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The Idiots Who Rule America

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Posted on Oct 20, 2008
AP photo / Henny Ray Abrams

By Chris Hedges

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. That it is still in power, and will remain in power after this election, 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 John McCain and Barack Obama. It is only when these elites are exposed as incompetent parasites and dethroned that we will have any hope of restoring social, economic and political order. 

“Their inability to see the human as anything more than interest driven made it impossible for them to imagine an actively organized pool of disinterest called the public good,” said the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul, whose books “The Unconscious Civilization” and “Voltaire’s Bastards” excoriates our oligarchic elites. “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. 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.”

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“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 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.

“When the elite begin to think that money is real, the crash is coming,” Saul said in a telephone interview. “That is just a given in history. Because what they’ve done is pull themselves out of the possibility of looking in the mirror and thinking, this is inflation, speculation, this is fluff. They can’t do it. And when you say to them, gosh, this is not real. And they say, oh, you don’t understand, you’re so old-fashioned, you still think this is about manufacturing. And of course, it’s basic economics. And that’s what happens every single time.

“The difficulty is you have a collapse, you have a loss of face by the people who are there, and it’s not just George Bush, it’s very, very deep,” Saul said. “What we’re talking about is the need to rethink the departments of economics, of political science. Then you have to rethink the whole analytic method of the World Bank. If I’m the secretary of the treasury, and not a guy like [Henry] Paulson, but I mean a sort of normal secretary of the treasury or minister of finance, and I say, OK, we’ve got a real problem, let’s get the senior civil servants in here. Gentlemen, ladies, OK, clearly we have to go in another direction, give me some ideas. Well, those people don’t have any other ideas because at this point they’re about the fourth generation of what you might call neoconservative globalist managers, unfairly summarized. So they then go to the people who work for them, and you work down; there’s no one in there with an alternate approach. I mean they’ll have little alternatives, but no basic differences in opinion. And so it’s very difficult to turn anything around because they’ve eliminated all opposing ideas inside. I mean it’s the problem of the Soviet Union, right?”


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By Greg Bacon, October 21, 2008 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

Instead of telling the suckers to eat cake, when they have no homes in which to bake that cake, the kleptocrats will tell us to eat sh*t.

Pelosi will announce a program in which each and every American will get a shi*t sandwich, but due to budget restraints, they will be served WITHOUT bread.

Enjoy, America!!

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By Fahrenheit 451, October 21, 2008 at 5:17 am Link to this comment

@ Inherit The Wind, October 21 at 3:19 am;

I think that’s the nicest post you’ve ever posted.  Bravo!

@ cyrena, October 21 at 1:56 am;

Thanks for the mention. 
Without some form of followup, aka action, I’m not seeing much of value in these postings, mine included.  Yes, it does feel good to post and get a response or two but where are we really going with this?

Tao Walker has some really good and true ideas; no, not ideas; more like a map for our future.  But a maps no good if you don’t use it.  And without a good map, we’ll stay lost.  So, I ask in the most positive way; what are we really doing here?  Shouldn’t this start something?  Feedback welcome!

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By Anders Juhl, October 21, 2008 at 5:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To Chris Hedges

Best article I ever read about the political system and current crisis in USA. May I translate the article into Danish and post it on kommunikationsforum.dk, a site visited by professional journalists, opinionmakers and politicians in Denmark ? Reason: Same tendencies in the administration and leadership in Denmark has been seen the last eight years…

Best regards, Anders Juhl

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By Inherit The Wind, October 21, 2008 at 4:19 am Link to this comment

You know, Cyrena,
Back in the early and mid 70’s when I was in High School and college, I was friends with a number of people who were in the YSA—Young Socialist Alliance.  They were interesting and intelligent people. Remember when Nelson Rockefeller was caught “flipping the bird” at some protesters?  Well AG was one of the ones he was flippin’ off!

But they used to spout the same kind of stuff as Hedges and many of the posters here (Sorry Xntrx, but that’s the truth).  Same rhetoric and catch-phrases, different actors. Same inaccurate assumptions.

Imagine my surprise when I turned on the TV in 1978 and saw a fat, self-satisfied insipid preacher named Jerry Falwell using the same kind of rhetoric!  But instead of “corporate conspiracy” it was “liberal conspiracy”.  Instead of “fascists” it was “socialists”. Instead of a glorious workers’ paradise, it was God’s Heaven.

Same shit, different smell. But it was shit nonetheless. 

I think many posters here actually WANT McCain to win so the nation will complete the descent into fascism.  They want a revolution.  ARE THEY INSANE??? ANOTHER CIVIL WAR??? FOR WHAT????

Cyrena—here’s where I disagree with you.  I don’t think we are fully fascist—and I hold THIS election as evidence (unless, of course, they manage to steal it for McCain—stick a fork in him, he’s cooked). 

But I totally agree that we are far more fascist than we were 8 years ago, and that the road to fascism began to become real on Jan, 20, 1981, and Reagan began the slow process of un-doing all the safeguards put in after Nixon. I think that Obama’s election is critical to halt that slide (it was slowed but not stopped in Nov 2006) and can, and will reverse it.

I sadly think that those who saw no difference between Gore and Bush in 2000 and STILL don’t actually want our system to collapse into anarchy in hopes of some revolution.  What they don’t understand is we had two revolutions: the war for independence and the war to retain slavery in the South.  Both were horribly bloody.  Since then we’ve worked as an EVOLUTIONARY society.  I believe in evolution, both in politics and in biology.

We’ve watched evolution work in society after society. 

Outraged: I hope you feel better.  Truly.

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By cyrena, October 21, 2008 at 2:56 am Link to this comment

By KDelphi, October 20 at 8:40 pm #


I think that Hedges is being realistic.

~~~~~

Well KDelphi, he’s realistic about the extent of the disaster, (kind of hard to miss, don’t cha think?)

It’s just the CAUSE that he’s a little slow on the uptake. Not knowing (or acknowledging) the CAUSE, (and his own part in it)means a wrong diagnosis, (or at least an incomplete one) which makes his prescription for a treatment, (vote for Nader and run the risk of winding up with McPalin) a “cure” that will simply kill us off. Like, if the disease doesn’t kill us, the cure will.

I guess Chris is big on chemotherapy. I’m not.

Meantime, I think By Fahrenheit 451, is far MORE realistic, and this pretty much says it all, and provides the cure as well..

By Fahrenheit 451, October 20 at 5:56 am

The Idiots Who Rule America;

Oh shit, this is about us!

~~~

That’s EXACTLY who this is about..ALL of us.

Fadel makes the same point..

“..By Fadel Abdallah, October 20 at 7:20 pm #


There is always more complex explanation to such sad phenomenon. Let me suggest the one below:

