Chris Hedges Opinion Original

Chris Hedges: Let’s Stop Pretending America Is a Functioning Democracy

A functioning democracy could easily dispatch Donald Trump and his doppelgängers. A failed democracy and bankrupt liberalism assures their ascendancy.
Endgame – by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

There is a fatal disconnect between a political system that promises democratic equality and freedom while carrying out socioeconomic injustices that result in grotesque income inequality and political stagnation.

Decades in the making, this disconnect has extinguished American democracy. The steady stripping away of economic and political power was ignored by a hyperventilating press that thundered against the barbarians at the gate — Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, ISIS, Vladimir Putin — while ignoring the barbarians in our midst. The slow-motion coup is over. Corporations and the billionaire class have won. There are no institutions, including the press, an electoral system that is little more than legalized bribery, the imperial presidency, the courts or the penal system, that can be defined as democratic. Only the fiction of democracy remains.

The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin in Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism calls our system “inverted totalitarianism.” The façade of democratic institutions and the rhetoric, symbols and iconography of state power have not changed. The Constitution remains a sacred document. The U.S. continues to posit itself as a champion of opportunity, freedom, human rights and civil liberties, even as half the country struggles at subsistence level, militarized police gun down and imprison the poor with impunity, and the primary business of the state is war. 

This collective self-delusion masks who we have become — a nation where the citizenry has been stripped of economic and political power and where the brutal militarism we practice overseas is practiced at home.

In classical totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union, economics was subordinate to politics. But under inverted totalitarianism, the reverse is true. There is no attempt, unlike fascism and state socialism, to address the needs of the poor. Rather, the poorer and more vulnerable you are, the more you are exploited, thrust into a hellish debt peonage from which there is no escape. Social services, from education to health care, are anemic, nonexistent or privatized to gouge the impoverished. Further ravaged by 8.5 percent inflation, wages have decelerated sharply since 1979. Jobs often do not offer benefits or security.

You can watch an interview I conducted in 2014 with Sheldon Wolin here.

In my book America: The Farewell Tour, I examined the social indicators of a nation in serious trouble. Life expectancy in the U.S. fell in 2021, for the second year in a row. There have been over 300 mass shootings this year. Close to a million people have died from drug overdoses since 1999. There are an average of 132 suicides every day. Nearly 42 percent of  the country is classified as obese, with one in 11 adults considered severely obese.

These diseases of despair are rooted in the disconnect between a society’s expectations of a better future and the reality of a system that does not provide a meaningful place for its citizens. Loss of a sustainable income and social stagnation causes more than financial distress. As Émile Durkheim points out in The Division of Labor in Society, it severs the social bonds that give us meaning. A decline in status and power, an inability to advance, a lack of education and adequate health care, and a loss of hope result in crippling forms of humiliation. This humiliation fuels loneliness, frustration, anger and feelings of worthlessness. 

In Hitler and the Germans, the political philosopher Eric Voegelin dismisses the idea that Hitler — gifted in oratory and political opportunism but poorly educated and vulgar — mesmerized and seduced the German people. The Germans, he writes, supported Hitler and the “grotesque, marginal figures” surrounding him because he embodied the pathologies of a diseased society, one beset by economic collapse and hopelessness. Voegelin defines stupidity as a “loss of reality.” The loss of reality means a “stupid” person cannot “rightly orient his action in the world, in which he lives.” The demagogue, who is always an idiote, is not a freak or social mutation. The demagogue expresses the society’s zeitgeist.

The acceleration of deindustrialization by the 1970s, as I write in America, The Farewell Tour, created a crisis that forced the ruling elites to devise a new political paradigm, as Stuart Hall explains in Policing the Crisis. Trumpeted by a compliant media, this paradigm shifted its focus from the common good to race, crime and law and order.  It told those undergoing profound economic and political change that their suffering stemmed not from rampant militarism and corporate greed but from a threat to national integrity. The old consensus that buttressed New Deal programs and the welfare state was attacked as enabling criminal Black youth, “welfare queens” and other alleged social parasites. This opened the door to a faux populism, begun by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, which supposedly championed family values, traditional morality, individual autonomy, law and order, the Christian faith and the return to a mythical past, at least for white Americans. The Democratic Party, especially under Bill Clinton, moved steadily to the right until it became largely indistinguishable from the establishment Republican Party to which it is now allied. Donald Trump, and the 74 million people who voted for him in 2020, were the result.

