The Looming Collapse of the American Empire by Chris Hedges

by
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
February 17, 2009

[Editor’s Note: DS added the blockquotes and footnotes to previously published text.]

Chris Hedges

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

Transcript of Chris Hedges’ presentation at the University of Missouri, Columbia, February 17, 2009.  University Lecture sponsored by College of Arts and Science, Peace Studies Program, and Center on Religion and the Professions.

The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time. When things start to go sour, when Barack Obama is exposed as a mortal waving a sword at a tidal wave, the United States could plunge into a long period of precarious social instability.

At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril or has the possibility of totalitarianism been as real. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our empire is imploding. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.1

Take a look at the grim statistics.

The United Nations’ International Labor Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. The collapse has already seen 3.6 million lost jobs in the United States. The International Monetary Fund’s prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent-the worst since World War II. There are 2.3 million properties in the United States that received a default notice or were repossessed last year. And this number is set to rise in 2009, especially as vacant commercial real estate begins to be foreclosed. About 20,000 major global banks collapsed, were sold or were nationalized in 2008. There are an estimated 62,000 U.S. companies expected to shut down this year. Unemployment, when you add people no longer looking for jobs and part-time workers who cannot find full-time employment, is close to 14 percent.

And we have few tools left to dig our way out. The manufacturing sector in the United States has been destroyed by globalization. Consumers, thanks to credit card companies, shady mortgage brokers and easy lines of credit, are $14 trillion in debt. Banks, which have negative equities, are charging 23 to 30 percent on credit cards to try and recoup the loss made gambling on subprime bonds. The government has pledged trillions toward the crisis, most of it borrowed or printed in the form of new money. It is borrowing trillions more to fund our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no one states the obvious: We will never be able to pay these loans back. We are supposed to somehow spend our way out of the crisis and maintain our imperial project on credit. Let our kids worry about it. There is no coherent and realistic plan, one built around the recognition of our severe limitations, to stanch the bleeding or ameliorate the mounting deprivations we will suffer as citizens.2

I am all in favor of a stimulus plan, but not a giveaway to zombie banks, to the creditors, without a dime for actual debt reduction. The hope that half a percentage point, $ 50 billion, might be used to write down troubled mortgage debtors was quashed by this current plan. As Michael Hudson, a professor at The University of Missouri, in Kansas City and a former Wall Street economist has correctly pointed out, what we have done is give $12 trillion to the richest one percent – or ten percent of the population – and indebted the economy and the government to this oligarchic class for the next 100 years. We need to refinance mortgages directly so that aid goes to homeowners. The banks and bondholders who made massive profits on these con schemes should take the hit, not the elderly couple down the street. This is what Roosevelt did in the 1930s with the Home Owners Loan Corporation. The stimulus plan is far too small to staunch the bleeding. State and Local governments will face revenue declines of $400 to $500 billion over the next two years — yet the money for the states in the stimulus package is about $140 billion. Why have we handed $135 billion to AIG, which has been raided in Britain by police because of allegations of financial fraud? We are paying out taxpayer dollars to mafia capitalists rather than the victims. It is insane. It is regressive politics. It is the opposite of New deal economics. And it will not work. The taxpayer dollars spent on high speed rail, on clean energy, on infrastructure repair, on food stamps, unemployment compensation and public health are helpful, but pitifully small given the magnitude of what we face.

How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark reality? Will we heed those who are sober and rational, those who speak of a new simplicity and humility, or will we follow the demagogues and charlatans who rise up out of the slime in moments of crisis to offer fantastic visions? Will we radically transform our system to one that protects the ordinary citizen and fosters the common good, that defies the corporate state and that dismantles our imperial wars and projects, or will we employ the brutality and technology of our internal security and surveillance apparatus to crush all dissent? We won’t have to wait long to find out.3

We have a remarkable ability to create our own monsters. A few decades of meddling in the Middle East with our Israeli doppelgänger and we get Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida, the Iraqi resistance movement and a resurgent Taliban. Now we trash the world economy and destroy the ecosystem and sit back to watch our handiwork. Hints of our brave new world seeped out last Thursday when Washington’s new director of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He warned that the deepening economic crisis posed perhaps our gravest threat to stability and national security. It could trigger, he said, a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s.

It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists. You wouldn’t know this from the Obama administration, which seems hell bent on draining the blood out of the body politic and transfusing it into the corpse of our financial system. But by the time Barack Obama is done all we will be left with is a corpse-a corpse and no blood. And then what? We will see accelerated plant and retail closures, inflation, an epidemic of bankruptcies, new rounds of foreclosures, bread lines, unemployment surpassing the levels of the Great Depression and, as Blair fears, social upheaval.

