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Mad in America

Posted on Feb 4, 2011
Mr. Fish

By Mr. Fish

(Page 2)

Here’s what happened.

I arrived at the train station in L.A. at 5:25, five minutes before the demonstration was officially set to begin, a candlelit vigil I was told, and I found a seat on the wide lip of an enormous concrete planter on the landing where an underground train station emptied beneath a huge orange awning the size of a band shell at street level. Ten feet away from me stood two MoveOn organizers trying to recruit a pair of Awake! Jesus freaks into the protest, imploring them to put down their magazines and to pick up one of the 50 stacked cardboard signs leaning against an adjacent planter and to spend the next few hours standing curbside with it.

Mimicking the uncomfortable no thank you shown to them several thousand times a day, the Jesus freaks moved on, leaving a total of four people to begin the event. Sighing audibly, the protesters grabbed their baffling signs—HONK FOR KIDS, BE A VETO BANDIDO, WE THE PEOPLE JUST SAY NO and an indecipherable one that was on a piece of dress shirt cardboard no bigger than a standard piece of typing paper with lettering that had been drawn with a ballpoint pen—and shuffled over to where the cars were whizzing by as impenetrable as 5,000-pound seeds in pursuit of soil.

In 20 minutes the mob of activists had swelled to seven people, two of whom were under 5 years old, one of them crying in her stroller because she’d been swatted for chewing on her sign. Thirty feet beyond the seven was a MoveOn photographer who was taking pictures of the demonstration, his shutter snapping just at the moment when somewhere around a hundred bone-tired commuters would exit the train station and crowd around the sign holders to wait for the walking green at the enormous crosswalk before continuing their commute on the other side of the road at the bus station. Then the light would change, the camera would be recapped and the hoard, comprised of faces that looked as if the sign carriers were oozing something that might stain their clothes, would slide away from the minuscule number of protesters like sand being poured from a public ashtray around gum wads anchored where they stood.

“Get out of our way! Get out of our way!” hollered a man with widely spaced corn kernels for teeth and a limp severe enough to require airplane arms to help him keep his balance. He was headed toward the protesters, in the opposite direction of the commuters, and had noticed the MoveOn folks with their signs and assumed the hippies had taken over the world and he was speaking for all who hadn’t yet been corrupted by empathy and optimism. “Anti-American sons-a-bitches!” he spat, on his way home, I guessed, to piss in the sink and to slurp dinner from the fistful of ketchup packets that he’d been warming over in his pocket since midafternoon, the notes that make up the refrain from “God Bless America” circling round and round inside his head like vultures.

Just before the demonstration broke up a little more than an hour after it started (it was never dark enough for candles or quite bright enough for camaraderie), I watched as one of the remaining three protesters left his curbside position for a daring final attempt to incite some support for the humanism that he and his comrades were hoping to stir in defiance of Bush’s veto. Walking across the plaza with the deliberation of Jesus Christ moving toward the comfort of his cross, the man stopped at the top of the escalator leading up from the train platform below and hoisted his gigantic “HONK FOR HEALTHY KIDS” sign above his head, confident that he’d be impossible for the unwashed masses emerging from the underground to miss.

He stood there for 15 minutes unable to get a single honk out of anybody, his face souring and his eyes communicating a real disdain for humanity’s inability to see what was right in front it.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment

Actually, most of the radicals I meet are well under 30 and a good many of them are female.  If only old white men are presented to the public as radicals, that may have a lot more to do with the presenters and their presentation than what is supposedly being presented.

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By Redruby, April 1, 2011 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your portrayal of today’s elders is insulting, ignorant
and discriminatory…“One doesn’t typically think of
somebody who might smell faintly of mothballs and
Metamucil or somebody who is likely to loose his teeth
in a sneeze or who might proclaim loudly and repeatedly
that Velcro, microwave ovens and cable television are
newfangled and faddish and cockamamie.” 
You need to get out more.

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By Bobby, March 29, 2011 at 11:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“I’m 57 years old. My only experience of young radicals is environmental activists, and it saddened me that they hadn’t yet made the connection between the state of our planet and our endless need to reproduce ourselves.”—You’re insane! It’s called life, buddy. Real, disgusting, cruel, unjust life! Get a pair of balls. This is the reason why whinny, spoiled narcissists who grew up in the lap of relative luxury with mommy and daddy taking care of all their needs and are better off than 99.999999999999999% of ALL HUMANS WHO EVER LIVED ON EARTH and who believe they’re trying to “change the world”—How Stupid!—will attract no one but LOSERS to their anti-life (Man in God’s Exalted Chair) philosophy of SELF that is so 20th century passe, it was still born at inception. Freak!

As for the rest of the culturally illiterate “dreamers” commenting on this site, STOP WHINING! I don’t care how old you are, but if you think the “bad” world started cca. 1980 when Ron Reagan took office, then you are willfully ignorant and have no one to blame but yourselves. See Modernity. Moreover, your blabber only adds to the confusion, left or right, so the world would be better off if you shut up more and express yourselves less.

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By SEEK TRUTH, February 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

Mankind will never know peace or true liberty until every human-being on this planet is paid the same amount of money from the day of birth to death. Worth cannot be measured by inteligence, innovation, ingenuity, speed, skill, size, gender, ambition, etc. Self-worth should be the only reward for being superior by any measure to any other human-being.The average person works very hard to make certain his/her child is fed, clothed, housed,loved and educated; why not our fellow man?

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By Flummox, February 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Fish has some good points, but many of the comments on this article, and even some of the article itself, amounts to nothing more than that tired old cliche about the old man complaining about “kids these days”.

If you want antiwar protesters to show up why not organize a protest first? And do not count MoveOn events, nobody should be surprised that “clicktivists” don’t show up for an actual protest.

Also, people seem to be forgetting the magnitude of the Iraq war protests, numbers that even put 60’s marches to shame. The problem is that movement died a quick and quiet death. Why? Where are the organizers? That is what we need, not whiners selfishly lamenting the loss of their own glory days.

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By truedigger3, February 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Fish wrote:
“Who will be left once Chomsky and Sahl and Vidal and Ali and Allen and Lapham and Scheer and Krassner and Hitchens and Hedges disappear?

I can’t think of anybody. …”

Some of these men are really great and some I am not quite familiar with, but that S.O.B Hitchens, is a war monger, snobish and sycophant to power.

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By deang, February 7, 2011 at 1:27 am Link to this comment

A few commenters here have been saying that one reason why young people, students, don’t protest more or do more activist work is because school costs so much and they have to be concerned about their reputation in order to be able to continue to work and stay in school so they can pay off the enormous debts that they have.

What no one has mentioned is that it hasn’t always been that way (only goes back to sometime in the 80s), it isn’t that way everywhere else (by a long shot), and it needs to be changed. I know people are so locked into it that they can’t see beyond it, but Americans need to work on changing that as much as they need to work on changing their notoriously expensive and unworkable health care system. Maybe some of you will devote at least part of your lives to working on this.

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By deang, February 7, 2011 at 1:18 am Link to this comment

Other recently deceased activists are John Ross and Samuel Ruiz, both of Mexico. I can’t think of any American young people who even come close to any of the people you mention, but there is Naomi Klein in Canada and Johann Hari and many others in the UK.

