Category Archives: Chris Hedges
– Josey Wales
To HELL with the ‘left’! I am finished, done, disillusioned and over it, the divorce papers have been filed and are now finalized and I am not going back. As of this day, I will no longer allow myself to be affiliated or endorse the ‘left’ in any way, shape or form. So long folks, it was real and it was fun but in the end it was unfulfilling and dare I say, a waste of time and effort. Is this overly harsh? Perhaps it is but the break has to be made and it can no longer be put off. I assure you, this was no hasty decision but rather something that has been a slow and agonizing process, a steady drip…drip…drip.., like Chinese water torture and suddenly the mind goes, the spirit breaks and the ugly reality of the situation cannot be denied or disguised. So to all of my good friends on the left I wish you the very best but I am no longer one of you and maybe I never was, it was never dogma to me only a desire for some sort of social fairness and a fair shot but the American left being a shell of it’s former self with labor broken and the DLC corporatists having taken over the Democratic party it has been reduced to shills for the Democrats and squabbling identity groups each with an agenda that prevents any sort of unity necessary for a mass movement for real change. Sucks but that is just the way it has to be.And –By choosing to focus on wedge culture war issues no matter how noble the cause may, be the ‘left’ has failed abysmally in only providing gasoline on the fire that is being ignited on the extreme right and this is going to be costly in impossible to overstate terms in the future as a new, ultra-virulent strain of cult of personality, anti-intellectual, Christian fascist vengeful malignancy percolates throughout this country. There is an ideologically driven cataclysm coming and it will have every bit the force of the Nazis, Stalinists or Khmer Rouge and the gutters will be filled with blood, the streets with violence and no guarantee of personal or family safety by the law or militarized police who will protect the wealthy and elites only while the shock troops hunt down liberals, gays and today’s Juden, the Muslims who have been so easily demonized by the Pentagon and the Zionists who seem to have reasserted an ugly but more subtle form of control with the newest blown out of proportion ‘terrorism’. The king of the Israeli fifth column in America, Senator Joseph Lieberman will soon be using his position as head of the Senate Heimat Security Committee to launch witch hunts and hold show trials which will rival those of Stalin and McCarthy and people like you and I will be accused of being ‘terrorist sympathaziers’, the propagand about white al Qaida has already been getting some mileage as the creeping cat feet of fascism march onwards. Just how important are social issues when the task of rolling back American fascism renders all else irrelevant?Myself and others have warned about the triumphal premature celebrations in the defeat of the extreme right, electoral victories and half measures at silly centrist governance have allowed this vicious hydra to regenerate. The failure of the ‘left’ to generate the cohesiveness necessary in order to form a viable political mass movement and the embracement (no matter how tepid by some) of the corrupted Democratic party and the amateur that is Barack Obama has set up the dominoes perfectly for the perfect storm once the economic collapse finally does occur. The plethora of gay marriage iniatives in the early days of the insipid Obama administration smacked of a sort of arrogance among limousine liberals, as though the enemy had been vanquished and it was time to exact that revenge which would both terrible and satisfying in rolling back the dark ages iniatives or the Religious Right roundheads. But that focus provided cover for the rats that are the corporatists, banksters and lobbyists that rode into power tucked away inside Obama’s Trojan Horse and whose plunder and subsequent fall into public disfavor have driven Democrat and Obama’s poll ratings down faster than whaleshit sinking to the bottom of the sea and allowed the American fascists to regroup and now in the aftermath of the underwear bomber false flag, with the fear fresh anew the sheeple will tolerate ANY police state measures to protect their putrid little lives as they cower and submit.I have a lot of friends on the left and I mean them no malice or insult in my breaking ranks, they are good people, probably better than I in that they are pure of heart and always seek to build a better society, to nurture and to foster love instead of hate. Sadly though, in the real world butterflies, zebras, moonbeams and fairy tales are just that, illusions when confronted with an enemy that recognizes no rules, decorum, compassion or fairness and when the time comes will happily leave liberals and progressives with only their eyes to cry with..if they are even that generous. You see, my friends never understood the nature of this war, and it is war and only those of staunch spirits, strong stomachs and the righteous tenacity to climb upon that wall and fight the bastards on their own terms are ultimately going to have a chance. As the ‘left’ is comprised today it can be dismissed, laughed at and generally ignored by the rotten bitches, bastards and corporations that run this system and that is exactly what Rahm Emanual, his sock puppet ‘boss’ and the rest of the establishment are doing, they are doing. Liberals and the ‘left’ have this view that ‘we are better than they are so we don’t have to stoop to their level’, but in the end they always lose.And –As Nietzsche spoke of fighting monsters and warned of the abyss well it does look back but ultimately humanity is doomed to war, it is out nature and to deny that is the ultimate form of self denial. The best resistance against militarism, the police state and war is coming from the libertarian front, for example Justin Raimondo’s Antiwar.com, I also have long admired the Ron Paul movement for calls for ending the Federal Reserve although I have been more than a bit dismayed to see it so easily co-opted by the corporate teabaggers and the Dick Armey of Darkness, the Palinazis and the idiot buffoon racist Birthers and religious fanatic Birthers and so has one of the founders of the movement. There is however a good deal of misdirected but righteous anger out there that is too easily hijacked and misdirected into the fascist brigades that the ‘left’ has failed to take advantage of to bolster it’s power and rally around some sort of real cause rather than the agendas of identity groups seeking government action to redress a history of injustice.I have always been an independent with views more compatible with the old left, the labor left and the intense focus on social issues in which the activists ignore basic economic fairness, antiwar, pro-civil liberties matters in order to waste energy tilting at windmills. Let’s face it, no matter how moral that the crusade for gay marriage may be (basically another civil rights fight to eliminate the sad fact that in 21st century America that there are still people who are treated as second class citizens and face institutionalized persecution) – it’s a loser with large demographic blocks that nothing short of a mass die out over a period of a few decades is going to resolve and while it sucks, it’s the truth, shit, millions of morons are ready to launch a civil war because the fucking President is black and until the numbers of these anachronisms are reduced America will always be defined by the hatred of the other, which of course will always be exploited for maximum political gain by fascists. The younger generations do not care about whether one is gay or straight or has a different skin color, they are far more tolerant and acceptable than their parents or grandparents but the reality is that as America is currently constituted this is a loser for the ‘left’ and energy would be better spent in fighting imperialism, economic royalism, a vast for profit prison gulag and a militarized police that is determined to keep it full.Also, global warming (the carbon footprint is akin to a carbon jackboot stomping up and down on a human face while the speculators get richer than Midas), immigration ‘reform’ and the ugly sort of imperialist liberalism that supports more war, military spending and murder to promote pet causes such as women’s rights and other emotional based malarkey is just intolerable. The Empire is broke, women are oppressed by institutions within our own borders and the cycle of militarism will not be seriously challenged as long as there are cruise missile liberals determined to use force to be Team America global police. I saw an ugliness among too many liberals and progressives during the past summer’s Iranian uprising, the ‘Green Revolution’ not to be confused of course with ‘Green Shoots, or ‘Green Energy’ and the ‘left’s’ piling on the regime of the devil Ahmadinejad only served to reinforce the incessant neocon propaganda and Zionist right-wing warmongering that has the doomsday clock ticking towards World War III. In all liklihood, Israel will attack Iran at some point in the coming year, Obama’s infatuation with the phony war on terror will ensure that the U.S. is sucked in which will be catastrophic but now that the antiwar movement has been marginalized by the foulness that is the Democrat party, now that Cindy Sheehan has served her purpose and been unceremoniously dumped and now that the ‘left’ has once again failed to mobilize around any serious issue that has crossover appeal we are all helpless to stop it.I will devote my energies to trying to assist whatever remains of the antiwar movement (which isn’t much after most of the larger groups were co-opted by the filthy corporatist Democrats and Raht Emanual), continue to support the abolishment (or at the least auditing) of the Federal Reserve, fight for a reigning in of excessive corporate power, rail against the abuses of civil liberties, the police state, torture and surveillance and the menace of globalization. In a sad land of ignorance and hostility that has institutionalized torture with about half the population being down with it just how long is it going to be until they actually start to torture the other half?The ‘left’ is too fragmented and there are far too many internal squabbles to mount any sort of a counter-movement against this irrational, ignorant and mean army of darkness that is suckled at the teat of the imperialist warfare state and lives in a world of unreality fed by a lifetime of indoctrination to illusions and lies and I am getting off of that woebegone merry-go-round once and for all before it either kills me or drives me totally fucking batshit.And –Loose the Rats: I remember once when I was in my early twenties, a certain restaurant that I had worked for had become so intolerable that there was a parting of the ways (mutual of course) regarding employment. Well, said restaurant naturally had a pretty high turnover rate so myself and a fellow former wage slave conspired one night over many a beer (and I must admit a bit of weed) to seek revenge against the owners. We would go in on a stealth mission and create a disturbance that would be guaran-fucking-teed to cause maximum chaos. So we went to a local pet shop and purchased two live rats which we smuggled in during peak hours in our backpacks and while we swilled a few beers in a booth in the back, ate chicken wings and were generally looked at as scum by our former co-worker wait staff we had a hard time not pissing our pants. Well, when we were finished, we paid our bills and let the rats out of the backpacks and just left the fucking place….we never knew what happened and that was the beauty of it. Maybe the rats caused a total scene and a mass evacuation and maybe business was forever wrecked for those satanic pricks who owned the goddamned place – somehow I doubt it because the damned place stayed in business. Perhaps though, the owners found the rats first before they ran off the paying customers and caused a pox of word of mouth advertising that was up there with the Bubonic Plague and changed their ways, I don’t know and shit, I really don’t know exactly were I am going with this little thread so I digress…..Maybe the moral of the pet shop rats is that it was a shock that could have actually have been naïve enough to think that such a futile and stupid act would have changed hearts and minds but that was back in the 80’s when things were different and there was still some semblance of actual fucking sanity in this rotten shell of a country, back when it was STILL POSSIBLE to avoid the coming forced anal probes by militarized Darth Vader police goons in local shopping malls. Nothing that I was ever going to do on the left, much like loosing the rats on those miserable, skinflint, authoritarian pricks who ran that shithole of an eatery was going to do a damned thing to change anything or any body, it was just plaintive wails from planet shit directed at the choir…amen.So to those on the ‘left’ who I have joined in battle with over the years only to realize that it is ultimately a futile struggle I say good luck and may your efforts bring fruit and some degree of satisfaction so long as they do not conflict with mine. I am going it alone from this point onward, bound by no loyalty to ideology, faction or any group, that only belongs to those who are allies the bigger fight at hand now. I would implore you who are able to transcend your past prejudices, ideals and indoctrinations to become a bit less dogmatic and much more pragmatic in reaching out to those who not only can be saved but who also are trying to break free from their own conditioning.
