economic elites .

      This is similar structure of state capitalism existing as much in eastern as in Western Europe where in 1970s, 65% percent of economy was government controlled in WEST Germany or Sweden or Finland while 70% in Poland, 85% in Bulgaria and Hungary , 90% in Czechoslovakia and DDR, 95% in Soviet Union. No difference huge state controlled corporations dominated economy and employed most skilled workforce.

      The cliques of Eastern Block were selected not to implement socialism (that nonsense ended in 1953 with Stalin) but to support Stalinists and hegemony of Soviet Union otherwise they had free hand.

      In Poland for example 70% of all land stayed in private hands , in 1960s introduced parallel currency/script pegged to dollar, opened up system of commercial stores using such script money in 1970 legalized possession of western money and let people open hard currency bank accounts in Poland and Abroad. Big chunk of local Polish production was sold internally in hard currency, broad import of goods including foreign cars was allowed . It was decades before 1989 spring. Were those moves towards socialism or to market capitalism.

      Answer is clear.

  20. History, even prehistory, is replete with failed empires, dynasties, kingdoms and species. All of them had a greater longevity than the current Empire of greed, war and hypocrisy.
    The evolution of ignorance is unstoppable, unless it self realises and embraces cooperation, via mutual aid.

  21. Share honor with human dignity, it’s wealthy, powerful and honest. Make fun of imperial behavior, it’s not. Propaganda glorifies those who really just protect an immature psychology that props up undeveloped narcissistic mindsets who insecurely and desperately grasp for an amazing worth they already have and share with everyone.

  22. Mr. Fishes cartoon looks the skeleton of a passenger pigeon. And most of us know what happened to passenger pigeons.

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