And, aaah, the never-ending and pointless “candlelight vigils” so beloved of US demonstrators since the early 90s. It might feel good (sometimes) but it accomplishes nothing. Which is probably the point. With so many Americans so afraid of not conforming to the larger society and afraid of appearing too “extreme” or “radical,” to actually sway other people would probably be considered “too violent,” might cause Jon Stewart to make fun of you and say that you’re just as bad as Ann Coulter. Better to just sway quietly with a candle and pretend that MLK and Gandhi never did anything that imposed on other people.

And that lack of enthusiasm at even large demonstrations in the US is really a problem. Even at the occasional large California protests against cuts to education over the past couple of decades, the students protesting never really get into it the way Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Latin Americans do. They always look self-conscious, with a look of “ironic” (fashionable word) bemusement on their faces. I think they’ve just grown up in a media environment that has long made fun of “hippies” and people who are “too political.”

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Tesla's avatar

By Tesla, February 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment

I am not sure why my browser does not show me the
ability to comment directly to posts by others, so
here goes another disjointed post.

In addition to the 10 items items I listed in my
earlier post, I’d like to add the following:

11. The flaunting of immunity to our laws by the
power brokers and other elite in our society.

12. The “in-your-face” influence peddling we witness
in our elected officials by those that sell and those
that buy.

13. The continuing deflection by those in authority
on answering penetrating questions concerning their
behavior and the disconnect between what they say
they will do and what they actually do.

14. The obvious redistribution of wealth upward and
open warfare being waged against the Middle Class.

15. The craven cowardice of the democrats and other
so called liberals.

16. The unwarranted fear and apparent revulsion of
liberals and progressives to EMBRACE the “Socialist”
label. As long as it continues to be used exclusively
and successfully as a pejorative; it always will be
an Achilles heel to liberals. This means that as a
“non-reactionary-right-wing-whatever” you loose the argument before it even begins.

17. The top 10 percent in this country control more
than 75% of the wealth. That’s fair… right?

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By poonckie, February 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment

I don’t think you can point to one event as the cause of apathy amongst our young. There has been a concerted effort to quell social and political discourse that does not fit the powerbrokers agenda. Starting at the end of the Viet Nam war, the media has been slowly strangled and consolidated into a few individuals who now control all you see and hear. The death of the fairness doctrine under bush made possible for the Fox/saudi network to go into full propaganda mode. It allowed for no opposing debate on the invasion of two soveriegn nations with no journalists allowed.

The media refused to cover the massive protests of the Iraq war unlike their sickening coverage of every palin tweet and becks moneymaking scams/rallies. They followed the teabag express, which did start out as a grassroots protest but was quickly swallowed up by the Koch bros and turned into an arm of the repugs.

Fear is another factor. How often have any of you, been concerned when criticizing the bush/cheney cabal once warrentless wiretapping was made legal?

The gutting of our education system and the rise of religious zealotry. The drugging of our children for the last 20yrs by the big pharma in collusion with doctors getting kickbacks. That in itself has had a major impact. Everyone posting here who have family or friends, know someone on mind altering pharmaceuticals.

The media simply does not cover popular protests, nor do they report abuses such as the arrest and detention of potential protesters at the 08 RNC. Police actually went into the homes of protesters and arrested them, keeping them detained until the festivities were over. It was not reported in the MSM. Even the detention of Amy Goodman.

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By Non-Compassionate Liberal, February 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

Don’t trust anyone under 58.

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By laurence tribe, February 6, 2011 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

At best 40% vote. Why? Because our two party one brain system truly represents the rich and the powerful with pablum for the rest. Social Security be-gan in communist Russia.Those of you who want to rely on government want to sleep with the enemy, unless, of course you’ve been trained in the government schools to think otherwise. Have you ever seen a list of the taxes you pay? The idea is to keep us fat, dumb, dependent and oblivious to the theft of a nation.The U.S.A? United Socialist America.

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By James, February 6, 2011 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was at the “Rally for Sanity and/or Fear,” mostly because it was just down the
road and seemed like it might be a decent time.  Little did I expect thousands and
thousands of people from all over the country to be there, and for some reason it
was nasueating.  Even Jon Stewart mentioned a few times through the even things
along the lines of “What exactly is this? What are we doing here?”

The next week I found Mark Ames’ excellent article on the rally:
Reading that led to reading more of Ames’ and Dolan’s writing in ExiledOnline,
which led to Hedges, Klein, Vidal, and Chompsky.  Five months later I can honestly
say my eyes have been opened to what this country is and is on its way to

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By laurence tribe, February 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Right on, firefly, but, personally I see the control to be on a global scale, the One World we hear bantered, with the megabanks, the Federal Reserve Corporation, the Banks of England and Ger-many,etc.,supplying a one world currency at a cost to a One World socialist government. Life will change dramtically.No socialist government(Russia,Germany,  Italy, of current memory) has ever displayed much regard for life. One CFR published policy objective is substantial worldwide depopulation, half of cur-rent U.S. population. Humane euthansia presumably: a celebration of life with cookies and soft drinks.

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By Penny, February 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It saddens me that at this late, late hour in our national history, so many baby boomers
seem so incapable of removing their heads from their hindquarters long enough to see
and acknowledge the activism of anyone younger than themselves. As a young feminist
activist in the early 90’s, I was frustrated by the total lack of respect (much less
awareness) people of my parents’ generation showed for Riot Grrl, or for any radical
activist work gen Xers were involved with. It was as if nothing we did counted because we didn’t do it their way. And unfortunately, nothing much has changed since then.

The fact is that people like Howard Zinn began their activist careers in an era when the
mainstream media was still willing to pay some attention to what they had to say; many of them were middle-
aged by the time they truly became superstars. Not only would any twenty-year-old
activist of today be unlikely to receive the sort of media coverage that would positively impact the visibility of her work, but she simply would not have the life experience or connections to be the
kind of celebrity radical Fish is talking about here. As for those of us who are older, we
too are constrained by the closed-circuit circus that is the media, even the “liberal”
media, in part because those media are dominated by older folks who have put a lot of
time and energy into the belief that we are lazy, cynical, consumerist sell-outs. The fact
remains, as others have mentioned, that there are plenty of radicals, plenty of people
blazing trails (Derrick Jensen comes to mind), but those people press on with very little, if
any, regard from their elders because said elders either do not know where to find them
or simply don’t care to look.

I too would love to see more of the public actively engaged in meaningful protest against
any and everything currently plaguing what is left of this country, but let’s not forget that
a goodly number of the folks sitting on their asses watching Dancing with the Stars and
chipping away slowly at their credit card bills are above age 60. Apathy is not the curse
of any one generation. However, the idea that only one generation knows the true
meaning and spirit of radical activism is.

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By rollzone, February 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

hello again. i fear nuclear weaponry. in my comfortable
poverty i drink complacency with faith my government
protects me from nuclear annihilation. that is the only
failure (beyond robbing me of comfort services) i am
willing to actively protest my disapproval to the point
of self sacrifice. incremental thefts of my freedoms
and liberties can never achieve a tripping point, so
long as i remain comfortable freely consuming.
capitalism has bought politics.

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By James Fillmore, February 6, 2011 at 1:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d say Naomi Klein is a good young radical—however she’s generally busier
organizing things than she is writing.

The people over at English Al-Jazeera are doing a good job.

And books like like Ha-Joon Chang’s “Bad Samaritans”, Richard Wilkinson/Kate
Pickett’s “The Spirit Level”, and Naomi Oreskes/Eric Conway’s “Merchants Of
Doubt” are written by established academics and published by major presses, all
doing a fine job exposing the idiocy of mainstream media “thought.”