“The idiots who rule America” are parallel to
“The herd that allows this to happen!”

~~~~

And, who might the ‘herd’ be? Oh gee.

Now there are a dozen or so others that have pointed this out as well…but it’s 3:00am here, and I trust most have already read these comments. Seems we’re pretty much in agreement on the rest of the reason for this disaster.

That said, there’s some hope that we’ll wiggle our ways out of this. Just keep listening to the Elders (TAO) and the other realists here.

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By jean-paul, October 21, 2008 at 2:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great article, and great comments! You may be interested to know that I have created a simple and very cheap test to sort out the idiots from the non-idiots, at least on the web! It works like this: anybody who confuses “its” and “it’s” is labeled “idiot”.
Brilliant, no?! Now, I’m working on a test on humor cluelessness, but gee, I’m going nowhere with that one!

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By cyrena, October 21, 2008 at 1:12 am Link to this comment

By BlueEagle, October 20 at 7:38 pm #
•  “I always get a kick out of people that call Bush names that insult his intelligence. I think those people, such as Hedges, can’t get past two things: 1) Bush’s policies are not his. He is just a puppet. 2) What if everything has happened exactly has he and his controllers wanted.”
I have to agree with you on this Blue Eagle, though it’s pretty disgusting that you get a ‘kick’ out of it. (basically you’re saying that it’s funny that Chris Hedges has this incredible naivety.)

So, it’s true that Hedges doesn’t seem to ‘get’ (after 8 years of it being perfectly clear to anyone willing to look behind the curtain) that none of these policies are the ideas of George Bush, because he IS too stupid to carry them out, and is clearly the PUPPET that you say he is.

And yes, it’s ALSO true that his handlers are quite brilliant. OF COURSE this was all planned, and well in advance. They’ve succeeded entirely, and this has been the epitome of everything Richard B Cheney has planned for the past 4 decades.

In the summer of 2000, I received an email from my then 82-year old aunt. She said, George Bush and Dick Cheney are DANGEROUS. George Bush is dangerous because he is STUPID, and Dick Cheney is dangerous because he is NOT!

That was before the stupidos of the country elected them…TWICE!

Hedges still hasn’t figured it out, since he’s only just now figuring out the danger of fascism. (it ‘might’ be coming he thinks). Now if he already KNEW that Bush was a puppet, and that Dick Cheney and David Addington have been running this fascist entity for 8 years, he’d KNOW that we’re already a fascist state. Because, the creation of two governments (an ostensible façade of a government that the ‘people’ see, and the shadow government that actually runs the country), are historically typical actions of a fascist regime in the making.

Now it might be understandable that Chris hasn’t figured this out, because maybe they didn’t cover it in the Seminary, or his journalism school. But, the books are there, for anyone who wants to study them. It’s not like this is the first Totalitarian regime to ever exist. He says he saw it in Yugoslavia. How about Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia before that?

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By Outraged, October 20, 2008 at 11:30 pm Link to this comment

I’ll “hopefully” be able to give a perspective on this later, however today I’m not feeling well.  I’ve read through many of the posts and there are many good comments and perspectives.  However, I’d like to repost this (hopefully TAO Walker doesn’t mind) because I feel, that maybe…. it wasn’t quite understood, the first time around.

TAO Walker:
So those who remain stuck in their “individuality,” no matter how accurately they diagnose or how conscientiously they try to treat the rest of their condition, are doomed to end-up even worse-off than if they’d just gone-on semi-conscously letting Nature run Her course.  That’s because they’ll have to endure the extra burden of “suffering” which always comes from having “failed” to walk the whole Way.  They’ll’ve forfeited their genuine nature as Human PERSONS in vain attempts to cling-to the civilization’s cheap imitation plastic substitute for that….the counterfeit “individual.

One thing Chris Hedges does illuminate well here is the utter futility of looking inside the apparatus of CONtainment for some means of getting free of it.  That is particularly true because the operating principal of the thing is not found in its institutional, ideological, and electro-mechanical “furniture.” The thing works only because the “livestock” it’s designed to CONtrol and
CONfine remain thoroughly CONvinced that it does work.

Hokahey.

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By Xntrk, October 20, 2008 at 11:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Both the article and comments are interesting. It is difficult to apply broad principles and opinions to such a diverse population.

Yes, The Corporatocracy has done their best to destroy Democracy and public education in our society. And, it cannot be denied that in many ways they have succeeded. Yet, it also cannot be denied that there remains a group of unreconstructed intellectuals and Left-Wing idealists that refuse to join the mobs.

Harvard and Yale and Stanford are not the sole stomping ground of American Intellectuals. The working class has a long history of learning - believe it or not, given the images of Bubba and Nascar.

The Cigar Rollers in Florida refused to work if there was not a ‘Reader’. First, the daily newspaper, then the literary work, a chapter at a time. Seems strange doesn’t it to think of these semi-saves, illiterate, and underpaid, willing to strike for the right to learn.

Union Square in New York City was and is famous for its chess matches between the proletariat aficionados. Ignorant and stupid? Hardly.

I remember the arguments between the longshoremen over economic theory as they polished off their weekend beers. Or the Jewish junkmen in Seattle who could discuss just about anything with anyone, by the hour.

None of these workers had university degrees, but in many ways they had better educations then the wealthy prep school graduates who closed their minds at 16, and never opened them again.

These people haven’t gone away, or given up. They have just withdrawn from the public square where they are scorned and laughed at.

I am not talking about the Sarah Palins who belong to weird sects that discourage any independent thought, but the many little people who try to keep a family fed and housed while listening to books on tape as they commute to their crappy jobs.

People like the family across the street - too many kids - six - The 3 oldest are attending Kamehameha School for native Hawaiians. Papa is a Fireman. Mom stays home, and the grandparents are retired teachers. Forget the TV, the kids are required to read for an hour after they do their homework.

Typical? Not hardly. Not gun nuts. Not religious. Regular voters, I was told by the middle daughter [aged 9] that her Dad thinks Bush is nuts. These are the people who may reconstruct our society - or they may vanish in the carnage brought about by the incompetence and selfishness of the ‘Elites’ who govern us.

KDelphi: Thanks for the links, I bookmarked them for later perusal. I’ll have to print them, I have trouble reading serious stuff on the computer. It’s hard on the eyes and on my neck…

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By KDelphi, October 20, 2008 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

I think that Hedges is being realistic.

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By cyrena, October 20, 2008 at 9:37 pm Link to this comment

By Inherit The Wind, October 20 at 9:02 am #


When I saw the title that we are being led by idiots I thought “Oh, Ok.  The Bush White House.”
But, no, it’s the usual impotent whine that it’s unfair and geared to help others and it’s somebody else’s fault “not mine”.  Well, Hedges, it IS your fault. And mine, and everybody else’s here.  You want to change things? Get 60 million people to agree with you and I guarantee things will change.  Can’t? Well, maybe your ideas don’t make much sense.
**

Thank you Inherit. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed. Hedges reminds me of a colleague who blames the middle class for absolutely everything that is wrong with the world. We keep reminding him that as he approaches the acquisition of the PhD that he’s been working on for over a decade, (and that’s fine) that HE himself is part of the Bourgeoisies. He goes into a rant every time, denying the obvious. 

Always easier for it to be somebody else’s fault.

And, it’s not so much that all of his ideas don’t make sense, as you pointed out. He does have that one very insightful paragraph. It’s just that he hasn’t figured out (as have only a few) what you say here:

•  “But this is really a description of how Cheney, with Rove and Bush, sought to undo the boundaries Good Government had placed on the executive in the wake of Richard Nixon.  Just like the 9/11 bombers learned from their mistakes in 1993, so the Bush Bombers learned from their mistakes that led to Watergate and the only President to leave office before his time while he was still breathing…Yet Hedges doesn’t see that sooner or later (now, very much later) the majority will wake up and see what’s going on and, like a wave, move for change.”

And, even if he’s finally starting to figure it out, he’s still not connecting the right CAUSE for this effect. He never does. Instead, he puts a blanket blame on the oligarchy that has been in place forever, and growing stronger and stronger, having become, (under dick cheney bush) the closest thing to a fascist entity than we’ve ever been.

I don’t blame Chris Hedges for being BITTER, (because that’s exactly what he is) because we ALL have a reason, (maybe even a right) to be that and more. We’re pissed off, and frustrated, and yeah, depressed. And it shows, in the CHANGE that has already begun…the one that he ignores, and then denigrates, because it isn’t happening fast enough for him, and because it isn’t in the ‘form’ that he recognizes.