It will do no good, as Biden did on Thursday in Philadelphia, to demonize Trump and his supporters in the way they demonize Biden and the Democrats. Biden, raising clenched fists, backlit by Stygian red lights and flanked by two U.S. Marines in dress uniforms, announced from his Dantesque stage set that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.” 

Donald Trump called the speech the most “vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president” and attacked Biden as “an enemy of the state.” 

Biden’s frontal assault widens the divide. It solidifies a system where voters do not vote for what they want, since neither side delivers anything of substance, but against what they despise. Biden did not address our socioeconomic crisis or offer solutions. It was political theater.

Anti-politics masquerades as politics. No sooner does one money-drenched election cycle end, the next one begins, perpetuating what Wolin calls “politics without politics.” These elections do not permit citizens to participate in power. The public is allowed to voice opinions to scripted questions, which are repackaged by publicists, pollsters, political consultants and advertisers and fed back to them. Few races, including only 14 percent of congres­sional districts, are considered competitive. Politicians do not campaign on substantial issues but on skillfully manufactured political personalities and emotionally charged culture wars. 

The militarists, who have created a state within a state and who plunge us into one military debacle after another, consuming half of all discretionary spending, are omnipotent. The corporations and billionaires, which orchestrated a virtual tax boycott and gutted regulation and oversight, are omnipotent. The industrialists who wrote trade deals to profit from unemployment and underemployment of U.S. workers and sweatshop labor overseas are omnipotent. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries that run the healthcare system, whose primary concern is profit not health and who are responsible for 16 percent of the worldwide reported deaths from COVID-19 although we are less than 5 percent of the global population, are omnipotent. The intelligence agencies that carry out wholesale surveillance of the public are omnipotent. The courts that reinterpret laws to strip them of their original meaning to ensure corporate control and excuse corporate crimes, are omnipotent. The courts gave us Citizens United, for example, which permits unlimited corporate financing of elections by claiming it upholds the right to petition the government and is a form of free speech.

Politics is spectacle, a tawdry carnival act where the constant jockeying for power by the ruling class dominates the news cycles, as if politics were a race to the Superbowl. The real business of ruling is hidden, carried out by corporate lobbyists who write the legislation, banks that loot the Treasury, the war industry and an oligarchy that determines who gets elected and who does not. It is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, the fossil fuel industry or Raytheon, no matter which party is in office.

The moment any segment of the population, left or right, refuses to participate in this illusion, the face of inverted totalitarianism resembles the face of classical totalitarianism, as Julian Assange is experiencing.

Our corporate overlords and militarists prefer the decorum of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But they worked closely with Donald Trump and are willing to do so again. What they will not allow are reformers such as Bernie Sanders, who might challenge, however tepidly, their obscene accumulation of wealth and power. This inability to reform, to restore democratic participation and address social inequality, means the inevitable death of the republic. Biden and the Democrats rail against the cultish Republican Party and their threat to democracy, but they too are the problem.


NOTE TO SCHEERPOST READERS FROM CHRIS HEDGES: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my now weekly Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris 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 show The Chris Hedges Report.

72 comments

    1. Watched it. It’s propaganda. I have too many friends and family members who rejected vaccination and now they are dead or have other terrible problems, like long covid.

      1. All governments run massive propaganda programs. (read Walter Lippmann, Ivy Lee , Edward Bernays, etc). US government’s messaging on Covid-19 including.

        The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) lawsuit has just uncovered the extent of Federal bureaucratic coercion of social-media companies to censor Covid-19 speech. This fact-check backs Harris’s documentary to be painfully true.

        https://nclalegal.org/2022/09/ncla-suit-uncovers-army-of-federal-bureaucrats-coercing-social-media-companies-to-censor-speech/

        https://nclalegal.org/state-of-missouri-ex-rel-schmitt-et-al-v-biden-et-al/

      2. Me too but the folks I know who have died or have other terrible problems are ‘vaccinated’ folk.

        So now what do we do? Continue trusting them?