[…]

“The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications,” Blair told the Senate. “The crisis has been ongoing for over a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom. Some even fear that the recession could further deepen and reach the level of the Great Depression. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism.”

The specter of social unrest was raised at the U.S. Army War College in November in a monograph titled “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development.” The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.” The “widespread civil violence,” the document said, “would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”

“An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home,” it went on.

“Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, the Department of Defense would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance,” the document read.

In plain English, something bureaucrats and the military seem incapable of employing, this translates into the imposition of martial law and a de facto government being run out of the Department of Defense. They are considering it. So should you.

Adm. Blair warned the Senate that “roughly a quarter of the countries in the world have already experienced low-level instability such as government changes because of the current slowdown.” He noted that the “bulk of anti-state demonstrations” internationally have been seen in Europe and the former Soviet Union, but this did not mean they could not spread to the United States. He told the senators that the collapse of the global financial system is “likely to produce a wave of economic crises in emerging market nations over the next year.” He added that “much of Latin America, former Soviet Union states and sub-Saharan Africa lack sufficient cash reserves, access to international aid or credit, or other coping mechanism.”

“When those growth rates go down, my gut tells me that there are going to be problems coming out of that, and we’re looking for that,” he said. He referred to “statistical modeling” showing that “economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one to two year period.”

Blair articulated the newest narrative of fear. As the economic unraveling accelerates we will be told it is not the bearded Islamic extremists, although those in power will drag them out of the Halloween closet when they need to give us an exotic shock, but instead the domestic riffraff, environmentalists, anarchists, unions, youth movements and enraged members of our dispossessed working class who threaten us. Crime, as it always does in times of turmoil, will grow. Those who oppose the iron fist of the state security apparatus will be lumped together in slick, corporate news reports with the growing criminal underclass.

The committee’s Republican vice chairman, Sen. Christopher Bond, not quite knowing what to make of Blair’s testimony, said he was concerned that Blair was making the “conditions in the country” and the global economic crisis “the primary focus of the intelligence community.”

The economic collapse has exposed the stupidity of our collective faith in a free market and the absurdity of an economy based on the goals of endless growth, profligate consumption, borrowing and expansion. The ideology of unlimited growth failed to take into account the massive depletion of the world’s resources, from fossil fuels to clean water to fish stocks to erosion, as well as overpopulation, global warming and climate change. We can build as many fishing boats as we want. It does us no good if there are no fish. The huge international flows of unregulated capital have wrecked the global financial system. An overvalued dollar (which will soon deflate), wild tech, stock and housing financial bubbles, unchecked greed, the decimation of our manufacturing sector, the empowerment of an oligarchic class, the corruption of our political elite, the impoverishment of workers, a bloated military and defense budget and unrestrained credit binges have conspired to bring us down. The financial crisis will soon become a currency crisis. This second shock will threaten our financial viability. We let the market rule. Now we are paying for it.

The corporate thieves, those who insisted they be paid tens of millions of dollars because they were the best and the brightest, have been exposed as con artists. Our elected officials, along with the press, have been exposed as corrupt, vapid and spineless corporate lackeys. Our business schools and intellectual elite have been exposed as frauds. The age of the West has ended. Look to China. Laissez-faire capitalism has destroyed itself. It is time to dust off your copies of Marx.4

The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the phrase inverted totalitarianism to describe our distorted system of power.

Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, he writes, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism and the Constitution while cynically manipulating internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens, but they must raise staggering amounts of corporate funds to compete. They are beholden to armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington or state capitals who write the legislation. A corporate media – in fact about a half dozen of them — controls nearly everything we read, watch or hear and imposes a bland uniformity of opinion or diverts us with trivia 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.”5

The corporate state, our shadow government, is simply too powerful to be challenged. This is illustrated by our refusal to confront a bloated and wasteful military budget and the bailout. Our managed democracy is being decimated by the forces of empire. The vast sums of money demanded from the public by the military-industrial complex are never questioned by either party.

The U.S. military spends more than all other militaries on Earth combined. The official U.S. defense budget for fiscal year 2008 is $623 billion; the next closest national military budget is China’s at $65 billion, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

[…] “In order to cope with the imperial contingencies of foreign war and occupation,” according to Wolin, “democracy will alter its character, not only by assuming new behaviors abroad (e.g., ruthlessness, indifference to suffering, disregard of local norms, the inequalities in ruling a subject population) but also by operating on revised, power-expansive assumptions at home. It will, more often than not, try to manipulate the public rather than engage its members in deliberation. It will demand greater powers and broader discretion in their use (‘state secrets’), a tighter control over society’s resources, more summary methods of justice, and less patience for legalities, opposition, and clamor for socioeconomic reforms.”