Modern Republicans have a simple approach to politics when they are not in the White House: Make America as ungovernable as possible by using almost any means available, from challenging the legitimacy of opponents to spreading lies and disinformation to sabotaging the economy.Over the past four decades or so, the Republicans have simply not played by the old give-and-take rules of politics. Indeed, if one were to step back and assess this Republican approach, what you would see is something akin to how the CIA has destabilized target countries, especially those that seek to organize themselves in defiance of capitalist orthodoxy.To stop this spread of “socialism,” nearly anything goes. Take, for example, Chile in the early 1970s when socialist President Salvador Allende won an election and took steps aimed at improving the conditions of the country’s poor.Under the direction of President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the CIA was dispatched to engage in psychological warfare against Allende’s government and to make the Chilean economy “scream.”U.S. intelligence agencies secretly sponsored Chilean news outlets, like the influential newspaper El Mercurio, and supported “populist” uprisings of truckers and housewives. On the economic front, the CIA coordinated efforts to starve the Chilean government of funds and to drive unemployment higher.Worsening joblessness could then be spun by the CIA-financed news outlets as proof that Allende’s policies didn’t work and that the only choice for Chile was to scrap its social programs. When Allende compromised with the Right, that had the additional benefit of causing friction between him and some of his supporters who wanted even more radical change.As Chile became increasingly ungovernable, the stage was set for the violent overthrow of Allende, the installation of a rightist dictatorship, and the imposition of “free-market” economics that directed more wealth and power to Chile’s rich and their American corporate backers.Though the Allende case in Chile is perhaps the best known example of this intelligence strategy (because it was investigated by a Senate committee in the mid-1970s), the CIA has employed this approach frequently around the world. Sometimes the target government is removed without violence, although other times a bloody coup d’etat has been part of the mix.Home to RoostSo, it is perhaps fitting that a comparable approach to politics would eventually come home to roost in the United States, even to the point that some of the propaganda funding comes from outside sources (think of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times and Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.)Obviously, given the wealth of the American elites, the relative proportion of the propaganda funding is derived more domestically in the United States than it would be in a place like Chile (or some other unfortunate Third World country that has gotten on Washington’s bad side).But the concept remains the same: Control as much as possible what the population gets to see and hear; create chaos for your opponent’s government, economically and politically; blame if for the mess; and establish in the minds of the voters that their only way out is to submit, that the pain will stop once your side is back in power.Today’s Republicans have fully embraced this concept of political warfare, whereas the Democrats generally have tried to play by the old rules, acquiescing when Republicans are in office with the goal of “making government work,” even if the Republicans are setting the agenda.Unlike the Democrats and the Left, the Republicans and the Right have prepared themselves for this battle, almost as if they are following a CIA training manual. They have invested tens of billions of dollars in a propaganda infrastructure that operates 24/7, year-round, to spot and exploit missteps by political enemies.This vertically integrated media machine allows useful information to move quickly from a right-wing blog to talk radio to Fox News to the Wall Street Journal to conservative magazines and book publishing. Right-wing propagandists are well-trained and well-funded so they can be deployed to all manner of public outlets to hammer home the talking points.
We will be saved only with the birth of a new militant radicalism, one that defies all formal power structures including the Democratic party.The failure of the liberal class whose role in society is designed to prevent unchecked assault by centralized power is discovering what happens when you tolerate the intolerant. Let hate speech pollute your airwaves, let corporations buy up your courts and state and federal legislative bodies, let the Christian religion be manipulated by charlatans to demonize Muslims, gays and intellectuals, discredit science, sanctify unfettered capitalism and become a source of personal enrichment, let unions wither under corporate assault, let social services and public education be gutted and stripped of funding, let Wall Street carry out fraud, deception and plunder with impunity and you roll out the welcome mat for fascism.The liberal class and much of the left has busied itself with the toothless pursuits of inclusiveness, multi-culturalism, identity politics and tolerance.. a word Martin Luther King never used and forgot about the primacy of justice. We chatter about something called the American Dream now that the oligarchic elite have regained control of all of the levers of power that dream is being exposed as a cruel hoax and we are being shoved back into the cage. Slick public relations campaigns, the collapse of public education .. nearly a third of the country is illiterate or semi-literate…the rise of amoral politicians such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama who pose as liberals while selling their souls and betraying basic liberal and democratic principles for corporate money have left us largely defenseless.The last vestiges of unionized in the public sector are reduced to protesting in states like Wisconsin for collective bargaining – in short the right to ask employers for fair working conditions. This shows how far labor and the country has deteriorated and it looks as though even this basic right to ask as well as raise money through union dues has at least for the moment been successfully revoked in Madison. The Democratic party and the remnants of organized labor steered passions in Wisconsin away from a general strike where workers should have gone to tepid attempts to recall legislators. The public debate meanwhile dominated by corporate controlled systems of information, ignores the steady impoverishment of the working class and absence of legal and regulatory mechanisms to prevent our reconfiguration into a neo-feudal society. The airwaves are saturated with good looking and charming corporate apologists. They ask us why public sector employees have benefits sneeringly called entitlements while non-unionized and working class people are denied and the argument is ingenious, it pits desperate worker against desperate worker in a mad scramble for scraps. It is of course the wrong question, why we should ask don’t working men and women have health insurance, pension plans, job protection and living wages and until we again speak in the language of open class warfare, grasping as those who went before us did, that the elite will always promote itself at our expense, we are doomed to a 21st century serfdom. The elite with no check left on their greed and criminality are gorging on money, while they are slashing basic services, budgets for schools, fire fighters and assistance programs for children and the elderly so WE will pay for the fraud they committed when they wiped out 14 trillion dollars of housing wealth, wages and retirement savings.
The liberal class is discovering what happens when you tolerate the intolerant. Let hate speech pollute the airways. Let corporations buy up your courts and state and federal legislative bodies. Let the Christian religion be manipulated by charlatans to demonize Muslims, gays and intellectuals, discredit science and become a source of personal enrichment. Let unions wither under corporate assault. Let social services and public education be stripped of funding. Let Wall Street loot the national treasury with impunity. Let sleazy con artists use lies and deception to carry out unethical sting operations on tottering liberal institutions, and you roll out the welcome mat for fascism.
Just my two cents
By Chris Hedges
Aleksandr Herzen, speaking a century ago to a group of anarchists about how to overthrow the czar, reminded his listeners that it was not their job to save a dying system but to replace it: “We think we are the doctors. We are the disease.” All resistance must recognize that the body politic and global capitalism are dead. We should stop wasting energy trying to reform or appeal to it. This does not mean the end of resistance, but it does mean very different forms of resistance. It means turning our energies toward building sustainable communities to weather the coming crisis, since we will be unable to survive and resist without a cooperative effort.