        Remember: “Profits uber alles”

    2. The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Clinical Trials for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna (where Fauci gets a big cut) resulted in unprecedented resignations from the outside advisory board to the FDA, whose suggestions and reservations were ignored.
      These Covid vaccine trials eventually led to the unprecedented resignation of Marion Gruber, director of vaccines research at the FDA and review at the FDA, and Phillip Krause, the deputy director, whose suggestions and reservatuions were ignaored. The EUA trials with the mRNA vaccines , the only ones presently used in the US, ultimately led to FDA EUA approval and $10s of billions for Pfizer and Moderna.
      The mRNA vaccines reduced Covid mortality from 5 Covid deaths in the placebo groups to 2 Covid deaths in the mRNA vaccine groups in the EUA trials. While saving three, the trials showed the vaccines INCREASED non-Covid deaths from 25 deaths to 29 deaths (so IN THEORY the vaccines killed four people to save three from Covid!) Actually the reductions in mortality in these mRNA vaccine EUA trials were all statistically non-significant and thus meaningless, although the minimal protection was much ballyhooed by State Media at the time. FDA EUA approval was based ONLY on statistically significant decreases in Covid symptoms in the mRNA vaccine groups relative to the placebo groups. (Gazit et al, 2021 in Israel in a huge trial showed that Natural Immunity from Covid was 27-fold more effective than the Pfizer double jab in reducing symptomatic Covid, ie, the mRNA vaccine was much inferior to protection from surviving Covid using the same metrics as the EUA FDA approval.) But $10s of billions were at play!
      The EUA Gold Standard double blinded, placebo controlled trials for the mRNA vaccines (combined for increased statistical power) involved > 37,000 subjects in each of the mRNA vaccine and in placebo control groups. With $10 billion on the table you can be sure that all subjects received the best possible medical care. Even so there were 7 Covid deaths in the > 74,000 subjects, 5 in the 37,100 placebo group (about 1.35 in 10,000 — 0.0135% fatality rate, if all were infected as the pandemic “raged through pre-vaccine America”. Most scientists point out that median age of Covid death is 82 years old (these Elderly were largely excluded from EUA trials.) In America, many point out that Covid deaths are much higher in the Poor, who get nothing like the medical care in the EUA trials). Of course a whistleblower involved in the Pfizer EUA trials, ignored by the FDA, went to the British Medical Journal who did their own investigation. The BMJ concluded the Pfizer EUA trials were fraudulent, but their findings were censored by social media “fact checkers”, who seemed to be paid by Pfizer?
      I remember being at FDA advisory meetings ten years or so ago and was impressed by the rigor and safety-above-all-else approach of the Agency to new drug candidates. Politization and unequalled $billions seem to have totally corrupted the FDA (and the CDC and the NIAID). Once credibility is lost, it is difficult/ impossible to restore.
      The lack of coverage by investigative journalists of these “leaky”, very short-acting mRNA vaccines which DO NOT block infection/ re-infection, DO NOT block spread/ transmission of the virus, and DO NOT significantly affect Covid death in the required EUA clinical trials speaks to the loss of journalistic integrity as well. Hopefully Covid Omega strains are basically the common cold now, but there are still dire possibilities based on Original Antigen Sin being bandied about.

      1. Thanks. It would be very very interesting if one day these fraudsters were all brought to justice, their whole tapestry unravelled and made public.

  1. Yes please, please, please STOP THE PRETENDING.

    It’s disturbing and twisted.

    Grow up and take a stand for god’s sake.

  2. I don’t like the title. Adding the word “functional” lessens the severity of our predicament. It’s clearly not a democracy !

  3. hedges demonstrates his shallowness ignorance —tiresome…and like an obsequious reactionary aligns w the NATO loving sheepdog warmonger grandpa bernie

    1. I’m not sure how describing Sanders as a ‘tepid response’ is siding with him. If he was trying to inspire me to support Sanders he was going about it the wrong way.

  4. For me, the most telling point in this essay is that a demagogue does not rise out of nowhere to lead democracy astray, but rather the rise of a demagogue is symptomatic and indicative of the diseased state of the democracy.

    The Tea Party and Trump and MAGA are not the disease. I’m all for putting Trump behind bars, but that won’t cure the disease. The disease is systemic.

  5. 1984 (written in 1948) was a biting critique of Soviet totalitarianism. But the practices of Newspeak (spewed out by rags such as Newsweek) and Doublethink (= cognitive dissonance, which is one step away from terminal insanity) find their most extreme manifestation today in the USA. Collective madness rules, generated by the mainstream media who learned their craft from Edward Bernays (who Goebbels was a fan of), starting with Bernays’ highly successful recruitment of cannon fodder for WW1. Now the US public seemed to have been hoodwinked into thinking that starting WW3 is an acceptable idea. The greatest trick the US propaganda machine ever pulled was convincing the sheeple that they have not been brainwashed.
    “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” – former CIA Director William Casey.