Imperialism and democracy are literally incompatible, and the ever greater resources devoted to imperialism mean that democracy will inevitably wither and die. Wolin, who taught at Berkeley and Princeton, writes, “Imperial politics represents the conquest of domestic politics and the latter’s conversion into a crucial element of inverted totalitarianism. It makes no sense to ask how the democratic citizen could ‘participate’ substantively in imperial politics; hence it is not surprising that the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates. No major politician or party has so much as publicly remarked on the existence of an American empire.”6 (by Chalmers Johnson)

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Our oligarchic class is incompetent at governing, managing the economy, coping with natural disasters, educating our young, handling foreign affairs, providing basic services like health care and safeguarding individual rights, yet remains firmly rooted in power. That it is still in power, and will remain in power, is a testament to our inability to separate illusion from reality. We still believe in “the experts.” They still believe in themselves. They are clustered like flies swarming around Barack Obama. It is only when these elites – people like Lawrence Summers — are exposed as incompetent parasites and dethroned that we will have any hope of restoring social, economic and political order.7

The principle failure of our elites is their inability to recognize an actively organized pool of disinterest called the public good.

“It is as if the Industrial Revolution had caused a severe mental trauma, one that still reaches out and extinguishes the memory of certain people,” the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul wrote. “For them, modern history begins from a big explosion-the Industrial Revolution. This is a standard ideological approach: a star crosses the sky, a meteor explodes, and history begins anew.”

Our elites-the ones in Congress, the ones on Wall Street and the ones being produced at prestigious universities and business schools-do not have the capacity to fix our financial mess. Indeed, they will make it worse. They have no concept, thanks to the educations they have received, of the common good. They are stunted, timid and uncreative bureaucrats who are trained to carry out systems management. They see only piecemeal solutions which will satisfy the corporate structure. They are about numbers, profits and personal advancement. They are as able to deny gravely ill people medical coverage to increase company profits as they are able to use taxpayer dollars to peddle costly weapons systems to blood-soaked dictatorships. The human consequences never figure into their balance sheets. The democratic system, they think, is a secondary product of the free market. And they slavishly serve the market.

Andrew Lahde, the Santa Monica, Calif., hedge fund manager who made an 870 percent gain last year by betting on the subprime mortgage collapse, has abruptly shut down his fund, citing the risk of trading with faltering banks. In his farewell letter to his investors he excoriated the elites who run our investment houses, banks and government.

“The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking,” he said of our oligarchic class. “These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”

“On the issue of the U.S. Government, I would like to make a modest proposal,” he went on. “First, I point out the obvious flaws, whereby legislation was repeatedly brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have [reined] in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or care about it. Since Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith passed, I would argue that there has been a dearth of worthy philosophers in this country, at least ones focused on improving government.”

Democracy is not an outgrowth of free markets. Democracy and capitalism are often antagonistic entities. Democracy, like individualism, is not based on personal gain but on self-sacrifice. A functioning democracy must defy the economic interests of elites on behalf of citizens. This is not happening. The corporate managers and government officials trying to fix the economic meltdown are pouring money and resources into the financial sector because they only know how to manage and sustain established systems, not change them. Financial systems, however, are not pure scientific and numerical abstractions that exist independently from human beings.

[…]

Saul has pointed out that the first three aims of the corporatist movement in Germany, Italy and France during the 1920s, those that went on to become part of the Fascist experience, were “to shift power directly to economic and social interest groups, to push entrepreneurial initiative in areas normally reserved for public bodies” and to “obliterate the boundaries between public and private interest-that is, challenge the idea of the public interest.”

Sound familiar?

We may elect representatives to Congress to end the war in Iraq, but the war goes on. We may plead with these representatives to halt Bush’s illegal wiretapping but the telecommunications lobbyists make sure it remains in place. We may beg our elected officials – and remember constituent calls were 100 to 1 against the bailout — not to pass the bailout but trillions of taxpayer dollars, in the largest transference of wealth upwards in American history, are given without oversight to Wall Street anyway. We may want single-payer, not-for-profit health care but it is not even discussed as a possibility in presidential debates because the for-profit health care corporations do not want it raised as an option. We, as individuals in this system, are irrelevant.

