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Posted on Nov 30, 2009
AP / Kiichiro Sato

By Chris Hedges

Will Tiger Woods finally talk to the police? Who will replace Oprah? (Not that Oprah can ever be replaced, of course.) And will Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who crashed President Barack Obama’s first state dinner, command the hundreds of thousands of dollars they want for an exclusive television interview? Can Levi Johnston, father of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s grandson, get his wish to be a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars”?

The chatter that passes for news, the gossip that is peddled by the windbags on the airwaves, the noise that drowns out rational discourse, and the timidity and cowardice of what is left of the newspaper industry reflect our flight into collective insanity. We stand on the cusp of one of the most seismic and disturbing dislocations in human history, one that is radically reconfiguring our economy as it is the environment, and our obsessions revolve around the trivial and the absurd.

What really matters in our lives—the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the steady deterioration of the dollar, the mounting foreclosures, the climbing unemployment, the melting of the polar ice caps and the awful reality that once the billions in stimulus money run out next year we will be bereft and broke—doesn’t fit into the cheerful happy talk that we mainline into our brains. We are enraptured by the revels of a dying civilization. Once reality shatters the airy edifice, we will scream and yell like petulant children to be rescued, saved and restored to comfort and complacency. There will be no shortage of demagogues, including buffoons like Sarah Palin, who will oblige. We will either wake up to face our stark new limitations, to retreat from imperial projects and discover a new simplicity, as well as a new humility, or we will stumble blindly toward catastrophe and neofeudalism.

Celebrity worship has banished the real from public discourse. And the adulation of celebrity is pervasive. The frenzy around political messiahs, or the devotion of millions of viewers to Oprah, is all part of the yearning to see ourselves in those we worship. We seek to be like them. We seek to make them like us. If Jesus and “The Purpose Driven Life” won’t make us a celebrity, then Tony Robbins or positive psychologists or reality television will. We are waiting for our cue to walk onstage and be admired and envied, to become known and celebrated. Nothing else in life counts.

We yearn to stand before the camera, to be noticed and admired. We build pages on social networking sites devoted to presenting our image to the world. We seek to control how others think of us. We define our worth solely by our visibility. We live in a world where not to be seen, in some sense, is to not exist. We pay lifestyle advisers to help us look and feel like celebrities, to build around us the set for the movie of our own life. Martha Stewart constructed her financial empire, when she wasn’t engaged in insider trading, telling women how to create a set design for the perfect home. The realities within the home, the actual family relationships, are never addressed. Appearances make everything whole. Plastic surgeons, fitness gurus, diet doctors, therapists, life coaches, interior designers and fashion consultants all, in essence, promise to make us happy, to make us celebrities. And happiness comes, we are assured, with how we look, with the acquisition of wealth and power, or at least the appearance of it. Glossy magazines like Town & Country cater to the absurd pretensions of the very rich to be celebrities. They are photographed in expensive designer clothing inside the lavishly decorated set pieces that are their homes. The route to happiness is bound up in how skillfully we present ourselves to the world. We not only have to conform to the dictates of this manufactured vision, but we also have to project an unrelenting optimism and happiness. Hedonism and wealth are openly worshiped on Wall Street as well as on shows such as “The Hills,” “Gossip Girl,” “Sex and the City,” “My Super Sweet 16” and “The Real Housewives of (whatever bourgeois burg happens to be in vogue).”

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The American oligarchy—1 percent of whom control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined—are the characters we most envy and watch on television. They live and play in multimillion-dollar mansions. They marry models or professional athletes. They are chauffeured in stretch limos. They rush from fashion shows to movie premieres to fabulous resorts. They have surgically enhanced, perfect bodies and are draped in designer clothes that cost more than some people make in a year. This glittering life is held before us like a beacon. This life, we are told, is the most desirable, the most gratifying. And this is the life we want. Greed is good, we believe, because one day through our acquisitions we will become the elite. So let the rest of the bastards suffer.

The working class, comprising tens of millions of struggling Americans, are locked out of television’s gated community. They are mocked, even as they are tantalized, by the lives of excess they watch on the screen in their living rooms. Almost none of us will ever attain these lives of wealth and power. Yet we are told that if we want it badly enough, if we believe sufficiently in ourselves, we too can have everything. We are left, when we cannot adopt these impossible lifestyles as our own, with feelings of inferiority and worthlessness. We have failed where others have succeeded.


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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, December 14, 2009 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

Clark Kent,

Thanks for the numbers, they make me feel so much better!

So the war is really not so expensive, a few live one way or the other.  Actually my mix up may be in the total military budget vs the war budget.  The numbers may be a little higher, though one must realize Wall Street still is trying to make sure they get those year end massive balls bonuses!

In the end all these numbers mean Little to the unemployed schmuck on the street, may not make much difference to the employed ones too!  But thanks anyhow!

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By Clark Kent, December 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

leefeller needs some numbers.

costofwar.com says the total cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 is $943 billion.  That’s just over $100 billion/yr.

usdebtclock.org says federal spending so far this year is $3.5 trillion.

The costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan constitute 2.97% of the Federal budget.

TARP + Stimulus are $1.7 trillion, or nearly half this year’s budget.

A product or public education, perhaps?

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, December 9, 2009 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

It is refreshing to read something besides how exceptional and Noble Hedges is, from another besides meself, though maybe not for all the same reasons!

Carmody, Just noticed you reply way down on the thread, Thanks for your comments and reply!

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By regurged, December 9, 2009 at 3:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

first time i’ve ever read this columnist. Somebody said he was another James Howard Kunstler. He ain’t. I’m more than kinda underwhelmed. You mean Hedges just discovered all this NOW? Seemed pretty screamingly-obvious to me when i was growing up lower-middle-class in one of these USA “former manufacturing towns” back in the late 60s - early 70s. The masses brain-numbed by idiot television & similar cheap thrills. Silent majority. Readers Digest. Got the rug pulled out from them with the recession of 1974 and never recovered. Etc. etc. If you had any brains you got out and never looked back.

Hedges writes “unless we rapidly re-enfranchise these dispossessed workers, insert them back into the economy, unless we give them hope, these demagogues will rise up to take power. Time is running out”.

Tell me, who exactly is this “we”? The Great & the Good? that White Harvard-Educated Liberal Elite? Fuck them. They’re the whiz-kids who devised all these financial instruments that set the whole casino out of spin. And while you’re at to hell with everyone with inherited wealth. Do I wanna be “re-enfranchised”, back there in a job-for-life in the factory just like it was in 1967 with a little ranchette held on a 30 year mortgage. No thanks. Rather die on my feet. Push IS coming to shove. Class war…

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By bbuc, December 7, 2009 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Damn.  Now I’m even more confused.

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By ian, December 7, 2009 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unfortunately, Americans are primed for celebrity
worship by the local popular religion, Christianity,
which encourage the somewhat dubious idea that some
guy has holy magical super powers that YOU TOO can
harness for your personal good.

Unfortunately, the mental template for the big daddy
who will save us all has now spread to all those who
find rational thought uncomfortable. The leap from
Sunday school to Oprah turned out to be a mere hop
for these folks.

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By omop, December 7, 2009 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

bbuc:

Is Chris that is worried about Levi getting on “Dancin with “les etoiles” the same
Chris that believes that drug snorting Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend are
not guilty of killing Amanda’s roomate. And in fact Amanda’s roomate is the one
that killed herself just to spite Amanda.

And that furthermore the Italian police, jury and Judge were bribed by Amanda’s
roomate family cause they are anti-american and may have ties to either the
Taliban or AlQueda or some drug lord in Afghanistan.

The “buzz” in Perugia is whether Hillary will travel to Rome to confer with the
Pope about Amanda’s innocence before going on to Kabul or the US State
Department will petition the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on the City
of Perugia.

In otherr capitals like Riga in Latvia; Belize; Monte Carlo; Moldovia’s capital
there have been reports of widespread demonstrations in support of Amanda
and her boyfriednd.

Hopefully Chris or you might enlighten nous.

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By bbuc, December 7, 2009 at 9:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris says, “Can Levi Johnston, father of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s
grandson, get his wish to be a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars”?