These communities, if they retreat into a pure survivalist mode without linking themselves to the concentric circles of the wider community, the state and the planet, will become as morally and spiritually bankrupt as the corporate forces arrayed against us. All infrastructures we build, like the monasteries in the Middle Ages, should seek to keep alive the intellectual and artistic traditions that make a civil society, humanism and the common good possible. Access to parcels of agricultural land will be paramount. We will have to grasp, as the medieval monks did, that we cannot alter the larger culture around us, at least in the short term, but we may be able to retain the moral codes and culture for generations beyond ours. Resistance will be reduced to small, often imperceptible acts of defiance, as those who retained their integrity discovered in the long night of 20th-century fascism and communism.
We stand on the cusp of one of the bleakest periods in human history when the bright lights of a civilization blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity. The elites have successfully convinced us that we no longer have the capacity to understand the revealed truths presented before us or to fight back against the chaos caused by economic and environmental catastrophe. As long as the mass of bewildered and frightened people, fed images that permit them to perpetually hallucinate, exist in this state of barbarism, they may periodically strike out with a blind fury against increased state repression, widespread poverty and food shortages. But they will lack the ability and self-confidence to challenge in big and small ways the structures of control. The fantasy of widespread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that – a fantasy.
My analysis comes close to the analysis of many anarchists. But there is a crucial difference. The anarchists do not understand the nature of violence. They grasp the extent of the rot in our cultural and political institutions, they know they must sever the tentacles of consumerism, but they naïvely believe that it can be countered with physical forms of resistance and acts of violence. There are debates within the anarchist movement – such as those on the destruction of property – but once you start using plastic explosives, innocent people get killed. And when anarchic violence begins to disrupt the mechanisms of governance, the power elite will use these acts, however minor, as an excuse to employ disproportionate and ruthless amounts of force against real and suspected agitators, only fueling the rage of the dispossessed.
I am not a pacifist. I know there are times, and even concede that this may eventually be one of them, when human beings are forced to respond to mounting repression with violence. I was in Sarajevo during the war in Bosnia. We knew precisely what the Serbian forces ringing the city would do to us if they broke through the defenses and trench system around the besieged city. We had the examples of the Drina Valley or the city of Vukovar, where about a third of the Muslim inhabitants had been killed and the rest herded into refugee or displacement camps. There are times when the only choice left is to pick up a weapon to defend your family, neighborhood and city. But those who proved most adept at defending Sarajevo invariably came from the criminal class. When they were not shooting at Serbian soldiers they were looting the apartments of ethnic Serbs in Sarajevo and often executing them, as well as terrorizing their fellow Muslims. When you ingest the poison of violence, even in a just cause, it corrupts, deforms and perverts you. Violence is a drug, indeed it is the most potent narcotic known to humankind. Those most addicted to violence are those who have access to weapons and a penchant for force. And these killers rise to the surface of any armed movement and contaminate it with the intoxicating and seductive power that comes with the ability to destroy. I have seen it in war after war. When you go down that road you end up pitting your monsters against their monsters. And the sensitive, the humane and the gentle, those who have a propensity to nurture and protect life, are marginalized and often killed. The romantic vision of war and violence is as prevalent among anarchists and the hard left as it is in the mainstream culture. Those who resist with force will not defeat the corporate state or sustain the cultural values that must be sustained if we are to have a future worth living. From my many years as a war correspondent in El Salvador, Guatemala, Gaza and Bosnia, I have seen that armed resistance movements are always mutations of the violence that spawned them. I am not naïve enough to think I could have avoided these armed movements had I been a landless Salvadoran or Guatemalan peasant, a Palestinian in Gaza or a Muslim in Sarajevo, but this violent response to repression is and always will be tragic. It must be avoided, although not at the expense of our own survival.
Democracy, a system ideally designed to challenge the status quo, has been corrupted and tamed to slavishly serve the status quo. We have undergone, as John Ralston Saul writes, a coup d’état in slow motion. And the coup is over. They won. We lost. The abject failure of activists to push corporate, industrialized states toward serious environmental reform, to thwart imperial adventurism or to build a humane policy toward the masses of the world’s poor stems from an inability to recognize the new realities of power. The paradigm of power has irrevocably altered and so must the paradigm of resistance alter.
Too many resistance movements continue to buy into the facade of electoral politics, parliaments, constitutions, bills of rights, lobbying and the appearance of a rational economy. The levers of power have become so contaminated that the needs and voices of citizens have become irrelevant. The election of Barack Obama was yet another triumph of propaganda over substance and a skillful manipulation and betrayal of the public by the mass media. We mistook style and ethnicity – an advertising tactic pioneered by the United Colors of Benetton and Calvin Klein – for progressive politics and genuine change. We confused how we were made to feel with knowledge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand for an experience. Obama, now a global celebrity, is a brand. He had almost no experience besides two years in the senate, lacked any moral core and was sold as all things to all people. The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Zappos.com. Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertisers want because of how they can make you feel.
We live in a culture characterized by what Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics.” Junk politics does not demand justice or the reparation of rights. It always personalizes issues rather than clarifying them. It eschews real debate for manufactured scandals, celebrity gossip and spectacles. It trumpets eternal optimism, endlessly praises our moral strength and character, and communicates in a feel-your-pain language. The result of junk politics is that nothing changes, “meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that strengthen existing, interlocking systems of socioeconomic advantage.”
The cultural belief that we can make things happen by thinking, by visualizing, by wanting them, by tapping into our inner strength or by understanding that we are truly exceptional is magical thinking. We can always make more money, meet new quotas, consume more products and advance our career if we have enough faith. This magical thinking, preached to us across the political spectrum by Oprah, sports celebrities, Hollywood, self-help gurus and Christian demagogues, is largely responsible for our economic and environmental collapse, since any Cassandra who saw it coming was dismissed as “negative.” This belief, which allows men and women to behave and act like little children, discredits legitimate concerns and anxieties. It exacerbates despair and passivity. It fosters a state of self-delusion. The purpose, structure and goals of the corporate state are never seriously questioned. To question, to engage in criticism of the corporate collective, is to be obstructive and negative. And it has perverted the way we view ourselves, our nation and the natural world. The new paradigm of power, coupled with its bizarre ideology of limitless progress and impossible happiness, has turned whole nations, including the United States, into monsters.
We can march in Copenhagen. We can join Bill McKibben’s worldwide day of climate protests. We can compost in our backyards and hang our laundry out to dry. We can write letters to our elected officials and vote for Barack Obama, but the power elite is impervious to the charade of democratic participation. Power is in the hands of moral and intellectual trolls who are ruthlessly creating a system of neo-feudalism and killing the ecosystem that sustains the human species. And appealing to their better nature, or seeking to influence the internal levers of power, will no longer work.
We will not, especially in the United States, avoid our Götterdämmerung. Obama, like Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the other heads of the industrialized nations, has proven as craven a tool of the corporate state as George W. Bush. Our democratic system has been transformed into what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin labels inverted totalitarianism. Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, a free press, parliamentary systems and constitutions while manipulating and corrupting internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens but are ruled by armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington, Ottawa or other state capitals who author the legislation and get the legislators to pass it. A corporate media controls nearly everything we read, watch or hear and imposes a bland uniformity of opinion. Mass culture, owned and disseminated by corporations, diverts us with trivia, spectacles and celebrity gossip. In classical totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. “Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true,” Wolin writes. “Economics dominates politics – and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.”
Inverted totalitarianism wields total power without resorting to cruder forms of control such as gulags, concentration camps or mass terror. It harnesses science and technology for its dark ends. It enforces ideological uniformity by using mass communication systems to instill profligate consumption as an inner compulsion and to substitute our illusions of ourselves for reality. It does not forcibly suppress dissidents, as long as those dissidents remain ineffectual. And as it diverts us it dismantles manufacturing bases, devastates communities, unleashes waves of human misery and ships jobs to countries where fascists and communists know how to keep workers in line. It does all this while waving the flag and mouthing patriotic slogans. “The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed,” Wolin writes.
The practice and psychology of advertising, the rule of “market forces” in many arenas other than markets, the continuous technological advances that encourage elaborate fantasies (computer games, virtual avatars, space travel), the saturation by mass media and propaganda of every household and the takeover of the universities have rendered most of us hostages. The rot of imperialism, which is always incompatible with democracy, has seen the military and arms manufacturers monopolize $1 trillion a year in defense-related spending in the United States even as the nation faces economic collapse. Imperialism always militarizes domestic politics. And this militarization, as Wolin notes, combines with the cultural fantasies of hero worship and tales of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through surgery, action measured in nanoseconds and a dream-laden culture of ever-expanding control and possibility to sever huge segments of the population from reality. Those who control the images control us. And while we have been entranced by the celluloid shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave, these corporate forces, extolling the benefits of privatization, have effectively dismantled the institutions of social democracy (Social Security, unions, welfare, public health services and public housing) and rolled back the social and political ideals of the New Deal. The proponents of globalization and unregulated capitalism do not waste time analyzing other ideologies. They have an ideology, or rather a plan of action that is defended by an ideology, and slavishly follow it. We on the left have dozens of analyses of competing ideologies without any coherent plan of our own. This has left us floundering while corporate forces ruthlessly dismantle civil society.