But I agree that I dread the loss of the elder statesmen. Vidal once wrote about
how, after Eleanor Roosevelt’s funeral, he had a sinking feeling that “we’re really
on our own now.” I sometimes feel that way every time we lose another one . . .

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By gerard, February 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment

ESA:  If people over 40 understood the political potentials of the internet, they would all be defending Bradley Manning and Juian Assange en masse.

They would also all be talking together, here and everywhere else, about specifically how citizens can organize around specific issues raised in the Leaks , inform and encourage others to understand “the power of Nonviolent Internet Action” (or words to that effect) and be about making possible changes up from and down to the “grass roots”.  They certainly wouldn’t be wasting time telling each other how impossible and rotten everything is.  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

I rest my case.

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By laurence tribe, February 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fish and Zeela: great observations. I’m almost two generations ahead of(perhaps that should be BEHIND) you. So my perspective is different; so I wonder. It is obvious to me that our Constitution has failed to prevent the concentration of power and authority in a central government on its way to further consolidate its control.When government gives anything itsomething in return. And some believe as I do that governments are only the front men for the real power brokers: the megaBankers of the world who control the issuance and retraction of currency in circulation, therefore the economic health of a nation(s) and on their way to creating a single world currency and hegemony. Have you any thoughts regarding the CFR, Trilats, Builderbergers, Club of Rome members, you know, the upper crust, who have all through history placed themselves above us peons.Socialism, equali-tarianism once in power has proven pretty unhealthy.

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By Maani, February 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment


Although you include “Aggressive effort by the Feds to infiltrate and disrupt ‘enemy’ organizations” as one reason why Americans are loath to protest, there is on element that not one person has brought up yet: fear of our own law enforcement and military.

Since at least Kent State, the left’s psychology was dealt a blow that was arguably more severe than most would admit.  Once we had the National Guard shooting at us, it became clear that the dynamic had changed.

If there were to be the kind of protests here that are occuring in Egypt et al, does anyone on this board REALLY think that the National Guard and/or U.S. Military would REFRAIN from shooting Americans?  The question is rhetorical.

I have spoken at dozens of anti-war, 9/11 truth and other political events, and I repeat the same thing: this country will never see the kind of protests we are seeing not just in the Middle East and Africa, but even in Europe (Greece, Ireland, England, France) unless and until wimpy, wussy, self-involved Americans are willing to put their lives on the line for their principles.  Period.  There is no other way that even a “mini-revolution” will occur in this country.  Talk and talk and talk and talk and talk.  But until people are willing to put their lives where their mouths are, it’s all just hot air and good intentions.

Indeed, most people are unwilling even to engage in non-violent civil disobdience actions because they are afraid of getting either arrested (even if only overnight) or even harmed (by law enforcement).  If they are not even willing to go THAT far, it seems a certainty they are not going to risk their lives, even for what they will claim are their most cherished principles.

Bill Maher joked that what we need is a few Tunisians and Egyptians (and maybe even Greeks and Irish) to come here and teach us how it’s done.  But given my comments above, I doubt that even THAT would help much.


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By firefly, February 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment

I think there are several explanations for this:

1.  An obsession with American ‘exceptionalism’ and
the compulsion for all children to swear daily an
absolute allegiance and loyalty to the nation.

2.  The distortion of history (both American and
world) and the almost manic belief that to talk
openly about the genocide of the Native Americans,
slavery and the Civil Rights movement, to mention
just a few of America’s internal friction and
battles, is utter betrayal.

3.  A distorted view of the outside world and its
peoples and the confusing belief that America’s place
in the world is as police, judge and jury.

4.  The strong conviction that America is God’s
chosen land and to question that detail is blasphemy.

5.  The partisan opinionated media reporting that
fails to offer more than one perspective in anything.

6.  Cheap and easy living (as compared to our
ancestors and many people in other countries), to the
point of anaesthetized apathy.

In short, America has achieved what despots, tyrants
and dictators have only ever achieved through
brutality: the absolute compliance, deference and
submission of people’s minds.

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By firefly, February 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment

I think there are several explanations for this:

1. The obsession with American ‘exceptionalism’ and
the compulsion for all children to swear daily an
absolute allegiance and loyalty to the nation.

2. The distortion of history (both American and
world) and the almost manic belief that to talk
openly about the genocide of the Native Americans,
slavery and the Civil Rights movement, to mention
just a few of America’s internal friction and
battles, is utter betrayal.

3. A distorted view of the outside world and its
peoples and the confusing belief that America’s place
in the world is as police, judge and jury.

4. The strong conviction that America is God’s chosen
land and to question that detail is blasphemy.

5. The partisan opinionated media reporting that
fails to offer more than one perspective in anything.

6. Cheap and easy living (as compared to our
ancestors and many people in other countries), to the
point of anaesthetized apathy.

In short, America has achieved what despots, tyrants
and dictators have only ever achieved through
brutality: the absolute compliance, deference and
submission of people’s minds.

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By Non-Compassionate Liberal, February 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

It wasn’t flouridization?

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By Betrayed, February 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

It’s time to wake-up and seriously consider the obvious truth.

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By ESA, February 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People over the age of 40 understand quite well the value of the Internet.  To say otherwise is naive.  What they are having trouble with is why those under the age of 30 are so clueless and/or inactive to the seriousness of their situation.

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By Dale Headley, February 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Speaking as a 75 year old, I must admit that I was around 65 before I really
overcame a lifetime of indoctrination and propaganda and was able to see clearly
what was really happening in this country. 
  In the excellent list of reasons for our ignorance provided by “Tesla,” he left out
a biggie: the lack of competent science education in the U.S.  Critical thinking,
which is so urgently needed, is NOT taught by American elementary and secondary
teachers.  Instead, they teach technology - specifically technological knowledge
that specifically serves the interests of corporations.  Additionally, teachers -
science teachers, especially - shy away rom anything that counters our religious
superstitions.  Most teachers, even most science teachers, do NOT teach evolution
competently, IF AT ALL.  I have yet to meet an American who really understands
evolution; but most of the foreigners I’ve met DO understand and appreciate the
most robust scientific theory ever conceived.

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By AnnaCatherine, February 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Fish, I feel your pain. The prevailing indifference troubles me. I grew up in a family of opinionated people so I thought that’s the way it was. At the time that was true. But we’ve become a nation of angry people, many of whom get their relief in front of a TV. A steady diet of shouting matches works for them. One of the rewards that comes with age is the right to speak your mind. No more job to lose, no bridges to burn, embarassment is unimportant. I’ve been to anti-war demonstrations: me and 7-8 other people. Depressing isn’t it?  My rude awakening came when the 2000 election was decided by the Supreme Court. I wondered “What the heck just happened”. Nobody else in my office at the time seemed to make much of it. The second wake-up call came when George Bush took the country to war. He called it “Liberating the Iraqi people”. Again, not much resistance. Then the Patriot Act became law to protect us from terrorism. Well, that’s what they said. We have since become what we are now. My grandmother marched for the vote way back when. I sometimes wonder what she’d make of all this. She certainly wouldn’t keep her mouth shut.