So he ignores all of the hundreds of thousands - millions of new participants to the system, who can and will bring about the change that we need; a change from a totally apathetic society that allowed this to happen to begin with, him included. His condescending decision to simply ignore and even denigrate our efforts just pisses me off even more.

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By BlueEagle, October 20, 2008 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

I always get a kick out of people that call Bush names that insult his intelligence. I think those people, such as Hedges, can’t get past two things: 1) Bush’s policies are not his. He is just a puppet. 2) What if everything has happened exactly has he and his controllers wanted.

What make people so self-centered that they think that the powers that be (Rockefeller et. al.) actually want to help the sheeple.

Personally, I think the “Bush” gang have achieved everything they set out to do eight years ago.

They successfully conducted the largest false flag operation in history.

They got two extremely profitable wars that have caused destruction and suffering.

They were able to put more people into debt (slavery) than ever before.

They have caused enormous amounts of environmental damage by endorsing consumerism, whether it be autos, iPods or housing.

They have successfully transferred wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich.

They have centralized more power than ever before, ripped up the Constitution and have convinced the sheeple to give up their liberties for a false sense of security.

The “Bush” gang are extraordinarily intelligent have been extremely successful.

They are about to hold their grand finally - an election. Dictators love to hold elections and the powers that be are no exception. We will see a landslide election for the next puppet govt led by Mr. Obama. Unfortunately, the poor souls that vote for him thinking they will get positive change will simply get a changing of the guard.

This article with the same title will be written a few years from now, except the names will have changed as the Hope Train is in a head on collision with the Reality Train.

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By Fadel Abdallah, October 20, 2008 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

There is always more complex explanation to such sad phenomenon. Let me suggest the one below:

“The idiots who rule America” are parallel to
“The herd that allows this to happen!”

Report this

By mud, October 20, 2008 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment

“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.”

Yes but that incompetent oligarchic class has successfully raided America of it’s wealth and is getting away with it.

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By ocjim, October 20, 2008 at 7:53 pm Link to this comment

George W. Bush has left the world in shambles.

It is curious that one willful, self-deluded, inflexible dolt could accomplish what you would usually associate with a global catastrophe.

Of course, He didn’t do it alone.

Besides two wars, unhampered global warming, financial crisis, and the derision of most other countries, we have the polarization that the Bush regime so carefully crafted in order to maintain control and power.

Given an environment of hope, fairness and unity during the last eight year, we could have handled the world problems.

Instead, we have a world in shambles.

But hope, fairness, and unity were not trademarks of the Bush regime. The Christian virtues of hope, love and charity were twisted into greed, hate, fear and division, and it is fair to say that we let it happen, many seeing goodness in his lying eyes.

It is no surprise that a candidate who embraces Bush policy, from favoring the rich politically and economically, to exploiting the fear, hatred and derision left like a cancer by Bush, does draw in these sad refugees of the Bush regime.

In the twisted Bush world, there has to be a target, a cause for the ills of society, many of which your own policies perpetuate.

So turn this division to your favor.

Palin and McCain are doing this with the living casualties of Bush policy.

As Bush victims stand before them, disgruntled, resentful, fearful, and full of hate, McCain and Palin are pointing at Obama, whom they hope to be the sacrificial lamb for their own cause of power and greed.

The end justifies the means: true Machiavellians in the spirit of Karl Rove.

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By PuWeiTa, October 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If America is a democracy, then the idiots are the voters.

From my angle, America does not appear to be a democracy. Your country appears to be run my two wings of the same party, which is, in turn, owned by the lobbyists and the people they represent. The people who run this country are not idiots. They are doing a very good job - for the people who “hired” them.  They told you this is a country “of the people, for the people, by the people”. But, of course - the rich people.

Now who are the idiots? And you trusted your government?

Actually, they played the game fair. They warned you. On every single piece of money.

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By Blackspeare, October 20, 2008 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

I’m all confused.  With Obama we’ll have creeping Socialism.  With McCain we’ll have creeping Fascism.  As they say, which is the lesser of the evils?

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By msgmi, October 20, 2008 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Greed, stupidity and power is a dangerous combination and it becomes most dangerous when the idiots elect them to office.

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By KDelphi, October 20, 2008 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

milol—Hedges is not talking about doctors or other well educated people who perform needed services.

He is talking about the elites that run this corprotocracy for the benenfit of others like them.

And, to be honest, if it comes down to party loyalty, loyalty to country etc. , the elites of both parties will protect each others asses every time.

They just did it in the Wall St. Bailout.

Besides , if most of us had to have bypass surgery, we sure as hell wouoldnt be able to afford a decent surgeon. We dont get to go to the “elite” doctors—alot of us end up with indigent care.

Where did you learn do defend the elites? Prep school? So, you think that they are doing a pretty good job, eh?

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By mill, October 20, 2008 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment

Hedges writes like a middle school anarchist - blame the elites! blame the elites!

go to some nonelitist surgeon for your heart bypass

go to Sarah Palin for investment advice

d-mn the elites ... everything is their fault, you know, THEM ... the ones we should be BLAMING!!

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By Georg Poothausenschlofths, October 20, 2008 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I agree with most of the points set forth in this article, it is increasingly difficult for me to conceive of our elected officials as operating in the interest of individuals—that is, I would not call our officials incompetent, but rather, efficient, calculating, and inhumanly capable of managing citizens like cattle.

As we listen to experts telling us about potential pitfalls we may encounter while our officials guide us into the “uncharted territory” of nationalized banking, it is important to note that this territory is anything but uncharted.  While it may be tempting to read a nascent economic collapse in the context of the 1930’s Great Depression, a more appropriate context is likely to be found in the depressions of the late 1800’s that followed from the strengthening of relationships between railroad barons, financial institutions, and politicians.  JP Morgan’s “innovative” monopolism has for some time now been public knowledge among those with access to means.

Whereas in the late 1800’s we saw mergers and consolidations issue from increased competition among dwinding land interests as the Westward Expansion ran out of West—and a corresponding increase in the value of the infrastructure that joined these interests (railroads)—we now see novel financial instruments and telecommunications technologies as the new “uncharted territory.”

Rather than the acquisition of land, today’s barons primarily seek the acquisition of time.  The bailout/rescue plan means indentured servitude for our descendants.  Their time is now already spoken for.  The “territory” is legal—space on paper—but the physical commodity is future worker output.  The cost is self-determination.

Due to Iraq among other reasons, I’m already wary of being a federal taxpayer and have zero interest in becoming an “investor”—even more so since I don’t get to choose my investments.

We’re seeing unprecedented centralization at a time when decentralization is desperately needed.  The pitfalls are clear, but the consequences too lucrative to deny.  Decentralized finance, decentralized energy, decentralized food production: the list goes on.  But the silver reserves backing the “Liberty Dollar” were confiscated by the FBI, the insane infrastructure of coal and nuclear energy are being touted as the answer to foreign oil dependence, and the trade practices that ship our food to China for processing and then back here to market are only becoming more vital to our globalized economy.

The obvious answers put forth by scientific socialism—cap and trade, or the BTU as currency—only further centralize power and influence.  Who controls the equations controls the economy: money is by now long immaterial, a global confidence game.

Listen to our officials talk about consumers—we’re only valuable to them insofar as we are predictable statistical constructs defined by corporations.

Have you heard the Federal Reserve call for a new stimulus package?  Beyond the fact that the Fed isn’t even a part of the government, their call represents one of the most troubling features from Hayek’s critique of scientific socialism: that the individual is treated as a means rather than as an end.  They would manage us like cattle—not as living beings, mind you, but as potential dollars.

