Chris Hedges Chris Hedges Original Original

Chris Hedges: Don’t Be Fooled By Joe Biden

What is exceptional about America is its culture of sadism.
Original illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

Don’t be fooled by Joe Biden. He knows his infrastructure and education bills have as much chance at becoming law as the $15-dollar minimum wage or the $2,000 stimulus checks he promised us as a candidate. He knows his American Jobs Plan will never create “millions of good paying jobs – jobs Americans can raise their families on” any more than NAFTA, which he supported, would, as was also promised, create millions of good paying jobs. His mantra of “buy American” is worthless. He knows the vast majority of our consumer electronics, apparel, furniture and industrial supplies are made in China by workers who earn an average of one or two dollars an hour and lack unions and basic labor rights. He knows his call to lower deductibles and prescription drug costs in the Affordable Care Act will never be permitted by the corporations that profit from health care. He knows the corporate donors that fund the Democratic Party will ensure their lobbyists will continue to write the laws that guarantee they pay little or no taxes. He knows the corporate subsidies and tax incentives he proposes as a solution to the climate crisis will do nothing to halt oil and gas fracking, shut down coal-fired plants or halt the construction of new pipelines for gas-fired power plants.  His promises of reform have no more weight than those peddled by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who Biden slavishly served and who also promised social equality while betraying working men and women.

Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. He was a prominent promoter and architect of a generation of federal “tough on crime” laws that helped militarize the nation’s police and more than doubled the population of the world’s largest prison system with harsh mandatory sentencing guidelines and laws that put people in prison for life for nonviolent drug crimes, even as his son struggled with addiction. He was a principal author of the Patriot Act, which began the stripping away of our most basic civil liberties. And there has never been a weapons system, or a war, he did not support.

Nothing substantial will change under Biden, despite the hyperventilating about him being the next FDR. Biden’s request for $715 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal year 2022, a $11.3 billion (1.6 percent) increase over 2021, will support the disastrous military provocations with China and Russia he embraces, the endless wars in the Middle East and the bloated defense industry. Wholesale government surveillance will not be curbed. Julian Assange will remain a target. The industries that were shipped overseas and the well-paying unionized jobs will not return. The grinding machinery of predatory capitalism, and the sadism that defines it, will poison the society as mercilessly under Biden as it did when Donald Trump was conducting his Twitter presidency.

Sadism now defines nearly every cultural, social and political experience in the United States. It is expressed in the greed of an oligarchic elite that has seen its wealth increase during the pandemic by $1.1 trillion while the country has suffered the sharpest rise in its poverty rate in more than 50 years.  It is expressed in extra-judicial killings by police in cities such as Minneapolis. It is expressed in our complicity in Israel’s wholesale killing of unarmed Palestinians, the humanitarian crisis engendered by the war in Yemen and our reigns of terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It is expressed in the torture in our prisons and black sites. It is expressed in the separation of children from their undocumented parents, where they are held as if they were dogs in a kennel.

The historian Johan Huizinga, writing about the twilight of the middle ages, argued that as things fall apart sadism is embraced as a way to cope with the hostility of an indifferent universe. No longer bound to a common purpose, a ruptured society retreats into the cult of the self. It celebrates, as do corporations on Wall Street or mass culture through reality television shows, the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation; a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and the incapacity for remorse or guilt. Get what you can, as fast as you can, before someone else gets it. This is the state of nature, the “war of all against all,” Thomas Hobbes saw as the consequence of social collapse, a world in which life becomes “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” And this sadism, as Friedrich Nietzsche understood, fuels a perverted, sadistic pleasure.

The only way out for most Americans is to serve, as Biden does, the sadistic machine. The impoverishment of the working class has conditioned tens of millions of Americans to accept being recruited into the service of the militarized police that function as lethal armies of internal occupation; a military that carries out reigns of terror in foreign occupations; intelligence agencies that torture in global black sites; the government’s vast network of spying on the citizenry; the theft of personal information by credit agencies and digital media; the largest prison system in the world; an immigration service that hunts down people who have never committed a crime and separates children from their parents to pack them in warehouses; a court system that condemns the poor to decades of incarceration, often for nonviolent crimes, and denies them a jury trial; companies that carry out the dirty work of evictions, shutting off utilities, including water, collecting usurious debts that force people into bankruptcy and denying health services to those that cannot pay; banks and payday lenders that burden the destitute with predatory, high-interest loans; and a financial system designed to keep most of the country locked in a crippling debt peonage as the wealth of the oligarchic elite swells to levels unseen in American history.

These are some of the few jobs that are well compensated. They bring with them feelings of omnipotence, for the victims are largely powerless. In service to the state or corporations, employees can abuse, humiliate and even kill with impunity, as the near daily murder of unarmed civilians by the police illustrates. This service to monolithic centers of power absolves people of moral choice. It imparts a God-like omnipotence.

We know what this sadism looks like. It looks like Derek Chauvin nonchalantly choking to death George Floyd as his police colleagues watch impassively. It looks like Andrew Brown Jr. shot five times by police in North Carolina, including once in the back of the head. It looks like Abner Louima, who had a broomstick pushed up his rectum by police in a bathroom at the 70th Precinct station house in Brooklyn, requiring three major operations to repair the internal injuries. It looks like Navy Seal Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher randomly shooting to death unarmed civilians and using a hunting knife to repeatedly stab to death an injured, sedated 17-year-old Iraqi prisoner and then photographing himself with the corpse. It looks like Iraqi civilians, few of whom had anything to do with the insurgency, naked, bound, beaten and sexually humiliated and raped, and at times murdered, by army guards and private contractors in Abu Ghraib. Prisoners in Abu Ghraib were routinely dragged across the prison floor by a rope tied to their penises and chemical lights were used to sodomize them or snapped open so the phosphoric liquid could be poured over their naked bodies. It looks like women who are tortured, beaten, degraded and sexually violated, often by numerous men, in porn films, who are then discarded after a few weeks or months with severe trauma, along with sexually transmitted diseases and vaginal and anal tears that must be repaired surgically.

 Sadistic societies condemn segments of the population – in America these are poor Blacks, Muslims, the undocumented, the LGBTQ community, radical anti-capitalists, intellectuals – as human refuse. They are viewed as social contaminants. Laws, institutions and bureaucratic structures are built in sadistic societies that function, in the words of Max Weber, as an “inanimate machine.” The machine forces most people into the mass, but it allows some willing to do its dirty work to rise above the multitude. Those that carry out the sadism on behalf of the power elite fear being pushed back into the mass. For this reason, they energetically carry out the degradation, cruelty and sadism the machine demands. The more they insult, persecute, torture, humiliate and kill, the more they seem to magically widen the divide between themselves and their victims.  This is why Black police and corrections officers can be as cruel, and sometimes crueler, than their white counterparts.

The sadism eradicates, at least momentarily, the sadist’s feelings of worthlessness, vulnerability and susceptibility to pain and death. It imparts pleasure. I was beaten by Saudi military police and later by Saddam Hussein’s secret police when I was taken prisoner after the first Gulf War. The goons carrying out my beatings clearly enjoyed them. Israel’s abuse of the Palestinians, the assaults of Muslims and girls and women in India and the denigration of Muslims in the countries we occupy are part of a global breakdown that extends beyond the United States. Wilhelm Reich in “The Mass Psychology of Fascism” and Klaus Theweleit in “Male Fantasies” argue that sadism, along with a grotesque hyper-masculinity, rather than any coherent belief system, is the core of fascism, although communist regimes in China and the Soviet Union could be as murderous and sadistic as their fascist counterparts.

Jean Amery, who was in the Belgian resistance in World War II and who was captured and tortured by the Gestapo in 1943, defines sadism “as the radical negation of the other, the simultaneous denial of both the social principle and the reality principle. In the sadist’s world, torture, destruction, and death are triumphant: and such a world clearly has no hope of survival. On the contrary, he desires to transcend the world, to achieve total sovereignty by negating fellow human beings – which he sees as representing a particular kind of ‘hell.’”

Amery’s point is important. A sadistic society is about collective self-destruction. It is the apotheosis of a society deformed by overwhelming experiences of loss, alienation and stasis. The only way left to affirm yourself in failed societies is to destroy. Johan Huizinga in his book “Waning of the Middle Ages” noted that that the dissolution of medieval society provoked “the violent tenor of life.” Today, this “violent tenor of life” drives people to carry out police murders, evictions of families, court-ordered bankruptcies, the denial of medical care to the sick, suicide bombings and mass shootings. As the sociologist Emil Durkheim understood, those who seek the annihilation of others are driven by desires for self-annihilation. Sadism imparts the rush and pleasure, often with heavy sexual overtones, which lures us towards what Sigmund Freud called the death instinct, the instinct to destroy all forms of life, including our own. When enveloped by a death-saturated world death, ironically, is embraced as the cure.