    1. The reference to Bernays’ ‘Propaganda’ is an important and timely one. This short tract needs to be compulsory reading, not just in the USofA, but in every country that proclaims itself to be a democracy.

      Bernays leaves little ti interpretation , no need to read between the lines.
      His six opening paragraphs:

      THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

      We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

      Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

      They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

      It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to
      themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we
      have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.

      In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issues so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions.

  6. Mr. Hedges is often too far left for me. However, there is overwhelming truth in this column. Capitalism is killing itself in America. Stupidity, greed and ignorance reign. Our descendents will pay a terrible price.

    1. Herb, I don’t think that ;left’ and ‘right’ really matter when it comes down to government being a subsidiary of business; it either is or is not.
      What you wrote about the ‘overwhemling truth’ bears far more weight; partisanism has driven an unnecessary wedge between people for far too long.

  7. The ever-passionate and scintillating CH. Grim, but deservedly so. (Along the way, I regret that he failed to recognize the plight of the Palestinians. More than any other issue, the US’ aiding and abetting Zionism in myriad ways are symbols (payable by every taxpaying American) of the coarsening, the indifference, and the dissolution of US society. And it is unmentionable — even by CH!!! [He comes close only at “…the primary business of the state is war…the brutal militarism we practice overseas.” — as waged, inter alia, on the besieged, persecuted, and Apartheided Palestinians via the USrael “entangling alliance.”])

    1. Hedges has discussed the plight of the Palestinians many, many times. The focus of this article is the United States, but he has written about Israel and Palestine enough times to establish his position on the issue.

  8. America was a functioning democracy for white men for a short time because of FDR and the New Deal. That lasted from about 1935 to 1980. Other than that, America has always been a hellhole of violent invasion, genocide, land theft, sadistic chattel slavery and then economic slavery of African Americans, abuse of women and children, and psychotic and psychopathic exploitation and destruction of the environment for wealth for the few.

    Here’s a hint regarding morality – good people live on the land they’ve got without invading and murdering and stealing all the time. We don’t understand that because we haven’t been good people for many centuries.

    All that is topped by a lot of deluded intellectual masturbation about our greatness and how good we say we are.

    It’s time we stopped pretending that this horror of a culture is something it never has been. But we will pretend to the end, I’m pretty sure.

  9. This is 100% true, & I personally have known it since the Kennedy wing of the Dems sabotaged Carter’s Presidency. The only solution is a new grassroots party, built via personal contacts & only accepting funds from persons eligible to vote for the specific office being sought. We must start with Clerk/Recorders & Registrars of Voters to ensure a public count – without this, a secret ballot is worthless. It must be organized at the precinct level, with captains serving as poll- watchers.

  10. Agreed, the leadership of this country is conducted by an obscure cabal of nefarious interest. The comment about “subsistence level” is not well defined, given that most if not all American citizens still have access to the basics with the addition of luxuries such as; cell phones, indoor plumbing, climate controlled spaces (even if just a bus or library), free samples at Costco, and let’s not forget the “all you can steal buffet” that has recently been added to the menu.
    It’s worth noting that even our “homeless” are obese, not the case in other parts of the world. If the population were to reach true subsistence level, where even the luxury of alcohol and street drugs were gone, then terms like “third world country” (that we are hearing lately) would be accurate. It may well be in our near term future, but we are still a few years out from the worst of civilizations death throws.

  11. Damn, I’m getting old. I was sure I sent Chris money “just last month”. I checked my bank book and it was 6 months ago!

    Time to re-up my citizenship card.

  12. Let’s stop pretending America was ever a democracy. The very term “American democracy” is and was always inherently oxymoronic.

  13. A superb essay and summary of the destruction of our former democracy.
    As always, I wish it were not so, but am glad to have Chris Hedges’ views.

  14. The next Republican Admin will definitely build on the war-mongering Biden has done. Expect a Trump or DeSantis to rile up their already Islamophobic base for war with Iran and Hezbollah. The Republicans and Democrats will approve of the full annexation of the West Bank and Golan Heights and will help Israel set the whole Middle East on fire. But it seems like the fake populist MAGA crowd are more Zionist than the Zionists themselves. Voting Democrat won’t get us out of this mess. Democrats are complicit in Fascism and are a Right-wing party. Joe Biden is no different than Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham.