We are living through one of civilization’s great seismic reversals. The ideology of globalization, like all “inevitable” utopian visions, is being exposed as a fraud. The power elite, perplexed and confused, clings to the disastrous principles of globalization and its outdated language to mask the looming political and economic vacuum. The absurd idea that the marketplace alone should determine economic and political constructs led industrial nations to sacrifice other areas of human importance – from working conditions, to taxation, to child labor, to hunger, to health and pollution – on the altar of free trade. It left the world’s poor worse off and the United States with the largest deficits – which can never be repaid – in human history. The massive bailouts, stimulus packages, giveaways and short-term debt, along with imperial wars we can no longer afford, will leave the United States struggling to finance nearly $5 trillion in debt this year. This will require Washington to auction off about $96 billion in debt a week. Once China and the oil-rich states walk away from our debt, which one day has to happen, the Federal Reserve will become the buyer of last resort. The Fed has printed perhaps as much as two trillion new dollars in the last two years, and buying this much new debt will see it, in effect, print trillions more. This is when inflation, and most likely hyperinflation, will turn the dollar into junk. And at that point the entire system breaks down.
All traditional standards and beliefs are shattered in a severe economic crisis. The moral order is turned upside down. The honest and industrious are wiped out while the gangsters, profiteers and speculators walk away with millions. The elite will retreat, as Naomi Klein has written in The Shock Doctrine, into gated communities where they will have access to services, food, amenities and security denied to the rest of us. We will begin a period in human history when there will be only masters and serfs. The corporate forces, which will seek to make an alliance with the radical Christian right and other extremists, will use fear, chaos, the rage at the ruling elites and the specter of left-wing dissent and terrorism to impose draconian controls to ruthlessly extinguish opposition movements. And while they do it, they will be waving the American flag, chanting patriotic slogans, promising law and order and clutching the Christian cross. Totalitarianism, George Orwell pointed out, is not so much an age of faith but an age of schizophrenia. “A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial,” Orwell wrote. “That is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.” Our elites have used fraud. Force is all they have left.
Our mediocre and bankrupt elite is desperately trying to save a system that cannot be saved. More importantly, they are trying to save themselves. All attempts to work within this decayed system and this class of power brokers will prove useless. And resistance must respond to the harsh new reality of a global, capitalist order that will cling to power through ever-mounting forms of brutal and overt repression. Once credit dries up for the average citizen, once massive joblessness creates a permanent and enraged underclass and the cheap manufactured goods that are the opiates of our commodity culture vanish, we will probably evolve into a system that more closely resembles classical totalitarianism. Cruder, more violent forms of repression will have to be employed as the softer mechanisms of control favored by inverted totalitarianism break down.
It is not accidental that the economic crisis will converge with the environmental crisis. In his book The Great Transformation (1944), Karl Polanyi laid out the devastating consequences – the depressions, wars and totalitarianism – that grow out of a so-called self-regulated free market. He grasped that “fascism, like socialism, was rooted in a market society that refused to function.” He warned that a financial system always devolves, without heavy government control, into a Mafia capitalism – and a Mafia political system – which is a good description of our financial and political structure. A self-regulating market, Polanyi wrote, turns human beings and the natural environment into commodities, a situation that ensures the destruction of both society and the natural environment. The free market’s assumption that nature and human beings are objects whose worth is determined by the market allows each to be exploited for profit until exhaustion or collapse. A society that no longer recognizes that nature and human life have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, commits collective suicide. Such societies cannibalize themselves until they die. This is what we are undergoing.
If we build self-contained structures, ones that do as little harm as possible to the environment, we can weather the coming collapse. This task will be accomplished through the existence of small, physical enclaves that have access to sustainable agriculture, are able to sever themselves as much as possible from commercial culture and can be largely self-sufficient. These communities will have to build walls against electronic propaganda and fear that will be pumped out over the airwaves. Canada will probably be a more hospitable place to do this than the United States, given America’s strong undercurrent of violence. But in any country, those who survive will need isolated areas of land as well as distance from urban areas, which will see the food deserts in the inner cities, as well as savage violence, leach out across the urban landscape as produce and goods become prohibitively expensive and state repression becomes harsher and harsher.
The increasingly overt uses of force by the elites to maintain control should not end acts of resistance. Acts of resistance are moral acts. They begin because people of conscience understand the moral imperative to challenge systems of abuse and despotism. They should be carried out not because they are effective but because they are right. Those who begin these acts are always few in number and dismissed by those who hide their cowardice behind their cynicism. But resistance, however marginal, continues to affirm life in a world awash in death. It is the supreme act of faith, the highest form of spirituality and alone makes hope possible. Those who carried out great acts of resistance often sacrificed their security and comfort, often spent time in jail and in some cases were killed. They understood that to live in the fullest sense of the word, to exist as free and independent human beings, even under the darkest night of state repression, meant to defy injustice.
When the dissident Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was taken from his cell in a Nazi prison to the gallows, his last words were: “This is for me the end, but also the beginning.” Bonhoeffer knew that most of the citizens in his nation were complicit through their silence in a vast enterprise of death. But however hopeless it appeared in the moment, he affirmed what we all must affirm. He did not avoid death. He did not, as a distinct individual, survive. But he understood that his resistance and even his death were acts of love. He fought and died for the sanctity of life. He gave, even to those who did not join him, another narrative, and his defiance ultimately condemned his executioners.
We must continue to resist, but do so now with the discomforting realization that significant change will probably never occur in our lifetime. This makes resistance harder. It shifts resistance from the tangible and the immediate to the amorphous and the indeterminate. But to give up acts of resistance is spiritual and intellectual death. It is to surrender to the dehumanizing ideology of totalitarian capitalism. Acts of resistance keep alive another narrative, sustain our integrity and empower others, who we may never meet, to stand up and carry the flame we pass to them. No act of resistance is useless, whether it is refusing to pay taxes, fighting for a Tobin tax, working to shift the neoclassical economics paradigm, revoking a corporate charter, holding global internet votes or using Twitter to catalyze a chain reaction of refusal against the neoliberal order. But we will have to resist and then find the faith that resistance is worthwhile, for we will not immediately alter the awful configuration of power. And in this long, long war a community to sustain us, emotionally and materially, will be the key to a life of defiance.
The philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote that the exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group is what ultimately made fascism and the Holocaust possible: “The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilized and innocent people.”
The indifference to the plight of others and the supreme elevation of the self is what the corporate state seeks to instill in us. It uses fear, as well as hedonism, to thwart human compassion. We will have to continue to battle the mechanisms of the dominant culture, if for no other reason than to preserve through small, even tiny acts, our common humanity. We will have to resist the temptation to fold in on ourselves and to ignore the cruelty outside our door. Hope endures in these often imperceptible acts of defiance. This defiance, this capacity to say no, is what the psychopathic forces in control of our power systems seek to eradicate. As long as we are willing to defy these forces we have a chance, if not for ourselves, then at least for those who follow. As long as we defy these forces we remain alive. And for now this is the only victory possible.
I have long found Chris Hedges to be a beacon of morality in the belly of the beast that is post 9/11 fascist America. His book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning is a superbly written, uncompromising look at the horrors of war seen through the eyes of a man who has been there, Hedges served as a war correspondent in some of the most vicious and senseless slaughtering sprees of the late Twentieth Century. His sheer courage in coming out in the early days of the Bushreich and denouncing war during a commencement address at Rockford College when the phony War on Terror was just ramping up during which he was jeered by the audience, his microphone cut off and he was run like a rabid dog from the campus, later his employer, the so-called liberal New York Times stabbed him in the back. Hedges went on to write what I consider to be a definitive expose of the authoritarian Christian Right entitled American Fascists and contributes weekly columns to the fine website Truthdig. As a fan, it was only natural that I would pick up his latest scathing condemnation of the dumb, foul rottenness that is America in terminal decline and while uneven it delivers like a baseball bat to the head. We truly are living in the existential Hell that is the Empire of Illusion.
We are a culture that has been denied, or has passively given up, the linguistic and intellectual tools to cope with complexity, to separate illusion from reality. We have traded the printed word for the gleaming image. Public rhetoric is designed to be comprehensible to a ten-year old child or an adult with a sixth-grade reading level. Most of us speak at this level, are entertained and think at this level. We have transformed our culture into a vast replica of Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island, where boys were lured with the promise of no school and endless fun. They were all, however, turned into donkeys – a symbol, in Italian culture, of ignorance and stupidity.