Corporate capitalism, which has perverted the values of American society to commodify its every aspect, including human beings and the natural world, insists that the dictates of the market should govern our existence, a belief infused with sadism. It is about the pleasure derived from exploiting others, as Frederick Nietzsche wrote in “On the Genealogy of Morals:”

Let’s clarify the logic of this whole method of compensation—it is weird enough. The equivalency is given in this way: instead of an advantage making up directly for the harm (hence, instead of compensation in gold, land, possessions of some sort or another), the creditor is given a kind of pleasure as repayment and compensation—the pleasure of being allowed to discharge his power on a powerless person without having to think about it, the delight in “de fair le mal pour le plaisir de le faire” [doing wrong for the pleasure of doing it],the enjoyment of violation. This enjoyment is more highly prized the lower and baser the debtor stands in the social order, and it can easily seem to the creditor a delicious mouthful, even a foretaste of a higher rank. By means of the “punishment” of the debtor, the creditor participates in a right belonging to the masters. Finally he himself for once comes to the lofty feeling of despising a being as someone “below himself,” as someone he is entitled to mistreat—or at least, in the event that the real force of punishment, of inflicting punishment, has already been transferred to the “authorities,” the feeling of seeing the debtor despised and mistreated. The compensation thus consist of a permission for and right to cruelty.

Enron energy traders, in a dialogue that could have come from any large corporation, were caught on tape in 2000 discussing “stealing” from California, sticking it to “Grandma Millie.” Two traders, identified as Kevin and Bob, dismissed demands by California regulators for refunds because of the company’s constant price-gouging.

Kevin: So the rumor's true? They're fucking takin' all the money back from you guys? All those money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?
Bob: Yeah, Grandma Millie, man. But she's the one who couldn't figure out how to fucking vote on the butterfly ballot.
Kevin: Yeah, now she wants her fucking money back for all the power you've charged for fucking $250 a megawatt hour.
Bob: You know – you know – you know, Grandma Millie, she's the one that Al Gore's fightin' for, you know?
Later in the same conversation, Kevin and Bob denigrate Californians.
Kevin: Oh, best thing that could happen is fucking an earthquake, let that thing float out to the Pacific and put 'em fucking candles.
Bob: I know. Those guys – just cut 'em off.
Kevin: They're so fucked and they're so like totally – –
Bob: They are so fucked.

We will not extract ourselves from predatory capitalism and its culture of sadism with meager government handouts. We will not extract ourselves because Biden’s slick speech writers and public relations specialists, who use polls and focus groups to feed back to us what we want to hear, can make us feel the administration is on our side. There is no good will in the Biden White House, the Congress, the courts, the media – which has become an echo chamber of the privileged classes – or corporate boardrooms. They are the enemy.

We will extract ourselves from this culture of sadism the way the dispossessed extracted themselves from the stranglehold of crony capitalism during the Great Depression, by organizing, protesting and disrupting the system until the ruling elites are forced to grant a measure of social and economic justice. The Bonus Army, World War I veterans who had been denied pension payments, set up huge encampments in Washington, which were violently dispersed by the army. Neighborhood groups, many of them members of the Wobblies or the Communist Party, in the 1930s physically prevented sheriff departments from evicting families. In 1936 and 1937, the United Auto Workers union carried out a sit-down strike inside factories that crippled General Motors, forcing the company to recognize the union, raise wages and meet union demands for job protection and safe working conditions. It was one of the most important labor victories in American history and led to the entire automobile industry in the United States becoming unionized. Farmers, forced into bankruptcy and foreclosures by the big banks and Wall Street, founded the Farmer’s Holiday Association to protest the seizure of family farms, one of the reasons bank robbers such as John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde and the Barker Gang were folk heroes. The farmers blocked roads and destroyed mountains of farm products, reducing supply and raising prices. The farmers, like unionized auto workers, endured widespread government surveillance and violent attacks from the FBI, company goons, hired gun thugs, militias and sheriff’s departments. But the militancy worked. The farmers forced the state to accept a de facto moratorium on farm foreclosures. Mass demonstrations outside state capitals at the same time pressured state legislatures to block the collection of overdue mortgage payments. Tenant farmers and sharecroppers in the south unionized. The Department of Labor called their collective action a “miniature civil war.” The unemployed and the hungry throughout the country squatted in vacant homes and on vacant land forming shantytowns that were known as Hoovervilles. The destitute took over public buildings and public utilities. This constant pressure, not the good will of FDR, created the New Deal. He and his fellow oligarchs eventually understood that if there was not reform there would be revolution, something Roosevelt acknowledged in his private correspondence.

It is not until people are reintegrated into the society, not until corporate and oligarchic control over our educational, political and media systems are removed, not until we recover the ethic of the common good, that we have any hope of rebuilding the positive social bonds that foster a healthy society. History has amply illustrated how this process works. It is a game of fear. And until we make them afraid, until a terrified Joe Biden and the oligarchs he serves look out on a sea of pitchforks, we will not blunt the culture of sadism they have engineered.


[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

115 comments

    1. My name is Rich Lightner and I’m a fan of Chris’s and everyone who outs the Military-Corporate-Propaganda Complex. I live in Philly. I was surprised to see another “Richard Lightner” commenting here on this article… might be a trolling spook-fyi.

      1. How about emptying the vault by refunding the money stolen by the warmongers for phony, illegal wars? This is the best way to “out” the military and end the wars. No money. No wars. It’s our money that’s been ripped off for three decades. Please check out the plan . . . https://peacedividend.us

        By the way, Robert Scheer will be appearing in the movie we’re making about the Peace Dividend.

    2. gets worse. search for the latest assault…

      Biden Plans Expansion of Feds’ Army of Snitches in ‘Dollars for Collars’ Program…

  1. I am not as well versed in Gramsci as I’d like to be but are you arguing that people must take control of the state instead of begging the state?

    1. Yes! You must force the state to serve you rather than you serving the state. This is what we have lost sight of. Change only happens when you demand it. This is what Frederick Douglass meant when he said, “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, and it never will.”

  2. Many were understandably relieved after Trump lost the 2020 election, but as the inescapable reality that Biden is a straight-up neocon and neoliberal with no structural policies to reduce extreme US wealth inequality and has already increased the possibility of nuclear war (bombing Syria immediately after his election, publicly calling Putin a killer, China bashing, etc.), “progressives” (i.e. sane people with a conscience) find themselves in a very dark place.

    1. We need a new system. I think all of us commenting here realize this has been the case for decades. The question is how can we negate the present system, in a way that is effective, meaningful, and understandable to every citizen, so that they can easily perceive all of these problems Chris raises here so as not to repeat them in future generations. I was once a Democrat when I thought it meant something. Today the party system means nothing to me.

  3. Wow. “…until a terrified Joe Biden and the oligarchs he serves look out on a sea of pitchforks…” Hedges has always demanded unarmed, peaceful protests, “take to the streets.” (Ineffectual, and today, ruining lives of many protesters).

    Much like MLK Jr in his Riverside Church sermon– “But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”
    In other words, if violence is not the answer, why does America have its present foreign policy, with Forever Wars and sanctions effectively aimed at civilians?

    Idiot Trump was not the populist needed. However, although inept, he exposed so much about our Government and particularly our media. The Mask is Off. However the US will not get another chance to challenge the Establishment in my lifetime.

    1. well said. “However the US will not get another chance to challenge the Establishment in my lifetime.”

      the saddest truth

  4. Same old Hedges message he has been peddling for years. The rulers are all rotten and sadistic and the people should rise up in millions to make the world right.
    Hedges is right but how do we start the necessary revolution Chris?
    Where is the new think tank for the new American Revolution? There is not even a forum to discuss how we turn the tide..Everyone complains, highlights and moans about what is happening to America and no one has any ideas except to task on one problem.
    We live in the hair of ten thousand Medusa’s each hair is a knot, a tangle, a undecipherable mess. Every discussion in print about anything, any protest, any move to a better future is a useless lie. Only removal of offenders against us will solve anything.
    In our profound stupidity we only see violence against us if its physical, while all Americans are hurt by Non-Physical Phenomena, politics, social murder, gaslighting, brainwashing , social division, involuntary separation and outright lies.
    We need to get things in perspective and grow up. Those hurting, depriving and stealing from us must be stopped The system of American government must be replaced including Congress, the Supreme Court, the election system, Citizens United, lobbying and all safe harbour for individuals and corporations. Corporations are psychopaths with human rights. We live in a psychopathic society but no one responds to that truth.
    I know there is an answer to all this idiot political rubbish controlling our every move. We must think outside the box. We can’t change politicians but we can change our morality and our expectations, so that politician’s methodology does not work and every american wants them out
    BUT YOU DON”T BELIEVE ME- BECAUSE YOU ARE STUCK IN THE BELIEF THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT OUR LOT Yes we can change Yes we must step outside the box – see the light you are living in Be like light is

    1. Hedges has been clear he believes in direct action and supports a variety of organizations and movements. He also expresses a lot of pessimism (particularly because he is drawn to historical patterns and determanism) combined with an existential need to fight against what is wrong regardless of outcome.