I’m confused. How many babies does that family have up there right now?

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, December 7, 2009 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

Most convenient when one lists an incomplete list on oops! Purpose!

“Just look at the unsustainable welfare states of Europe and our own national insolvency due to future commitments for social security, health care for the elderly and extraordinary debt levels,”

Are we forgetting something? Is their a teabag stuck in ones vision? Fox News filling the void between the ears?

Yes one must cherry pick were the money has gone for deception is the goal. We must never mention the bail outs of Afghanistan, Iraq and Wall Street, do the numbers seem low? I guess even non existent, no not quite non existent, they are listed under “extraordinary debt levels.”? Almost did not see it!

My apologies, listed under extraordinary debt levels, for some reason meant to include the million dollars a day per solder in Afghanistan, yes extraordinary debt leves indeed!

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By mike, December 7, 2009 at 7:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thoreau wrote about many of the same issues in Walden.  This country’s had some big problems and just keeps passing them from generation to generation.

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By bigbuilder, December 7, 2009 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

The culture of celebrity and spectacle is nothing new.  Study history and you will determine that human nature has always been thus. 

Humans always seek the refuge of illusion and escape.  Religion, drugs, alcohol, celebrity worship and so on are inherent vices of the human animal.  That does not mean that any one of these if necessarily fatal. 

A faith in government regulation, subsidy, stimulus, and welfare is an equally deceptive illusion.  Just look at the unsustainable welfare states of Europe and our own national insolvency due to future commitments for social security, health care for the elderly and extraordinary debt levels.  The way out will greatly disrupt our national fabric.  Our democracy is NOT assured to continue.  BUT, fundamentalist Christian faith is just one possible symptom and not a sole cause. 

The author of this article seems to hold a grudge against fundamentalism to the exclusion of all other deceptive beliefs and human failings.  This focus on a single group is a modern form of tribalism. The temptation to find fault in others will lead us into the social and political cannibalism. 

I invite everyone to consider how they can uplift and enoble themselves and others based on their own humanity.  A return to respectful dissent and an avoidance of hatred of ideas with which we disagree is the best formula for getting out of the trap our passions set for us.

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By carmody, December 6, 2009 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anarcissie,

Thanks for the answer, and yes I had consulted wikipedia. And just for the record I did not mean to imply “that Hedges is a disciple of Barth” as much as Barth being someone whom he probably thinks highly of based on an interview he did with Salon magazine.

What would be interesting is for CH, given his theological training, to write some pieces somewhere that are primarily focused on his theology.

At the moment the closest I come to from his writing is the concept of Liberation Theology but that is probably way too old fashion for him.

Point is that CH obviously has read and thought extensively and has views on theological matters. It would be interesting to hear him articulate what they are.

In the absence of clarification I guess that we are all left hanging re his suggestions for the next step.

I mean in his Empire of Illusion he outlines many problems and then just adds at the end of the book parenthetically it would seem words to the effect that love somehow survives in spite of it all.

It would be interesting to hear him speak or write of solutions to the problems his books cover.  Otherwise he will become like Nader and just keep on ranting without seeking to organize for meaningful change.

So briefly put I am saying: Ok, so now what?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, December 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

Carmody—I suggest consulting the Wikipedia entries on Karl Barth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Barth) and “New Age” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age).  I am not enough of an expert on either to testify authoritatively on their accuracy, but from what I do know, they’re reasonably on target.  Mysticism is a very broad term if it is used to cover everything we deal with but do not fully know, such as whether the sun will rise in the morning, and as such it may cover both Karl Barth’s ideas and New Age theories and practices as well, but I think you’ll detect some differences of flavor.

It is surprising to me that Hedges is a disciple of Barth’s, but even more improbably John Updike was one of his fans; so I guess you never know.

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By carmody, December 5, 2009 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Question: could someone please explain to me the difference between “New Age mysticism” that is referred to in the article above and the mysticism implicit in Mr. Hedges’ faith as a Christian?

I believe Mr. Hedges went to Harvard School of Divinity and is a believer in much of what Karl Barth taught. (Karl Barth (1886-1968) was a Swiss Reformed theologian whom critics hold to be among the most important Christian thinkers.)

From my readings of Barth, I sense there is a certain amount of mysticism implicit in that particular Reformed approach to Christianity.

Could someone please help me understand?

Many thanks.

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By Anti-Univision, December 5, 2009 at 8:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

THE UNIVISION AND TELEMUNDO TELENOVELAS DESTROY AND BRAINWASH THE SPANISH POPULATION LIVING IN USA !! 

IT IS SICKENING HOW UNIVISION AND TELEMUNDO MANIPULATE PEOPLE INTO BUYING DIGIORNOS PIZZAS, SUVS,  TO SHOP AT SEARS, TARGET, WAL-MART, KMART, AND ALL THE STUPID COMMERCIALS OF UNIVISION AND TELEMUNDO. (NOT TO MENTION THE IDIOCRACY OF TELENOVELAS)

Dear Chris Hedges and friends.  I have a question.  Do you think that the latin american telenovelas, the talk shows, the celebrity shows like “Viva el Sueño”, Cristina, Don Francisco, Quien Tiene La Razon, Casos De Familia, the mainstream news like Noticiero Univision, and “Al Punto” with Jorge Ramos, have a detrimental effect on the spanish population living in USA? Do you think that one of the strongest reasons on why spanish people voted for Obama and support Hillary and mainstream spanish politicians like Judge Sotomayor is the mainstream spanish media in USA?

I just want to point that many spanish people in USA hate capitalism and love Chavez. William Camacaro (a Bolivarian Revolutionary) living in in a New York library saw Jorge Ramos and took a book and almost hit him in the head with a book. (Jorge Ramos is a far-right wing spanish news journalist who works in UNIVISION, and who loves to invite people like the Lincoln-Balart Diaz Family to his shows)

.

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By zeusfiction, December 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy -
Television, The Drug Of The Nation

One Nation under God
has turned into
One Nation under the influence
of one drug

Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

T.V., it satellite links
our United States of unconciousness
Apathetic therapeutic and extremely addictive
the methadone metronome pumping out
a 150 channels 24 hours a day
you can flip through all of them
and still there’s nothing worth watching

T.V. is the reason why less than ten percent of our
Nation reads books daily
Why most people think Central America
means Kansas
Socialism means unamerican
and Apartheid is a new headache remedy

absorbed in it’s world it’s so hard to find us
It shapes our minds the most
maybe the mother of our Nation
should remind us
that we’re sitting to close to. . .

Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

T.V. is
the stomping ground for political candidates
Where bears in the woods
are chased by Grecian Formula’d
bald eagles

T.V. is mechanized politic’s
remote control over the masses
co-sponsered by environmentally safe gases
watch for the PBS special

It’s the perpetuation of the two party system
where image takes precedence over wisdom
Where sound bite politics are served to
the fastfood culture

Where straight teeth in your mouth
are more important than the words
that come out of it
Race baiting is the way to get selected
Willie Horton or
Will he not get elected on . . .

Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

T.V. is it the reflector or the director?
Does it imitate us or do we imitate it
Because a child watches 1500 murders before he’s
twelve years old and we wonder how we’ve created
a Jason generation that learns to laugh
rather than abhor the horror

T.V. is the place where
armchair generals and quarterbacks can
experience first hand
the excitement of video warfare
as the theme song is sung in the background

Sugar sweet sitcoms
that leave us with a bad actor taste while
pop stars metamorphosize into soda pop stars
You saw the video
You heard the soundtrack
Well now go buy the soft drink
Well, the only cola that I support
would be a union C.O.L.A. (Cost of Living Allowance)
On Television.

Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

Back again, “New and Improved”,
we return to our irregularly programmed schedule
hidden cleverly between heavy breasted
beer and car commericals

CNN ESPN ABC TNT but mostly B.S.
Where oxymoronic language like
“virtually spotless” “fresh frozen”
“light yet filling” and “military intelligence”
have become standard

T.V. is the place where phrases are redefined
like “recession” to “necessary downturn”
“crude oil” on a beach to “mousse”
“Civilian death” to “collateral damages”
and being killed by your own Army
is now called “friendly fire”

T.V. is the place where the pursuit
of happiness has become the pursuit of trivia
Where toothpaste and cars have become sex objects
Where imagination is sucked out of children
by a cathode ray nipple
T.V. is the only wet nurse
that would create a cripple

Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation
On Television . . .