It’s no small wonder that I am at times accused of being an elitist by many that I know for not giving a rat’s ass what silly babble and games what they participate in. It is really a tragic and sad waste of a mind when people have nothing to talk about that is any more intellectually in depth than what was on television the prior night, who will win the next ridiculous football game or wring their hands over manufactured McNews stories like the boy and the balloon but this is what people find important. Try to invoke any serious real issues and one gets the thousand yard stare, a few moments of awkward silence and then the mental loop restarts and the ‘conversation’ returns to what was on television, shit, I know some people who are so fucked up that they even talk about the commercials. I happen to have at one time worked with a clique that idolized Jared Fogel, the pitchman for Subway who became the avatar of the American obsession with weight loss to look like the false idealized images that they see on TV. Fogel is the former scale busting mammoth who lost hundreds of pounds allegedly by eating nothing but Subway sandwiches while in college. As with all urban myths the legend of Jared is comprised of far more bullshit and outright chicanery than it is of serious truths. One who has become a walking talking Subway robot by spreading the gospel of Jared is one of the sheeple who is in the final stages of the consumer capitalist evolution and should be cryogenically frozed until the day that human cloning is perfected and the corporations can truly become Gods of creation.
What is not mentioned in the constant advertising featuring the bespectacled yuppie wonder boy in his post-flubber days is that his successful weight loss formula was more the result of a drastic reduction in daily calorie consumption as well as regular exercise than from gobbling turkey sandwiches and peddling Subway’s snake oil. In fact if you go to Subway’s website you will notice the preponderance of disclaimers on every Jared related page. That Fogel is a nationally recognized pseudo celebrity (he still shows up on NFL postgame shows) is no surprise, especially when you see the orgy of adulation over the contestants of American Idol or Survivor or some other crapfest who are made into examples that in America, anyone, no matter how humble, fucked and beset by myriad of woes can become famous and therefore evidence that the system works. Here is an interesting little site that I found on The Cult of Jared that is recommended reading. They want to have their meatball sub and eat it too but the truth is that Fogel could have lost the weight eating at Taco Bell, McDonalds or Popeye’s had he undertaken a similar cut in caloric intake and engaged in regular exercise. The Subway diet plan as with all get rich quick schemes or revolutionary weight loss plans are quite simply only chum for flocking suckers the likes of which there is no shortage of in modern day America. Of course the dietary industry which is the modern day equivalent of snake oil and miracle cures peddled by the traveling medicine men of the old West has a vested interested in keeping Americans fat for life, as much as a vested interest as the fast food and restaurant lobby who are not above producing fake ‘trust us we’re experts’ type studies that encourage more gluttony.
But I was talking about feeling like one of the tribe who has been cast out as one who just doesn’t get it, everyone is talking about the Super Bowl commercials, the tripe that is broadcast into their skulls every night when they get home that renders their brains into so much gelatin or whatever else is thrown out as bread and circuses. I am a rarity, an anachronism in this empire of illusion, I openly denounce television and unlike millions, I read books. So if that makes me an elitist in the eyes of the slaves so be it. Shit, as the saying goes in the land of the blind a one eyed man can be king and there is nothing quite like understanding that the USA has become a land of lemmings, wimps, haters, abject morons and regressive right-wing filth that has been nurtured like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed a steady diet of bullshit. Heretics such as myself fit Mencken’s very definition of the iconoclast:
The Iconoclast proves enough when he proves by his blasphemy that this or that idol is defectively convincing – that at least one visitor to the shrine is left full of doubts.
And as a corporate wage slave I am all too aware that I am a pariah, a leper and the most dangerous and vilified of all – GASP – a pessimist. Far be it from me to check my dignity at the door and take my hit of optimism opium from the pushers who staff the gulag. In less primitive times one who dares to violate the dictates of the workplace positivity police would have their tongue cut out and be cast out into the wilderness. Today one is first mocked and shunned by imbecilic childish co-workers and backbone challenged managers and if the ostracism doesn’t work there is PIP or some other acronym that stands for the corporate form of Dean Wormer’s double secret probation which is the final step before firing and the corporation is able to shaft the ‘malcontent’ when it comes to unemployment (they will keep their dead peasant insurance policies though) and any severance that may have been earned. Corporate America is a cruel and heartless place, a combination of Orwell, Huxley, Machiavelli, Tony Robbins and Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook and the governing ideology of that particular institution is what has fucked the entire country, like the alien black oil in the X Files, it has seeped in and prepared the pod people for the harvest. But more on the quackery of the optimism opium a bit later.
But I digress…..
Hedges’ brilliant and passionate smack down of the desolate wasteland of 21st century America and the pathetic lost souls that inhabit the fucking place only validate my sheer contempt for the masses of asses, the useful idiots and my fellow Murkans. Shit, I really do hate most fucking people, like Daniel Plainview in the classic morality play There Will Be Blood, I find nothing good in them…. at least not anymore since the Reagan years and the demarcation from anything even remotely resembling reality. My faith in the humanity and redemptive qualities of my fellow Americans has long ago left the building and I am fully cognizant that I live in some Bizarro universe where I am one of the dwindling number of holdouts who has not been assimilated by the body snatchers. Fucked is fucked, as an old sage bartender once told me in my borderline petty criminal early years… ”desperation is not pretty”. The book is broken into five long pieces on the power of illusion and the ruinous moral and social consequences of each: celebrity, love, wisdom, happiness and ultimately America, in my opinion the penultimate illusion of them all. I have to say that I was even stunned at the job that he does in this book on exposing the bursting and sweating rancid underbelly of capitalist American culture post 9/11. Hedges critiques the reality television ‘fuck you’ culture of crap like a master coroner performing an autopsy on all that is rotten, vile and viscerally doomed about the media culture that has swallowed us whole.
“We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true. But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We’re all you know. You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here. You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube. You eat like the tube. You even think like the tube. In God’s name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion.”
Let’s face it, anyone who is not intoxicated by the siren song of the Matrix, who is not plugged into the hive and who is fully aware of the downward trajectory of this sorry assed country is fully aware of the power of illusion that is broadcast into nearly every home, the most insidious mind control device in human hisotry is that glass screened electronic god in the living room. A rogue government and the oligarchy that it serves owes their success in colonizing the brains of the lemmings to that pernicious invention and the use of it to erase and reprogram the human mind. Television, at it’s most basic level is a tool of the corporations to advertise, to create a set of artificial needs, false ideals and Aryan American archetypes in order to sell products. People have long since immersed themselves in such imagery to the extent of adapting their own inner workings to include snippets of what they see as television. Hedges first chapter deals with how the culture of celebrity has corrupted the very souls of Americans and he uses the examples of sensationalist, mean-spirited, mental masturbatory droolfests such as professional wrestling, the Jerry Springer Show and it’s imitators and reality television swill as examples of how successful that the dumbing down, the coarsening and the fattening of the sheeple has been.
There can be no serious argument that the average intellect in this country has been in freefall since the advent of television, specifically cable television. It is the opiate of the masses, the tool of the oligarchy and It is a damned certainty that elements within the government immediately realized the mind controlling potential of television just as big business realized that the new medium could be harnessed for advertising and commercial purposes so did the power brokers realize that it could be similarly utilized to manufacture consent, a term coined by Noam Chomsky who like so many others who dare to ask the serious questions are ghettoized into little niches, you will never see Chomsky on the corporate media, the same goes for the great John Pilger and especially Chris Hedges. You won’t see Chris Hedges as a guest on the phony liberal cable network shows, he is too serious and his antiwar credentials are impeccable due to his time spent as a war correspondent, he has seen the carnage, the atrocities. If MSNBC’s hallowed duo of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would ever seriously address the fascist warfare state then they would by out of their GE owned studios faster than shit through a tin horn.
The coming of the 1980’s, Ronald Reagan (our pre Obama product as president) and emerging technologies that would be able to prolong the mental assault 24/7 the American public slowly began to accept televised illusions as real life, revisionist historical entertainment as fact, the glorification of wealth over all else as attainable and realistic and the myth of Rambo as a realistic personification of American foreign policy. I do not have enough time or space to look at this topic here so as to do it justice. The 1980’s saw the spread of corporate nationalist propaganda delivered over hundreds of channels, each appealing to a particular segmentation of a populace too mired in the pathetic quality of the daily grind of their boring and irrelevant lives. Now whenever they needed a fix, the ability to click the little button on the black remote and to be transported into a different world, a world of escape from the drudgery, a world where they could collectively bond with role models test marketed to appeal to their particular fancies, to be politically socialized by talking heads spewing radical ideologies, unencumbered by the Fairness Doctrine which was repealed under Reagan and which would forever change their way of thinking as well as to demonize what had been the real America prior to January 20 1981. They were given everything and anything in order to keep them tuned in so that the propagandists could keep the stimulation applied, the indoctrination process could continue uninterrupted, the herd could be brought to order and shepherded in directions that were desirable to their masters.
Television in itself is a relatively new invention, having only gained mass exposure in the past half century or so but if you want to approximate a time when the demarcation line between fantasy and reality in American life began to become defined it would definitely be in the early 1980’s with the explosion in the satellite and cable television industries. This is the time that it became possible to pump 100+ channels of violence, filth, fascist political indoctrination, Horatio Alger anyone can get rich quick scheme infomercials, lurid sexual innuendo and whatever other flotsam and jetsam of the human spirit that could be mined for profit into millions of homes throughout the country. The rise of both the radical religious right as well as the rise of the political reactionary right can both be traced to the rise in the availability of cable television and how those movements were able to use the technology to brainwash the masses.