None of this is new, and none of this is incompetence.  This isn’t a financial collapse, it’s an engineered redistribution of wealth.  It’s not a banking failure, it’s a dazzling success for bankers.

Sorry for the disorganized rant, comrade.

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By Maria, October 20, 2008 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Democracy may survive only and only if the country manages to save the rule of law: the Constitution, the habeas corpus, the accountability from the top. Right now the fascist tendencies are frighteningly strong (rule of moneyed oligarchy), and the Department of Justice is apparently lawless
With all the tragedies, one aspect of the fallen USSR was precious: namely, the educators, doctors, engineers, scientists and people of art, music, and letters were recognized as superior to those occupied in commerce. It is beyond stupidity to explain the fall of the USSR as caused by Reagan. It did not work because the USSR was not a country of law; it was a country of one-party system that did not respond to people’s needs. - Thus the man-made famines and suppression of new technologies…
Imagine oil companies in charge of the state, like the Bush’s regime, and the devastation that they can inflict on all aspects of society. And the devastation they had inflicted.

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By OzarkMichael, October 20, 2008 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

John responds to me: Fine, I’m willing to extend the same caution about the extreme left, but the fact is it’s largely right-wing militias that are stockpiling arms and training their own armies. Left-wingers talk a lot, but apart from a brief period in the 60s and 70s, few on the left in the US have moved toward violence. But I’d wager that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of rightwingers have actively armed themselves in preparation for revolt. Additionally, millions more people on the right own guns without necessarily having revolt on their minds, while a much smaller number of people on the left own guns.

Thats a civil and well thought-out post. Disarmingly so. I cant ask for more. You are right about the guns.

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By KDelphi, October 20, 2008 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

The “fall of the Berlin Wall” had nothing to do with “marxism”. The USSR had very little to do with Marxism (in the article, if you read it carefully , Hedges suggests that the USSR had alot more in common with totalitarian dictatorship, in the end, than Marx.—he says that , in effect, most US citizens are “raised” to believe that it is either US capitalist dictatorship, or Marx/Stalinist “communism”. The US did NOT “win the Cold War”. To be honest, almost everything that Lenin predicted about capitalism has come to pass. Marx-to-Lenin-to-Trotsky-to-Stalin? Nope. US “capitalism” vs. USSR “communism”? Hardly.


  Different Schools of Thought: Marx Versus Lenin
  Uploaded by Billabong41 on Oct 28, 2006

Different Schools of Thought: Marx Versus Lenin

“Lenin was obviously influenced by Karl Marx’s writing, The Communist Manifesto. To have revolutionized Russia, Lenin took these theories and shaped them to fit his needs at the time of the Russian Revolution. His close comrade, Leon Trotsky, agreed on some of the revisions yet disagreed on the others. The doctrine of the Bolsheviks was the mold of Marx filled with the steel of Lenin…....

The theories of Marx predicted a revolution that was supposed to happen in an industrialized and capitalistic nation. At the time of Lenin, Russia was neither of those two. Marx’s dream was a dictatorship of the proletariat; Lenin turned it into the dictatorship over the proletariat…. From here comes the first revision of Lenin, an elite party is required to guide the proletariat…. By suggesting the rule of the elite Lenin also dropped the idea of Marx’s DEMOCRATIC rule. By incorporating the elite…” (caps mine and quotes condensed)

Stalin’s ‘Revolution From Above’: Perversion of Marxism

Although Stalin claimed to be a Marxist, and indeed studied and wrote about Marxism in the years prior to the revolution, Stalin was anything but one. Through his programs and policies Stalin had managed to go against many of the aspects which contributed to the heart and soul of Marxist theory. Stalin’s Marxism consisted of a literal, somewhat distorted realization of this ideological philosophy in which his treacherous ambition clouded all rational judgment.


It is complicated. But , I think that we MUST get past the US irratioanl fear of , even the WORD “socialism”,if people really want a more egalitarian society.?

http://michaeloshea.blogspot.com/2006/11/marxism-according-to-stalin.html

http://www.echeat.com/essay.php?t=31593

There are probably better links—just dont have them right now.http://www.marxist.com/

http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/1933/330223.htm

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By iska, October 20, 2008 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

Hedges is getting every week more precise and insightful in his denunciations. It’s a marvel really how he can do it so often and more elaborately each time ! but of course, this country right now is the gift that keeps on giving…
I have to say that I’ve come to the unthinkable this week: start to evaluate (unseriously but still) a plan B to get out of this country if things go awry…

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By Alan, October 20, 2008 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Puppet Show (Grand Guignol for The Post Pepsi Generation):

>Hi there! I’m big and bad!
>> Hi there! I’m bigger and badder!
>I love war, free markets, and Southwest cuisine.
>> I’m for better health care, and better judges,
that’s a differentiation isn’t it?
>The arm that animates you and the arm that animates
me
>> are connected to the same head!
HaHa!
>HeeHee!

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By John McCloud, October 20, 2008 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

<<By OzarkMichael, October 20 at 11:26 am #

Let me get this straight… Hedges(a far leftist guy) uses Marxist totalitarian talk that comes just short of recommending the use of explosives(a la Obama’s buddy, that 60s Marxist hero Ayers), and after reading this ugly, violent, hateful Marxist chatter, John McCloud reflects upon it and for him… it becomes an occasion to criticize the right wing.
Brilliant!
Only on Truthdig!>>

Fine, I’m willing to extend the same caution about the extreme left, but the fact is it’s largely right-wing militias that are stockpiling arms and training their own armies. Left-wingers talk a lot, but apart from a brief period in the 60s and 70s, few on the left in the US have moved toward violence. But I’d wager that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of rightwingers have actively armed themselves in preparation for revolt. Additionally, millions more people on the right own guns without necessarily having revolt on their minds, while a much smaller number of people on the left own guns.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, October 20, 2008 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

If the fall of the Berlin Wall put an end to Marx as practiced by communism, it may be equally true that the fall of Wall Street has put an end to Adam Smith as practiced by market capitalism. It would be easy to conclude, as George Soros recently has, that both are false ideologies.

But it seems apparent to this wearied writer that all ideologies are in some sense false. They are theoretical by nature. They reduce humans to interchangeable cogs within their precious but infernal machinery. They operate on the supposition that politics are the problem and, one can infer, the solution.

The answer is not political. Any society that places men like Donald Trump on a pedestal is going to end up with more than a few Ken Lays. Any society, regardless of it’s political system, that prizes profit so highly, will suffer the collateral damage of widespread wage slavery. High-minded theories about Invisible Hands notwithstanding, the profit, and in turn the power, are going to be channeled into fewer and ever more powerful places. And presto, another Oligarchy will be unleashed upon its curiously dumbfounded citizenry.

All too often, it’s what a society does NOT question, that constitutes it’s greatest weakness.

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By OzarkMichael, October 20, 2008 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

a recent Truthdigger post:

...keeping them confined to the factory-farm/feedlot contraption they’re taught to virtually idolize as “WESTERN (ala Hollywood) civilization.” Still, as the I Ching reminds…

So—- “neither American Conservatives nor American Liberals can understand Western Civ. Only the ‘I Ching’ can do that…”

Thats funny if you think about it.

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By TAO Walker, October 20, 2008 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Sorry for the double entry (though there seems to be a lot of that going arund in “the financial world.”  This old Indian sometimes gets “tricked” by by the library’s wi-fi cutiing in and out.

HokaHey!

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By TAO Walker, October 20, 2008 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

Little-by-little, and sometimes in leaps-and-bounds, tame Two-leggeds here are getting past their institutional programming, and “de-constructing” parts of the allamerican myth of “rugged individualism” that has been so effective for keeping them confined to the factory-farm/feedlot contraption they’re taught to virtually idolize as “WESTERN (ala Hollywood) civilization.”  Still, as the I Ching reminds us in the hexagram of “The Well,” any effort at “reform” that does not go all The Way to the “roots” of our Human nature is likely to have even worse consequences than if no attempt had been made to begin with.

So those who remain stuck in their “individuality,” no matter how accurately they diagnose or how conscientiously they try to treat the rest of their condition, are doomed to end-up even worse-off than if they’d just gone-on semi-conscously letting Nature run Her course.  That’s because they’ll have to endure the extra burden of “suffering” which always comes from having “failed” to walk the whole Way.  They’ll’ve forfeited their genuine nature as Human PERSONS in vain attempts to cling-to the civilization’s cheap imitation plastic substitute for that….the counterfeit “individual.”