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By ardee, December 4, 2009 at 4:08 am Link to this comment

Americans are stupid by design and they can’t blame anybody by themselves for it.

I really have a problem with such a blanket assessment as this. I would agree that our policies, both foreign and domestic, certainly lend themselves to a scathing critique, as do our actions abroad.

But I think that to condemn all Americans in this fashion is to negate any enthusiasm for the badly needed change that a committed group can , should, and probably eventually will enforce upon our nation. Why should one even attempt to make change viable if one thinks they do it for ‘a bunch of idiots’?

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By Jeffersonian-Socialist, December 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey you all: Go to this link and read this long article i wrote copying and pasting from different articles on how to save USA from barbarism.  You can print it and share it with your friends:

http://jeffersonian-anti-israel-socialists.blogspot.com/2009/11/nature-of-socialist-workers-revolution.html

“The great men are necessary, the time in which they appear is accidental; that they almost always become masters over their age is only because they are stronger, because they are older, because for a longer time much was gathered for them.” -Twilight of the Idols

“My types of disciples: To those men who are of any concern to me I wish them suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, and indignities. I also wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: And i have no compassion for them, because I wish them the only thing that reveals value in a man: that they should endure firmly !!” -(The Will to Power, Sec. 905)

.

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Trailing Begonia's avatar

By Trailing Begonia, December 3, 2009 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!  Wait till this Comcast/GM merger is over.  The brainwashing that will ensue will be of cosmic proportions.  Soon, we’ll be turning on the TVs to find a set of rolling eyes commanding us to obey, obey, obey.

Americans are stupid by design and they can’t blame anybody by themselves for it.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, December 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

Ananrcissie, Must say we enjoyed it when we went to the Porn Convention in Las Vages.  As Hedges takes we on this enlightening trip into his (I mean we) world of nonsense we all can appreciate the journey alone or together!

We are waiting with anticipation for Hedges article on the much publicized National Lap dancing convention! (may be coinciding with the GOP convention?)  Of course Foggry must (as we) be anticipating the Pole dancers bowling fest, it seems we just cannot wait!

Yes we can! Yes we is!  Hedges and froggy we are one!
We having fun yet?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, December 3, 2009 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Leefeller—We is indeed a pretty funny word.  It often means ‘I’ (the royal or journalistic we) and sometimes ‘our great leaders’ (‘we had to invade Cambodia for their own good.’)  In Hedges’s case I think it is supposed to me ‘you’—‘You are hooked on celebrity culture, I am above it.’  Moralizers often favor this approach, I suppose as a kind of preemptive defense.

That fact is, though, it may well be that Hedges is addicted to celebrity culture.  He seems to know a mighty lot about it, as do most such denouncers.  What do you think?

Oh, here I go again.  I’m addicted to Hedges disparagement culture.  Well, I can quit any time I want.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, December 3, 2009 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

“New Oxford American Dictionary Apple Dictionary’s #2 definition of the word
“we.””

Maybe the Oxford dictionary has not changed it yet to read what the Most Ignoble Fellow Grown up Leefeller Dictionary defines as the word “we” to mean!

“And this little Piggy went” with a most strange change high pitched squealing tone!  “We”! “We”!—“all the way home”!

We, could mean: me, myself and I, you and possibly everyone else in the world or all? We must define what “we” really means, for it may mean more than what it seems in suggestion!

As I (not we) mentioned in the past, it sounds like Hedges is talking like he has a frog in his pocket when he constantly uses the word we! I (not we) believe this is very shoddy and presumptuous for the frog may disagree with what we are saying?

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By elisalouisa, December 3, 2009 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

Leefeller:My disagreement with Hedges is when he uses the word “we”. We went to war, no I did not go to war, no I do not celebrity worship, no I do not worship in general.
*******************************
New Oxford American Dictionary Apple Dictionary’s #2 definition of the word
“we.”
” used by a writer or editor, to refer to himself or herself :’ in this section we
discuss the reasons’. ”

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By johannes, December 3, 2009 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

where we are real worryd about in Europe is that with every happening in our society they create
terrifying fear psychosis, and in the meantime are taken our persenal freedom away with very realistic bases but build on lies, the latest the money market, I am not an expert but I know what the France bureaucrates are capable of, they are brilliant in selling even a bicycle to a blind person.

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By carmody, December 3, 2009 at 4:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i have just finished reading the iliad by homer. people may find some quotes of interest:

“But now for the moment, let me seize great glory!-”

in fact this repeated theme of obsession with the need for glory or fame is mentioned by many characters throughout this over 2000 year old story.

and elsewhere in Plato’s Laws the Cretan participant in the discussion says: “Peace is just a name.  The truth is that every city-state is, by natural law, engaged in a perpetual undeclared war with every other city-state.”

and of course as already noted here:

“The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on.”

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, December 3, 2009 at 3:26 am Link to this comment

Celebrity worship does seem to be real, this Celebrity gaga-ing may even be a strange important part of some peoples lives.  My disagreement with Hedges is when he uses the word “we”. We went to war, no I did not go to war, no I do not celebrity worship, no I do not worship in general. Yes Hedges qualified the we, though I still prefer to resent it.

My childhood comes to mind. Reminiscing of my Uncle or some other relative saying this while grabbing my little stubby fingers. “This little piggy went to market”, this little piggy went some place else.” Anyway if I recall all the little piggy’s went someplace but the last one if a person has five fingers or is it three?  For the grand finale “And this little Piggy went” with a most strange change of high pitched squeeling tone!  “We”! “We”!—“all the way home”!

My mental problems are what they are, so letting me share this with you and passing it on may not be the same as living it, but If it worked, now all of you from now on,  when you read the word “we”, you to will to be whisked away and side tracked by the three Little Piggy’s, as I!

Occasionally I check out the News on the Web and find headlines where I am forced to read, some imbecilic headline, about who I am suppose to know is a Celebrity.  Having just fornicated with another Celebrity or behold a non Celebrity and some Celebrity’s girl friend does not like it? Tiger Woods anyone!  Why should I care?  Now! it seems we, but not I love to read this stimulating crap, (did it work, we?)

Is it possible, some people find all this much ado about Nothing, besides myself and I dear say Hedges?

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By gerard, December 2, 2009 at 11:03 pm Link to this comment

So why are we “addicted to nonsense”?  Because it keeps is distracted so that we forget how to unite to participate actively in our government, for one reason. For decades—at least since Vietnam—our government has not wanted us to participate.  That’s what all this dumbing down, poor education, deceiving media and manipulative advertising and show biz has been about.  Thankfully, the internet has broken down some of that systematic manipulation. Nevertheless, a lot of damage has been done. And all the elaborate “surveillance” and the fancy tasers and stun guns and noise machines at demonstrations and protests serve the same purpose.
  A concerted defense of rights of free speech has to be mounted and maintained to regain democratic rights.  The moment police loose their cool and people who protest are not protected and respected, democracy goes down the tubes and Kent State is looming just ahead.
  We definitely do NOT need a “military takeover.”  In fact, that is the beginning of the end of the United States of Amerca.

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By BobZ, December 2, 2009 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment

I found Hedge’s article especially relevant after reading today about Barbara
Walters most important people of 2009 which included Lady Gaga, Sarah Palin,
some celebrity from a reality show, and miscellaneous other celebrities who did
not add one once to the betterment of this country in 2009. Now the media is
in a conundrum because their role model darling Tiger Woods turns out to feet
of clay after all. The worship of this golfer by the sporting elite was nauseating
in the extreme and now they don’t know whether to defend him or jump all
over him. What is telling is how the working class reacts to transgressions by
the rich versus transgressions by their own class. They cut the rich a lot more
slack except when Wall Street almost collapses the entire world economy - then
they notice that the rich aren’t exactly looking out after our welfare. If you look
at the topics that the far right Fox News covers, they seldom attack Wall Street.
They go after the Acorn’s of the world, or Hollywood, or the progressives who
are secretly plotting to turn the U.S. into a larger version of Sweden. During the
car company troubles, you would have thought that the UAW singlehandedly
caused the car companies to go broke and that management had nothing to do
with it. Hedges is correct. Once it dawns on the working class how they have
been betrayed, they will turn to fascist-like leadership. We saw what happened
in Germany in the 1930’s and it can happen here.