    1. Dysfunctional democracy?…. We should be so lucky.
      What we have is a well oiled duopoly.
      “Create the problem…offer the solution.”

  15. I agree with Mr. Hedges because I believe that our democracy has taken so many hits that it can no longer stay afloat. We should have paid attention to more recent history but most folks either could not or preferred not see what was coming and continued living with the lie that democracy has become.

    An example of what lays in store for us is exemplified in the history of the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. It is one of the poorest, most neglected places in America which was kept out of sight, out of mind until more recently. (see Chris Hedges book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt).

    They are perhaps the most policed people in the world. There are tribal police, BIA police, FBI, plus the usual county sheriffs, highway patrol and state police. In the 1970’s, even the military patrolled the ‘rez’. I found what the flavor of justice was like there from an older copy of the Oglala Penal Code .

    Example: If an unmarried couple were found living together they could both get jail time and fines. If an elder like a grandmother was taking care of her grand children and could not prove that she could provide food, clothing, shelter and medical attention for them she could get six months in jail and a $500 fine. These kinds of laws only made poor people poorer and helped feed children into the state child “welfare system”. It was said by a social worker at the time that some of these kids were shuffled around so much that they did not even know their own real name.

    It was not that long ago that quite a few Lakota people had no choice but to live in old broken down autos and not just a few froze to death because they could not get heating fuel. Sound familiar. I know for a fact that in 2006 that some Lakota people were lucky to get one meal a day and that some were making soup out of prairie grass.

    Problems like those above are not just particular to one racial group; far from it. Social inequality knows no color and continues to grow in the entire United States and an increasing number of people feel that they have no future at all. So what will be the next step?

    Russell Means said that, “American has become the largest reservation in the world”.

    Will that be our destiny.

  16. THE ONLY THING IS FEAR

    During the era between the 1930s and 1979, the 1%er plutocracy feared they might lose control to Communists or Fascists. Therefore they tolerated the New Deal while resenting it deeply.

    We of the working class majority at least had some say in the politics and economics dominating our lives. No more. Neither party makes any pretense of offering us anything–although ironically, it’s the Trumpers who attack privilege and an unfair econ system.

    The Ds, once the party of the New Deal, only represent the 20% upper middle class. The admin and professionals whose interests are so like those of the old establishment econ elite and so very unlike those of the de classe working class. They try to scare us into voting for them.

    The aphorism of FDR that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” has been turned on its head. The only thing the Ds offer is fear.

  17. ‘ but they too are the problem’. Mr. Hedges, the entire world suffers The Problem. The situation is hopeless and serious. Situation Normal All F – – – d Up.

  18. What Hodges is describing can be understood, at least in part, as the result of America and the West moving from and Industrial capitalist economy to a financial capitalist economy controlled by finance, the insurance industry, and the 1% who own most of America’s real estate. This is described by Michael Hudson in his books and articles. A prophetic look at our pathetic future.

  19. Unchecked power leads to corruption. Corruption leads to dysfunction. Dysfunction leads to collapse. The progression is inevitable. If the system is not reformed it will not have the wherewithal to meet its challenges. One will finally come along that will break it down altogether and in the process bring untold suffering to millions.

  20. Thank you for another great piece Chris! The USA truly is the putrid cesspool of the world and ALL of us are to blame!

  21. The current democratic crisis is due, in its entirety, to the pull between conservative/authoritarian/fascistic and liberal/social-democratic.

    The fact that Hedges’ pile of demagogic propaganda bile above does not even mention it is a dead giveaway of the left-ish, Neo Progressive commitment to one of the most insidious political lies, namely the conservative/liberal similitude, and a reminder that alt-fact, post-truth nonsense is not only a far-right problem.

    A lot has been said on the contribution of right-wing extremism to the deterioration of our democratic political culture. It is time we acknowledge that left-ish, Neo Progressive are just as harmful, destructive and dangerous (e.g., they were instrumental to the elections of two of the most destructive presidents in the US – Bush II and Trump).

  22. D G A, we deserve what we got. Your bitterness, criticism, rants, and complaints are ineffective. Let’s cut the cra…. JOE’S battle for the Soul of America is all about white privilege, not democracy per se. The argument’s bottom line is: the Browning of America is to be feared or accepted.???