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By Tesla, February 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

The litany of problems that prevent Americans from
reacting to our fascist government the way we should
1. Lack of any real education (thanks Reagan)
2. Inability to reason (see item above)
3. Lack of curiosity (see items 1 and 2)
4. Exposure to a 24/7 assault of propaganda from MSM
5. Aggressive effort by the Feds to infiltrate and
disrupt “enemy” organizations.
6. Vocal, well publicized, well financed and well
organized reactionary movement distracting all from
the “real” problems.
7. Rigged political system that prevents dissent from
within the ranks to gain traction and prevents any
real “third” party forming.
8. Corporate sponsorship of our elected
representatives. All reps and senators should be
required to where large visible patches bearing the
names of the top five financial contributors. Don’t
you think?
9. Success of the corporatist’s ploy to get Americans
to accept property rights as the holy grail of our
10. Financial capitalism supplanting real capitalism.

End of transmission

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By gerard, February 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

Sorry to have to say that Pavlov’s Dog doesn’t give the Internet nearly enough credit, not only for its present abilities but for future developments. It’s true that hordes of people taking to the streets, and being shot at by State police or armies, has tremendouss power to bring about change.  But it’s also true that the Internet and related technology is an enormous aid in organizing and inter-communication. 

Perhaps its greatest contribution is that it gives citizens the knowledge they need of what their government is doing in secret, so they know what they are working with.  Otherwise they are in the dark, and very likely to be secretly undermined by their ignorance of appropriate strategies and tactics. It’s not a case of “techno-fix” but a new, never-before understood resource.  People over the age of 40 have a hard time grasping that fact.

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By Bog Dave, February 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In many ways, increased communication options have resulted in pessimism
overload in our younger generations. I am in my 60s, and although I never
ventured onto the national stage, local government and power seems to find me
to be a genuine pain-in-the-ass. Like you, I see very few young people taking
up the activist role. There seems to be just too much negative stimuli for their
nervous systems. They can’t filter and focus to find a cause to make their own,
so they choose none of the above.

In my youth, we had the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era. There was
almost nothing else of national and international import for us. Stop the war!
That was it. All the young people who wanted to tell the establishment to “FUCK
OFF!”, could do it together, as one voice.

Today the youth have to decide, first of all, where the truth lies. Are the
Republicans right that the only thing we have to do is listen to them, let the
Capitalist free market run wild, and everything will right itself? Or, are the
Democrats right that the government must be a strong, controlling force,
guiding us and molding or lives and social interactions in every minute detail?
Or, maybe the Libertarians, with a deft mix of both, but still unable to garner
maximum support is where truth lies?

So, once they sort that out, what do they choose to champion? Shall we
(speaking for the young) oppose the war in Afghanistan? How about if we chain
ourselves together on the White House fence until gays receive equal rights?
How about we get women equal rights, too? And, of course, though we have had
a decisive, morally obvious victory in Iraq, we do still have tens of thousands of
troops there, and the Iraqi police are shooting their own citizens who dare to
protest poverty, hunger and lack of services. Should we protest that? Maybe they
should shout at the powers in Washington that we will not stand for the
economic mess they allowed and intensified during the recent SGD (Second
Great Depression), and for which the youguns will have to pay. How about our
out of control cancer rate? Or our obesity rate? Or our diabetes rate? Or our
penchant for allowing employers make us work 60 hour weeks, only 40 of which
are compensated? Or the fact that even working 60 hour weeks, young people
still can’t afford decent healthcare? Or the threat that some nutjob in the desert
half a world away will get the bomb and kill everyone on the planet in the name
of (Insert name of personal god here). And what’s with 800 or so US military
bases on foreign soil? Or the billions we give foreign dictators to be our friends?
Or the fact that we borrow those billions from China that we give to the
dictators … and to the multinational corporations who ship our jobs overseas …
and to the political, civil and human rights violations ushered in under the
Patriot Act and extended, and deepened, and violated by the DHS, TSA, CIA, FBI
(insert any three initials here) … and to the fact their kid can’t get into school
unless they let some pediatrician poison him with a vaccine that is largely
untested, and probably faulty, if not outright contaminated?

Got the time? I got thousands more issues. And that, sir, is the point. For most
of the recorded history of the nation, and this planet, the young have had one,
single issue about which they could rally at a time … all together. Now, there are
so many that each is diluted, like so much homeopathic politics, that it is
virtually useless. And so, they do nothing.

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By SteveK9, February 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sadly, things have to get a lot worse before any real revolution
will start.  And, if they don’t get worse (hard to hope for that),
then we will just limp along.  You’ll still be able to get rich in
America, if you are smart, hard-working, and lucky, but the
average person will live less well than they might have.

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By TheBrix57, February 5, 2011 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

Sad article Mr. Fish.

To borrow a phrase from a younger era, many have “copped out”. Today, the credit rating has surpassed whatever else was used to keep people in line. Radical ideas are merely used today to make money off the unsuspecting fools.
Look at anyone today that does not have a good or great credit rating. Even if their ideas may be great, that credit rating is how you determine if they are to be listened to or not.

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By winsome1, February 5, 2011 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

Tell it , Mr. Fish!  THIS is what I’m talkin about.  More of this, please.

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By wanked, February 5, 2011 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I dont know. I treked to DC Boston NY Maine Hartford Providence and my own small towns around CT time and time again, demonstrating against the occupations in the middle east from the on start(actually before the on start) of the Iraq war. Initally the gatherings were VERY LARGE and spirited. But masses of hundreds of thousands dwindled down to a few thousand as the media became nonexistent and people felt that they were wasting their time. After last October’s gathering on the mall in DC I gave up. It was just a feel good picnic with everyone snapping pix for their photo albums.

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By wardad, February 5, 2011 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

See, what had happened was . . .

Huxley, Bradbury, and Orwell were all correct in their own way.  Let’ us hope
Atwood is fabulously wrong.

Anyway, our culture has become primarily electronic based.  We are caught up in
TeeVee, the internet; pop culture of a type that is so niched out, so divided into
little corners; little boxes if you will.  We naval gaze to no end.  We are
interminably distracted.  Sixties style protest and direct action goes either
unnoticed or it is willfully ignored.  Our radical Boomer activists, like our school
teachers, are pissing into a fire hose and hoping to stay dry.  This culture is so
overwhelmingly nihilistic, solipsistic, and sensorially reinforcing that the only
conclusion that makes any sense is the sign hanging over Dante’s Inferno.  We
have entered and we must abandon all hope.

Even smart people don’t want to hear about the problems; about the neo-feudal
order.  They want to pretend that they can go vegan and do their little local art
thing, and ride bikes, and that amounts to all they can do; alternative consumer
culture with their cell phones, if you will.  They are really no different than the
SUV driving shoppers they hate.  They are happy with the Democrat’s end of
DADT because “at least its a step in the right direction.”  They are happy with
the Democrat’s health care “fix,” because , “Well, its better than nothing.”  They
are happy with the current administration because it satiates their desire to ease
and forget about their white guilt; “At least we’re not unreconstructed

So what I’m saying is that we’re fucked and y’all better get used to it.  The best
you can do is withdrawal from mainstream society as far as possible.  If the
current establishment is discouraging and not to your liking; if the folks in this
society are either wanton whores for this consumption economy, distracted and
dazzled by the shiny things, or aware and compromised to the extent that they
will accept anything dressed up to look like “progress,”  then we must accept our
status as Huxley’s “Savages.”  We must accept the fact that we are outside their
game and that rather than longing for them to accept us we must rejected them
and their neo-feudal order without prejudice.

Put your head down, plant your garden, and bundle up with your friends
because its going to be a long hard slog living a life of integrity.