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By Rgyle, December 2, 2009 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

TAO Walker: Another articulate and grim telling of it, pointing, coaxing toward the
not-grim. Thank you!

I’ve looked it up and found various definitions of HokaHey. One I especially liked
was “pay attention.” How do you define this expression?

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By Rgyle, December 2, 2009 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

OK. I will attempt the impossible, the ridiculous, and speak for silence.

TAO Walker’s Tiyoshpaye Way, which is really not his but for anyone, I strongly
presume, cannot open up for anyone or any people without silence. I’ll even
give it a capital S: Silence. Because it is absolute like nothing else is or can be.
More absolute than any of Hedges’ absolutish-sounding conclusions. Even
these descriptions of silence I share here are only conveyed in our mind, which
is a sea of change.

That which is missing, that which we seek, that which is “so subtle nothing can
get in,” as Phreed quotes for us from Buddhism, is that which never changes,
ever. It is the secret that can never be told. Yet, I try.

It IS truth and it is beyond subtle yet includes everything subtle and gross. It
can’t be described, but it can be opened to, and lived. All of life and living, all
the current hell we experience, takes place in…? Yes. Silence. Just because we
don’t see the tree’s sap, doesn’t mean it does not exist as the very essence of
the tree.

I suspect Mr. Hedges knows more than he tells. He does us the service of
taking us to the end of our respective ropes, to the edge of the cliff, down on
our knees, and leaving us there to find what we must. For only when there is no
other choice will each of us, one at a time, open to Silence.

But addicted to noise, or so we think and believe, we’ll continue to miss it.

I could say more, like how everything is happening for us, inside us, within
timeless, measureless silence that is our essence – that is US at heart. But I
won’t. No one can discover anything for anyone else. Especially the . .  .

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By TAO Walker, December 2, 2009 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

Carmody’s hope for some kind of “incremental” path to The Tiyoshpaye Way, as understandable as it is, is unfortunately doomed to disappointment.  CONditions in the virtual world-o’-hurt are rapidly approaching a state where there’s no tolerance left in it for anything or anyone even remotely “alien” or marginally “redundant” to its motives and methods.

For the billion or so “first worlders” presently enmeshed in its toils, this will mean summary expulsion from the shrinking precincts of false “comfort” and crippling CONvenience.  It’ll be “life-boat ethics” on a mass scale….and with a vengeance.  Those will be the “lucky” ones, however, because it’ll be for them a stark choice of coalescing into genuine living communities or quick oblivion.

For the several billions already on-the-outside-looking-in, their physical circumstances won’t outwardly change all that much….until the “seven plagues” are unleashed into their midst in “extinction” mode.  Tiyoshpaye, and maybe some natural immunity, is organically much more accessible to these “least among you,” than it is to their more materially “blessed” Brethren and Sistren.   

Those few “chosen” for “salvation” in undisclosed locations around the world have already been covered….in Albert Camus’ “The Masque of the Red Death.”

________________________      

On a cheerier note, remember when “consumption” was just an inevitably fatal disease?  Now CONsumption is the “low church” of the state religion….where all the infantilized suckers go to worship the industrial waste-products of the omnipotent god, MONEY.  You will not, of course, ever catch the upper-crust dead in such common surroundings.  For them it’s the high-church of coupon-clipping and “trophy” everything.

When the post-WWII corporate campaign to turn customers into “consumers,” and the government drive to turn citizens into “taxpayers,” joined with the media barrage to turn everybody into idiots, this Old Savage knew theamericanpeople were screwed.  Now it looks like that’s finally dawning-on some of them, too.

Remember when “consumption” was just an inevitably fatal disease!!

HokaHey!

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By F. White, December 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges isn’t the first to note the inanity and
trivialization of American culture and, doubtless, he
won’t be the last. The evidence is all around us - just
look at the ads on truthdig’s website.

Learn to live with it, America, because it ain’t gonna
change, except to get worse.

If it’s any consolation, it ain’t that much better here
in Canada. My solution is to tune in to BBC radio 4 via
the Internet. What a contrast.

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By daniel e rowell, December 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sir, I disagree on your take of Obama.
He has been mr. corporate for a while and
just took advatage of his charismatic personna
and good oratory skills to become president. Also
took advantage of the ignorance that the corporate
media instills into the American public.

Anyone who has followed American politics and policies for the last forty years closly should
have seen the frawd a year and a half before the
general election.  I sure didn’t fall for the
OBAMA-RAMA. And there shouldn’t have been one
so called progressive that should have fallen for
Obama’s line of CRAP!!!!!!!!

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By NABNYC, December 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

I loved the book Christian Fascists.  It was brilliant, but also scary.  I unfortunately am currently living in a community with a lot of Mormons and a lot of new-style Christians who spout this blather like McDonald’s spouts hamburgers.  Join them and you will be happy, have a rich life, be surrounded with friends and become part of a real community.  Join them and your family will become happy, all the problems solved.  Salvation, success, big homes and cars and nice clothes.  Join them. It’s like I’m the only person who ever watched “The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.” 

As for the addiction, I think it’s a good analogy.  People are terrified of the economic problems they face, and do not know how to solve them.  Nobody is helping them.  Nobody has an answer for them.  We rush aid in after a tsunami, but nobody is sending help to Detroit.  Or to California, for that matter. 

The government is ignoring the people who are being discarded by this economy by the millions, their jobs gone forever, TV is cheerleading about the recovery, the end of the recession, so people do think it is them, it is their own failure and disgrace that have caused their downfall.  They are ashamed.  They turn to anything to relieve unbearable feelings of despair and shame.  TV works as does beer, any alcohol, drugs, cigarettes.  Potato chips and dip help too.

I also think electronic devices are impairing people’s ability to think, actually altering their brains so they cannot focus for more than the 30-second soundbytes.  TV commercials tell people to go to private expensive schools to get re-training, but how do they pay the tuition, how do they pay the bills in the meantime?

If this continues, I expect the nation will collapse.  We will be cut off from credit because we will not be able to pay the ongoing costs of war.  People will go hungry and sleep in the streets.  More likely they will turn to fascism and violence.  Did you read that the insiders at Goldman Sachs are buying guns because they are terrified of mob violence.  They should be terrified.  They are criminals and thieves, and they are largely responsible for the economic devastation being suffered by most people in the world. 

People will adjust to living in poverty with no hope, no healthcare, inadequate nutrition, no public educational system for the children.  It’s happened to other countries.  Life becomes unending misery for most of the people.  Welcome to Hell.

Nonetheless, I silently cheered at the image of the former nanny beating the crap out of the billionaire, handsome, internationally powerful and adored athlete, her half his size, him fleeing the home in the night to avoid her blows, leaping into an expensive car to attempt his escape, her chasing him in bare-feet down the street to smash in the windows of his car until he crashed to a stop.  It makes me proud to be a woman.

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By omnivore, December 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Like many things, solutions begin with small steps. It turns out that one of the most significant
things you can do if you’re concerned with both your health and the state of food production in
the world, is become a vegetarian.

If you’re worried about your weight, go to the gym. Going from never to once a week gives a huge
benefit, more than going from 3 days a week to 4, for instance.

If you really worry about the state of the environment, you can give up your car. This means bigger
changes than giving up meat, but it’s important, right?

And, if you’re worried about the state of political discourse, perpetual distraction and the
dumbing-down of, well everything, get rid of TV.

It’s not enough. But in each case, you’d have to do it to be taken seriously, so why not start with
something you can do now?

I started reading again about five years ago. Until I did, I always thought I was missing out
because I didn’t have TV. Now I think about what I’ve read—including Hedges’ works—and that
thought never returns. And the more you take the attitude that watching TV is as unacceptable as
smoking while carrying a child, or drinking and driving, the closer you get to it being a popularly
held opinion.