  23. democracy would be a disaster in USA—a nation populated by moron automatons should never be permitted to decide anything except which donut or marijuana cookie they narcotize themselves with

  24. If Bernie Sanders were to challenge (however tepidly) the accumulation of wealth and power, he would have done so already, in action, which he is loathe to exercise as opposed to words. When confronted with the tiniest of obstacles, he folds like a house of cards, and he does this reliably and by design. He of the big speech is a coward when it comes to calling down his “good friends” in the Democratic Party.

    In this he is like the Squad, posing as a champion of the people while stabbing them in the back in the shadows. He could have gummed up the gears of our extermination any number of times in the Congress but refused to do so, kowtowing to barely reconstructed Thurmondesque racists like Joe “You ain’t black!” Biden. His good friend, you see.

    Worse, Sanders is a reliable champion of such people-forward institutions as Raytheon, they of the Green Missile, in his capricious-depending-on-the-war war lust.

    It is beyond disappointing that Hedges bothers with Sanders even as a rhetorical flourish, where Hedges himself has acknowledged our only remaining remedy is in the streets.

    We cannot depend on politicians for help; the people are alone. It is time to stop allowing the institutional war parties divide us and start recognizing that popular solidarity in the streets, not the ballot box, is an idea whose time has come.

  25. I have been reading numerous “professional diagnoses” of the patient’s (USA) terminal illnesses.
    I agree that Biden’s fist-rhetoric only throws new energy on the Trump-again fire. These thesis and antithesis polarizations are powerful and always have been. But in my old days the next steps were to dialogue towards a healthy synthesis. Like agreeing on treatments for the sick patient. But I only read now it is “my way is the only way”. I often quoted C.S. Lewis’s idea that the Christian faith is isolated in its own bedrooms and needs to get together in the kitchen. I was recently told that so many believers are not even in the house and never will come to a “compromising table”. My internationally recognized university professor son (thesis on racism!) has significantly researched why Critical Race Theory/Wok is not a positive step towards “truth”. He has been told that because he is a “conservative Christian” he should expect that he could be killed for his beliefs. My hope is that in spite of opinions on Dr. Fauci I support his thought as he retires that there are enough good angels still hanging around to call on to guide us toward saving this very sick patient.

    1. Another excellent article. But i have a question to ask. I live in another pretend democracy called Canada, governed by another group of corrupt, autocratic liberal elites. They have turned the entire government into a giant surveillance machine and coopted the very party that was once the conscience of the nation into doing its bidding. If the liberals, who are supposed to be the voice of reason, won’t listen to the voices of progressives and insist on treating us as the enemy, what’s the point of engaging in non-violent resistance to effect peaceable change if all our efforts will be met with even more of the same police state tactics from those who call themselves allies?

      1. Never fight the system. It’s what they want because then they have control over you. With aggression, you are in fact acknowledging their power. Don’t.

        My advice is to do the exact opposite. Turn your back on the system. Leave it as much as you can. Set up an intentional community where voluntary non-monetary exchange between people makes government taxation impossible. Regain control and sovereignty over your own life.

        There are many examples of these types of society 2.0 reorganisation. Ranging from eco-villages to multi-generation homesteads.

        Please do because the other option is looking very gloomy. Micheal Burry has just shorted society….he has dumped his entire portfolio and bought prison stocks. Very scary.

        https://www.reuters.com/business/big-short-fund-manager-burry-dumps-portfolio-buys-prison-stock-2022-08-15/

  26. Mr. Hedges apocalyptic descriptions of the living hell that is America reminds me of the Communist countries’ depictions of the life in the West, in the Fifties and Sixties of the 20th century.
    We were supposed to believe that, notwithstanding their cars, electrical appliances, individual homes, etc. workers in the West were exploited, oppressed, and looking with envy at us, in our cramped collective housing, in the cold, with food rationed but on our way to a glorious Communist future. We all know how that ended.
    The underlaying assumption in this article and most of the comments is that the American people consists mainly of idiots , voting for their Republican/Democrat overlords without a minimum of understanding of the issues involved and of their real, dire situation.
    The Party in GDR had a similar problem in 1953 ( except that there the people wanted the Party gone, without understanding that Communism was the future).
    Brecht hit on the perfect solution:
    “The Secretary of the Writers Union
    Had flyers distributed in Stalin Way that said
    That the People had frivolously
    Thrown away the Government’s Confidence
    And that they could only regain it
    Through Redoubled Work. But wouldn’t it be
    Simpler if the Government
    Simply dissolved the People
    And elected another? ”

    I think that Hedges and Co. should also think about it….