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By bogi666, February 5, 2011 at 9:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The USA is a country of narcissistic, consumerist, gluttons whom has been instilled with mindlessness,unable and/or not knowing to discern thoughts from facts. The government, businesses and pretend christians[biblical harlots] have institutionalized mindlessness which gives it legitimacy with peer pressure. Mindlessness can be observed on TV daily, hourly, by the minute and second. Unless American realize that they are just thought of as consumers by the oligarch’s being relegated into serfdom by the USG/MIC,Mafia Industrial Complex, with forced contributions, withholding taxes, for the Pentagon protection racket scheme of ‘fund US, the Pentagon, to protect you or else…...! The purpose of the Pentagon is to protect the assets of the INTERNATIONAL CORPORATOCRACY GOVERNMENT WEALTHY PREDATORY CAPITALIST WELFARE KINGS some of which pay no taxes and still are Pentagon protected, until these facts are realized nothing will happen and serfdom will result. The wealthy French paid no taxes and the French revolution resulted. Meanwhile the incessant happy talk, sociopath-psychopathic-optimistic-psychobabble propaganda will continue because it has worked so well at “Manufacturing Consent” as described by Noam Chomsky’s book, which has been in effect for almost 90 years now.

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By mookins, February 5, 2011 at 9:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The ‘60’s believed it possible to effect real change, a belief now gone.

Seattle in ‘99 showed how quickly we rise when to do so promises effect.

Obama rode that hopeful, insurgent spirit into the Presidency, then used the office to break it. He has finished what Reagan started.

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By aacme88, February 5, 2011 at 9:11 am Link to this comment


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By rollzone, February 5, 2011 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

hello. you are completely wrong. the conflicts of
today’s everything consumer is foremost married to
free and abundant electricity, without which today’s
generation would perish. controlling the mind of
chosen superior beings is comical to someone with a
smartphone. take away their electricity, and their
life drains away. we are on the cusp of
electrification compared to the dominance of the
future. the more dependent upon electricity we become
with food production in artificially controlled
environments and with robotic equipment, the greater
influence will be the electrical engineers. the
future power belongs to electrical generators.
electrical weapons and electric mind controllers will
rule the world. the next generation will worship
electricity, and your dinosaurs protesting war for
sound bites on their resumes without the true
conviction of self sacrifice, will quietly become
extinct. power off.

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By Spooky-43, February 5, 2011 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

An earlier poster stated it best.  No draft, no need to protest.  Protest is basically a self-serving attitude, candy-coated with a “concern for others” facade.

Many of us “boomers” have progressed beyond that point.  The “if it feels good, do it” and “me generation” crowd have been found to be more of the problem and not a solution. 

The answer is to begin each day with love in your heart, not hatred, violence and destruction.

Wake up, Mr. Fish.  And grow up.  Love will change the world much faster than Molotov cocktails.  I think the younger generations understand that better than you do.

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By Non-Compassionate Liberal, February 5, 2011 at 4:16 am Link to this comment

I was 18 years old in 1970.  Back then, The Establishment and The Media lamented the so-called “GENERATION GAP.”  That was a big deal for a few years.  Maybe with today’s mindset of infusing your kids with self-esteem, trying to be their “pals,” etc., the kids are too self-satisfied to fight—and/or the technology/Internet keeps them in the house—yeah, like when we were kids, punishment was having to stay inside the house—can’t go out AND PLAY WITH YOUR BUDDIES; now it’s the opposite: Going outside and away from the electronics is the dread.
So let’s alienate these brats and BRING BACK THE GENERATION GAP!  That might be the start of bigger unrest and a bigger movement—outside.

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By Mike Flugennock, February 5, 2011 at 3:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

rebwocnol sez:
The trick might be figuring out how to use new technologies to exert force in powerful ways that don’t require the presence of a mob.

What, do you have a problem with mobs? I don’t know about the rest of you folks, but I loves me a good mob in the streets more than anything. Nothing like it. Ask any Egyptian.

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By ESA, February 5, 2011 at 1:37 am Link to this comment

Zeelia, I think your response was brilliant.  I used to think we no longer produce passionate and charismatic leaders… I still do but you and others have solidified an explanation for it.  The conditions that produced the Chicago Eight are not at all the same, particularly economically as well as socially.  I have been to current political meetings and rallies.  There’s no spark. I also think the current situation is such that the united states of corporate america (sic) can blow the whole protest thing off as no threat.  I believe that unless serious civil disobedience occurs, there will be no hope for change. It’s gone too far to the right and corporate america will not be happy until they have stolen all our money. Keeping us trying to survive keeps us controlled. I remember a white paper report when Regan was in office revealing Regan’s desire to make us more like the Japanese and the Japanese more like us. That was the beginning of the demise of the middle class in America. It has been an amazing journey learning how they did it to us. I hope Americans don’t remain too scared or comfortable for much longer. I fear a point of no return when civil liberties and the laws are circumvented.  Fascism is more than just a word.

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By Laceration, February 5, 2011 at 1:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Big B, if we got got something solely like Ron Paul’s foreign policy from our gov’t, would that not surpass anything that we have had before?  And being that the gov’t is mostly set up to serve the rich and powerful, if it was disinvested who would it really hurt and who would it help?  I am not totally unsympathetic to your point, I am not convinced, for instance, that socialized medicine is not the way to go.  I don’t think I would worry about getting sick in Canada or France like I do here.  But Ron Paul is spot on many things and has repeatedly said it makes more sense to reign in the empire than to drastically cut the safety net rashly, because people are dependent on it.  That is his ultimate goal though.  Libertarian-Progressive alliance!  There’s a lot of commonality.  Could we not pull back our empire and do the other things Ralph Nader pointed out that he agrees with Ron Paul on and then quibble about the other stuff later?  If Texas ends up having free market medical system and Vermont a socialized one would that not still not be progress?

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By Big B, February 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

Pavlovs dog is correct, the internet proved to be merely a bulletin board for the disguntled. Pissed off people in a chatroom don’t hit the streets, people who lived in abject poverty, under the jackboot of a facist thug, that suddenly saw their food prices double, they are the ones who hit the street because they have nothing left to lose. We just don’t recognize it here in the west because we just aren’t downtrodden enough yet (we’re getting there though) But the rest of the world outside of america, canada, western europe and japan is a SHITHOLE. A shithole filled with angry, and now hungry people. The USA has become a the worlds ugly stepsister, while revolution is becoming everyones favorite uncle.

And am I the only one tired of hearing about that libertarian hack from texas, Ron Paul. While I agree that his foreign policy theory is solid, but its plainly obvious to anyone with a brain. But his fuck you, you’re on your own, conservative stance towards everything else is disturbing. Any body who still thinks that the US can manage a dog eat dog, screw your neihbor, libertarian existance is kidding themselves. Do we really want to live in a nation like Somalia or Eqypt or Mexico or Saudi Arabia?

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By clayton lowe, February 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Who will be left once Chomsky and Sahl and Vidal and
Ali and Allen and Lapham and Scheer and Krassner and
Hitchens and Hedges disappear?”

bradley manning, glenn greenwald, matt taibbi, the
girls from code pink, the boys from march foward ,
paul jay and, julian assange, all the
other vets, farmers, security guards, etc. that I
stood beside on a snowy day on december 16th outside
the white house and yes, maybe even you mr. fish, if
you’re willing to put your money where your sketch
pad is on march 19th at lafayette park at 10 am in

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By Stanley, February 4, 2011 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment

The betrayls of the 80’s and 90’s set the pieces in motion for the results we are living through now. Reagonomics began the downfall of the American business model; the fumbling and money grubbing of the Democratic party in the aftermath of Jimmy Carter’s sad loss are what led to the rise of “independents” such as Joe Lieberman, and paved the way for Clinton’s cop-out about NAFRA and GATT. Those are the items which led the way for the disaster of the dotcom bubbles rise and subsequent fall, which was the root of the housing collapse and subsequent financial meltdown. The fact of Bush 2’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan only added to the burden.
Throw off the grasping of capitalism and it is possible that we can dig out of this mess before the end of the century. Good luck!