      Historical time is slow and fast and the future is not known. Even in this column, the description of the world of the 1930s — only a single long human lifetime ago –as radically different than today is both true in that the liberal capitalism model was feeling the breath on its neck of other global forces (tribal fascism, centralized communism) and probably overly influenced by nostalgia in that much of the activism described may have felt a lot more pell-mell, inchoate and ineffectual than it seems in the glow of the middle-class boom of WWII/post-war.

      The New Deal was great, but it was the US becoming the heavy manufacturing center for a mechanized global war and the hegemonic economic/political/cultural superpower during the rebuilding/expansion of the industrialized world afterwards that gave its juice. Without that, FDR’s reforms might be seen as only slightly more notable than LBJ’s.

      1. You miss the point and the importance of the New Deal. The New Deal legitimized government intervention and government planning.

        It was those planning skills that enabled the economic transformation to military production.

        In the post world war, the government production oriented planning pivoted into industrial policy for the post WWII economic boom.

        Go back and read Hayek’s “Road To Serfdom” for a full understanding of the right wing critique of what is now called The Administrative State.

      2. Wasn’t trying to diss the New Deal! Mad my grandparents rise from extreme poverty possible!

        Just saying that it might not have made as big difference if the Depression continued apace, which it largely did until the pre-war defense buildup kicked into gear

    2. Hedges makes it pretty clear what we should be doing:

      “We will extract ourselves from this culture of sadism the way the dispossessed extracted themselves from the stranglehold of crony capitalism during the Great Depression, by organizing, protesting and disrupting the system until the ruling elites are forced to grant a measure of social and economic justice. ”

      He then goes on to give several specific illustrations of those principles.

      There was no institutionalized coordinated strategy that produced these results. It was more a “grand titration”, the drip, drip, drip of social anarchism.

    3. There are few revolutions on full bellies , the American Revolution being a notable exception . As long as the banks can peddle easy credit, at 15% , or 20 % interest, or more, while borrowing at near zero %, the masses will continue to submit with not much more than a whimper. Celebrity news and shopping are the main focus, so who cares about Medicare for All? As the Empire crumbles, a day of reckoning awaits. While Hedges does tend to paint a gloomy portrait of the state of our society, in fact, sadly, much of it is true.

      1. In my opinion, the lack of comprehension that what is filling the bellies of American citizens is not only contributing to climate catastrophe… but significantly likely to shorten their lives, might just be the real problem here.

        Even if we shop ’til we drop to the sound of Nero’s fiddle, there’s always another fast food outlet available to wave the flag as you slowly gorge yourself on fried food, and absolute denial of complicity.

        Yum!

    4. You are saying the same thing that you criticize Hedges for saying in your opening sentences, but have no concrete answers yourself. HOW do we do this?

    5. It has to start with moving heaven and earth to get those who believe the mistruths, lies and distortions peddled by the media. 99% of us have more in common with each other than the oligarchs. Yet the media and vast majority of politicians keep trying to divide us, to convince us that our enemy is The Guy/Gal at the Other End of the Political Spectrum. And to listen only to their polarized version of the facts/news.

      1. The guy made a point, “What do we do Chris?”, and you reply with what? Chris “belongs” to….this and that “We All Wanna Change The World” groups…and then a rheorical brush-up on “history moving”…etc..

        What about now? How is it going to happen and when?

        I know…the Weathermen didn’t even like to use phone booths back in the day…We know better than that today..There’s only so much you can say before they take action on those who want to take action…So journalists keep just keep petting and don’t go all the way… being a journalists…check..

  5. Thank you for an outstanding recap of where we now find ourselves. When I hear otherwise intelligent people say that we’ve finally gotten rid of Trump and with Biden, everything’s just fine; nothing more to see, no reason to despair, I shudder. In California, where Governor Pat Brown’s Master Plan for Education promised, and delivered, a free junior college, college or university education to every qualified resident, in 1960, we have sunk to a system that exploits instructors by denying tenure, charging ridiculous tuition for essentially technical training and, thanks to Biden’s efforts in the Senate, a lifetime of debt, for graduates, as educational loans are no longer dischargeable under federal Bankruptcy laws as they had been, previously. And, with nothing fundamentally changing (as promised), the worst is yet to come, as 2024, will deliver candidates who will make us long for the benign circus that was Trump. Keep fighting!

  6. The USA is nothing but a death cult. It was one from the very beginning and will be one until its end. Left unchecked the USA will lead the charge to most life going extinct on earth. I have told my partner that we have a couple more years left until things truly begin to implode for everyone living in this death cult country. The January 6th storming of the Capitol was just a practice session for what is coming from a citizenry who are too stupid and angry to understand who their real enemies are namely the corporate oligarchs along with their two branded political parties who own and control most everything and have managed to control and brainwash the citizens into fighting each other over meaningless cultural issues. There is no future for the USA other than the continued descent into complete madness and death. Enjoy what remaining days we have left for they are fewer and fewer.

    1. In May of 1971, more than 1,200 people were arrested for sitting peacefully on the Capitol steps listening to anti-war speeches being made by elected members of the U.S. Congress: https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/05/03/the-biggest-bust-ever-direct-action-lessons-from-three-days-in-may-of-1971/ Less than 200 people were arrested at the U.S. Capitol and during the period of curfew instituted that evening: https://mpdc.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/mpdc/publication/attachments/Unrest-Related%20Arrest%20Data%20as%20of%20January%207%202021.pdf Feel free to compare, contrast, and communicate.

    2. It’s great how the Dems, liberals, endlessly push Identity/personality politics and corporate diversity but never enact the policies that would actually alleviate oppression for marginalized people’s..theyd rather have a race war than a class war, theyd rather us fight over cultural issues instead of focused on the economic ones

      1. Demanding equality for people of all backgrounds is not pushing a “race war” or a “cultural issue.”

        Is affirmative action clumsy? Yeah, and it seems to spark a lot of backlash.

        But let’s be real, if you don’t think there are HUGE barriers to advancement for people of color in this country in every locus of power, you are simply in denial.

      2. You do understand that we all have much more in common with each than the billionaires, right?

      3. Reply to Marc and to mod’s reply to Marc. I read you (Marc) as saying that the Ds frame the issue as “diversity” in order to deflect making it about class. Not as arguing against equality for all or that “huge barriers” for BIPOC don’t exist as the Mod reply seems to imply.

        Emphasizing class does not deny the harsh reality of bigotry and structural inequalities. But put it this way: does the fact that VP Harris is a woman, Black, and South Asian mean the situation is magically changed for everyone else? Sure, having people in power whose face is like your own does help psychologically.

        To lib/ Ds, diversity seems to be enough. They’re fine with BIPOC and women if they have the elite credentials required for membership in their 20% professional and administrative class. Like Harris, whose parents were both university professors.

        Framing the issue as also about class? Never; it’s taboo. During the era of Populist organizing in 1892, poor farmers in the South and poor workers in the North came together as a class, actually daring to cross the color line. The capitalists quickly put an end to that threat. Rs, defenders of the 1%, still the use same tactic–keep the races fighting each other. And the D centrists, the 20%, protect their own political and economic status by showcasing their marvelous diversity and refusing to acknowledge class.

      4. What is OK for liberal Dems is a diff issue. A lot of the (older, whiter) left argues lately (supported/fellow traveled by/with libertarians like Greenwald) is that the fight for equality of both opportunity AND outcomes is a distraction from class warfare / deconstruction of neoliberalism.

    3. I know when truth hits me in the head and almost knocks me out. Your article did just that. Unfortunately my friend, I would love to devote the rest of my life battling the root causes of these crimes against humanity if I only knew where to start. I know that what you are reporting is just the tip of an ever growing iceberg. I heard that new of child sex slave rings and their financing is about to be made public. More of the sickness that represents our daily lives is about to become public. It all needs to come out asap if we as a species are going to be able to address it and beat it into a corner where it can be terminated forever. My god, what have we become? Sodom and Gomorrah?

      Ed Case

    4. The true enemy is CAPITALISM. Hedges calls it corporate capitalism, but I’d like to ask Hedges, what other capitalism is there? There is no reforming this capitalist system; no organizing and protesting for a restructuring of this capitalist monstrosity. The only answer is to eradicate it and create a true socialist system where rank and file committees control the work place: where we are educated to the class struggle, not diverted into the dead end of race and gender, where imperialism is allowed only in our history textbooks as a reminder of the vulturism of the capitalist mindset, where education is used to teach the dialectic of reality, not the soporific fantasies of entitlement and exceptionalism, where the self-determinism of other nations is accepted and not scorned with propaganda campaigns, and where OUR government can final stop being a government of finger pointers.
      Hedges thinks the capitalist system he rails against can be reformed and find its humanity so he joins the bush beaters that circle it’s well worn path shaking it up with his stick. In the center of the bush is the solution of eradication of capitalism and not a reformation; the solution of socialism, which Hedges vehemently opposes.
      The reformation is never going to happen. We are too far beyond the precipice to grasp at wishful thinking.