One of the characteristic of the TV mind is the expectation that change has to come fast,
decisively and heroically to mean anything. Otherwise it’s not worth trying. Life is not that way. The generations that got things done did things in small steps. They just had fewer distractions, and so took more steps.

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By Kay Johnson, December 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

When I read the first paragraph of this article, I didn’t know any of the answers to the questions posed by Chris Hedges. I don’t watch M$M programs. I knew a little bit about the couple who made it into the White House dinner because I have a Yahoo e-mail account, and their photgraphs have been blinking on the Yahoo front page. I couldn’t miss them! And, Levi wants to “Dance with the Stars.” Who knew?

In all seriousness, though, I know countless people who are “addicted to this nonsense.” Just the other day, one of my close friends, smart and educated, called me a snob because I knew nothing about any of the current reality programs. I laughed at him. At the same time, I agree with Purple Girl, more people than we think are involving themselves in the health care debates, the discussion, or not, about escalating the war in Afghanistan, the financial meltdown, etc. However, the people who are speaking out, and taking actions, are consistently marginalized by the M$M. When was the last time Noam Chomsky, or Howard Zinn, appeared on CNN, or other network news programs? 

The other day, out of necessity, I walked through the Times Square area and all its gaudy glitter, neon signs and tacky ads. On one side of the street, sits a Hershey’s store, and directly across the street, sits the M&M store. To my astonishment, people actually crowd into these retail outlets. For the most part, you can buy the same candy at any Rite Aid or grocery store across the country—albeit for the super-sized offerings. Do these stores really pass for tourist attractions? Of course, there’s also a Professional Wrestling store, etc., and a growing number of chain restaurants in the area, including Applebees, the Olive Garden and Red Lobster, complete with an enormous plastic pink lobster hanging from a thick plastic rope. Are these restaurants, too, for the tourists? Somehow, to me, something seems “Lost in Translation.”

Several months ago, I watched a BBC documentary, The Century of the Self, by Adam Curtis. If you haven’t already seen it, you can watch the four parts on Google Video. The film offers a view of history about how “we the people” have been manipulated, not by accident, but to control the masses, through a merging of the financial industry, psychologists, advertisers/public relations, politicians, and anyone else who wanted to reap the benefits of profits and taking advantage of “we the people,” by appealing to our desires rather than our needs.

The following quote stood out for me, written in 1927 by an unknown journalist: “A change has come over our Democracy and it is called consumptionism. The American citizen’s first importance to his country is now no longer that of citizen but that of consumer.” Fast-forward from 1927 to G.W. Bush telling all of us to go shopping after 9/11 when he was asked what “we the people” can do for the country. The spin is uncannily similar, isn’t it? And, now, at the helm of our country is Obama, Advertising Age’s 2008 “marketer of the year.”

KDelphi posted that we need to reclaim our citizenship, and require that we first be acknowledged, and addressed, as citizens of this country rather than consumers. I completely agree. A few months ago, one of my friends told me that I should watch the Ed Show on MSNBC. I tuned into the show, and Ed was talking about health care reform, and then, he referred to “we the people” as consumers, not citizens—not once, but several times within minutes. I tuned out, and e-mailed him that he should think about us as citizens, first, giving us the respect of actually having a voice in the discussion, not as a customer or shopper, but as a stakeholder in life and death issues. That was enough of Ed for me.


I’m off to Times Square to attend an anti-war rally.

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By truedigger3, December 2, 2009 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges and many posters rediculed the public and attributed his sorry state of understanding the current issues and the problems facing the country to a shallow superficial thinking that is interested only in entertainment and the sensational.
Of course some of the public is that way, but the public is up against a very clever corporate owned and controlled news media that is very skillful in bullshitting, misleading, distracting, misinforming, disinforming and confusing the public.
This corporate controlled media does’t want the public to know what is REALLY going on and how the public is being fleeced and and cheated by corporate shenanigans and fraud.
So, the corporate media is doing a good job in creating a completely misinformed distracted public.

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By johannes, December 2, 2009 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

We all know that the people who are selling all this lies to us, on the Tv, Radio and other media’s are all wel aware that they are used to leth the people walk in the trap, but they are so high payed for this acting, so they start to belief their own lies.

About statesmen, I belief that moderate people with an clearmind, and a great deal of honesty, who belief in equality in an together living, more value have than all this greatmen, who half of the time have worked for their own image.

I think its not more complicated as this.

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By Leefeller, December 2, 2009 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

These kids, they need a hair cut it is way to long and play their music loud, and what kind of music is that anyway!

Now these kids what is with the tattoos and loud music and why do they wear their hats backwards?

My perfect concept of society is always being disrupted by other people, Teleivison offers palubm, the rich seem to be happy with their mega divorces and occasional homicide.  We have freedom of speeach with great speakers like Limbaugh and Beck, Ann Colter comes out of the closet occasinaly to enlighten us.

How about those tea badgers, birthers and bigots, we have so much freedom of speech, we whine about it. Way to much freedom, maybe it should be limited, controlled, to my liking,  Guess I am the only choice for the job!

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By Anarcissie, December 2, 2009 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

Donald Nygaard:
’... We need principled leaders such as Lincoln, Churchill, Jefferson, Gandhi, Mandela, Buddha, and Eisenhower, to name a few. ...’

They worked with the same defective people Hedges wails about.  And the results of their principled leadership are the world we see around us.

Logically, then, waiting around for great heroes to save us is not the way to go.

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By carmody, December 2, 2009 at 7:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Donald Nygaard says:
“I will use my powers of literacy and reason to search constantly for truth. I will not stand idly by accepting arguments couched in falsehood, faulty logic, emotion, or deception calculated to gain unwarranted advantage. I will be oriented to solutions of real problems, not circus sideshows of spectacle.”

He is of course to be encouraged in his efforts. However as pointed out in The Empire of Illusion the individual today carries very little meaningful weight politically in the current corporatized state. 

Or to put it a bit more succinctly, the oligarchs who run the govt. and nation could care less what you as an individual do.

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By carmody, December 2, 2009 at 7:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

since Mr. Hedges knows how to read classical Greek, he is surely aware of the Iliad.

It is in the Iliad that the main characters are always shown to be driven by the compulsive need for fame and glory.

Some things don’t change.

carmody

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By Donald Nygaard, December 2, 2009 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

This column is largely taken directly from the Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. The book is an interesting overview of what stands for current national discourse on a number of subjects, all of which confirmed my assessment of the situation. Its examples of professional wrestling, reality television, and pornography being swallowed whole by a fatuous public whose acceptance of these trivialities as ideals worthy of emulation are somewhat obvious sitting ducks (although, not without providing some pleasure of the feeling of superiority by this “literate” reader).

Specifically, we have become a society stewed in entertainment paraded as news, science pushed to the margins by specious arguments based upon faith, pseudo-science, and misdirection, and sham democracy dominated by sound bites without serious, principled discussion of significant issues. He appropriately avoids the invocation of grand conspiracy theories to explain the state of affairs, i.e., plenty within human nature explains the situation without resorting to such ideas. So, nothing in Empire of Illusion was particularly eye-opening.

That said, I do not disagree with Mr. Hedges viewpoint. He’s largely correct in his assessment that the reins of government are now in the hands of an “ownership” class dominated primarily by corporate interests accountable only to profit. He touches on the inexorable logic of the markets that too many accept as an article of faith. I also believe he’s spot-on identifying how less literate masses are prone to manipulation for nefarious purposes. (Consumerism may be the new “opiate of the masses.”)

In particular, I agree with him and fear we’re poised on the brink of a backlash not seen since the Weimar Republic’s end when National Socialists took power and purged the perceived “elites.” (Unfortunately, as with the Khmer Rouge, the elites as seen by these masses likely mean anyone who reads a book, takes a scientific viewpoint, holds a liberal perspective, etc., most probably with a similar result.) It will not be enough to be literate, rational, and compassionate to outrun the anger of this stampede.