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By Ed Lytwak, February 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

I really disagree with the techno-fix method of social change. The whole idea that the Egyptian revolution was started by “Facebook” is an urban myth, probably started by the U.S. mainstream media - perhaps by Facebook itself.  It was people in the street in the face of the security forces that are the decisive factor.  While the internet can be an extraordinarily powerful organizing tool, radicals cannot depend on it. There never was nor ever will be a substitute for grassroots organizing and people taking action in solidarity with one another. One of the first things Mubarak did once things started to heat up was shut it down.  Like the media, the internet is controlled by the plutocracy and what they give they can quickly take away.  All you need to know is that the internet was started by the Army.  What you don’t know is that Big Brother is already here and its called the internet - the plutocracy’s greatest spy resource.

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By Rixar13, February 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

I’m a Green Mountain Boy and mad as hell… Vietnam Vetaran against War

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By Olaf, February 4, 2011 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ah, Mr. Fish, your equating “MoveOn.Org” as THE anti-war movement, instead of the Obama supporting wishy-washy liberals they are tells me how out-of-touch you are.  The defeat of the left and the diminution of the anti-war movement is a result of a variety of factors. They can be summarized in one word… Obama.  The Obama candidacy was the ruling class’ (yes, Virginia, there IS an American ruling class) smartest move ever.  Tens of thousands (millions) of people hours of effort and tens of millions of dollars was donated to Obama by people who would consider themselves progressive and anti-war. He was, after all, the “anti-war” and “progressive” candidate.  He was the “great black hope”.  Remember the pictures of all those teary eyed progressives who gathered in Grant Park to witness “their” candidate make his election victory speech? 
Couple the success of the “great black hope” in so effectively draining resources from the left,  with the ability of the mass media to erase the memory of the time there was an effective left and you have the present situation. As Pavlov’s Dog points out, in May of 1971 the largest non-violent civil disobedience demonstration in the HISTORY OF THE WORLD (including the Gandian mass movements) was held in Washington DC to promote the end of the Vietnam War.  Is there any note of that in ANY history book; in ANY retrospective look at “the 60s”? Of course not…
Whatever energy remains among progressives after Obamafication and media-memory-holeism, gets siphoned off in sometimes bizarre “social issues”. Like… hmmm, say, Gays In The Military? Yeah, there’s something to get excited about. We should use our money and our energy to make sure that Gays have the same rights as other Americans to go and commit murder in our name.

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By gerard, February 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

rebwoknol:  I think you have the essence when you say:  “The trick might be figuring out how to use new technologies to exert force in powerful ways that don’t require the presence of a mob.”

This is what Julian Assange is all about, and if you have read any of his statements of purpose, you can see and feel the amount of urgency that pushed him into releasing the State Dept. cables.  His main idea being that people can’t govern themselves (ie. democracy) if they are denied information kept from them by governmental secrecy. And that internet technology makes possible the revealing of secrets essential for self-governance.

Next steps are awaiting at least two changes:  1. That a large number pf educated people worldwide recognize this possibility for chance and know how to use it.  And 2.  That no government, no matter how powerful, be allowed to “shut down” or limit the free exchange of that information.

After 1 and 2 comes 3:  That large numbers of people care enough to educate themselves on the possibilities that free exchange of information offers worldwide, and then develop thos possibilities in the interest of peace and openness and straight, fair dealing in the best interests of majorities.

Huge!  But absolutely essential to understand, and to take to the next stage, which is organized peaceable action by intelligent, creative people, based on open information. Manning and Assange did their part—and blind, unimaginative governments and people will try to persecute them.  Now it’s up to Truthdiggers and others to defend them—and to stop moaning. get with the program, and move into the 21st century.

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By rebwocnol, February 4, 2011 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Because people on the left are motivated by facts and a desire to do right, we depend on the wisdom of those who have proven themselves to be the same, and those who have experience rise in our ranks based on merit.
  The popularity of the internet may be causing the numbers of “brick and mortar” protests to dwindle but the trade off is that there are a lot more people gaining access to good information.  The trick might be figuring out how to use new technologies to exert force in powerful ways that don’t require the presence of a mob.

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By Reverend Lauren Unruh, THC Ministry, February 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am an activist, I am 52, the Tea Party was my idea, and so is world peace. I have
been arguing rule of law and freedom of religion.

I think the folks in the middle east even listen to me. I have been blogging my
peace vision in AlterNet for years.

My question is, how come you never heard of me?

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By laurence tribe, February 4, 2011 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In answer to Mr. Fish: we of nearly a bygone generation (I’m 81) have watched silently as our nation was manuevered into a major depression, then WWII to solve the economic problem by killing off our youth and increasing the peoples’ debt to the mega-Bankers who financed all the combatants. Why is it the over 65 are anti-authoritarians? One answer, probably oversimplified, is that truth wasn’t as scarce a commodity in the schools and society of our youth. In our Orwellian world today history is rewritten to fit the socialist agenda. Youth is enamored of the equalitarian promise that socialism advances - UNTIL it has achieved power and authority: twenty million died to establish “equality” in Rus-sia; then there was Hitler’s National Socialist Party that destroyed at least six million more dissenters. This nation’s industrial capacity is being shipped elsewhere along with middle class incomes, all to create a nation of the haves and the have nots, and the “middle class” employees of the central government. Welcome to the U.S.A., United Socialist America, where the states will become merely regions of the of the central government.

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By samosamo, February 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment


The Somnolent Public
Caused by consumerism and facade-ical redundant technology
and an aversion to disrupting the status cozy quo.
Tools used to obtain this are religion, a subverted mainstream
media, a severe lack of and a non-functionable educational
system and a coterie of people elected, who instead of
governing for the people are ostensible constructs for an
invisible financial sect of dictators.
Presents an almost insurmountable barrier to over come, ergo,
best to stay home so cozy, warm and comfortably numb on the
pretext someone else will do the objecting.

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By sheila, February 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No draft, no strong union movement, poor education = NO MOVEMENT!

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By Ed Lytwak, February 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

Regarding Ron Paul and the other t-baggers, “talk is cheap” but being a plutocratic lackey pays off big.

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By louiss123, February 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

I would invite you all to go back to the republican debates from the last pres.
election and listen to how Ron Paul described an ideal foreign policy.—Stop
empire building, let other countries work their own problems out, congress
must declare war before we send troops anywhere and most importantly..if we
think democracy is such a good idea..lead by example..not the point of a gun!
Yes Kucinich and Gravel were pro-peace as well however they like an idea of a
big gov. to “take care of us”.
Many on the left disregarded Ron Paul as 1. he was a republican 2. his stance
on personal responsibility was uncomfortable 3. ..his being a true
constitutionalist. all comes down to coercion. Is our Government going to force us to do
something that we don’t want to do? Be it health care mandates, a draft, forcing
us to obey laws that are asinine or something else it eventually will come down
to how we and our gov.  are in relationship with each other.
Volunteerism vs coercion.