One thing Chris Hedges does illuminate well here is the utter futility of looking inside the apparatus of CONtainment for some means of getting free of it.  That is particularly true because the operating principal of the thing is not found in its institutional, ideological, and electro-mechanical “furniture.”  The thing works only because the “livestock” it’s designed to CONtrol and
CONfine remain thoroughly CONvinced that it does work.

Meantime, us surviving Savages go in-and-out freely, and are Living proof that our domesticated Sisters and Brothers are held, in John McCain’s words, “....fellow (and gal?) prisoners….,” really, only of their own captive imaginations.  Your tormentors, of course, are fully aware of that fact, and so devote daily more-and-more of their own dwindling “energy” reserves to fooling as many of you as they can as much of the time as possible.

Chris Hedges seems to concede that no one within the “power centers” of the establishment will or can work effectively to get people out of its toils.  He suggests there may be some on “the fringes” who could maybe help.  His “rope” is too short, though.  He seems CONgentially unable to conceive of there being, right here and now, Human Beings outside the artifactual boundaries defining the make-believe predicament who have, or more accurately ARE the Medicine for the degenerative CONdition he once more laments here.

Remember, Sisters and Brothers, Life Herownself helps those who help each other.  Only alse gods help those who help their selfs…. idols like “money” and “power” and “privilege” and “secrecy,” to name just a few.

Tiyoshpaye is The Way.

HokaHey!

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By OzarkMichael, October 20, 2008 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

One of the Truthdiggers comments on Hedges:

The inflammatory nature of your final comment is very dangerous. To talk about “a revolt against our bankrupt elite and the dynamiting of the corporatist structure” is to feed the violent tendencies of various right-wing groups who are only too willing to in fact use dynamite or its equivalent to achieve their aims.

Let me get this straight… Hedges(a far leftist guy) uses Marxist totalitarian talk that comes just short of recommending the use of explosives(a la Obama’s buddy, that 60s Marxist hero Ayers), and after reading this ugly, violent, hateful Marxist chatter, John McCloud reflects upon it and for him… it becomes an occasion to criticize the right wing.

Brilliant!

Only on Truthdig!

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By TAO Walker, October 20, 2008 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

Little-by-little, and sometimes in leaps-and-bounds, tame Two-leggeds here are getting past their institutional programming, and “de-constructing” parts of the allamerican myth of “rugged individualism” that has been so effective for keeping them confined to the factory-farm/feedlot contraption they’re taught to virtually idolize as “WESTERN (ala Hollywood) civilization.”  Still, as the I Ching reminds us in the hexagram of “The Well,” any effort at “reform” that does not go all The Way to the “roots” of our Human nature is likely to have even worse consequences than if no attempt had been made to begin with.

So those who remain stuck in their “individuality,” no matter how accurately they diagnose or how conscientiously they try to treat the rest of their condition, are doomed to end-up even worse-off than if they’d just gone-on semi-conscously letting Nature run Her course.  That’s because they’ll have to endure the extra burden of “suffering” which always comes from having “failed” to walk the whole Way.  They’ll’ve forfeited their genuine nature as Human PERSONS in vain attempts to cling-to the civilization’s cheap imitation plastic substitute for that….the counterfeit “individual.”

One thing Chris Hedges does illuminate well here is the utter futility of looking inside the apparatus of CONtainment for some means of getting free of it.  That is particularly true because the operating principal of the thing is not found in its institutional, ideological, and electro-mechanical “furniture.”  The thing works only because the “livestock” it’s designed to CONtrol and
CONfine remain thoroughly CONvinced that it does work.

Meantime, us surviving Savages go in-and-out freely, and are Living proof that our domesticated Sisters and Brothers are held, in John McCain’s words, “....fellow (and gal?) prisoners….,” really, only of their own captive imaginations.  Your tormentors, of course, are fully aware of that fact, and so devote daily more-and-more of their own dwindling “energy” reserves to fooling as many of you as they can much of the time as possible.

Chris Hedges seems to concede that no one within the “power centers” of the establishment will or can work effectively to get people out of its toils.  He suggests there may be some on “the fringes” who could maybe help.  His “rope” is too short, though.  He seems CONgentially unable to conceive of there being, right here and now, Human Beings outside the artifactual boundaries defining the make-believe predicament who have, or more accurately ARE the Medicine for the degenerative CONdition he once more laments here.

Remember, Sisters and Brothers, Life Herownself helps those who help each other.  Only alse gods help those who help their selfs…. idols like “money” and “power” and “privilege” and “secrecy,” to name just a few.

Tiyoshpaye is The Way.

HokaHey!

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By KDelphi, October 20, 2008 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment

Wow. I read this elsewhere, and, I really like Hedges. I dont agree with everything he says.But, it sure looks like he has made people think. Which is more than you can say for the duopoly. (dont think—vote!!)

ITW—The truth is, we only dream that HUMANAE nature will prevail. Truly, human nature is NOT “natural ” as this state, and has been perverted beyond all natural reason, in its desire for power and money. I think that it is, indeed a very few, who have propogated this, and they could certainly be brought down. There are just to many comfortable still around. Thanks to working people, who pay their bad debts for them. Then, we should just “move on”.

“Reverse Darwin ” is right! If the oligarchs in DC suddenly had the “level playing field” they always talk about or lived in a true meritocracy they would disappear off the edge of the planet that so many of them think is flat!

writeon says that we are at the same point as the people were before the French Revolution—I think that he may be right. What remains uncertain is how US citizens (consumers?) will respond to it.

Everyone agrees that education is good. Indoctrination is another thing altogether. As schools get more expensive ,(even though we subsidize state run universities) students are directed into engineering and technical careers (they have to pay back all those loans) and seem to know less and less about social systems. Hell, some people still belive that this govt is “by and for the people”!! There is no useless education, but,we narrow its scope by allowing it to become Imperialistic. By blue blood or money.

State universities (and they all shoudl be, if you ask me)should be free to whoever can go. “Competition” among schools has only caused more conformity, it seems. “Un-striating” the system of Ivy League universities is the only way to allow cleaner and fresher minds to infiltrate the oligarchy/kleptocracy.

Voltaire’s basterds indeed.Bolivar’s basterds.

Both better than Friedman’s neo-liberal mother frickers.

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By martin weiss, October 20, 2008 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

I like your thinking. You’re on the right track. But I think the ‘oligarchy’ of which you speak knows what they’re doing, they just don’t care. This has all happened before. When the Brits took over the commons in Ireland, people died. Nobody cared.
I particularly liked your citing Voltaire. He, too faced a society hide-bound by an elite—the royalty and the church. Voltaire called it “.. a fanaticism composed of superstition and ignorance..”. He said: ‘Do not let those who have sense be ruled by those who do not’.
But these people aren’t stupid. They know they are stifling innovation. They are against innovation—just like buggy-whip makers opposed autos,oil companies oppose bio-diesel. And this isn’t the first time the ‘Trusts’ have dominated gov’t. They threw T.R. out of the GOP because he threatened to break their grip. They re-interpreted the 14th Amendment, from protecting ex-slaves to establishing corporate personhood—on the basis of a clerk’s opinion, without basis in law. Their loyalty is to the rule of gold, not the golden rule.
You may be correct in assuming some people cannot perceive the subtle balances that endow ethics with viability in the absence of religion. But the idea they are ignorant doesn’t hold up.
They will fight kicking and screaming to maintain their hold on our money. But we are a nation of laws. Violence is what they want. Give’em an excuse to bring in the big guns. But if we merely enforce existing law, we can and, I believe, inevitably will retake control of our destinies.

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By Anarcissie, October 20, 2008 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Spiritgirl: ‘Rightwing neocon ideology has always been to disable government to the point where it can be drowned in the bathtub! ...’

On the contrary, in recent years the Right has generally expanded government.

One should also note that (mostly) rightist governments have blurred the distinction between government and private corporations by privatizing governmental functions—even those of violence and terror, as with the contractors (mercenaries) in Iraq and privately-operated prisons, spy services and police at home.  Both these and the government should be considered parts of the state; the state has been growing very rapidly under rightist ideology.

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By Spiritgirl, October 20, 2008 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