Where I find him lacking is there’s no hint of a suggestion for what to do to address his concerns. This happens to be where I depart from many critics. We don’t need another Cassandra. We need principled leaders such as Lincoln, Churchill, Jefferson, Gandhi, Mandela, Buddha, and Eisenhower, to name a few. It’s my opinion that the time has come for a radical re-dedication to the principles upon which our nation was founded, i.e., We the People. We need to identify anew those principles for which we stand.

I will use my powers of literacy and reason to search constantly for truth. I will not stand idly by accepting arguments couched in falsehood, faulty logic, emotion, or deception calculated to gain unwarranted advantage. I will be oriented to solutions of real problems, not circus sideshows of spectacle.

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By Caute, December 2, 2009 at 7:02 am Link to this comment

We must remember that whilst Man’s situation changes Man himself does not. Thus we hear the same complaints throughout the ages, though now better publicized. Schopenhauer tells us that stupid people have always said and done the same things and likewise the intelligent. Voltaire notes that we shall leave this world as wicked and cruel as we found it.

‘The dogs bark, the caravan passes on.’

‘Nel mondo non e se non volgo’ as the Italian Sage has it: ‘There is nothing else in the world but the vulgar.’

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, December 2, 2009 at 3:07 am Link to this comment

Just a point:

The folks on Madison Avenue play to a 6th grade mentality.  The implication of this is the average American has a 6th grade educational level and cannot understand complex, multi-variable issues.  They need everything to be dumbed down to that level so they can get a handle on what is happening.  So it is no wonder that most MSM emphasizes the banal and entertaining over anything with substance.  The typical reader can’t understand it and therefore won’t read it.  But put something exciting in the front page or as the lead story ... say Tiger having a spat with his model wife ... and they are enthralled.

As an example ... the party-crashing of Obama’s state dinner.  There is now talk of a congressional inquiry to look into security!  As if this is the most important thing congress has to undertake.  For days I’ve seen one headline after another about this couple and what they did.  It deserves about 30 seconds on the back page, not all this attention.  I was watching this debate between Kucinich and Santorum on FOX and the interviewer spent the first several minutes asking about this stupid inquiry!  It was utterly stupid and a waste of time but she insisted it was very important.

So, as several others in this thread have noted ... fluff triumphs over substance because most Americans are just too stupid to understand anything more complex than Oprah or Martha Stewart.  Their eyes glaze over and they change the channel.  This is the essential reason why I’m so pessimistic about our future ... we are just too stupid to ever understand, let alone debate, the grave issues confronting our nation.

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By Lonewolf, December 2, 2009 at 2:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ever read the history about the development of any religious belief?  This is similar.  For 99% of the human beings thinking is just too hard and too painful.  Rather being dumb and believing in fantasies can make many people blissful.  And lies make people happy.

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By Anarcissie, December 1, 2009 at 10:38 pm Link to this comment

carmody—Tao Walker wrote, “Get together in Genuine Living Community where you’re living and breathing.  Take care of each other and respond to Living CONditions to the mutual benefit of all around you….and acknowledge every Day your dependence on All Our Relations.”  Although this is somewhat generic, it seems basically clear to me.  The steps and increments are going to be different for different people.  It’s something we have to work out.  The important thing at this point is not to know all the answers, but to understand that there is no salvation in the existing order and to start out, however modestly, to find or cultivate a new one.

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By gerard, December 1, 2009 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

omygodnotagain wants to know the cure-all and suggests what?  The military!  Seriously?  Stop the bus!  I want to get off!

In this same string, just a little earlier, Taowalker made some sane suggestions.  Thanks for that!

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By Night-Gaunt, December 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

Hitler lost& Stalin won is the short answer. I haven’t seen any recent history text books so I can’t comment. However the way text books are compiled then edited is as ugly a process as making wieners. No teachers or academics involved other than in the research.


Ever since MTV introduced the flash picture way of quick cuts the ability to focus for long periods has been shortening. I had to fight it myself. We have been under an onslaught of propaganda in marketing not just for products but people and ideas. All done in the way that psy-ops and mass psychology is manipulated to conform to product lines and geo-political moves by our gov’t and corporations. Keeping us all entertained, or most of us, is the way to keep a very nervous, anxious, on edge populace to relax and consume. Consumption being so important even as our buying power diminishes daily. But in the end they will want most of us to be owned by said mega-corps to live and die just as the church owned people in the past. As did corporations did in the 19th and early 20th century right here. [Blacks and Amerinds have a different special place in all this and it is a bad kind of special.]

We have the 21st century version of Bread & Circuses on numerous TV channels. With clowns to amuse and bewilder and drain of creative energies an increasingly over worked and poorly paid population ever weaker and therefor more easily manipulated. If they are weak but busy they won’t have time or the inclination to reserve their energies for protest. The carrot will keep them from the stick even if that carrot is made of painted wood. But should some get to that point they will be put down and then reality will be reinterpreted for the populace. What next will the CMSM dangle in front of us to take up whatever limited time used for any real news?

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By KDelphi, December 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment

Hedges is right about the working poor, but neo-liberals will simply respond with “they are so stupid they didnt even vote in their own best interests”, when, in truth, neither party has done anything for the poor and working classes in 60 yrs. IN fact, they usually do things that go against the best interest of the poor.

Oprah sold many of you on Brand Obama. Hell, I dont like her, but, she might have been a better president.

liecatcher—maybe, but please remember that most of the soldiers are working class and might be convinced to turn on the govt when they come back to nothing.. BTW, Hedges has a facebook page….

miller—talk about missing the point!! Give them a reason to waste gas or bus fare—give them someone worth voting for! The poor voting for someone to represent the upper middle class has become worse than useless…maybe now that there are more lower classes..but Merkins tend to be passive to the end.

Edward—sure we “choose” but from a very limited number of choices, pre-determined by the Lords of the Universe, Captains of Industry. If youre implying that consumerism is somt type of “free mkt” in this country, I think you are very wrong.

You have no idea that there are plenty of other choices to be made anymore. Everyone just keeps chasing the Merkin Nightmare. Some think that it was all copesetic before THIS “crash’ adn that we just need to “grow our economy” again…another bubble, bust. The truth is, this country was fought and bought on a Nightmare and has always been thus.

As long as people consider themselves, “consumers” first and citizens, second, they will be easily marketed to. This incremental “change” just lulls the masses. If we had let Wall St collapse, we wouldve been much better off, and, might even have gotten the middle clawsas to admit that capitalism just kills.

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By Ouroborus, December 1, 2009 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

Remarkable; for most of human history, 1% ruled the
99%. Then, along came the American revolution and an
experiment with something called democracy. A little
over 200 years later; experiment failed; 1% again rule
99%. Nice try.

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By omygodnotagain, December 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt
In a million years I never thought I would ever entertain the idea that the military should assume control, but now I have come to the conclusion what alternative is there. There was a film out a couple of years ago called “Why We Fight”, it won all sorts of Sundance Film Awards.
The film starts with Eisenhower’s Goodbye message and his warning about the Military Industrial Complex.
It took an honored soldier to say that, someone who knew about war and who was willing to stand up for the Constitution.
The fact is our Congress is controlled by Lobbies, the Health Care, Financial, Legal, Israeli etc. Our representatives are bought people, it is how they get elected, they are the spokespersons for interest groups. Our media is controlled by interests. We are given to news they think we should hear, the Iraq War they went AOL. Our education system is controlled by interest groups, over 200 studies have been done on why phonics is a better way to teach children to read, but the publishers sponsor writers who follow the Whole Language approach, which means more books being published, more profits for them. Then there are interest groups who want to revise history, why do students when studying 20th Century history focus so much on Hitler as opposed to Stalin. 100 million people died under various communist regimes, 30 million in the Soviet Union, surpassing the number killed in WW2. Why? Could it be that the descendants of those who supported communism (largely in academia) are now respected lecturers, is it because the role played by bankers Jacob Schiff,the Kuhn Loeb Bank,(that was part of the Federal Reserve), the Rothchilds. Is it because we do not want to face the fact that our bankers bankrolled the most deadly political system ever, and the education system has to gloss over this.
What do you do when everything in Government, Finance and Education is corrupt and rotten, what power is left… only the Military, who fight and die for the Constitution to protect Americans. They are our last hope to save Mankind’s Best Last Hope

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By colin2626262, December 1, 2009 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment

Since Robert Scheer won’t give me my own column on truthdig, I’ll have to settle for a comment on Chris Hedges’s remarkable column.  It’s remarkable for a number of reasons; firstly, for it’s accurate depiction of what’s going on in American society; secondly, for it’s appraisal of reality without specifying what reality is.  In other words, it’s a dead-on critique of the outward conditions of our society, and yet the critique is made without a foundation.  What is the reality Mr. Hedges has faced and wishes to impart?  Is it everyone’s reality?  Or is it simply his reality?  And if it is just a personal reality, what makes anyone else into a delusional “child-like adult” for not grasping or living within it?