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By paul miller, February 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article is not grounded in any reality what so ever.  Generations don’t exist
in vacuums. The generation before the boomers lead the counter culture
revolution with a sweeping arch encompassing art, literature, leftist religious
leaders and politicians. The Boomers for only a tiny fraction of a minute when
their self interest was effected became enraged. The student riots didn’t start
until after they had to take tests to see if they were to stay in school or get
drafted. There was no moral imperative here they didn’t want to get drafted.
The nihilism and apathy you see today is a direct result of the 60’s. After the
whole “fight the power” stuff the Boomers became hedge fund managers, watch
Fox News and study their 401k.
The generation xer’s have no and I mean no leadership or vast array of
literature or art on which to draw inspiration from the previous one. The
Pentagon Papers caused no change in the war strategy when they were
published and faded from public view almost as quickly. If anything the
Boomers are the most conservative generation ever in American history, the
rise of the right wing religious zealots the suffocating mass media and mass
culture that promote nothing but conservative values and ideas dissimulated
from “think tanks”. The Xer’s and yer’s have to start from scratch, which is why
it is taking so long, self interest must be effected and it will, and then a
PHILOSOPHY must be established and we are doing it from a dark pit of
consumerism, mass media, a half century of crap leftist ideas somewhere in the
basement of a strip mall.

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By gerard, February 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

One thing seems apparent to me:  We who are anti=war, pro-justice, pro-
health care, etc., don’t seem able to get together and reduce all the horrendous
problems to smaller, more attackable segments.  And then, having broken
things down to manageable size, get together in voluntary groups to attack any
one of the segments and stick with the job.

As a whole, our situation is overwhelming. No wonder mass action is late if
ever.  But are we completely without the ability to, for instance, take on the
media, divide up the power centers and think of effective ways to improve
public information, approaching people within the business who are less
mercenary, more in favor of real journalism and news reporting, aware of the
short-comings of media and the needs of a population that needs good media? 
Maybe even encouraging more whistle-blowing from within? 

And universal health-care:  Can’t we figure out where the weakest points are,
and start from there, using what power is already organized for reforming
action such as nurses’ organizations, groups like Physicians for Social
Responsibility, and American Psychiatrists Assn.?  I’m not sure, but either this
organization or organized Psychologists Assn. is already very active trying to
make eveybody aware and do something something for Bradley Manning,
in=carcerated because of the Wikileaks.  There are surely people out there who
need to be coordinated, and willing to help others help others etc. etc. 

I have a feeling that coordination is completely lacking and the Internet could
help fill this gap.  Am I wrong?  I just feel we are not aware enough, or not
using the resources there are.

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By smitty8, February 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment

The MOST depressing thing to me is how many ‘liberals’,
including some friends, still support Obama and make
all kinds of excuses for the Obamanation he has
wrought. Makes me feel sick to my stomach.

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By Ed Lytwak, February 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment

Its not the anti-war movement that is gutless, it is all the so-called lazy progressives, the hypocritical Christians, the clueless Democrats and other “centrists”, apathetic, smug, middle class liberals, demoralized wage slaves, whining journalists etc.etc.  The anti-war movement is courageous but small, witness the hundreds that were arrested in front of the White House in December.  An action that was barely even reported in the independent progressive media, except of course by Truthdig (mainly because of Chris Hedges). 

Its been over 40 years since the big anti-war marches and does anyone even remember “May Day”  Every circle and park in DC ringed by Marines and Airborne in full battle dress, the police like storm troopers arresting tens of thousands of people, RFK Stadium turned into a concentration camp!  And we SHUT the heart of the war machine down, even if just for one morning. 

I was there and living in the America today I can’t believe that something like May Day was possible.  Mr. Fish don’t blame the anti-war movement, look in the mirror!

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By ElkoJohn, February 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

You forgot to mention Ralph Nader, trashed by the Democratic Party Loyalists
after he challenged the status quo in Presidential elections, also Cynthia McKinny
ran for President. Dennis Kucinich ran in the Democratic Primaries and Ron Paul
ran in the Republican primaries.
So the voters had a choice.
But, like sheep, they are wedded to the mainstream political parties.
I can vote my conscience, even as I know the Republican & Democratic
Parties, as proxies for the Ruling Class will eventually take us to the
next Great Depression and the war that follows—the Republicans
on fast-track, the Democrats on slow-track.

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By tombaxter, February 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

I hear a lot of whining about the good old days.
I don’t remember them to be that good.
You forgot Bill Blum, IVAW, Code Pink, VFP, Bradley Manning Support Network, the GI coffee house movement, Courage to Resist, among others.
Folks ned to remember we’re fighting against folks that get paid big bucks to everyone distracted.
I certainly wish I could do better but complaining about screwed up it is doesn’t do any good.
Have you sent a card to Bradley this week?

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By Big B, February 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment


you hit this one out of the park. You first paragraph eerily paraphrases what is becoming the handbook for 21st century american life, “1984” (war is peace, freedom is slavery..)

Ronny Ray-guns legacy is being written right now. He and his libertarian ideology is playing out in our once great nation as we speak. We used to be a nation of 300+ million americans, we are now a country containing 300+ million individuals. Most rowing in different directions, causing the boat to go in a circle.

The best laid plans of the neo-cons, set in motion in the 1970’s by the major corporations (and the nine families) have taken root and are now coming to fruition. Americans are in debt up to their eyeballs, making less than they used too, working harder than ever before, just to try and maintain the lives they have become accostomed to. The genius in the neo-cons plan is that they no longer have to fight the left, for they have convinced the middle to do it for them. And things are not going to change anytime soon. Our media has become Goebbels wet dream. The average american has, in just one generation, become an un or undereducated slob, unsophisticated and unaware that he is slowly becoming a 21st century serf.

I find it slightly ironic that in an age where more information is availiable on the internet than has ever existed, the children of my sons generation seem ignorant to their coming plight. And the longer they take to wake up, the more hardships they will suffer, because the closer your canoe gets to the waterfall, the harder you have to paddle to avoid going over.

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By rend, February 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment
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While I agree with a majority of what Mr. Fish says, he is Im sure aware of If not perhaps he reads the comments and is now.

Why doesn’t Truthdig link to it in their web links. You link to Instapundit, but nothing from
cockburn and st.clair.

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By gerard, February 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

We can’t because we think we can’t.  We won’t because we think we won’t.

Bradley Manning did because he thought he could—and should.
Julian Assange did because he thought he could —and should.

Cheers!  Ideas are dying.  Ideas are being born.
          Old ways are dying.  New ways are being born.

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By mrfreeze, February 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

Neil Postman got it right in “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” We have swallowed the “soma” and are no longer able to distinguish good from evil, freedom from oppression or smart from dumb.

Americans today have a new religion, a new saviour: “the free market.” As a result, we are all “YOU INC” and as long as we don’t stand in the way of “the free market” everything is just wonderful…........

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By Anarcissie, February 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

Voltaire, Rimbaud, Phil Ochs, the young Picasso, the Beats, the yippies, the hippies, the Panthers, Warhol’s Factory riffraff, the Gen X, Y and Z-ers, that sort of thing…

Celebrities.  If you want to do something, try your local Food Not Bombs, Copwatch, Books Through Bars, anarchist bookstore, etc.  You won’t find celebrities but you’ll find radicals.  Radicalism is no longer a celebrity thing, as it may have been back in the day of Zinn, Vonnegut, Mailer, and so forth.  But there’s plenty of it around.