Thus began the dumbing down:
Children became more violent and dysfunctional.
Freak shows like Morton Downey and Springer drew mass audiences while pandering to deviates who would see their sorry lives displayed for public amusement.
Today more people vote on cheese talent shows like American Idol than in most elections.
Television also creates insecurity and mental illness, viewers of too much television are often unable to make the differentiation between fantasy and reality, look at the rise in school shootings and generally deviant violent behavior. They live vicariously through the imagery designed to sell them caricatures of a lifestyle that they in turn believe that must be lived up to in order to be ‘normal’. The barrage of imagery as well as its calculated usage to influence the psyche by those whose craft is manipulation has a devastating effect on Americans. The inability to detach oneself from television worlds breeds violence, insecurity, greed and other such undesirable behavior. This is especially true for children who are very impressionable, there are highly paid marketing firms who specialize in trying to get the products and or ideas of those who pay them seared into the minds of kids from the earliest age possible in order to create lifetime customers. Is this evil? If not outright evil it is certainly devoid of any sort of decent ethical principle but then again isn’t this exactly the sort of deviant behavior that unchecked capitalism is intended to produce?
Will there be a time when television fantasy, physical reality and dreams become indistinguishable to some? Is that time already here? The psychological dependence on television to create identity and loyalty should be a national shame. Generations that have been born into the cable television era have become more violent, more superficial, more unquestioning and most importantly, far dumber than those who were their predecessors.
The rise to power of the evil regime of Hitler was borne on the wings of massive public rallies, fantastic gatherings steeped in the power of nationalism, symbolism, fire, resentment and demagogic ravings of destiny. The most famous of the state sponsored bacchanalia being the 1934 Nuremberg rally, meticulously choreographed and captured on film by Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will would become the benchmark for all German propaganda. The national madness of the German people can be seen in these rallies and films, the unraveling and descent of a sophisticated society into primal and pure evil was facilitated by them.
With television there is no need for mass rallies, the demagoguery and imagery can be delivered directly into your very own living room. One has only to watch the raving Glenn Beck on FOX and to see the despearate maniacs who take to the streets as he eggs them on, incites them against the great phantom socialist, communist, liberal conspiracy – to borrow from the late, great Molly Ivins – it probably sounded better in its original German.
Porn is about reducing women to corpses. It is about necrophilia. ….The one emotion they are allowed to display is an unquenchable desire to satisfy men, especially if that desire involves the women’s physical and emotional degradation. The lighting in the films is harsh and clinical. Pubic hair is shaved off to give the women the look of young girls or rubber dolls. Porn, which advertises itself as sex, is a bizarre, bleached pantomime of sex. The acts onscreen are beyond human endurance. The scenarios are absurd. The manicured and groomed bodies, the huge artificial breasts, the pouting, oversized lips, the erections that never go down, and the sculpted bodies are unreal. Makeup and production mask blemishes. There are no beads of sweat, no wrinkle lines, no human imperfections. Sex is reduced to a narrow spectrum of sterilized dimensions. It does not include the dank smell of human bodies, the thump of a pulse, taste, breath—or tenderness. Those in the films are puppets, packaged female commodities. They have no honest emotions, are devoid of authentic human beauty and resemble plastic. Pornography does not promote sex, if one defines sex as a shared act between two partners. It promotes masturbation. It promotes the solitary auto-arousal that precludes intimacy and love. Pornography is about getting yourself off at someone else’s expense.
The chapter on pornography entitled the Illusion of Love is not one for the squeamish. The descriptions are clinically graphic and hit like a crowbar to the skull. I will never look at porno the same way again after reading this, I am no connoisseur of such stuff and in the days when I did view it on occasion it was extremely tame compared to the sickening, misogynistic sadism that Hedges describes as being the modern porn underworld. It all ties in with the increasing degradation of the society, the dehumanization, the loss of our souls in pursuit of instant gratification, we are on a ship of doomed fools selling postcards of the hanging and any of the fellow passengers could be a flesh eating zombie ready to fuck you up the ass and eat your brain at any moment.
Hedges focuses on the vicious need for the sort of American male that I would say is exemplified in the Becker/Dittohead/Strong Daddy Christian elements on the far right and the need to wreak revenge against the women who have challenged his blessed, God given right for American male superiority per his birthright, the women are the objects of wrath and subjugation, fantasy and role playing, the scapegoats provided by a rapacious blood sucking oligarchy and the virulent fascist damnation that comes with it. I excerpt one of the tamer pieces from this chapter:
The most successful Internet porn sites and films are those that discover new ways to humiliate and inflict cruelty on women. In the Web site Slut Bus, women are lured into a van, offered money for sex, filmed having sex, and then dumped on the side of the road. Money is held out toward the woman as the van pulls away. She is always left without payment. The message is clear. Women are compliant sex machines. They are good only for sex. And they are not worth paying for their services.
“The mission?” the slutbus.com Web site asks. “Pick up the hottest girls we find. And get them to let us fuck them & cum in their pretty little faces while videotaping the whole thing.”
“The fun?” the site goes on. “Treating these slutty bitches like they deserve to be treated … with a slam bam thank ya ma’am & a swift kick in the ass! What? You thought we would actually pay these sluts? Hahahahaha. Think Again!
There is a discussion with a Dr. Z who preaches the wondrous joys of silicone love doll ownership that is freak-a-tude at its finest in which he describes the ‘relationships’ that he has had over the years with love dolls, proudly proclaiming that the top three or four blow jobs he has had in his life were from his dolls. Reading the two and a half pages of amiable dementia spouted by Dr. Z only made me wonder if he will be the next deranged right-wing psychopath who will show up in a Santa Claus suit at his ex-wife’s family’s Christmas party armed to the teeth and with a homemade flamethrower or some other similar human time bomb incident. This is the sordid type of sickness that lies deeply in the tortured psyches of these wretched pieces of human (and I use that term extremely loosely) garbage once you peel back the rantings of Rush. I learned (much to my sick sense of humor) that there is actually a porno movie that came out called Who’s Nailin’ Paylin: Adventures of a Hockey MILF, I am sure that one is a big hit with the Beckers and Dittohead angry white masturbators whose own cocks are milked dry over such perverse rot while their manhood is measured by the inches of the barrels of their beloved guns, their phallic symbols.
Authoritarian right wing Christian freaks seem to be particularly prone to the dirty nasty nekkid sort of stuff in porn, violence, nudity, humiliation and the Rapture only with ATM (ass to mouth action), cannonades of cum shots and of course the humiliation of the woman figure. Is there anything more vile than Christianity, the very concept of Eve being cloned from Adam and then turned out by Satan is the earliest and far most widely acceptable form of misogynist head fuck in history. The domineering male types, like those in the Promise Keepers and other male dominator factions of the filthy fascist minions of Satanic deceit practiced by the overly horny, goat herding false prophets on the right are nothing but seed sprayers, addicted to masturbation and when their torture fuckfest fantasies can’t be fulfilled by their mousy little child bearing wives they are the ones who are predominantly busted trolling the internet for child sex or other acts of brutality and perversion.
The seed sprayers, yeah, I get a kick out of that little moniker that I just made up, there is something I seem to recall from my child days of being read the riot act out of the unholy, everchanging book of doom that decried self pleasure as the spilling of God’s precious seed or something along those lines. Well these fuckers bring to mind that old classic Outer Limits tale, Specimen Unknown and the space plants who were inadvertently brought back to Earth and took the fucking place over by launching their barrages of little seeds, nice metaphor for the ongoing multiplication and takeover of enlightened society by the retrograde morons, closet sadomasochists (remember Rev. Gary Aldridge?) and leering degenerates throughout the land who get a chubby even thinking of dunking prepubescent little girls (or boys for that matter) into the baptism tank and peeking through their undies.
When I was a kid back in Colorado, we were temporarily captured in the little cult of a mid 70’s local Baptist church and their little bus that was sent out to troll for recruits. A youngish, hip dude named Brother Jess ran the place and while the rampant degeneracy that emerged from the Religious Right’s rise to power in the years of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and that very strange Timothy LaHaye whose Council For National Policy preached a militarist gospel that is so bizarrely Israel centric…as in Likudnik genocide fever dreams that it could have been concocted by the fucking Mossad itself.