These are questions that I didn’t see addressed, at least not directly, by the other people who commented on the article.  So let me try to see if I can answer some of these questions. 

What is the reality?  That’s the question.  But it would be better stated thus: What is reality?  Clearly, for Hedges, it isn’t appearances.  This explains his attack on the superficial nonsense we see in the mainstream news media, the dishonesty of televsion culture and movies.  I couldn’t possibly disagree with him here.  Reality is not about what we look like.  It’s not about how we appear to others in the extremely shallow world of in front of the camera. 

However, in order for Mr. Hedges to write about how we all desire fame and celebrity status, he must have experiences these desires himself.  It’s not unusual to find him making numerous media apperances.  He’s constantly giving interviews, talking not just about political issues but about his own personal life.  He also has a facebook page, with pictures of himself for everyone to see.  He clearly has some barely concealed desires to be what he is railing against in his article here.  Mr. Hedges wants to impose his version of reality on everyone else.  That should be obvious to anyone who’s listened to him speak or read a couple of his truthdig essays.

I understand why he wants to promote his reality.  He believes it’s the truth.  The problem is he doesn’t tell you what reality is.  He doesn’t even tell you what reality is supposed to be, presumably because that wouldn’t be reality; that would be idealism or his catchword, “utopianism.”  So therefore I don’t think his critique is very helpful.  He can only tell us what reality isn’t, instead of giving a picture of what it is, so we could strive for it. 

Reality, for Mr. Hedges, is maybe a more egalitarian society, less under the control of moneyed interests (corporations) and less intellectually stagnant.  Also, reality may be, for him, a less militaristic foreign policy.  These are noble politiacl goals, but they don’t approach reality, I’m afraid.  They don’t answer the question: “What is reality?”

Never failing to remind us that he graduated from Harvard Divinity School, Mr. Hedges might, one would think, be compelled to admit there’s a spiritual reality in the world which does answer the above existential question.  Most people refer to this reality as God.  However, you can’t write about that openly, even on a site like truthdig, which is supopsed to be about truth.  Mr. Hedges wouldn’t want to offend his skeptical boss or skeptical readers on the Left.  No, we must keep our faith to ourselves, lest we offend anyone.  Of course, I’m assuming Mr. Hedges has faith in something other than himself and his stridently voiced “reality,” the reality he has yet to define. 

Maybe the next article could address this gap.  Maybe someone will read it and be helped by it.  That’s the only reality for me.

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By carmody, December 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tao,

Would you care to expand in a bit more detail re how people can move in the direction of
‘The Tiyoshpaye Way’ in incremental steps.

In the 60s we had the traditional communes but somehow that was not the answer.

carmody

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By Carmody, December 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment
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Leefeller

What shall we call ‘him?’ Mr. Hedges, Christopher Hedges, Chris. I opt this time around for Mr. H.

The ‘darkness’ is simply all the negative domination by the 1% and the behavior of the majority of the other 99%.

Mr. H. is splendid in his pointing out the chain of causation that has led us to this point in time, but he is going to rapidly deteriorate in to Ralph Nader ranting unless he starts presenting serious options that all of us can apply ourselves to. At least Nader did his Pinto thing and fought off GM.

If we could all in some way start lighting candles by our actions rather than sitting around moaning about how helpless we are then we would all be better off.

Mr. H. believes that the only viable alternative at this point in time is in movements since the 2 major parties have sold us out. Ok. Fine. Let’s start a movement. As Mr. H. said the corporations have the political power and the individual is by comparison powerless in that arena. Fine. So let’s start a movement.

Anyone have a candle?

Or does everyone prefer to just go on and on pointing out all the problems with never a solution suggested?

Or so it seems to me; and I could of course be wrong.

Carmody

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By TAO Walker, December 1, 2009 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges’ dark “vision,” as sketched regularly on this site and evidently shared by more than a few of his fellow ‘n’ gal prisoners, may’ve been come-by honestly enough.  Its grimmer elements, after all, are peddled incessantly through all manner of “media”....and have been for thousands of years.  Let’s face it, though.  The ‘particulars’ of the looming calamity are really only incidental.  They’re mostly a matter of acquired ‘taste’ or received opinion, anyhow….and thus essentially irrelevant.  The actual and unchanging “message,” however, is that in its own hermetically-sealed virtual world-o’-hurt, “material”-ISM is, of-necessity,  both its own “reward” and the gods’ preferred “punishment”....ontological perfection if ever there was such (and the industrial-strength demand for specialists in “oncology” is pretty damned impressive, too).  It’s all about “risk management.”

So under this rogue regime, to stave-off temporarily the supposed-to-be self-destructive revenge of “....your huddled masses,” the greatamericandreammachine has only to be tuned a little more toward upping slightly their rather pitiful “stake” in its CONtinued “successful” operation.  Yet, how anything other than a brief prolonging of the general agony is achieved, by CONvincing “working people” the perpetual wage-debt slavery which is all they’ll ever get from the “global economy” is as good a “deal” as they ought to expect, is something neither the author nor any among the responding commenters seem prepared to address.

It’s difficult to imagine a more telling illustration of the closed-loop, stress-to-destruct, DEAD END predicament CONfronting homo domesticus here in these latter days.  There’s no real “solution” available from anything (or anyone) inside the CONtraption, but there’s nothing-at-all, really, “outside” of it….or so the inmates are told CONstantly.

So it wasn’t “fair” for someone below to ask Chris Hedges to come-up with some remedies.  Other than “pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die,” or the-“powers”-that-wannabe relenting a little (by “popular demand”?) in their institutionalized ruthlessness, he knows of none.  It’s to the fella’s credit he doesn’t seriously pretend otherwise.

Just for The Record, though, and so nobody here, at-least, can later plead “innocent” on-account-of ignorance, there is a specific Medicine for the CONdition described so starkly in the instant article.  What’s more, it is within reach right this minute of every “individual” presently enmeshed in the toils of the worldwide rape-and-pillage apparatus.  It IS the organic integrity of Humanity.  It abides in The Tiyoshpaye Way.

So kwitchyerbitchin, tame Sisters and Brothers.  Get together in Genuine Living Community where you’re living and breathing.  Take care of each other and respond to Living CONditions to the mutual benefit of all around you….and acknowledge every Day your dependence on All Our Relations.  It’s all about your precious attention and real R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  These are the only “price-of-admission” for you to the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth and the Great Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.  The rest is only make-believe.

Yes, it is just that simple….so don’t let your tormentors CONvince you otherwise.

Hokahey!

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By phreedom, December 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Chris,

Man, you can cover much ground in such little writing space.

In Buddhism, there is a saying, “so subtle that nothing can get in”, this would actually be a desired state/moment, caused(or un-caused) by hearing something that stops “the band from playing”(band=an unbridled and misunderstood thinking process or nature).

1% of the citizenry controlling 90% of the wealth & power of a society is huge leverage, but I often wonder what % of the 99% of our citizenry is required to be kept so busy & enthralled to get the desired “ignorant-effect”. Is it 10% of the 99%, etc… what is it? Since the 1% stay wealthy, and in power, because of a trickle down system of leftover leverage & gaming results, well, it must be that only a small percentage of the 99% is getting sucked in. Yet this small percentage is standing guard, using their brute ignorance, well, to keep a reasonable reality from the rest of as well. I can only imagine it is some kind of psychological or sociological leverage.