Rightwing neocon ideology has always been to disable government to the point where it can be drowned in the bathtub!  Why else prop up a grade-B actor in the role of President?!  The collaborators “fundamentalist religion, Individual rights and BIG government(whatever that means!)”, all twisting the minds of the average American!  Of course the Dixiecrats aka the Republican Party would have continued to spread the lies that they represent “the people”, they have “compassionate conservatism”, they believe in “individual rights & responsibility”, yadda, yadda!  Yet if you look at the actual record, not the “feel good” rhetoric, you will see that just like under Reagan, the Bush Mis-Administration has allowed well paying jobs to be outsourced, de-regulation has been accomplished on a massive scale that enabled these crooks to act with un-impugned immunity, people are working harder and making less money!  The American people have been dumbed down, and bambozzled!  The people have been manipulated thru fuzzy feel good/bad emotions - that have nothing to do with the paychecks that are not keeping up with inflation! 

Every 4 years, politicians come out and instead of the issues, they speak to peoples fears, prejudice, and religious “convictions”!  These are all distractions to divert your attention from the fact that they are stealing this country blind!  These politico’s need to remember the fate of Marie Antoinette at the hands of the Parisian mobs, for if the American populace must face and bear any more burdens of the oligarchs, such could be their fates too!

At this moment as this nation faces so many challenges, there is an opportunity to change the downward spiral that we have been on.  That is not to say that Barack Obama will be all things to all people, what it does do is to change the dynamic - here is an educated, articulate, man with a vision for how this nation should proceed, and how we the people should be able to live with dignity!

For those that like the current spiral, just a note, simply because it is not you losing everything today, when tomorrow comes for you don’t start whining!

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By squeaky jones, October 20, 2008 at 10:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nader had I thought a good line. When the corporation comes calling the only difference between republicans, and democrates is how fast they get on their knees. Check out Vote Nader . org. You will find that Nader, and Gonzalez offer acres more for America, and the planet then McCain, or Obama ever will, or can.

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By Anarcissie, October 20, 2008 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges: ’... 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. ...’

That is a contradiction.  Self-sacrifice is constantly advertised to the powerless and the downtrodden by those who step on them.  Democracy is rather the insistence of the people that they be taken into account—a selfish, self-interested desire.  Unfortunately it is barely conscious and still seeks great leaders and wise men rather than community and autonomy.

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By elizabethe, October 20, 2008 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Nader is a “one of a kind” attorney, Harvard Law Graduate who appreciates justice and democracy, and knows what is in the public interest and offers an elite track record for the leadership that can reverse the Bush offenses and restore the U.S. Constitution with the best proper applications of a budget in balance with proper use of taxes at an informed and intelligent FOR THE PEOPLE level.

Nader has accused Bush of being a corporation.  I wrote the Washington Post a reply to their protest editorial in 2004, they did not publish it, because they didn’t like it…I am in full agreement with Chris Hedges…when the policies of a President are so corrupt they are morally bankrupt, and only for corporate profit and greed entirely and knowingly against the law and against public policy established, even! then they deserve the epithet and gauntlet thrown down against Bush and his administration, that he is nothing but a corporation.

As I clipped a quote I love from this article above by Chris Hedges: “I do not know. But I do know that what is coming, as long as our oligarchy remains in charge, will not be good. We will either recover the concept of the public good, and this means a revolt against our bankrupt elite and the dynamiting of the corporatist structure, or we will extinguish our democracy. “

The truth of eliminating the “oligarchy” of the two party system that does not exist, it is indeed only powermongers against our true democracy, 24 states do not register party, a total current of 82 million, as of June 2008 data, and the 26 states which do allow declaration, OTHER (mostly independents) totals 21.3 million and the balance IN THE TWO parties nets a clear minority and the lie of forced railroaded elections in two choices not real, six are on the ballot for November and the probability voters can choose outside with complete faith in the proper view of democracy, that the best is supposed to win, and 62 million are in the COMBINED two parties: 36 million Democrats (will not win by themselves), and 26 million Republicans (will not win by themselves).  If you want the democratic unseating of the evil party control dictating unwanted choices against proper policy and uncorrupting the government the outside challenge can prove democracy on November 4th.

I am choosing Nader, and knew even if everyone were in the two parties, the outside challenge is viable if the people know about it, and choose with integrity.  But, the reality of Nader’s track as legendary offers the proper chance of a minimum of self-respect by all voters who want him in office, and the also possible success viewing the actual voting registration, that if we use these two weeks to offer true democracy at work, people talking the talk and walking the walk and promising to vote Nader and not the “oligarchy” of no performance except evil in our faces, we CAN WIN back the theoretical BALLOT POWER to unseat the two senators who have not delivered anything, and prevent the audacity and vote in the top notch Achiever who earned my vote, and I believe the majority vote and can offer the true elite that belongs at the helm, the elite who is for the majority and a Person, which he has accused Bush of not even trying to be that!  I agree.  I told the Washington Post the Military Industrial Complex the illegal war and buildup and budget deficit spending and violations of the ABM treaty, international law, insult to the U.N., red ink and red blood, all against the public opinion, this is the Corporation eptithet deserved by Bush, he is not pretending to be a true president of a democracy, he is the thing called, “Warrior King: the case to impeach George W. Bush” by John Bonifaz, Esq. with a preface by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 20, 2008 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

When I saw the title that we are being led by idiots I thought “Oh, Ok.  The Bush White House.”

But, no, it’s the usual impotent whine that it’s unfair and geared to help others and it’s somebody else’s fault “not mine”.  Well, Hedges, it IS your fault. And mine, and everybody else’s here.  You want to change things? Get 60 million people to agree with you and I guarantee things will change.  Can’t? Well, maybe your ideas don’t make much sense.

Jefferson, Madison and even Hamilton conceived a government that they PRESUMED would be corrupt—that’s why there are checks and balances.  What they did not anticipate was a 40+ year commitment to undermine those checks and balances going back to Richard Nixon’s Supreme Court appointments.  An anti-checks and balances “philosophy” (I hate to call it that) was promoted with lots and lots of “God” and propaganda, especially appealing to the Dixiecrat racists and the bible-thumping sky pilots.

Buried in this screed is one really brilliant paragraph:

Saul 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?

But this is really a description of how Cheney, with Rove and Bush, sought to undo the boundaries Good Government had placed on the executive in the wake of Richard Nixon.  Just like the 9/11 bombers learned from their mistakes in 1993, so the Bush Bombers learned from their mistakes that led to Watergate and the only President to leave office before his time while he was still breathing.

Yet Hedges doesn’t see that sooner or later (now, very much later) the majority will wake up and see what’s going on and, like a wave, move for change.

Will we still have crooks, schemers, liars, gerrymanders and pork-barrel ear-markers?  Of COURSE!  They are simply part of the human condition.  Only Marxists, fascists and religious nuts dream about changing human nature.  And they dream they can really do it.

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By jake3988, October 20, 2008 at 9:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Polls show, repeatedly, that we want universal health care, a real position on abortion (ie, not one like South Dakota proposed in 2006), gay marriage, etc.

But the two people we nominated stand for none of those!  And then we wonder and whine why we have to elect a lesser of two evils every year.

Dennis Kucinich supported all of those.  The Green Party candidate supports all of those.  Ralph Nader supports all of those.  But they get no votes.  Live with who you nominate.

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By John McCloud, October 20, 2008 at 9:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The inflammatory nature of your final comment is very dangerous. To talk about “a revolt against our bankrupt elite and the dynamiting of the corporatist structure” is to feed the violent tendencies of various right-wing groups who are only too willing to in fact use dynamite or its equivalent to achieve their aims. And believe me, these people are not interested in democracy, but rather in imposing their own fascistic views on everyone else under a false flag of freedom. Even though I agree with the general thrust of your analysis, the use of such extremist rhetoric does not help solve the problem. It is more akin to throwing fuel on an existing fire.

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By Leefeller, October 20, 2008 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