      1. Kurt, you don’t seem to be familiar with the early history of the legal device called, corporation. I give a brief overview on one of my sites:
        http://www.rushtopower.net
        The problem with how the US is currently configured is that after 1886 we let go of our legal restraints on corporations and they have since, following the historic pattern of The East India Company, taken over all of our major systems — political, military, legal, medical, etc.
        Capitalism that maintains strict controls on corporations — as practiced in Canada, the Scandinavian countries, Germany, etc. — are doing quite well within their capitalistic democracies.

  7. I wish I were hopeful for best to be our outcome, but history & politics has provided enough examples of failure from status quo with same lip service from liars and never any accountability.

  8. Also, don’t be fooled by Chris Hedges. He’s an employee of “RT.” RT is the Russian state-controlled international television network funded by the federal tax budget of the Russian government.

    1. Hedges does some work for RT. This column that appears here is an orginal to ScheerPost, for which he is modestly remunerated.

      ScheerPost does not receive any money from ANY government.

      Hedges expressed these opinions long before working for RT.

      Do you think everything published by the Washington Post reflects the agenda of Amazon? (Note: Not a rhetorical question)

    2. Are you saying that we shouldn’t listen to anything that is said on NPR. And what about Legacy media? They’re all funded and controlled by corporations. Are you saying that corporate media is more beholden to public interest than government media? Or is your opinion biased towards Russian media alone. You are of course welcome to point out anything, literally anything that Hedges gets wrong.

    3. Chris Hedges does commentary for RT, as well as his weekly “On Contact” program.
      Your point being?

      Folks like him will never be invited to U.S. legacy media, cable news, PBS/NPR, etc.
      because he reveals evident truths that go against the neoliberal, corporate
      narrative. And quite frankly, make it look bad.

      Follow the money trail…

  9. The sadism is not limited to right wing fasicsts targeting marginalized groups on the left.

    Just read the comments section in any NY Times or WaPo story about the Trumpers and the insurrectionists. So called good liberals have advocated the most barbaric abuses in prison for these people.

  10. Thank you so much for this article, Prof. Hedges. You are one of my heroes. I did not realize until this weekend how much people were invested in this “Joe Biden is our savior!” crap. I wish I could share your article with them. I might try, but they refuse to see the reality that is in front of them and they come up with stupid and absurd reasons for disputing articles like this. They keep applauding all of these little cosmetic, meaningless changes that Biden is supposedly making (all the ones you mentioned) and I just sit there and listen to the nonsense. They do not even see what is coming and, from what I can tell, it is going to be bad. Thanks again for your courage and conviction and your daily commitment to telling the truth.

  11. Like the rest of us, I’m sure you’re worried by the horrors of our expanding national and global problems, especially since science is forecasting the imminent collapse of Earth’s Biosphere and the extinction of all human beings. Our survival rests in the hands of politicians, loyal to corporate control, who show no compassion for the general public. They have betrayed the will of regular people, rendered them expendable, and failed to prosecute corporations that expand the global environmental crisis.
    We live in a world of predators, where the super-rich ruling class, corporations and politicians are deceptive and destructive on all levels at all times. They have infected our human lives with their predatory, psychopathic behavior, claiming it is human behavior, when it is not. They are grooming us to be compliant with their inhuman corporate behavior. They deny our rights and freedom, our humanness, our values, and our morality. Their bought and paid for laws render us unable to defend ourselves. They are killing all living things and the Biosphere we rely on for survival.
    Our corporate governments are not concerned with human survival, climate change or extinction. They mismanage multiple public crisis events because their power and wealth are rooted in the same voracious greed that got global society into this mess. They have stolen our future and they continue to push us into their darkness of their inhumanity.
    Governments mismanage multiple crisis events because their egos are rooted in the same privilege and voracious greed that got us into this mess. The problems in our human society are endemic. Our psychopathic leaders have stolen our future and left us to drown in their dark polluted world of their exploitation and lies. They have tried and failed to extinguish the light in all of us Psychopathic predators are not human. They will not help Humanity, halt their greed or change their minds.
    We must change our minds the nature of light. We need light as pattern for a paradigm shift in our own thinking. We must regain our sovereignty, realign ourselves with our own truth, and empower the treasure of life vested in us.
    Light is the “a-ha” moment you’ve been waiting is here. . It will empower you and protect you from the mind games of our socio-political systems and incentivize you to change yourself and those systems.

  12. Republican fools handed George W. Bush a second term, after the supposed “fiscal conservative” who supported small government, added more than $2.5 trillion to our national debt and presided over the largest expansion of the federal government in the history of our nation.

    Democratic fools handed Barack Obama a second term, after the supposed “peacemaker” with a deep respect for Islam, bombed 7 countries, expanded the occupation of Afghanistan, and ordered the execution of two American Muslims by drone-bombs without a trial.

    The odds of Token Joe coasting to a second term on a cloud of flatulent propaganda would appear to be greater that 50/50 at this point. Hell, we narrowly dodged that same bullet less than 5 months ago!

    This is a sad testament to the gullibility of uninformed American voters, incapable of expending the necessary effort to engage in the search for an independent candidate. Rather than blindly continuing to accept the flaws of the two-party system (promoted and operated by those who’ve spent their entire life gorging themselves at taxpayer expense), American must reject the impulse to overlook the glaring flaws of the candidates put forward by their own political party… and open their eyes to the hypocrisy.

    1. This comment supports a notion that’s time has come. The next solution will probably be a libertarian-feeling third party with a conscience. Like the Depression-to-Sixties leftists, it must advocate for a safety net for our brothers and sisters who don’t have the personality or intellectual capacity to adequately support themselves (at least 35-50% of current society). And, as Chris points out, we must find the courage to stand against the evil sadists who gain power from hurting whoever they can.

  13. I couldn’t help but think of the comment section of Zero Hedge when reading Chris’s article. If you want to read huge comment streams full to the brim of sadistic cultural decay, it is the place to go. These are people with money, and their thought processes are quite disturbing. The depths and breath of their banality of their evil is simply breathtaking and validates Chris Hedges assertions in every way.

    I read Chris’s articles and for me, they are simply a well stated summery of the current state of our society and culture. That Chris seems to be the only person in the western world capable of writing these obvious truths is, in it’s own way a stark reminder of how low we have fallen.

  14. Mr. Hedge’s doesn’t just point out the elephant in the room; he performs a forensic examination that exposes under clinical – though passionate – light the pathologies of our time, laying bare an advanced sickness that most people seem to be adept at
    drowning out with rapid-fire,
    vacuous, dehumanized, “entertainment”. I have never been more frightened by the subliteracy, vapidness, incuriousness, and mindless ingestion of crap culture in America. Not to mention the normalization of misogyny.

  15. Chris again another incredible in depth analysis of our current crisis! Biden as you state is as full of shit as Trump was and through smoke and mirrors will manage to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes just like the pretenders Clinton (I feel your pain) and Obama (change you can believe in), yes as many of the commentators state the responsibility lies with us to resist and shut the machine down. The leaders of the past Eugene Debs, the Wobblies, union and labour leaders, farmers and workers who fought in the 30s should be our examples.

  16. Great article, Chris. When I feel down, I always feel better by watching one of your speeches on YouTube. You give meaning to my fears, and I understand myself better afterward. Please keep the columns coming for years to come. You are a light in the darkness.

  17. It is difficult to look at what is happening in the US without feeling despair. Some readers are angry at Chris Hedges for stating how dire the state of the planet is, how sadistic US public policies are.
    I appreciate Hedges’ discussion about sadism as integral to predatory capitalism. The sensual/sexual energy of sadism or its milder form, domination of another, definitely seems to drive capitalism today.
    I think it is possible, as Derrick Jensen said, to feel the despair, realize we are on the edge of extinction, and choose to take whatever action we can that will counteract our being dragged along toward more sadism, more fascism, and extinction.

  18. Hedges’s favorite trope: “In service to the state or corporations, employees can abuse, humiliate and even kill with impunity, as the near daily murder of unarmed civilians by the police illustrates. ” There are about 15,000 murders annually in the US (over half Black men- who make up only 6% of the population– killing other Black men. Forever– like our wars– an intractable problem in the Black Community). Police kill about 1000 a year, about 4% unarmed (according to WaPo’s police killing database). So his sentence should read “In service to the state or corporations, employees can abuse, humiliate and even kill with impunity, as the near WEEKLY murder of unarmed civilians by the police illustrates.” Much more accurate.
    Certainly we should have better cops. We should have better teachers. We should have better parents. Maybe if they were all paid like “workers” on Wall Street, or bribed like our elected politicians by corporate lobbyists? As Biden once told Scott Ritter, this is why we ride in the limousines and you don’t. Cops don’t ride in limos.

    1. Cops are extremely well-paid where I live (urban California). And, just as the defense budget accounts for roughly half of all expenses federally, so fire/police take about half of big city budgets. Similar for counties and sheriff’s/jails.

      In Oakland, cops START at $15K above where OUSD teachers PEAK on the salary scale. And when you factor in rampant overtime? Many cops in Oakland clock over $120K or even far beyond,and only about 6 percent live in the city.