Brother Jess had shoulder length hair, a bitchin’ blonde haired wife with big boobs and in his house a living room to basement mural of the life of Jesus – hand painted no less but he didn’t seem to be more than a good ole boy juiced on Jesus Juice and just preachin the ole time religion, dunking dozens a week in a baptism tank behind the pulpit that could have accommodated Shamu the fucking whale and ensuring that that collection plate got passed around multiple times during services so that the new temple that was being constructed off the main building could be completed. It wasn’t he who was the problem, it was the other freaks who attended that church….they just creeped me out, it was a horrifying experience at such an early age but a formative one. I will always remember when I was just a tyke in the third or fourth grade and overheard the teacher’s assistant who reeked of some sort of liquor laughing about the kids believing in Santa Claus, as if they were stupid or something but while that was like seeing a beloved idol dipped in and dragged though shit (and the terrible realization that my philandering drunken rat bastard father was REALLY eating the cookies and putting the stuff under the tree but I am rambling. I really got the whole concept about how phony good ole time Christian religion was early on, one day on the bus some dimbulb was leading us in a rousing singing of “you can’t get to Heaven with hippie hair, cause the lord don’t like that mess up there” and standing in front of a glowering figure with hair down to his ass and a wild beard and it sure as fuck wasn’t Ted Nugent.
I certainly must confess some deviate behavior earlier in my own life. From going hog wild in some of the raunchiest whorehouses in Subic Bay when I visited there as a 19 year old in the US Navy to having my toes sucked after they had grenadine poured on them in Louisiana’s famous hipster bar Ruby’s Roadhouse but nothing like the vilest forms of fetishistic, violent, reducing a woman to a vagina fuck object that goes on now. After reading Hedges’ description of the Gonzo porn industry I felt like taking a shower, a very cold one to relieve the sensation that I had been bludgeoned over the head. This is some hard core prose and it’s brutality is like a rolling blitzkrieg but that is his intent. The obscenity is that beatdown, slutmania porno is the flip side of the American obsession with murder, war and the glorification of the carnage, wrapped up in faux heroism that flows from the television sets like a backed up shitter. Abu Ghraib comes to mind and Hedges makes that point. The evolution of the fascist society and the melding of the mass mind with sadosexual kink behavior, Christian hatred and repression found an outlet in military condoned assaults on brown skinned Muslim devils was a root cause of the vile twisted perversity of what went on when a bunch of West Virginia peckerwood hicks were encouraged to get their jollies in Saddam’s rape rooms. Just imagine what will happen when the mobs are given the green light to go and round up the liberals.
In his chapter that covers the Illusion of Happiness, Hedges goes after a favorite villain of mine, the positive thinking hoax that I mentioned earlier on in this essay the positive thinking scam. You know the way the con works, it’s all about enforcing conformity and rooted in the need for the corporate state to build an unquestioning supply of cheap, cowed and easily abused labor that can be drawn upon. It’s a standard truck used by all cults but has really taken off with the osmosis of every aspect of American society with the corporate borg. The one trick that is always used by these people is the old litmus test of ‘is the glass half, empty or half full?’, a meaningless mental trick that allows for those with advanced degrees in basket weaving and finger painting to find employment in the Human Resources departments tasked with eliminating the renegades from the cattle. It is a very old school ruse, this think positively trickery, used in earlier times to give some form of comfort to the poor slaves who worked themselves to death, were savagely whipped, starved and crushed to death by the incompetence of their co-workers as they hauled stones to build immense replicas and monuments to the Pharaohs. There are thousands if not millions of shit shovelers, toilers and the abused who must be made to benefit that one son of a bastard who gets his face on the Sphinx. It was religion then, the hope that a better life in some magical kingdom in the sky awaited if only submission to pain and the worst human injustice and cruelty was tolerated, as the giant talking blimp broadcasts in Blade Runner ‘a new life awaits you in the off world colonies’. It was hogwash then, and it’s even more hogwash now.
I have long stated that I could indirectly trace every rotten thing that has gone so horribly awry in America to the denial and delusion associated with the entire ‘think positively’ confidence game. It only encourages apathy and submissiveness and it was the naïve belief in the market based fraud that is capitalism that has wrecked the global economy, the dogma that what is good for Wall Street is good for America, that the bill would never come due on the little pieces of Satanic plastic credit cards that were maxed out to be like the images on the television. The fraudsters who run the banking system were all too happy to inflate the housing bubble that has devastated this country with neutron bomb style efficiency. The never-ending ATM that was phony home equity fueled the mass illusions as long as the flim flam men could scheme to turn that imaginary mortgage equity into derivatives and bad paper that was ultimately worth as much as low grade toilet paper of the 100 grit quality. And it only continued because the jackasses in this country believed the charlatans like Mad Money Cramer, George W. Bush and Alan Greenspan, the Ayn Rand cultist who ran the Fed and came as close as a human being has ever come to being anointed as God on Earth. Suckers all, they bought into it, did not question it as they should have and in the end were impoverished by it. Oh, and allowed themselves to be conned again into bailing out the same banks, the modern day Pharaohs who reside in the temples of avarice that are Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. Fools, goddamned fools, sheep and morons and we all have made to suffer because of the childish minds of Pollyanna Murkans skipping down the primrose path to perdition who fell for it all hook, line and sinker.
Which is why it is nice to see the entire myth get a long awaited debunking by Hedges and more importantly by Barbara Ehrenreich who actually will get some play in the mainstream media with her new book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. She doesn’t criticize the fascist warfare state when calling out the Jiminy Crickets so perhaps people can finally start to ponder how badly they have been hornswoggled by the positivity pimps. I haven’t read the book yet but I plan on it, I did happen to catch her interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now the other day and you should check it out if you haven’t already. Once this mindset has been broken there may be a chance but the zombies are legion, perhaps digging through dumpsters and fighting feral cats and dogs for scraps to feed themselves or standing in food pantry lines with their kids will render them somehow susceptible to reason, somehow I doubt it though.
I am reminded of my days as an outside representative who would make regular visits to a certain high profile national chain of convenience stores. The managers of these stores suffered from some sort of shellshock, they were walking wounded, broken people hounded by micromanaging corporate types, tyrannical district managers who always popped in at unexpected times and harangued by customers. They were psychically damaged material doing a thankless job for a pack of corporate pricks. What I remember in particular was one frumpy manager (looked like a dumpster in pantsuit) who had been transformed as some are by taking Jesus into their hearts. ‘Sally’, not her real name of course had found her proverbial file inside of the jailhouse cake because she had just been recruited into the notorious Amway Inc upon which the DeVos family (which includes Xe/Blackwater’s Erik Prince) built it’s massive fortune. ‘Sally’ backed me into a corner and explained that she would soon be wealthy beyond her wildest dreams, out from under the corporate schmucks who she baked bricks for and that her entire mindset was changed after attending Amway drink the Kool Aid sessions. I remember that she tried to explain the difference as though there were two parallel universes and that she had been able to transcend them…..it was like stepping through The Stargate she told me – everything was right on the other side, it was filled with wonderful positive and successful people and she too was going to leave the drudgery behind and join them. You can sell anything in America but nothing sells like hope, it’s like vails of ‘holy’ water sold in a leper colony, there is a reason that that bombastic shit-eating snake oil salesman Dr. Phil exists as a sort of demigod in Murka.
Ultimately though it’s all bullshit, the get rich schemes, the positivity pod people, the idea of transformation into a capitalist chrysalis and ultimately the corporate system itself. Like the wretched slaves in Plato’s cave allegory Americans have learned to love their bondage. As for me, I have always been a heretic, only now I no longer blame myself for not fitting into their bullshit system, choosing to call it out as what it truly is, fraud of the highest order writ large on stone tablets and given to charismatic Judas Goats like Dr. Phil, Oprah, Tony Robbins and any of the myriad of pitchmen and women to carry down the mountain to deliver to the unwashed masses of asses.
A few years after my conversation with ‘Sally’ over the Stargate, after I had quit my job and moved on to other things I happened to stop by a certain national convenience store for gas. a Big Bite and a Big Gulp and lo and behold there she was, toiling away behind the counter looking as sad, beaten and frumpy as ever with a look on her face like she had a big stinky turd in the inner front pocket of her green smock. The Stargate ultimately led to yet another boulevard of broken dreams as it ALWAYS does in lemming land, P.T. Barnum had it dead right, there IS a sucker born every minute…and they breed like rabbits on hormone supplements here in the home of the slaves.
The New Hammerhead was a perfect cowboy. He was vicious & stupid & ignorant of everything except his own fears and appetites. He beat the mortal shit out of anything that made him uneasy, for any reason at all. The Hammerhead was a perfect warrior. He defended the flag. Any flag. He learned to understand words like “orders” and “patriotism”, but the secret of his success was an animal taste for blood. He thrived on motion. But he was brainless; he had to be aimed.
-Hunter S. Thompson
Finally there is the Illusion of America, anything that Hedges says at this point is pretty much anticlimactic because let’s face it, you and I already understand the depths of the abyss that we are descending into. All in all it’s a pretty bleak assessment of where we are at right now, in a kinky, impoverished, militarist, delusional land of misfit toys and in pissing on the positivity pimps let me tell you one thing – enjoy today, it is going to be the best day of the rest of your life, every subsequent day is going to be incrementally worse as the system continues to rot, the facades are slowly torn away and the raw power of the police state is rolled out in order to protect the oligarchy from the rabble.
