Chris Hedges Video

Wendy Brown on Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism 

On the latest episode of “On Contact,” Chris Hedges discusses the work of political philosopher Sheldon Wolin with Professor Wendy Brown, University of California, Berkeley, a student of Wolin’s. Sheldon Wolin, who died in 2015, is our most important contemporary political theorist, one who laid out in grim detail the unraveling of American democracy. In his books “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism” and “Politics and Vision,” a massive survey of Western political thought that his former student Cornel West calls “magisterial,” Wolin lays bare the causes behind the decline of American empire and the rise of a new and terrifying configuration of corporate power he calls “inverted totalitarianism.” Wolin throughout his scholarship charted the steady devolution of American democracy and in his last book, “Democracy Incorporated,” wrote: “One cannot point to any national institution[s] that can accurately be described as democratic, surely not in the highly managed, money-saturated elections, the lobby-infested Congress, the imperial presidency, the class-biased judicial and penal system, or, least of all, the media.” He argued that America’s system of inverted totalitarianism is different from classical forms of totalitarianism. It finds its expression in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state. Our inverted totalitarianism pays outward fealty to the facade of electoral politics, the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and the iconography, traditions and language of American patriotism, but it has effectively seized all of the mechanisms of power to render the citizen impotent.

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  1. Chris Hedges is the most intelligent, eloquent, courageous, and important journalist extant, and the “heir apparent” to Noam Chomsky. The fact that he’s banned from the “authoritative” liberal media is all the proof needed to assert that “freedom of speech” doesn’t exist in America. The fact that The New York Times didn’t rehire him even after the Iraq War was exposed as being based on deliberate lies is all the proof needed to assert that the NYT is a tool of the deep state and US corporations. —Jim Gala, The Gala Report

  2. Thank you!…the most redeeming thoughts for this truly terrifying and chaotic time…

  3. unfortunately, all the scholarly wisdom in the world hasn’t put a dent in mindless avarice.

  4. As we move from the world of Huxley to that of Orwell I often reflect on his famous quote: “War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is slavery,” and am forced to come to the conclusion we have already arrived.

  5. “Inverted” means to turn ‘inside out’ or ‘upside down.’ Inverted totalitarianism seems to be the ‘upset’ of totalitarianism, not some ‘soft fascism’ as Wolin describes.

  6. An agonizingly academic discussion among back-patting colleagues both living and dead, themselves serving the managed democracy of inverted totalitarianism by misdirecting us from the techno-totalitarian takeover of the body politic by the corporate state through the present war on bioterror. “Specialists without spirit,” as Weber said.

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