      Only at the state levels, where education is the main budget burden, is “safety” not the main purpose of taxation. But even there, prisons and prison guard salaries, plus highway patrol are huge. In CA, the prison guard’s union may be the most politically potent force in the state, and along with the cop lobby, a key force in the criminalization of America since the 1950s.

      Cops don’t need to be paid more. They need to be trained for a different set of tasks, prevention over supression, and managed toward a different set of outcomes. But certainly good policing will not solve problems bad policing only aggravate, like intergeneeration poverty and trauma, it did not create.

      1. Adopting laws like a recent one in New Mexico, which removed qualified immunity for law enforcement officers statewide, and instituting mandatory random drug testing for alcohol, narcotics, and steroid abuse might be more effective than continuing to rely on “training ” provided by the Israeli government.

        SEE: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/joint-us-israel-police-and-law-enforcement-training

        https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-us-police-training-end-knee-neck-protests

    2. If black men kill other black men at disproportionate rates, it is because they are forced into violent, criminal occupations in the underground economy. This is due to lack of economic, educational, and social opportunity, baked into a racist, classist system. These causes are structural by design. Americans will not be free until we have policies focused on green socialism, full employment, organized labor, wealth redistribution , and equality-of-results. The Left needs to do better at getting out a counter-message, in which it ties together the shared economic interests of all marginalized groups and convincingly argues that class and intra-racial/ethnic solidarity is the only means to improving our lot and countering the economic and religious fascism in power today in America. Economic opportunity and equality-of-results are the means for lowering the murder rates among black males and other impoverished and oppressed groups.

      1. Until self-education and independent thought trump the profit motive… we are at their mercy.

      2. One out of three Black men becomes a felon. There are no job opportunities for felons. Survival depends mostly on criminal activities. Not only do the felons suffer, but their families and communities suffer (and it’s also the case for the Poor of other races.) Whatever your politics, you have to recognize that this destruction of community and wasted lives is largely a result of the War on Drugs and the doubling of the incarceration rate in the late ’90s, mostly of non-violent offenders.
        Even when Black men prove themselves, as in fire fighting in California (and I’m guessing they will get more opportunities at that!), they get no jobs.

  19. It’s illusory to think “we will extract ourselves from this culture of sadism the way the dispossessed extracted themselves from the stranglehold of crony capitalism during the Great Depression, by organizing, protesting and disrupting the system until the ruling elites are forced to grant a measure of social and economic justice.” While reforms encapsulated in the New Deal were granted at the threat of revolution (which, by the way, the Communist Party did much to suppress once FDR assented to them), the ‘extraction’ lasted at most 50 years — the reforms were temporary and whittled away when the threat, ie, the power of organised labour, was ‘neutralised’, from McCarthy to Reagan to Clinton and all the rest. The question is not whether the ruling class can be forced once again to do anything, but of overthrowing it, once and for all, because as long as the capitalists remain in power all reforms are nothing other than temporary reprieves for capitalism itself.

    It will take far more than ‘a sea of pitchforks’ to achieve any permanent economic or social advances for the exploited and oppressed. Just as in the 1930s, only the social power of all who produce the fabulous wealth for the tiny capitalist class, properly organised and directed to stop dead the rivers of capitalist profits by ‘shutting shit down’, will begin to change the current dire situation for the better. But it will take a leadership steeled in hard class battles and in the lessons of history to recruit and organise the working class to a program of revolutionary measures so sorely needed to vanquish the exploiters once and for all, to rip the means of production and distribution out of their hands and put these to rational use to the benefit of the vast majority. Only then can the basis for a just society be laid.

    Despite their length, the following remarks, from Trotsky in July 1921, should sober people up to the material realities of the current but eerily similar plight because they point to a dangerous ruling class that should never be underestimated:

    “The bourgeoisie, even though it finds itself in a complete contradiction with the demands of historical progress, nevertheless still remains the most powerful class. More than that, it may be said that politically the bourgeoisie attains its greatest powers, its greatest concentration of forces and resources, of political and military means of deception, of coercion, and provocation, i.e., the flowering of its class strategy, at the moment when it is most immediately threatened by social ruin. The war [WWI] and its terrible consequences…have confronted the bourgeoisie with the terrible threat of destruction. This has rendered its instinct of class self-preservation sensitive in the extreme. The greater the danger, all the more does the class, like the individual, exert its vital forces in the struggle for self-preservation. Let us not forget also that the bourgeoisie finds itself face to face with mortal danger, after having accumulated colossal political experience. The bourgeoisie has created and destroyed all sorts of régimes. Its development occurred under pure absolutism, under constitutional monarchy, under parliamentary monarchy, under a democratic republic, under a Bonapartist dictatorship, under a state bound up with the Catholic Church, under a state bound up with the Reformation, under a state separated from the Church, under a state persecuting the Church, etc., etc. All this varied and rich experience which has entered into the blood and marrow of bourgeois ruling circles has now been mobilized by them in order to maintain themselves in power at any cost. And they act the more resourcefully, cunningly, ruthlessly, all the more clearly their leaders take cognizance of the threatening danger….

    “In a period when the productive forces of capitalism have run up against a blank wall and can go no further we see the bourgeoisie gathering in its own hands the army, the police, science, schools, church, parliament, the press,.. tightening the reins and mentally saying to the proletariat, “Yes, my position is dangerous. I see an abyss yawning under my feet. But we’ll wait and see who plunges first into this abyss. Perhaps before I perish, even if such is to be my fate, I’ll succeed in casting you, the working class, into the abyss.”…

    “Europe and the whole world are passing through a period which is, on the one side, an epoch of the disintegration of the productive forces of bourgeois society, and, on the other side, an epoch of the highest flowering of the counter-revolutionary strategy of the bourgeoisie. We must understand this clearly and precisely. Counter-revolutionary strategy, i.e., the art of waging a combined struggle against the proletariat by every method from saccharine, professorial-clerical preachments to machine-gunning of strikers, has never attained such heights as it does today.

    “…[UK Prime Minister] Lloyd George has stored in his head all the usages of duping and coercing the toilers, from the most cunning and subtle tricks to the bloodiest; he has assimilated the entire experience provided by English history on this score, and has developed and perfected all this in the experience of the last three stormy years. Lloyd George is in his own way a superb strategist of the bourgeoisie, threatened with historical ruin. And we must say…that the proletariat possesses no such strategists as yet.”

    While the US bourgeoisie presently is showing a colossal ineptitude and crude hubris bordering on recklessness — and psychopathic sadism well characterises it — its smarter and more cunning class-conscious proponents will come to the fore the moment a real threat to the ruling order presents itself. They perforce will be more receptive to the longer and deeper historical experience of their European class brothers (and sisters), at Davos and other secretive international ruling class confabs, doubtless aided and abetted by the oompa loompas in their think tanks. And their political front men initially will be smarter and more ‘left’ talking than AOC, Sanders or the ‘squad’. But until the working class and all the oppressed layers of this rotting capitalist society are led in a single-minded revolutionary struggle by strategists of a calibre that outmatches the best the ruling class can muster, then at most any victories will be short-lived or pyrrhic, and if not engulfed by inter-imperialist war — or worse, the bourgeoisie’s nuclear abyss — the struggles of the oppressed will be drawn out wars of attrition that will end in fascism and/or generalised ruin.

  20. I think many nations which have previously been proud to call themselves social democracies are now going down this route. It’s certainly true of the UK where I live.
    But I think any activism trying to achieve limited aims is ultimately doomed to failure, if we don’t tackle the three-headed monster of World Bank, IMF, WTO. They are the bastion of neo-liberal action, over-riding even national governments and the UN. Capitalism is doomed to eat its own tail, and the gradual erosion of democracy and equality in the Global North is a part of this. But countries in the Global South didn’t start with democracy or equality in the first place (they would have done if left to their own devices) and they are being gouged by a cruel voraciousness deemed legal by the “international community”.
    So the question is, how do we dismantle those organisations?

    1. Restoring the level of participatory democracy that existed in the mid-20th century, would require a more equitable level of economic security. To me, the quandary does not lie in deciding which course to take.

      The EIGHT MEN who control more wealth than 50% of the global population, have achieved a disinformation campaign so widespread and effective, that billions of demoralized people are now fearful and paranoid about anyone with whom they might have the slightest political disagreement.

      Such social disorientation among the underclass ensures that those capable of critical thought, consensus building, and peaceful protest, will inevitably find themselves bulldozed out of existence like the student encampment in Zuccotti Park at Occupy Wall Street.

      If you really wish to see how bad it’s become in the U.S., just research recent anti-protest laws put forward by Republican state legislatures. Florida has already enacted legislation that civilly indemnifies any drivers who chooses to drive their vehicle over the unprotected body of a protester.

  21. Again, after reading yet another article by Chris Hedges, I am left with increased blood pressure, nausea, anger, depression. A sea of pitchforks? The most recent effort by FL Gov DeSantis makes street demonstrations illegal and running down protesters with cars legal. How far is it going to go before the pitchforks have actual human blood on them? We can’t even succeed at establishing a legitimate third political party, let alone completely restructure our government.