Interesting, Tao Walker, has already said the same thing, more crisply and to he point, plus he provided some answers.  Quit flailing around and grab your lives as individuals, work with your local community, grow some food, from the bottom up.  Trickle down is an illusion only morons believe in. 

As usual this article offers nothing but dooms day platitudes, must be a Christian mental make up thingy, guess god is not going to help us this time? 

It will be amusing. to see just how long our nation can hold it’s breath.

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By Fahrenheit 451, October 20, 2008 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

@ Folktruther, October 20 at 7:16 am;

You mention my moniker in your confused, rambling post.  To be perfectly clear; I mean us; you and me and every
man jack one of us!  We’re the idiots who rule America!  Blame as you will, I care not, we are the ultimate rulers of our destiny.  Deny as you may, we rule, or don’t, as may be our pleasure.

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By Purple Girl, October 20, 2008 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

Now a DisIllusioned,recovered ‘Clintonian’, I am well aware we have not yet reached the ‘Promised land’ even if Sen Obama is Elected
But considering just How much Ground we have Lost, at least he appears to be willing to pivot to a new direction. Will He get US There? No. But No One can, It is US who must lay out the Goals, and the means to achieve it.
One Reason I cna’t stand Mac (amongst hundreds) is the Fact He Anoints himself omnipotent ‘leader’- same problem with Hillary….She’d Lead, but not Listen. History is filled with such arrogance and it’s failings. I wondered which country they thought they were running for Highest Office?
“Don’t Tell me what your are going to do,DO what We Tell You To do!” Call it the Creed of a Free Democracy.
So as an Ol’ Liberal I have sat down at the Round table in Sen Obama’s campaign and am just waiting for the Old School Republicans to Show Up.As Teddy did for setting the Democrtic Party Platform Straight, Gen Powell just did for the Republican Platform.
Thanks Gen Powell for Your Sense of Duty to US, over party in Your endorsement of Sen Obama….A Tale of a Hero’s Tradgedy, ending with Redemption.

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By Alan, October 20, 2008 at 8:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nice restatement of the oblivious.
A nation of oblivious couch potatoes can offer no
interest or attention to the obvious,
only a snarl and a belch.
That’s why rupertization has been the
key enabling technology for what you
(Chris Hedges) describe as our modern
oligarchy.

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By Folktruther, October 20, 2008 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

A confused truthpiece, untypical of Hedges.  The members of the power structure are not stupid, they’re crazy.  They have been Educated to believe in an delusive economic ideology of Friedman et al that is powered by the wealth of the owners of the means of production. Consequently the power interests of the power structure is increasingly divorced from the intersts of the population.

The learned and mass media have one truth for the population and another for the powerful.  So the Dem-Gop bloc are restricted in what they can say and do, giving rhetoric to the population and policies to power. 

The Dems run interference for the Gops, rushing to serve the ruling class, as in this bailout swindle, when it is not politic for the Gops to do so. 

This does not occur because they are idiots but because they are serving the powerful under the guise of serving the population.  Intellegently, in their Educated way, their Education being reinforced by money.

Jackpine and Fehenheit do not make a sharp distinction between the power structure and the general population.  We have been indoctrinated from childhood that the American people actually rule the American power system through election of candidates bought and paid for by the power structure. This is an American power delusion which prevents the population from pursuing its on interests against those of the American power structure.

The Bushites created a counter revolution during the past eight years, fundamentally transforming the American power system.  This is not acknowledged publically by the Dems or by the learned and mass media.  So the Dems, if elected, will continue under the new constraints of power, just as the Roman Senate remained formally the same under imperialism as it was under the Roman Republic, although devoid of power.

The Emperor was a military dictator and, increasingly, so will the American president be, including Obama.  This is not because he is stupid, but because he must conform to power constraints if he is to rule.  To the extent that he identifies these policies and benefiting the population, he’s ideologically insane. Less so because he is a complete opportunist, and believes mostly in power.

As are we all politically deluded. The historical problem is not stupidity, or idiocy, or ignorance, but emotional denial.  The refusal to acknowldege truths that subvert the American power delusions.

When Claudius was made emperor of Rome by the military, he always conceived himself as wanting to bring back the Republic.  We also live in the past, the prisoner of our ideological chains that fetter us to a historical reality that no longer exists.  We impose the conceptions and truths of the past on the present, as is the general historical tendency. 

But when the reality changes sharply, when counter revolution occurs and is not acknowledged, our previous worldview becomes demented.  Especially for those people who consider themselves an Elite who are empowered to rule.  They are not ideots they are crazy.  They are also criminals, stealing the wealth of the beneral population and identifying with the brutality and barbarism to do so. 

The American power structure are homicidal megalomaniacs.  Not idiots.

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By Matt C., October 20, 2008 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

Thanks for the link to my review of JRS’s “Unconscious Civilization”. I would recommend it first and foremost to his other works (particularly “Voltaire’s Bastards”, which while great is also huge and covers much of the same ground). Canadian readers may also wish to check out “Reflections of a Siamese Twin” for thoughts specifically about this country. Always provocative.

Similar in tone (if not subject), allow me also to suggest Doris Lessing’s “Prisons We Choose To Live Inside” (link: http://imagitude.blogspot.com/2006/04/book-review-prisons-we-choose-to-live.html).

Cheers.

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By Kashilinus, October 20, 2008 at 8:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great piece, Mr. Hedges. Such analyses could at least be the beginnings of the shakeup of the system. The oligarchy are firmly in charge at present, because they have literally bought the government. That strategy had its beginnings right after the planned military coup on the White House during Roosevelt’s administration came a cropper.
Being a lawyer should not be the qualifier for a congressional spot in Washington. We need some engineers in there. They are at least trained in systems analysis, and that is mainly what running the government is about - understanding the system. There is a profound lack of that.
I would like to see an annual miniature Bretton Woods organized by and comprised of non-government economists, to assess what is going on and provide guidance to the White House.
I would like the President to establish a scientific advisory board. He cannot possibly comprehend the problems Earth faces.  A single scientific advisor to the Oval Office is a joke. The problems ahead are horrific, and are directly related to the fact that world population has more than tripled in my lifetime, and shows no sign of levelling off.

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By Arnie McConnell, October 20, 2008 at 8:01 am Link to this comment
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We are edified by the cogency and insight of our brother’s brilliant essays. But, Chris, leave the door open for those geological forces of the heart that are beyond our verbal ken.

Barack Obama is no longer a mere man. He is a blessing, a benediction. Bless him as he does his mythic historical duty. He may well, through the grace of grace, provide with us a platform on which to stand, either to help him with his reforms, or, to move on if his compromises become too much to bear. In the meantime: This is a day that the American people have made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it.

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By Jeremy Keith Hammond, October 20, 2008 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

jackspine savage makes a good point. We can’t blame the corporate elite. They are symptoms of scarcity. If the Rockefeller family was suddenly gone - another would rise up in its place.

When I turned off the TV and started reading more independent news online - my knee-jerk reaction was to punch back. I wanted to picket. I wanted scream. I imagined more impassioned people in my position would get violent. And that’s scary too. There may very well be a Christian-Fascist rise in our country - but there’s just as likely going to be a violent left-wing revolt against it.

I think the best course of action is to just quietly educate people about this system and let them know that not only can it change - but it should change peacefully. Let’s take advantage of this wonderful medium we have and have never had before in history - the internet.

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skulz fontaine's avatar

By skulz fontaine, October 20, 2008 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

