Mr. Fish / Truthdig
NEW YORK—Seventeen years of war in the Middle East and what do we have to show for it? Iraq after our 2003 invasion and occupation is no longer a unified country. Its once modern infrastructure is largely destroyed, and the nation has fractured into warring enclaves. We have lost the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban is resurgent and has a presence in over 70 percent of the country. Libya is a failed state. Yemen after three years of relentless airstrikes and a blockade is enduring one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The 500 “moderate” rebels we funded and armed in Syria at a cost of $500 million are in retreat after instigating a lawless reign of terror. The military adventurism has cost a staggering $5.6 trillion as our infrastructure crumbles, austerity guts basic services and half the population of the United States lives at or near poverty levels. The endless wars in the Middle East are the biggest strategic blunder in American history and herald the death of the empire.
As a foreign correspondent I covered collapsed societies, including the former Yugoslavia. It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion. All the harbingers of collapse are visible: crumbling infrastructure; chronic underemployment and unemployment; the indiscriminate use of lethal force by police; political paralysis and stagnation; an economy built on the scaffolding of debt; nihilistic mass shootings in schools, universities, workplaces, malls, concert venues and movie theaters; opioid overdoses that kill some 64,000 people a year; an epidemic of suicides; unsustainable military expansion; gambling as a desperate tool of economic development and government revenue; the capture of power by a tiny, corrupt clique; censorship; the physical diminishing of public institutions ranging from schools and libraries to courts and medical facilities; the incessant bombardment by electronic hallucinations to divert us from the depressing sight that has become America and keep us trapped in illusions. We suffer the usual pathologies of impending death. I would be happy to be wrong. But I have seen this before. I know the warning signs. All I can say is get ready.
Mr. Fish / Truthdig
The Israeli army’s wanton slaughter of unarmed Palestinians trapped behind the security barriers in Gaza evokes little outrage and condemnation within the United States because we have been indoctrinated into dehumanizing Muslims. Islam is condemned as barbaric and equated with terrorism. The resistance struggle against foreign occupation, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Gaza, sees Muslims demonized as the enemy. Muslims are branded as irrational and inclined to violence and terrorism by their religious beliefs. We attack them not for what they do but because we see them as being different from us. We must eradicate them to save ourselves. And thus we perpetuate the very hatred and counterviolence, or terrorism, that we fear.
The corporate elites, which have seized control of ruling institutions including the government and destroyed labor unions, are re-establishing the inhumane labor conditions that characterized the 19th and early 20th centuries. When workers at General Motors carried out a 44-day sit-down strike in 1936, many were living in shacks that lacked heating and indoor plumbing; they could be laid off for weeks without compensation, had no medical or retirement benefits and often were fired without explanation. When they turned 40 their employment could be terminated. The average wage was about $900 a year at a time when the government determined that a family of four needed a minimum of $1,600 to live above the poverty line.
Gun ownership in the United States, largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression. It does not protect us from tyranny. It is an instrument of tyranny.
via Guns and Liberty
that the longer the stagnation and rot of a dysfunctional democracy went unaddressed, the more attractive fascism would become.
Zetkin warned, arises when capitalism enters a period of crisis and breakdown of the democratic institutions that once offered the possibility of reform and protection from an uninhibited assault by the capitalist class. The unchecked capitalist assault pushes the middle class, the bulwark of a capitalist democracy, into the working class and often poverty. It strips workers of all protection and depresses wages. The longer the economic and social stagnation persists, the more attractive fascism becomes. Zetkin would have warned us that Donald Trump is not the danger; the danger is the growing social and economic inequality that concentrates wealth in the hands of an oligarchic elite and degrades the lives of citizens.
The inability of the political establishment and the press to moderate or reform Trump’s egregious behavior is rooted in their loss of credibility. The press, along with political and intellectual elites, spent decades championing economic and political policies that solidified corporate power and betrayed and impoverished American workers. The hypocrisy and mendacity of the elites left them despised and distrusted by the victims of deindustrialization and austerity programs. The attempt to restore civility to public discourse and competency to political office is, therefore, fruitless. Liberal and establishment institutions, including the leadership of the two main political parties, academia and the press, squandered their moral authority. And the dogged refusal by the elites to address the engine of discontent—social inequality—ensures that they will remain ineffectual. They lay down the asphalt for the buffoonery of Trump and the coming tyranny.
The most ominous danger we face comes from the marginalization and destruction of institutions, including the courts, academia, legislative bodies, cultural organizations and the press, that once ensured that civil discourse was rooted in reality and fact, helped us distinguish lies from truth and facilitated justice.
The world is not bifurcated into good and evil. The United States too is guilty for the killings at Srebrenica. The refusal to examine and accept our responsibility in this act of genocide means there will be more genocides, as we see with Myanmar’s assault on the Rohingya Muslims and the Saudi campaign against Yemen. We should have learned the central lesson of the Holocaust a long time ago: When you have the capacity to stop genocide and you do not, you are culpable.
The focus on multiculturalism and identity politics is anti-politics. It is accompanied by sterile reforms—such as more professionalized policing—that never challenges the underlying structures of corporate power, which has turned the workers of deindustrialized communities into surplus or redundant labor. We no longer seek to eradicate poverty; instead we applaud ourselves for not stigmatizing the poor.
The death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the U.S. as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two.
Source: The End of Empire
The danger we face does not come, in the end, from Trump and his malignant cabal. It comes from severely weakened and corrupted democratic institutions.
Chris Hedges and Matt Taibbi have a pretty good idea—and in this clip, a compelling dialogue—about how Donald Trump made U.S. politics work for him.
The window to overthrow the Trump regime is rapidly closing. We must move swiftly to make governance impossible through nationwide strikes and other nonviolent resistance. If we do not, the last vestiges of democracy will die.
For decades, the media have been dominated by manufactured reports. This skillful manipulation of information erased the lines between fact and opinion and gave rise to the demagogue who will sit in the Oval Office.
Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union presages perhaps another global financial meltdown. Banks will again demand massive bailouts. We will be forced to again swallow austerity measures, and there will be a continued decline in living standards.
Chris Hedges doesn’t spare Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or even Bernie Sanders in this wide-ranging take on the big swindle of neoliberalism and his warning for the future in the hands of a “rapacious oligarchic elite.”
Hedges made his statements during a speech he gave in Toronto on Sept. 3, drawing from his newest book, “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” as well as from his Aug. 30 Truthdig column, “The Great Unraveling.”
Some particularly good lines from Hedges’ speech include these well-taken points: “Every promise made by the proponents of neoliberalism is a lie,” “The left is still alive … barely,” and “Democracy, especially in the U.S., is a farce, vomiting up right-wing demagogues such as Donald Trump, who has a serious chance to become the Republican presidential nominee—and perhaps even president.”
Find out how Hedges views our country’s current predicament, as well as Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, in the video below (via YouTube):
This is a film based on the book “Death of the Liberal Class” by journalist and Pulitzer prize winner, Chris Hedges. It charts the rise of the Corporate State, and examines the future of obedience in a world of unfettered capitalism, globalization, staggering inequality and environmental change. The film predominantly focuses on US corporate capitalism, […]