    You speak and write bold words of truth Mr. Hedges, but unless you can produce a flesh and bone real life movement your words are no more than theatrical hot air. Even if a genuine civil war were to erupt, I need to ask……..then what?

    1. During 2020, there were 615 mass shootings in the United States, with 175 more so far this year. So, would it not be reasonable to put forth the argument that a “genuine civil war” may have already begun?

      1. A civil war implies that the violence has some clear purpose and agenda. While some of those shootings can be linked to such, the vast majority are based on some combination of mental illness, inchoate rage, domestic violence and/or economic competition for access to a relatively lucractive black market in an urban wasteland.

      2. FYI- The mass shootings included in these lists, do NOT include those which are gang-related:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_United_States_in_2021

        https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting

        Furthermore, Amnesty International already said the same thing I stated, back in 2020. To seek a position in which to conserve the deniability of civil war by resort to exceptionalism which includes the necessity that violence include “some clear purpose and agenda,” is not only self-serving but historically inaccurate. Please check with Mr. Hedges regarding his multiple experiences within war zones considered to be civil conflicts if you should choose to disregard my position. I am more than certain that he will agree.

      3. In a war, even a civil war (even as Guns and Roses said so true “what’s civil about war?) there are two sides. Most mass shootings were very one-sided events!

    2. alteyid48,

      The preponderance of mass shootings in the U.S., which has risen to an average of 1.7 per day since January 1, 2020, are merely symptomatic of the growing potential for a politically-motivated military conflict. That number equates to FOUR PEOPLE shot or killed by a person with a gun every 18 hours.

      The New York Post video which caught the attempted murder of an African-American man by the Proud Boys on the streets of D.C. on January 12, 2020, remains oddly missing from coverage within national news to this day:

      https://nypost.com/2020/12/13/one-person-stabbed-during-massive-proud-boys-brawl-in-dc/

      As retired ranking generals and admirals call for the removal of Biden based upon false claims regarding the 2020 presidential election, we continue our drift towards an open civil war.

      The clear and vain attempts of White Nationalists and White Supremacists to retain control of American society through Republican Party manipulation of the electoral process, is but one manifestation of the resurgence of institutionalized racism personified in political form, while trigger-happy law enforcement officers still get away with disabling their body-cams before they kill people with cellphones in their hands.

      When you claim that violence is “very one-sided,” you actively deny giving value to those whose lives are taken, subjected to gunshot wounds, or merely traumatized by witnessing this violence firsthand.

      Even worse, attempting to minimize the threat to domestic stability described by both the Attorney General and Director of Homeland Security, using a quote from the same guy who penned “One in a Million,” would seem to be more than just a little bit tone deaf on this subject.

  22. All politicians and the SYSTEM are EVIL! Until we as society wake up and flip the script, SSDD. Wow, I’d like to invoice this phuck for the 15 minutes I wasted reading this screed.

    Also, Schrodinger’s Pussy, above, with the Sandwich board “The End is Nigh’ outlook, is a bummer. At least that fluffy puss has 8 more lives to try in America. Democracy is hard, especially when the people become and/or are complacent. Buck up buttercup, the Mellenial’s are coming. They’ll replace those Baby Boomers, economically, and have a much different perspective on fairness and equality. It aint gonna be easy, but the last dying gasps of the proverbial white is right, Faux News tRUMPlican, mantra, continues to move forward in a beautiful tie-dyed fabric, as it dissipates It’s gonna be a bumpy ride, but Buckle up, buttercup, the next decade is going global.

    1. You appear to embrace blind optimism without any empirical evidence to support your position. Most people would refer to that type of behavior as delusional thinking, Buttercup.

  23. I wish this site used disqus or something so we could discuss things w/ other posters as well as the moderator if they were interested.
    I don’t know if there is a fee or if tracking people and their comments is a problem, and I know it can spiral out of control,

    but hey, how else can we get a feel for what our fellow humans are thinking.

    1. horatio,

      You could always submit a Reply within the thread… and then wait for a response. Just a suggestion.

  24. Late to the table, there are still some scraps to be had … lights, camera, action, oh wait, there is no action … got lots of words and a few bucks in our wallets to prevent a wave and that’s it, they bought us off, for a while longer … we have a failed State, the climate emergency, the viral pandemic and the mass extinction happening all at once, at the same time, in real time, right now … hold onto your hat and grab your ass, we are in for one hell of a ride … Chris, as always, is correct in his assessment but limited in his view, look at the big picture … the big picture is no one has your back, keep your back to the wall, eye’s and ear’s open cuz here it comes, that train, it’s called reality and it’s coming way too soon.

  25. Eloquent and accurate as ever Chris.
    Thank you.
    From here in Australia, the US looks like chaos on steroids.
    Thank God (or Life) for the Pacific Ocean.

      1. They don’t include an average of two mass shootings, and three dead per day at the hands of police.

      2. Too true Mr/Ms Moderator, but we have many ‘advantages’ over the US.
        A negligible gun culture.
        Most folks state ‘no religion’ on their census forms.
        A general distrust of authority figures.
        More curiosity about other cultures.
        A well traveled middle class.
        No nuclear arsenal.
        No delusions of Empire.
        A ‘she’ll be right’ attitude.
        Some remnants of unionism.
        A generally egalitarian attitude.
        (All the cancerous behaviour we inherited from GB and the US is diluted by the above).

      3. OK. From right here within the US (Santa Fe, NM) ” the US looks like chaos on steroids” and it really feels that way too.

      4. From Santa Fe, realllly? Last I visited, that was a pretty nice effing place to live?

        Look, all these problems in the US are more than real. I live in a mid-sized US city long slandered because of its high murder rate, sprawling ghettos and so on. But only people who consume media all day and never leave their house our their country think a) the past was way better, and b) the US has some sort of monopoly on inhumanity, suffering, environmental degradation and general dysfunction.

        Every day I walk in rough neighborhoods and rich ones. I see the homeless encampments filling the underpasses but I also see a level of gun violence that is less-than-half of what I lived through in the 80s in the same region, as measured by murder stats. I see far more social integration by race, far more tolerance of diversity of gender and sexuality, and the Latinx community is doing far better educationally than previous generations. On the other hand, debt is crushing families and the cost-of-living here is untenable at even a “living wage.”

        The original comment was from an Australian. A country which has struggled recently with historic environmental devastation from fires and droughts, accusations of human rights violations against immigrants and allegedly is selling its future to China’s development. I am not saying Australia is “chaos on steroids” just that it could look like that from the outside.

        Ultimately, this is all semantics. But I when I walk around, people are still people, trying to get through the day. There is no “civil war” as some other posters have claimed. No doubt, the promises of the 1950s and 1960s prosperity and progression have foundered, HARD, on the banks of neoliberal economics and globalization, but we have been seeing that since that trend for 50 years+

        Perhaps the great failing of the Left was to believe that history moves inexorably toward the progressive, that the great “dialectic” pendulum was on “our” side. Instead, it seems to be an endless series of trench wars or tug-of-wars, fought over inches and feet rather than mountains and plains.

  26. When is the rest of the world going to unite against the most hated, evil and destructive country on the planet. There is no redemption or salvation for a country that has caused so much human death and suffering. As a US citizen I have acquiesced and collaborated with this racist, white supremacist, militarized police state by paying my taxes and voting for the lesser of two evils.
    I was propagandized and lied to ever since the 1st grade and at the age of 19 I joined the Marines and went to Vietnam. That changed my world view and I knew that I lived in an evil empire. I should have killed myself then but I didn’t have the fortitude. The only thing I could do was never get married and never have children. Now I’m an old man who lives on a fixed income, alone in a house the bank owns. I refuse to own a car or a TV and I feel like I’m on that black ship, the Pequod, with madmen and Captain Ahab sailing us all to self-annihilation on a sea of blood.

    1. Alan Coovert,

      Please let me know if you’d like to communicate. I would be PROUD to call you a friend.

  27. Reality has always been present… and it is not a train.

    The manner in which we choose to exist within reality is what is truly in question. Always.

  28. Sadism is an ugly term and concept, but it fits. Maybe this evil is the doubling down on an acknowledged wrong, serving to relieve or better, annihilate conscience.

    What is said of Biden is true enough… he’s not great, not even that good, but he’s indisputably better. The bar was set so low he couldn’t trip over it.

    Fundamentally, core, the problem is that people want what does not belong to them, to which they have no right. Further, they cannot bear to own what does belong to them – what they are, what they say and especially do.
    This grabbing with the one hand and casting off with the other, at some point back in time, was only an individual trait / vice / sin. But progress, organization, and regimentation has rent it the mission of all social / political constructs. “Get as much as possible for as little money, effort and bother as possible.” It is transactional and material… intangibles are beyond consideration.
    Worse, the conglomerate and brand exposes the individual to its way, and more often or not, imposes the way on the individual.