The Dow Jones is back over 10,000 again and with it goes the increase in oil and commodities prices, get ready for food prices to climb as well and any astute cynic can tell you that the official unemployment figures are horseshit, they are more likely twice what is announced but our shiny new reality show president has decided to cast his lot with the capitalists. The same swine who wrecked the system are now being given free reign to blow the next big bubble and all with house money. None of the surge in fraud and speculation means jack shit to the real economy, it has had a permanent hole blown in it, much like the USS Arizona and there is no way that fucker isn’t going down just the same way. There are always the illusions, it’s NFL season again so that of course buys some time in terms of distraction but there is a growing ugliness out there that we can all attest to, those with the keener antennae have smelled blood coming for quite some time now.
The anger of the fucked over has been very successfully co-opted by the dark forces of the fascist right and their corporate media. The very disturbing rise of the Beckers, a drooling but exponentially growing pack of know nothings, dead enders and goons who will when the time is right be used by the establishment as protection just like Hitler’s S.A.. They buy books with Beck’s image on the front in some sort of Stasi/fascistic military uniform, whatever it is it isn’t American. Or maybe it is. Maybe the inner Jack Bauer inside the easily manipulated angry army is just a bit closer to coming out now, it is after all a land where militarism is worshipped above all else. The National Football League, that greatest of American capitalist institutions may have in the interests of making more money shunned Rush Limbaugh who is a perfect fit for the fraternity of high rolling white assholes who are the owners, perhaps their stadiums are in their own minds their plantations upon which their “million dollar niggers” to borrow from the dearly departed Nazi sympathizer Marge Schott can frolic to their delight. Engaging in the modern form of gladiatorial combat that so served the Roman elite, how many slaves empowered by smiley faced positive thinking toiled to build that monstrous new stadium of his? A garish monstrosity complete with the world’s biggest television screens, a new coliseum which will soon host the Circus Maximus of them all: The Super Bowl. Matt Taibbi called the nationally televised home opener there “a genuinely terrifying broadcast event of a kind not seen since the premier of The Triumph of the Will. This was a debutante ball for America’s new idiot fascism.” But really, isn’t such outrage expressed by commissioner Roger Goodell over Limbaugh’s virulent racism hypocritical in how the NFL has so successfully become a showcase for American militarism?
Television will feed the basest emotional needs of the busted out freaks, haters and losers but at what point does the fascist right capitalize on the failures of the pathetically impotent Obama administration to provide even the most basic forms of assistance to those not dwelling in the ivory towers on Wall Street? The anger is out there and it is growing like a cancer just getting ready to do some serious eating on the victim. The abominable betrayal of the Democrats on the so-called health care reform fiasco is going to come with a price, forcing bankrupted, jobless Americans to buy overpriced coverage from the insurance parasites backed by the threat of state punishment isn’t exactly going to do much to keep the corporate Democrats in power for long and it’s going to only feed the flames being doused with gasoline by Beck, Cheney, Kristol and the rest of the neocons desperately trying to get back into official power. 2010 is not going to be a good year for the jackass party, print this out and tack it up somewhere because come next November I will be proven right. I will say one thing though, if the extreme right ever manages to seize power again then it’s a done deal for people like you and I.
Hedges’ book was scathing, a long and brutal scourging of much that has occurred as we have been flipped fascist but his best commentary, from a fairly recent Truthdig column entitled Globalization Goes Bankrupt from which I excerpt:
The rage of the disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can’t blame them. But unless we on the left move quickly, this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.
Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is hoping we will do—stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.
The draconian security measures put in place to silence dissent in Pittsburgh are disproportionate to any actual security concern. They are a response not to a real threat, but to the fear gripping the established centers of power. The power elite grasps, even if we do not, the massive fraud and theft being undertaken to save a criminal class on Wall Street and international speculators of the kinds who were executed in other periods of human history. They know the awful cost this plundering of state treasuries will impose on workers, who will become a permanent underclass. And they also know that once this is clear to the rest of us, rebellion will no longer be a foreign concept.
The delegates to the G-20, the gathering of the world’s wealthiest nations, will consequently be protected by a National Guard combat battalion, recently returned from Iraq. The battalion will shut down the area around the city center, man checkpoints and patrol the streets in combat gear. Pittsburgh has augmented the city’s police force of 1,000 with an additional 3,000 officers. Helicopters have begun to buzz gatherings in city parks, buses driven to Pittsburgh to provide food to protesters have been impounded, activists have been detained, and permits to camp in the city parks have been denied. Web sites belonging to resistance groups have been hacked and trashed, and many groups suspect that they have been infiltrated and that their phones and e-mail accounts are being monitored.
Our global economy, like our political system, has been hijacked by a tiny oligarchy, composed mostly of wealthy white men who serve corporations. They have pledged or raised a staggering $18 trillion, looted largely from state treasuries, to prop up banks and other financial institutions that engaged in suicidal acts of speculation and ruined the world economy. They have formulated trade deals so corporations can speculate across borders with currency, food and natural resources even as, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 1.02 billion people on the planet struggle with hunger. Globalization has obliterated the ability of many poor countries to protect food staples such as corn, rice, beans and wheat with subsidies or taxes on imported staples. The abolishment of these protections has permitted the giant mechanized farms to wipe out tens of millions of small farmers—2 million in Mexico alone—bankrupting many and driving them off their land. Those who could once feed themselves can no longer find enough food, and the wealthiest governments use institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization like pit bulls to establish economic supremacy. There is little that most governments seem able to do to fight back.
But the game is up. The utopian dreams of globalization have been exposed as a sham. Force is all the elite have left. We are living through one of civilization’s great seismic reversals. The ideology of globalization, like all utopias that are sold as inevitable and irreversible, has become a farce. The power elite, perplexed and confused, cling to the disastrous principles of globalization and its outdated language to mask the political and economic vacuum before us. The absurd idea that the marketplace alone should determine economic and political constructs caused the crisis. It led the G-20 to sacrifice other areas of human importance—from working conditions, to taxation, to child labor, to hunger, to health and pollution—on the altar of free trade. It left the world’s poor worse off and the United States with the largest deficits in human history. Globalization has become an excuse to ignore the mess. It has left a mediocre elite desperately trying to save a system that cannot be saved and, more important, trying to save itself. “Speculation,” then-President Jacques Chirac of France once warned, “is the AIDS of our economies.” We have reached the terminal stage.
The institutions that once provided alternative sources of power, including the press, government, agencies of religion, universities and labor unions, have proved morally bankrupt. They no longer provide a space for voices of moral autonomy. No one will save us now but ourselves.
“The best thing that happened to the Establishment is the election of a black president,” Holmes said. “It will contain people for a given period of time, but time is running out. Suppose something else happens? Suppose another straw breaks? What happens when there is a credit card crisis or a collapse in commercial real estate? The financial system is very, very fragile. The legs are being kicked out from underneath it.”
“Obama is in trouble,” Holmes went on. “The economic crisis is a structural crisis. The recovery is only a recovery for Wall Street. It can’t be sustained, and Obama will be blamed for it. He is doing everything Wall Street demands. But this will be a dead end. It is a prescription for disaster, not only for Obama but the Democratic Party. It is only groups like ours that provide hope. If labor unions will get off their ass and stop focusing on narrow legislation for their members, if they will go back to being social unions that embrace broad causes, we have a chance of effecting change. If this does not happen it will be a right-wing disaster.”
The G20 turned the Iron City into a martial law area of lockdown, a test run for what is coming once the oligarchy is no longer able to maintain the illusions. The left has failed in preventing this and will be the sacrificial lambs fed to the cannibals when the time comes, you can count on that. In addition to Glenn Beck’s increasingly bold minions there is the Nixon style image remaking campaign being conducted for the darling of the angry white masses Sarah Palin, she will be their future leader, it’s God’s will you know…the real New Hitler is already here and 2012 is surely only going to be more miserable as the economic Diaspora is creating permanently scarred and desperate people looking for both a savior and scapegoats.
The neocons aren’t going to go quietly into the goodnight, the Obama illusion is just that, a big lie, a fraud and a temporary placebo passed off as a panacea, ultimately however like all illusions it will dissipate leaving in it’s place a thirst for blood that knows no satisfaction and will not be slaked until every enemy and perceived enemy that is offered up has been eradicated.
American Fascists also addresses the necessity for a male dominance based hierarchical order for in the world of the extreme Christian Right a woman’s place is to act as chattel. Women are to perform their duty as deferential baby machines and to never challenge the authoritarian king of the castle. The war on science and the replacement of history with magic is examined in a look at the bizarre new Petersburg, Kentucky Creation Museum where dinosaurs coexist with humans. All animals were created on the sixth day and that would include a vegetarian T-Rex that was only turned into a ravenous carnivore after the garden was defiled by original sin. The reality of global warming is vehemently denied and Darwin is reduced to a pejorative. The construction of the alternate reality that Hannah Arendt identified as a precursor of totalitarianism is essential:
“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”