[…]

The working class, which has desperately borrowed money to stay afloat as real wages have dropped, now face years, maybe decades, of stagnant or declining incomes without access to new credit. The national treasury meanwhile is being drained on behalf of speculative commercial interests. The government-the only institution citizens have that is big enough and powerful enough to protect their rights-is becoming weaker, more anemic and less able to help the mass of Americans who are embarking on a period of deprivation and suffering unseen in this country since the 1930s.8

Our failure is a failure of nerve. We have been neutralized and rendered ineffectual as a political force because of our refusal to hold fast on core issues, from universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans, to the steadfast protection of workers’ rights, to an immediate withdrawal from the failed occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan to a fight against a militarized economy that is hollowing the country out from the inside.

Let the politicians compromise. This is their job. It is not ours. If we want to regain influence in the nation’s political life, we must be willing to walk away from the Democratic Party until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.

Political and social change, as the radical Christian right and the array of corporate-funded neocon think tanks have demonstrated, are created by the building of movements. This is a lesson we have have forgotten. The object of a movement is not to achieve political power at any price. It is to create pressure and mobilize citizens around core issues of justice. It is to force politicians and parties to respond to our demands. It is about rewarding, through support and votes, those who champion our ideals and punishing those who refuse. And the current Democratic Party, as any worker in a former manufacturing town in America can tell you, has betrayed us.9

.

We are not supposed to be a player. We are supposed to be outside the system. The attempt by the left to take control of the Democratic Party failed with Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern. The left, at that point, should have gone back to organizing, street protests, building labor unions, and the mobilization of grassroots activists. Instead, it went for respectability.10 (paraphrased; original by John R. MacArthur)

.

The rise of a corporate state, and by that I mean a state that no longer works on behalf of its citizens but the corporations, is as much a part of the Democratic agenda as the Republican agenda. Sure, every four years Democratic candidates pay lip service to the old values of the party, but then they head off to Washington and do things such as ram NAFTA down our throats, throw 10 million people off welfare, and peddle health-care proposals acceptable to the HMOs, huge pharmaceutical giants, and for-profit health-care providers who are, after all, the very sources of our health-care crisis or transfer taxpayer wealth upwards to Wall Street.

The working class has every right to be, to steal a line from President Obama, bitter with liberal elites. I am bitter. I have seen what the loss of manufacturing jobs and the death of the labor movement did to my relatives in the former mill towns in Maine. Their story is the story of tens of millions of Americans who can no longer find a job that supports a family and provides basic benefits. Human beings are not, despite what the well-heeled Democratic and Republican apologists for the free market tell you, commodities. They are not goods. They grieve, and suffer and feel despair. They raise children and struggle to maintain communities. The growing class divide is not understood, despite the glibness of many in the media, by complicated sets of statistics or the absurd, utopian faith in unregulated globalization and complicated trade deals. It is understood in the eyes of a man or woman who is no longer making enough money to live with dignity and hope.11

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It was the economic meltdown of Yugoslavia that gave us Slobodan Milosevic. It was the collapse of the Weimar Republic that vomited up Adolf Hitler. And it was the breakdown in czarist Russia that opened the door for Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Financial collapses lead to political extremism. The rage bubbling up from our impoverished and disenfranchised working class, glimpsed at John McCain rallies, presages a looming and dangerous right-wing backlash.

As the public begins to grasp the depth of the betrayal and abuse by our ruling class, as the Democratic and Republican parties are exposed as craven tools of our corporate state, as savings accounts, college funds and retirement plans become worthless, as unemployment skyrockets and as home values go up in smoke, we must prepare for the political resurgence of a reinvigorated radical Christian right. The engine of this mass movement-as is true for all radical movements-is personal and economic despair. And despair, in an age of increasing shortages, poverty and hopelessness, will be one of our few surplus commodities.

Karl Polanyi in his book “The Great Transformation,” written in 1944, 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 devolved, without heavy government control, into a Mafia capitalism-and a Mafia political system-which is a good description of our corporate state. Polanyi wrote that a self-regulating market, the kind bequeathed to us since Ronald Reagan and maintained by every president since, turned human beings and the natural environment into commodities, a situation that ensures the destruction of both society and the natural environment. He decried the free market’s belief that nature and human beings are objects whose worth is determined by the market. He reminded us that a society that no longer recognizes that nature and human life have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic worth beyond monetary value, ultimately commits collective suicide. Such societies cannibalize themselves until they die. Speculative excesses and growing inequality, he wrote, always destroy the foundation for a continued prosperity.