    I don’t think any president or politician can make it much better, though recent actors seem to have shown they can make it wonderfully worse. It’s going to take a powerful wave of realization, enlightenment if you will, that the Spirit of Our Age, Rat Race Cannibalism, allows of only a relative handful of winners. There are places also for technical servants, body men and others, but once the qualifications are met there isn’t much of a human being left.
    For the overwhelming majority of people, however, the current system is a gouge and a fleece at best, and a meatgrinder and torture chamber at worst. And it’s getting worse.
    Again, the kiss up and kick down, sadist, cannibalist system has got to be seen for what it is. Lifelessness, misery and death.

    1. paul wichmann,

      That was very well said. The only thing I would add… is that worship of Mammon was forewarned in the books of all three major world religions, and yet here we are!

  29. Freedom of opportunity in individual lives should be the goal. It is equity as opposed to equality. Plutocracy’s self-preserving strategy is always division by atomization.

    Conspiracy theory is a self-indulgent conceit. Systemic racism doesn’t require a majority of overt racists. Conscious racism is not the same as unconscious bias based on race; even if both are undesirable.

    Cryptofascism means fascism (uniformity, purity tests, us versus Untermensch them) disguised as something else, often something that’s consciously parsed as anti-fascist but in fact conditions fascist thinking; or absolution for a privileged class.

    Identity politics from top to bottom – from like capitalizing “B” in Black to quotas against Asians at top universities – is an identarian dogwhistle disguised as mostly zero-cost virtue signalling.
    Does it help any POC? No.
    Does its use or omission signify anti-black racism? Nope.
    Is it cleverly amplifying divisive wedge issues? Yep.

    In fact, these types of socially regulated purity ‘tests’ have always been a deliberate crypto-fascist strategy.

    Identity politics targets certain key demographics, to weaponize the obsessive-compulsive triggers of both POC-supporting and PC-haters (and others, too) so they’re sucked into wasting time reacting, arguing, policing each other’s bullshit transgressions. Divide and rule 101.

    Identarian symbols like “B” capitalized is also becoming a shorthand, speaking to agents of the powers-that-be (journalists, content creators, Nomenklatura activists, etc). It marks an article or opinion piece as safe, conformist orthodoxy, i.e. “irrelevant storytelling” that’s designed to look progressive but in reality serve the interests of cabal propaganda.

    Identity politics is one of a plethora of tactics designed to keep average people occupied, distracted, policing each other, but also dehumanized, atomized and harmless. Wedge issues are always anti-individual. Groups of strangers are invariably equated with Untermensch.

    Meanwhile, nothing ever changes in the power dynamics of society except for the creeping poison of techno-authoritarianism. Biden is its latest ambassador.

    1. I suspect that a major issue with an equality-of-opportunity regime is the lack of measurability. How do you measure and quantify opportunity, except anecdotally? You can quantify and measure results more easily. If all groups have true equality of opportunity, then similar members of different groups should have similar results and outcomes. If you were to measure variables and graph them, their statistical curves should be similar, if there were true equality of opportunity. Focusing on results is the better path. Focusing solely on equality-of-opportunity allows for hidden discriminatory and separate-but-equal policies of our stealth Jim Crow system.

  30. It’s pretty bleak, but the article really defined something for me that I was trying to think.

    What’s the (potentially) good thing?

    Could the “perverse pleasures” of lording it over people be the basic mainstay against the expected mass automation of the economy by Fourth Industrial Revolution robotics and AI’s?

    It’s just not any fun to push a robot around…..

    1. Soon much sooner than anyone expected A.I. technology via quantum computers learning as fast as the human brain. Was thought it would take up to 30 years now is being said less than two. With quantum computer A.I. learning and teaching itself will soon be way beyond mans comprehension and no one is putting the brakes on , in fact the silicon valley nerds have a campaign to make it all sound like its for the betterment of mankind. Elon musk says we have to intergrade with A.I. so maybe we can not become extinct. To me I think with the pentagons unlimited dark money it’s coming no matter what. The bankers and industrial class want A.I. to cull the human herd because they know humans won’t kill their own families. Silicon valley wants it for solving problems and mainly good ideas but with our history it will be used for evil. So love your fellow human because our days are numbered. Love, peace… thx for listening.

      1. Prem Chand,

        The fact that most Americans do not know (or care) about DARPA, and their continued development of walking, jumping, and flying versions of autonomous killing machines, has created an atmosphere of permissiveness which will result in the ability of our own government to kill us at will.

        Predatory drones are old technology, while stealth drones with AI systems that do not require a remote pilot in order to discharged their weapons have already been revealed. Such advances are beginning to make Arnold Schwarzenegger’s once-feared The Terminator, look as out of date and mawkish as The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

  31. Chris Hedges often sites noteworthy acts of rebellion by labor groups from the early to mid twentieth century as models for what resistance could look like today. However, as economist Michael Hudson points out, we no longer have an industrial economy, as existed in much of the last century. Instead, our economy is one that is governed by finance.

    What I believe this means is that we no longer can use our labor as a bargaining force for bringing about radical change, as the corporations no longer accumulate wealth through productivity, but rather, via financial transactions such as stock by-backs, corporate mergers, and speculative trading.

    Instead of needing us to “run the machine,” our importance to the ruling class, increasingly, is as a source for wealth extraction. We are continually being analyzed, measured, and controlled in a system that finds its equivalence in the livestock industry.

    Without our labor as such a powerful bargaining tool, what do we have as leverage?

    In addition, when I ponder how splintered we’ve become as a society based on race, gender identity, sexual preference, political ideology, etc., how would we mount any significant resistance when solidarity is of highest importance?

  32. I’m a bit late to the party, but wanted to add some thoughts:

    *Chris uses the word sadism, but people are shaped by their environments and role models. I think the word “Machiavellian” applies to how our political system works on the whole. The consequences of greed and exploitation, on top of the harm it does to individuals, is that we risk collapse or extinction, as many past civilizations can attest.

    *A person’s work is not necessarily exploitative. Sexuality is not necessarily exploitative. A skilled professional or tradesperson can take great pride in their work and help others. Sexuality can be healing and life affirming. Sadism may apply to some of our society’s behaviors, but certainly not all.

    *No one can say for sure how the next 50 or 100 years will unfold, but I suspect a perfect storm of social dysfunction, climate change and unforeseen consequences of advanced technology will put enormous pressure on our current expectations and way of life. What happens when we create AI or androids that are effectively immortal and smarter than any human that has ever lived? What happens when parents can create designer children using genetics? I can only speculate, but there are many ways that advanced technology can slip from our control and take on a life of its own.

  33. Sadism is a part of our behavioral spectrum as lifeforms, as embodiments of what Nietzsche termed “will-to-power”…Life is will-to-power. It is also a part of the behavioral spectrum of many of our closer evolutionary social animal cousins, from chimps and baboons to wolves to lions to dolphins…It is encouraged (positive feedback in our neurobiology) by pleasure we feel when we do things that fulfill our essence as will-to-power animals, like the pleasure we get in eating or drinking. The best we can hope to do is create conditions minimally conducive or even inhibitive to sadistic behaviors…minimize compartmentalization of responsibility-opportunity to dehumanize, and maximize a sense of common humanity among us all. How well we can do this under a mega-scale social-entity structure like a nation, state, or corporation is highly doubtful. Wonder if Pincker has any statistics to show that our modern mega forms of social organization have reduced sadistic behaviors…Surely he could find or make some.

    Chris is telling us, and bless him for giving it a shot, as all prophets have told us throughout civilizational history that if we follow the age-old two-step procedure of 1) Revolution to tear down the current corrupted-immoral-unfair power structure, followed by 2) Establishment of a newly engineered social org, then we will eliminate sadism? Will the old 1-2 punch do the trick of changing what life-forms do and eliminate sadism from our behavioral suite??

    What will the old 1-2, the “great re-setting procedure” do? The same thing it’s always done: Set us up for the development of the next corrupt mega social entity. Continue the cycle of empires rising and falling.

    So, is there any way out? Well, the WEFers have their plan for a “great reset”, one that eliminates step 1, so that they are not displaced from their power positions. Wonder how that’ll work out?

    How about we eliminate step 2? Or, just say that step 2 is not possible due to lack of a leader-leadership party. The result would be anarchy which would then either coalesce into another mega-entity or remain a collection of smaller-scale social groups living in mistrust of each other, like hunter-gatherer tribes. Eventually though, especially under a grain-food-production with intensive exosomatic energyTRP, this too would again fuse into one or a few mega entities subject again to the cycling of rise and fall and all the symptoms (esp development of excessive internal power gradients and dehumanization) that follow along in that process.

    Based on my life experiences, studying, reading, and thinking, I conclude that there is no way we are going to establish (in “free-will” manner) a stable, enduring, egalitarian, utopia on earth as long as we have conditions that enable the development of mega-scale social entities. There have been and are still a few remaining social groups who live in a stable egalitarian way that’s also in harmony with natural ecosystems…various groups, like the Piraha, in the Amazon basin, Bushmen in the Kalahari, Pacific islanders on Tikopia and Anuta. These are peoples who have been natural-resource-limited in ability to develop technological and resource paradigms (TRPs) that would enable them to develop larger-scale social entities with higher power levels. Under these conditions they have evolved culturally-epigenetically to form stable egalitarian societies with ways of life in balance with their local ecosystems. These are certainly not utopic in every way that we moderns would like, especially in material standard-of-living, but they are among the world’s happiest, most mentally and physically healthy people.