    1. Have to agree with you, sir!

      Mr. Anti–free speech Hedges deleted my comments too many times, banned me from the truthdig site too many times and still is clueless that Chomsky, who recently called David Rockefeller a “liberal internationalist” and urged the un–spikevaxed to be sent to camps, is a long-time CIA asset.

      The Hedges clown act is staunchly pro–CCP!

    2. typically very wrong–predictable….”nothing can thrive in amerika unless inflated by hyperbole and gilded with a fine coat of fraud. Americans cannot think except bemoans of slogans–they identify garbage as quality. the stupidity and ignorance of American has long been a topic of hilarity in Europe”. Paul Fussell

  27. It’s time for the World Economic Forums Great Reset. You will own nothing and be happy “Klaus Schwab”

  28. democracy is a canard….american simply despise liberty and justice….and there is vast evidence that liberal democracies are an enemy of freedom and justice

    1. @giligan

      “and there is vast evidence that liberal democracies are an enemy of freedom and justice ”

      In stark contrast to autocracies such as Russia and China which clearly worship freedom and justice?!

      1. obviously altey never lived in civilized USSR knows zero—-believes CIA propaganda–never read Hertzen, Simmel, Groys, H Bruce Franklin, Merleau-Ponty, Berdayaev, Kojeve, Mannheim, Gramsci, Berlin, Bahktin, Michel….the only autocracy USA…”there is far more freedom and justice in Tsarist Russia than amerika where corporations rule and robbery and thievery is made official”. Vissaron Belinsky….spare me your fatuous ignorance

  29. Chris Hedges is clearly an very intelligent man and is able to pick up on many of the symptoms of ailing society. While he is quick to blame corporations and Republicans, he rarely, if ever, mentions banking and finance. Mr. Hedges’ long held notions that the working class, produces, doers, business owners, traditional families, and those who believe in Constitutional republic are to blame for societal ills seem to highlight his bias. The belief that big government and institutions, central banks, massive deficit spending, and untested progressive ideas are the answer, never seems to jive with Chris’s thesis or analysis. It is like he has blinders on. He conspicuously ignores banking and finance. “If energy powers the economy, then finance steers it.” It as if he does not care who is steering the economy because it does not square with his dogma.

  30. Left-ish, Neo Progressives’ attempts to describe the US as non-democratic, aside from being indicative of the radicalized left’s alt-fact state of mind, both deprive the current state of affairs in US democracy of its most horrifying aspect – that the conservative atrocities, and admittedly some of its liberal ones, are done precisely within its confines – and at the same time, through dislodging it from its most distinctive feature, namely the ever growing conservative-liberal divide, obfuscating rather than elucidating the only viable and immediate resolution – ensuring Democrat majorities for the foreseeable future, and at the same time increasing progressive pressures on an entity already working in that direction – in the past decade alone, the Democratic party penned hundreds of progressive and progressive-leaning bills, all of which were rejected or watered down due to conservative majorities’ pressures or outright rejection.

    From the New Deal to the ACA, the partial debt cancellation and Biden latest climate, health care and tax bill, “dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act”, the only democratic progress made in the US is due exclusively to Democrats’ efforts, and while far from sufficient, these efforts must be acknowledged first, not camouflaged with a barrage of anecdotal half-truths, and outright lies, for the sake of political expediency, i.e., the fact that in the real world of the liberal-conservative divide, with the right becoming fascistic by the day, the left is rightfully secondary, and becoming even more so by its alt-fact stances.

  31. Only one glaring issue. America is not a democracy!!! Democracy is little more than mob rule and it is no way to run a govt.

    The left and right continue to fuck that up.

  32. All Western country are best described as “fascist” pretending to be democracies.

    Sometimes elected dictatorships.

    For all the most extreme right wing forces in the world were historically backed by the USA.

    Across the board. ISIS et al

  33. “americans prefer to be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom”. Tocqueville
    “the problem with americans is not Orwellian it is huxleyan—americans love their oppression”. Neil Postman

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