We have met the enemy and he is Al Katie. Wait a minute, the enemy is El Cagey! Wait a minute, the enemy is Al CIAduh! Wait a minute, the enemy is Yale al-Harvard! No, that can’t be right. Wright? Yeah, the enemy is Rev. Wright. Right or wrong? Wait, the enemy is Tommy Chong. Yeah, that’s got to be it. Tommy Chong is secretly ruining Amerika from inside a water-pipe in East L.A.. Yeah, that’d be the one. Wait no, it’s Hostess Ding-Dongs! Yeah, that’s what’s ruining Amerika. Wait, maybe that should be the ding-dongs running Democraps or Repukelicons. No wait, it’s Ron Paul. Yeah, that’s what’s ruining Amerika. Hmmm, Pills Limbaugh? The shrieking Bill O’Really? Paris Hilton? We have met the enemy and the enemy is…mainstream media! ABCBSCNNBCMSNBC! Yeah, all you freaks can go suck eggs! Especially Katie Couric. Amerika’s premier high-priced/high-maintenance hooker. She’d sell her stuff for a song! She did too! Nah, all those talking heads are the same. They even cost about the same. We have met the idiots and they ARE us!

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By nrobi, October 20, 2008 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges, I, not having had the displeasure of an elite education, not having the ability to climb the social ladder through education, have seen the results of the disorder that is now called democracy.
Few if any, of the Congressional delegation, are in fact worthy of the title and position of running our country. The shrub and his “gang of five,” have made a thorough mess of what once was a thriving, and vibrant economy. This is because of the neo-con, way of thinking that concerns itself with the elite of the world and not the working class which makes the elite possible.
Mr. Hedges, I, believe that you are wrong when you say that the ruling elite of our country are not fascists, in point of fact, the current is full of fascist and proto-fascist men and women, who given the chance would gladly suspend the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and delay or deny that an election could or should happen and take the reins of power for themselves and their families for the foreseeable future. Among these fascistic and proto-fascistic men and women, are Condoleeza Rice, Dick (Darth Vader)Cheney, Douglas Feith, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and a host of others.
Surely by now, you with all your erudition, have deduced that the current administration, is loathe to give up power to another administration, let alone another party.
Yes, these pseudo-elite, pseudo-intellectual, men and women are not the cream of the crop, as is colloquially termed, but there are few in government that have chosen to remain loyal to their oaths and serve the people and not the special interests that have ruined this country to the point that we are now a debtor nation to China, the Middle Eastern oil producing countries, and others who saw the writing on the wall and bought up securities and bonds issued by the current administration.
I, rue the day, that 5 people elected the shrub, these men got to vote twice for the president, while the recount was happening, which recount would have and did give the popular vote and the electoral college votes to John Kerry. Of course, I am speaking of the “Supreme Court,” and the five members that chose to give the election to G.Duhhhhhhbya, for those men made the most unwise choice of their lives and must live with the consequences for the rest of their natural lives. Hopefully these men do not sleep well and have the monkey of knowing that the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the founding documents of our country are being shredded as we speak.
Should Barack Obama, win this next election, if there is one, I would hope that he would undo many if not all of the legislation that has passed in the last 8 years. But that remains to be seen. If not, then G-d, help Amerikkka, for the country that I grew up with will cease to exist and a fascist, oligarchic country will replace the democracy that almost exists now.

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By Fahrenheit 451, October 20, 2008 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

The Idiots Who Rule America;

Oh shit, this is about us!

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By Still Life Living, October 20, 2008 at 6:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We are disintegrating from the inside out: economically, intellectually and morally.  Separation of church and state was important because our forbearers knew first hand how a dominant belief system rewarded true believers and first born male heirs.  Diversity was called heretical, and the resulting homogenization caused great suffering.  Now, we need a separation of corporation and state.  The corporation has replaced the church in terms of granting aristocratic titles, but it also requires homogenization.

I too studied economics.  The most influential class I ever took was Robert Fogel’s “The Economics of Slavery.” Slavery was profitable because it deprived people of choice while turning them into productive cogs.  Henry Ford used the same gang/production line technology to build the Model T.  The freedoms those early factory workers had have been sold out, won back, and sold out time and time again.  Now we have indentured servitude via mortgages, credit cards, etc.  While financial services are tools, businesses have relied time and time again on the “Commerce” Clause of the Constitution to destroy local and regional initiatives to experiment in building a better world.  So we learn to put up and shut up.

Oops, my boss, I have to get back to work…

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By Big B, October 20, 2008 at 5:55 am Link to this comment

I do noy know if this is a national expression or not, but I think the problem facing corp and political america is best described by the “Peter Principal.”

That is a system where, over the years, agressive but not very enlightened people were able to move up the corp and political through blind dedication and attrition. When they reached the top, realizing that their talents layed not in doing the job, but getting the job, led them to fear and paranioa that someone that is actually qualified for the position, a bright and talented person, would someday come along, notice they don’t know what they are doing, and take their place. Capitalism at it’s finest!
So what to do? How do you keep a job that you are not qualified to do? Easy! You only hire people dumber than yourself, knowing they will never have the wherewithall to climb the ladder and kick you off!
However now comes the dark side. Now those unqualified meatheads you hired to protect your job, are hiring their underlings, and of course, making sure that they are also safe from bright young upstarts.
This reverse Darwinism has been at growing in america for decades. It’s low hanging fruit falling up from the branches, leading us where? National bankruptcy?
America has Forest Gump’ed its way through the last 40 years. It has become time to stop praying and hoping for good things to happen, and make them happen ourselves.

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By writeon, October 20, 2008 at 5:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with Chris Horton and Chris Hedges. So much that passes for education, is nothing of the sort; it’s closer to indoctrination, socialization and filters out dissenters methodically.

People aren’t being really educated, they are being trained like circus horses for different roles in the ring.

All we can hope for is that ‘reality’ will bite back with a vengence, shaking people awake in some fashion.

I think we’re in a period similar in many ways that reminds one of the years before the French Revolution is 1789. The system is collapsing and the decline cannot be hidden anymore. The ruling aristocracy live in virtual Versailles; protected, degraded and decandent. They are as incompetent as they are over-fed and corrupt. They have lost legitimacy and the mandate of heaven.

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By Chris Horton, October 20, 2008 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

This idea vacuum was there already when I was an economics student in the ‘60’s.  There was no one left in the profession who worked from the labor theory of value, based on the understanding that money is a means of exchanging the products, past, present or future, of peoples’ work.  And there was no one with any doubt that they’d solved the problem of depressions forever.

I later met an old professor who’d somehow survived the McCarthy era in a state university’s labor education program who told me the story of how thousands economics faculty who based their work on the labor theory of value had been purged, including the outright firing of tenured faculty and department chairs.  This removed all the Marxists of course, but many of those purged were conservatives.  The labor theory of value after all was invented by Adam Smith and used by all economists including Ricardo until the late 1800’s. 

Those that remained were agreed that the value of a thing was nothing more nor less than what it would fetch in the marketplace.  The economics that emerged was toothless as a tool of social criticism - and remains so to this day - because it’s outermost horizon lies within the ephemeral reality of the system itself.  And those that were left were scared for their jobs, which showed up as an unwillingness to seriously listen to and discuss the radical critiques of some of their students. 

To this day, hardly any of these expert pooh-bahs has a clue as to why their 60-year experiment with making capitalism depression-proof is failing catastrophically, or what to do about it.  Only by stepping outside the universe they inhabit can they see it as a system, but they have been thoroughly trained to abhor the thought of doing so. 

It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

A footnote to any historians out there:  in so many fields I’ve seen the awful legacy of the McCarthy era.  That was when the mental blinders Hedges so well describes were fastened in place.  Its true story, its full scope and meaning, has never been told and urgently needs telling.

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By jackpine savage, October 20, 2008 at 5:05 am Link to this comment

Unfortunately, the entirety of the blame cannot be placed on the “rulers” of America. After all, it is a government of, for and by the people. That makes us (all of us) the actual rulers. This, of course, does not in any way change the thesis of Mr. Hedges’ article. The rulers of America are idiots

Or, we have met the enemy and he is us.

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