    So, shall we all go back to being H&Gers? Get real, that’s not gonna happen, unless we are forced by reaching TRP limits and being unable to establish a next-TRP with higher limits. It would also be impossible for ALL of us, our current population density could not survive on H&G. However, it is quite possible, maybe even probable depending on who you ask, that we just might be forced back to H&G or at least back down to some other lower stage of tech development as we continue our current not-earth-resource-sustainable TRP, and as we may be moving too slowly to transition to the next one. Whether that will happen is the question of the next century or so.

    Keep in mind that the next one could be much higher in its power, ability to control and utilize energy and material resources, and maintain higher throughput per capita or higher population X energy and material throughput per capita. Of course, this won’t matter much in improving its level of social health, and it won’t end the cycle of civilizational rise and fall and its attendant symptomology.

    Meantime too, a reminder of other prophetic warnings: We have set in motion the development of a new lifeform that may well replace us: machines-computers-robots-AI. We may be headed toward full borgdom-zombidom or even toward being extincted by this new lifeform as it develops.

    We also may be facing some other destructive force of our own creation: Vonnegut’s Ice Nine, one of the “black balls” from Bostrom’s analysis…

    Suggested reading: Nietzsche’s works and Jay Hanson’s collection at https://jayhanson.org/dieoffindex.html, James Scott’s works, Jared Diamond’s works, J.R. McNeill’s “Something New Under the Sun”, Richard Reese’s blog and its many refs and notes at
    http://wildancestors.blogspot.com/
    John Gray’s works, and the Unabomber Manifesto

    Also, if you’re still determined to try the old 1-2 again, and want to have the best possible shot at getting the social engineering (the government’s constitution) right, better start with a thorough study of Robert Sapolsky’s “Behave” and call him in as a consultant along with a full panel of neurobiologists-evolutionary psychologists. Other things to review in this effort: Ancient Mesopotamian history, Plato’s Republic, Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching and Confucius’ Analects, history of the Roman Empire, history of the New Harmony settlement in Southern Indiana, etc, etc. History, post-agricultural-revolution, is a field littered with a thousand and one examples of attempts and proposals to build utopias/ever-lasting empires.

    Note too that readers in the future may be able to pick up a copy of “The History of the US Empire” or “History of the 21st-Century Chinese Empire”, and see that capitalism or socialism doesn’t make a rat’s ass of difference.

    Oh yeah, and Joe Biden’s only fooling Joe Biden and the rest who want to believe him because it gives them a sense of power.

  34. Going to leave what has become my standard comment on these sorts of articles and standard reply to the question “BUT WHAT DO WE DOOOOOOO???”

    What is the glue that holds this whole machine of Neo-feudalism together? Economic and finance policies based around a regularly, and flagrantly, manipulated currency.

    This is the system that needs to be broken.

    How does one break the system? Stop participating in it. (ala the Millennials)

    Powers That Be of Scheerpost.com, please try to field some articles from the more expert people in the cryptocurrency world. Once you wrap your head around the possibilities that come with a decentralized currency that cannot be manipulated, you will see that there can, indeed, be a revolution.

  35. So, what is the point of me trying to present a comment here, when you keep treating what I have to say like an “ad” or “commercial”? What I am offering to Chris (and EVERYONE else), if allowed, has to do with saving all life on this planet!

    Just three clicks on my links and you will see what I mean: http://www.nomoreinsanity.org

    1. I have allowed it in the past. You present the same link plug each time. Spam is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.

      Regardless of your goals, if you simply slap a link to your site on every article at another site, that is advertising. Not evil or bad, but not what we want to fill the comments section.

      This comments section is moderated and I won’t apologize for that. I block VERY little of what is submitted. You will do better if you concisely explain parts of your philosophy as it relates to the posted content rather than use this advertising approach.

      1. I have spent nearly six decades developing my concept of what is continually ruining the US! I have spent the last 2+ years putting together a trio of web pages that explain in great detail what I have found. Because the subjects I am attempting to relate to as many people as possible as rapidly as possible cannot be presented with a few lines of text, I do the best I can to invite the curious to at least visit my “introductory” webpage to see if they have enough interest to pursue my concepts further. I believe that presentation matters, especially with this subject.
        If you would take the time to, as I suggested, at least follow my web pages with three clicks, perhaps you will appreciate what I’m attempting to “promote” … for the benefit of all life on this planet.

        Terry Sneller

      2. I went to your website some months ago.

        I am glad that you are working to find solutions.

        What you are describing — “I do the best I can to invite the curious to at least visit my “introductory” webpage to see if they have enough interest to pursue my concepts further — is still advertising, however well-intentioned.

      3. Furthermore, not only is the subject I’m “promoting” complex, but it is addressing THE central issue which has plagued all of humankind for as far back in history as we have records. I have sought and discovered THE source as opposed to the vast majority of, what I consider to be, lesser or relatively minor problems of the world.

      4. Great!

        So if it is that amazing, you will find an audience.

    2. No doubt your expose has merit, but it is not something that many people will read because of it’s length. Is there any way to condense what you have written?

      1. I have tried to make it as enticing a read as possible while still infusing it with enough detail to be able to shrug off those who will attempt to find fault with any of what I offer. Additionally, I not only explain the true source of humankind’s major inability to fully self-govern peacefully but then extrapolate that awareness into solutions that are particularly focused on the power of women — especially as it relates to their vital necessity in effectively addressing the Climate Crisis.

        I truly regret that I can’t condense my central premise and the vast array of ramifications into something that can be projected and absorbed in a tweet or even a long email. However, rarely are various complex types of serious research shrunk for the convenience of the reader. Chris is a master at this and I would certainly love his help!

        In any event, Joan, I would like to invite you to join our group and lend us a hand editing what we have produced in order to make it more inviting! There are contact links on all four of our sites.

  36. Chris Hedges does a good job contextualising the encroachment of sadism as societies decay. He’s off the mark, though, towards the end when he says:
    “We will extract ourselves from this culture of sadism the way the dispossessed extracted themselves from the stranglehold of crony capitalism during the Great Depression, by organizing, protesting and disrupting the system until the ruling elites are forced to grant a measure of social and economic justice.”
    This frame leaves in place the idea of “ruling elites”. It will only ensure the perpetuation of the same economic cycles. It fails to uproot two psychological shortcomings underlying our predicament: accommodation to the idea of privilege as manifested in galling wealth disparity; and acceptance amongst the majority of people of the identity of servitude. Our emergence from the collapse of capitalism will have to be characterised by identification with something much greater. We’ve conceptualised in myriad ways the causality and meaning of our existence: from jealous gods to the Existentialists’ distillation to ‘absurdity’. These, along with chemical numbing agents have helped us live within a system that our reason and humanity have outgrown. Going forward, we need to embrace the primacy of tireless benevolence as the source of existence. This fits with our growing perception of an integrated universe that has depth of meaningfulness beyond our objectification of nature. It’s time to allow for a cause beyond the limits of our ego. This will provide scope for growth and transcendence, something we feel in the form of prompts embedded in consciousness. The quality of our response to these prompts determines progress, happiness and the longevity of civilizations.
    Aligning with tireless benevolence as the source of existence clears the way for inspiration and innovation in the way we organise ourselves. We find ourselves tuning in to a competence that overwhelms our understanding and yet permeates our existence.
    We are living through the last wrenches in the gut of capitalism. Our emergence will be transformative and align our humanist sensibilities with a better understanding of life’s meaning. Our systems will transform accordingly, incorporating cooperation and synergy. I think Chris Hedges would be fine with that.

  37. “rebuilding the positive social bonds that foster a healthy society”
    You are perfectly right : the way to do it is with a sea of pitchforks!
    I am going to buy some Home Depot stock (as they say, the one that really wins is the one that supplies the pitchforks). Of course, the pitchforks must be made in USA by organized labor, taking into consideration sustainability and minimal carbon footprint and I hope that the downtrodden will be able to afford them and not to be forced to use inferior “made in China” gear.
    But are you sure that the sadistic machine will be cowed by the pitchfork yielding multitudes and change society instead of shooting back? Perhaps an appeal to use the 2nd Amendment rights and buy guns instead of agricultural implements is more appropriate? As Mao said “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”.
    I think that this article should be widely made available to the would be immigrants on the US south border! We do not want that innocent bystanders be daily fed in the jaws of the sadistic American Moloch! All along the borders banners with ” lasciate ogni speranza voi ch’entrate” should be hang to give them fair warning (I don’t think translation is necessary, at least not for the Latinx. A propos , can somebody enlighten me why the proud descendants of Inca, Maya, Aztec people are defined by reference to the language of Ancient Rome, the font of Eurocentric, White privilege civilization?).

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