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By Tom, February 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment
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I think radicals are out there, they just aren’t marquee names like Zinn. That could be a result of the left in general having far less tolerance for anything to the left of Obama. Hedges has been particularly great as of late.

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By Susana, February 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment
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I would encourage you to take a look at Voices Breaking Boundaries in Houston
Texas.  VBB is a very real, radical, anti-war voice in the middle of the progressive
desert—a multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to inciting social justice
through art, run by people under 65.  Check them out.

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By Tobysgirl, February 4, 2011 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

The only circumstances in which people don’t mind hearing the truth spoken is when they are getting royally screwed, not when they are sitting in front of their big-screen TVs slurping down the Buds and Cokes watching Survivor.

Otherwise, people HATE hearing the truth. It makes them uncomfortable to be reminded that the planet and a lot of people are suffering. I have never noticed that liberals like hearing the truth any more than do conservatives; it puts a dent in their smiley-face view of reality, which they can only indulge themselves in because they are comfortable.

And what Fish is talking about here is TRUTH. Why do we love listening to Robert Fisk? Because he tells the truth and doesn’t bullshit us. Why do most people not want to listen to Fisk? For the exact same reason.

I’m 57 years old. My only experience of young radicals is environmental activists, and it saddened me that they hadn’t yet made the connection between the state of our planet and our endless need to reproduce ourselves.

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By Troy, February 4, 2011 at 10:26 am Link to this comment
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Great post. Note the age disparity at the protest (link below). When people, young and old work together, and when peace and justice groups work together, we will see success. And our courage will give rise to those whose words can make a difference. Thanks to North Texas BDS, and two student organizations from the University of North Texas…Students for Justice in Palestine, and the International Socialist Organization for their work.

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By Dennis, February 4, 2011 at 10:07 am Link to this comment
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Mr. Fish,

It’s the MEDIA .

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By Zeelia, February 4, 2011 at 9:25 am Link to this comment
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Though I love the tone of this article, there are some things that this article
doesn’t address.  The anemic anti-war response is due largely to the fact that
there is no draft.  No one fears being shipped off to fight, so protests by young
people are indeed weak, as they don’t have some sort of face to face contact
with that kind of reality.  Another thing is that no one seems to understand how
divided young people are.  I sat in college classes with classmates who desire to
be a part of the corrupt corporate America because in their minds there is no
alternative for a secure financial future.  They know that they will have student
debts and they don’t want to go into medicine, law school isn’t the safe bet it
once was, and they think that an MBA is the smart think to do.  If they were
offered a position tomorrow at Goldman-Sachs they’d jump at the chance.  The
other issue that people don’t talk about is how divided and increasingly
conservative young people are when it comes to religious beliefs.  Thanks to a
slanted media who constantly spin stories about evil liberals colluding with
Muslim-extremists, I had difficulties criticizing faith-based reasoning in my
classes because professors would step in, stop me, and say that it was
important that we not offend people.  But I wasn’t trying to offend anyone, I was
simply pointing out the difference between science and religion.  However,
pointing out this difference wasn’t politically correct.  As for the question
concerning where are the young Noam Chomsky’s of the world?  I’d say that
they couldn’t afford to go to school, and even if they could, they were probably
turned off by the corporatization of the university.  There is not a free exchange
of ideas going on in universities.  Students are conditioned to listen to
statements like, “Race is a social construct” with a Pavlovian shrug of the
shoulders, because an argument would mean they would lose class
participation points and honors students wouldn’t dare risk it.  Maybe their
hatred for education came much earlier when teachers suggested their parents
put them on meds, because they were disruptive by arguing with teachers who
were poorly educated themselves and couldn’t handle their curiosity.  While I
agree with the remarks concerning the majority of young people’s “gutless”
response to the war, I think it is something we cultivated and warrants

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By Mike789, February 4, 2011 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Nobody and Jaded Prole point to factors that make protestors and demonstrations in the 60’s and today a sea apart. I’d like to add my two inflated cents.

Young people in college these days are swamped in debt. Their activism inclination have been usurped by a corporate and institutional desigh “at least partly” fostered by the once 60’s hippies. Overly protective parents have insulated their kids and continue to shelter them from any sense of reality. The result is internalization of frustration rather then overt exposition.

It’s no wonder they can’t get a grip; resorting to skin puncturing to symbolize their subliminal apprehension that a world of pain is their future lot.

Why is the rapacious “Twilight” series, et al, so popular? It represents the extreme depth of catharsis they sense as necessary for shedding themselves of all the shallow corporate nonsense they’re compelled to ingest every single day.

Now with a dirth of jobs available, it’s expotentially worse. No one is going to take a risk proportionate to earlier decades. The only saving grace may be when the day comes that everybody wakes up and recognizes that the funny money won’t stay inside the cookie jar, evaporating in a nano-second as just binary interruption.

It’s a way different world Mr Fish, but I’m cool to your take.

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By exploitedtimes, February 4, 2011 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

Thanks Mr. Fish,

Unfortunately it is correct. What Hedges and others have termed ‘inverted totalitarianism’ - the result of decades and generations of subversive propaganda dating back at least to Goebbels - has obviously been quite effective, as it has the population perfectly willing to screw themselves for the benefit of the oligarchy. In a way, you’ve got to hand it to these elite. They are soulless, operating behind their corporate shield and oblivious to externalities such as human life. It’s a perfect business plan implanted into the psyches of newborns and bred into the masses.  This apathetic slave base behaves on instinct. History is rewritten and each is born into a corporate niche with nary a thought for his or herself. Perfect, no? And that is why the only form of revolt you will see here is the glorification of assaults like the one Jared Laughner pulled and the Virginia Tech massacre et. al., shown in endless loops behind talking corporate heads toeing their corporate line. To grasp reality we should realize that thinking radicals and/or progressives - indeed independent thinkers of any type - are reduced an insignificant and infinitesimal minority, highly endangered and nearly extinct. It’s the perfect business plan, perfectly executed.

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By Jaded Prole, February 4, 2011 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

As an activist under 60 (OK, I’m 55) I have to take issue with this premise. Among the activist I know there are some young people. I think the younger generation is generally more disempowered apathetic and cynical—due in large part to the great efforts made to foster cynicism by the corporate culture makers. Still, when presented with activism, many young people feel empowered to join in.

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By FeedTheRich, February 4, 2011 at 2:33 am Link to this comment

How depressing.

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By Mike Flugennock, February 4, 2011 at 2:28 am Link to this comment
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Awesome article, Fish.

One minor nit to pick, though… I was born in 1957, and have been active in progressive/Left peace/justice movements and alternative media since my college days in the late ‘70s. I’ve basically made an avocation out of saying “fuck you” for the past thirty-odd years, but still have about a decade to go until sixty-five.

Other than that, though… what a ball-busting article. Thanks so much for posting this.

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By Nobody, February 4, 2011 at 2:24 am Link to this comment
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There have been no social movements with the goal of a more meaningful life since the 60’s or at the latest the early 80’s with punk rock. Then came Ritalin and pills for every sort of mental and emotional disorder that living in our society caused and I think basically that’s why you haven’t seen anything since. Of course the media is not helping they way they move on to the next wardrobe malfunction but I think the bottom line is that we have become a nation of addicts to one thing or another and addicts just want to keep the drugs coming and as long as our leaders do that we could care less what happens to our country or our freedom or our livelihoods

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