We face an environmental meltdown as well as an economic meltdown. This would not have surprised Polanyi, who fled fascist Europe in 1933 and eventually taught at Columbia University. Russia’s northern coastline has begun producing huge qualities of toxic methane gas. Scientists with the International Siberian Shelf Study 2008 describe what they saw along the coastline recently as “methane chimneys” reaching from the sea floor to the ocean’s surface. Methane, locked in the permafrost of Arctic landmasses, is being released at an alarming rate as average Arctic temperatures rise. Methane is a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The release of millions of tons of it will dramatically accelerate the rate of global warming.

Those who run our corporate state have fought environmental regulation as tenaciously as they have fought financial regulation. They are responsible, as Polanyi predicted, for our personal impoverishment and the impoverishment of our ecosystem. We remain addicted, courtesy of the oil, gas and automobile industries and a corporate-controlled government, to fossil fuels. Species are vanishing. Fish stocks are depleted. The great human migration from coastlines and deserts has begun. And as temperatures continue to rise, huge parts of the globe will become uninhabitable. The continued release of large quantities of methane, some scientists have warned, could actually asphyxiate the human species.

[…]

Lenin said that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch its currency. If our financial disaster continues there will be a widespread loss of faith in the mechanisms that regulate society. If our money becomes worthless, so does our government. 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 amass millions. Look at Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld. He walks away from his bankrupt investment house after pocketing $485 million. His investors are wiped out. An economic collapse does not only mean the degradation of trade and commerce, food shortages, bankruptcies and unemployment; it means the systematic dynamiting of the foundations of a society. I watched this happen in Yugoslavia. I fear I am watching it happen here in the United States.

The Patriot Act, the FISA Reform Act, the suspension of habeas corpus, the open use of torture in our offshore penal colonies, the stationing of a combat brigade on American soil, the seas of surveillance cameras, the brutal assaults against activists in Denver and St. Paul are converging to determine our future. Those dark forces arrayed against American democracy are waiting for a moment to strike, a national crisis that will allow them in the name of national security and moral renewal to shred the Constitution. They have the tools. They will use fear, chaos, the hatred for the ruling elites and the specter of left-wing dissent and terrorism to impose draconian controls to extinguish our democracy. And while they do it they will be waving the American flag, singing patriotic slogans and clutching the Christian cross. Fuld, I expect, will be one of many corporatists happy to contribute to the cause.

We need a more robust understanding of the role of values, values that prevent us from compromising the sanctity and dignity of human life. We did not do enough as the working class was finished off with NAFTA during the Clinton administration to resist. And now the same thing is happening with the middle class. It is the loss of our spiritual resources that has crippled us. We forgot that nations, like individuals, have souls. Once you sell your soul, it is hard to get it back.12

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Our failure is the failure of well-meaning people who kept compromising and compromising in the name of effectiveness and a few scraps of influence until we had neither. The condemnations we utter – about the abuse of working men and women, the rapacious cannibalization of the country by an unchecked arms industry, our disastrous foreign wars, our destruction of the eco-system and the collapse of basic services from education to welfare – are not backed by action. We have been transformed into anguished apologists for corporate greed. We have become hypocrites.13

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Having a soul means there is coherence between our actions and our values. We can no longer claim this coherence. We have no moral compass. We do not know right from wrong. We have, in our confusion, lost the capacity to make moral judgments. We live in an age when, as Yeats said, “the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.” If we do not regain a militancy on the part of the dispossessed, including find the determination to walk away from the two-party system, we will cede the ground the dark forces that seek to dismantle our open society. If we do not reject the assumptions of a consumer society, if we do not learn to live with a new simplicity and humility, we will commit collective suicide. The hour is late. Time is running out.14 (paraphrased; original by Rev. Susan B. Thistlethwaite)

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Hope, St. Augustine wrote, has two beautiful daughters. They are anger and courage. Anger at the way things are and the courage to see they do not remain the way they are. We stand at the verge of a massive economic dislocation, one forcing millions of families from their homes and into severe financial distress, one that threatens to rend the fabric of our society. If we do not become angry, if we do not muster within us the courage to confront the corporate state that is destroying our nation, to actively defy entrenched power, we will have squandered our credibility and integrity at the moment we need it most.15

Notes

(1)(3)(5): It’s Not Going to Be OK, By Chris Hedges

(2)(4): Bad News From America’s Top Spy By Chris Hedges

(6): Chalmers Johnson on Our ‘Managed Democracy’ (page 3)

(7)(8): The Idiots Who Rule America by Chris Hedges

(9)(10)(11)(13)(14)(15): The Left Has Lost Its Way by Chris Hedges

(12): America’s Political Cannibalism By Chris Hedges

see also

Finance Capitalism Hits a Wall by Prof. Michael Hudson

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