Getting back to the Buddhist saying, “so subtle that nothing can get in”, which infers a moment, completely not baited, as to conjure up a subsequent thought, a moment when it might be said that the mind is clear, and not filled to the brim as if to say no more room for thought. Well, I would say that a possible reason for what you describe Chris, is a state expressed in terms more like, “so subtle that everything can get in”, and instead of a moment of clarity, which one would need to face reality, what is happening to people is a process of sense & attention saturation, and their thoughtlessness, instead of being the product of a blank and fertile slate, well, instead is a state of thoughtlessness based on there being no room in their minds.

I suppose then, capitalism not only abhors a missed opportunity for material profit, it abhors any vacuums in a consumer’s mind that might give rise to(make room for) thoughtfulness, and the mental resources needed to consider reality. The reason capitalism becomes so pervasive despite a majority of its’ victim-citizens not agreeing with or wanting it, is because it can be perfected with such massive leverage.

As I suggest, this process is subtle, completely encompassing, non-stop and effective, yet I think accomplished through a small % of the 99% of our consuming citizenry, aided and abetted with the great leveraged of a nearly, completely colluding media.

Tired from carrying around a head-full, it may be that many are vulnerable to the impulse, that the remedy to their problems and suffering is just outside of their stuffed state. That the answers always lie just after fill, unfortunately they cannot consider that it is just more of the same habit of overfilling, just hording more mind(thinking) stagnating things for a rainy day.

Its pretty grotesque, I say that quite often, is there a pretty grotesque?, well, it is hideous that our system thrives on the required mindlessness of such a small % of our citizenry, by fostering a complete preoccupation, by this small, but important group, with the trivial. When the trivial does not deliver, well, then comes the nasty, but understandable vulnerability of the trivial pursuers, to adopt radically exclusive & untenable beliefs.

Rhuen Phreed
11 Marlborough Street, #22
Boston, MA 02116

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By johannes, December 1, 2009 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

To Truedigger,

Well maby there is still slavery an lynching, but on an other way, out of work no home no future for me thats modern lynching.

I know that in an so called democraty their can by oppresion by a group or an underclass, but in a small country with an very special freethinking kind of people, not speaking about the banks, their is a kind of beying afraid of something with out the smallest souplaise comes in your live and start to change your country and daily live, what you have cherished and seen flowering in your hands.
Sorry but as an US citizen I do not think you can come in to this thinking and feeling, and if you want to judge situations as this, you have to come and look for your self.
I am sorry but this is my feeling.

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By truedigger3, December 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Johannes,

Democracy means the will of the people but not the tyranny of the majority or any group.
If we agree with your logic, then we could have had slavery and lynching here in US till now in the deep south.!!!??

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By Leefeller, December 1, 2009 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

“Chris,”

“You have written eloquently of the causes for the current darkness.”

Since I am not on a first name basis with Mr. Hedges, I will call him “Hedges” a connotation which speaks for itself!

Carmody, could you please explain what Chris (your word) so eloquently written about as causes?  And expand on what is the current darkness referred to in the above comment?

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By johannes, December 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

To Truedigger 3 well Make it 4 or 5,

You as a Atheist can’t understand people who belief in something differend than the wether or dimensions,
beliefing has nothing to do with buildings or other material objects, only to show of your power your greatness and impress the stupid people.

No body can stop you beliefing on what you want to belief, so I do not see your or their problems.

I am a beliefing atheist you never know, but I think that all countrys with their inhabitants can make any disision about where they live, and how to live, and with wath kind of buildings and even oppresive dogmatic middelaged humans, thats all to do with freedom of thinking and democratic voting.

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By night-gaunt, December 1, 2009 at 11:55 am Link to this comment
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Not sarcastic. I am an Atheist and over the years I have noticed not only immunity from procelitizers on religion but the whole ideas of “heros” and the worship that accompanies them. I trace the immunity to idea that, and it is my hypothesis, that it is a biological inclination to religion and worship. I have no such at all. So as in keeping with evolutionary principals that variation in a species is a protective measure of survival. There will be a few in a given population that are different. It is an insurance policy for when the enviornment changes. It doesn’t always work but there it is.

“How fast does darkness travel?”—Mandy of the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.

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By Leefeller, December 1, 2009 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

Interesting premise Night-Gaunt,  though the following is seemingly a somewhat presumptuous sarcastic comment, when one “says For me it is easy than most of you. The “luck” of the genetic draw.” Night-Gaunt sarcastic, never?

Worship indeed seems relevant in the grand scheme of things.

“I have a suspicion that the same mechanism for the conception and worship of gods also applies to those who want hero and movie stars. The same kinds of worship are manifest. For those who are susceptible they need to engage their logic over emotion. Analysis over adoration. For me it is easy than most of you. The “luck” of the genetic draw.”

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By Carmody, December 1, 2009 at 11:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris,

You have written eloquently of the causes for the current darkness.

Could you also do an article on where people might start to light some candles?

Please?

Carmody

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By truedigger3, December 1, 2009 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

johannes wrote:
“look to Europe how they are started to lynch the Swiss who voted to keep the minarrets out of their country,”
____________________________________________________

Are you also against synagogues, Budhist and hendu timples with complete structures or churches with towers and spires too??!!
Freedom of religion is a corner stone of any decent society and I don’t understand what is your problem??
By the way many of the Muslims in Switzerland are from Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo and many of them have a very light skin and are blond with blue eyes. Is that change your mind??!!
What is your problem with people who want to worship and get by and live in peace!!
Your type of thinking is nausating???
By the way I am an atheist!

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By Night-Gaunt, December 1, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

“Once they grasp that they have been betrayed, once they match the bleak reality of their future with the fantasies they are fed, once their homes are foreclosed and they realize that the jobs they lost are never coming back, they will react with a fury and vengeance that will snuff out the remains of our anemic democracy and usher in a new dark age.”Chris Hedges

Yes a new dark age of religious extremism with plenary powers of the state/church/corporation that will be running everything and have powers over us that will be mind boggling. They are ready to spring the final part of their snare. A rebillion will work well for them, they are well prepared. When the economy is allowed to finish cratering as the Conservatives want. Then the building on the ruins of our fouled and infected Republic as the followers of Shock Doctrine have their crowning glory achieved. [Failed in 1934 but they weren’t punished.] Won’t that be nice when they get their empire, their Utopia?

By-the-way it isn’t the empire that is falling, it is the Republic that they have been busy since 1980 in gutting and spending to build up their empire in waiting. That comes next. So don’t think this kluge we are in—-misshapen Republic/Empire will last. One side or the other will win out or it will simply collapse. No easy questions or answers here.

Omygodnotagain said: “I agree with Chris Hedges, we are on the Eve of Destruction, I would welcome a military take over by Patriotic Generals like General Odom.”

No military take over would be good for liberty! True there are authoritarians on the Left but they aren’t in power and they don’t have the influence that those on the Right have at this time. But the danger is always there from any side with their authoritarian personalities. Don’t give up all your rights to think you have security. As that old reprobate B. Franklin said, “you will have neither.” Applies at any time to any human civilization.

I have a suspicion that the same mechanism for the conception and worship of gods also applies to those who want hero and movie stars. The same kinds of worship are manifest. For those who are susceptible they need to engage their logic over emotion. Analysis over adoration. For me it is easy than most of you. The “luck” of the genetic draw.

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By Blackspeare, December 1, 2009 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

WOW——The Salahis and then Tiger Woods——doesn’t get any better than this!  What happened to Tiger Woods is pretty evident thought he may successfully stonewall it since no crime has been alleged.  As for the Salahis, they played a very careful game——if you’re invited in then you’re not a gate crasher.  I’ve crashed many parties——it’s not that hard!  The first thing is you have to look the part and they get an A+ for that.  Second you need a gift of gab——that a little more involved.  Third, you need a line and that you work on.  What they did was to say they don’t have their invitation, but they should be on the list.  After a bit of consternation that’s where the gift of gab comes in to assuage the hosts and looking good get you in the door.  They committed no crime except to fool the weak minded.

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By Jeffersonian-Anti-Israel-Socialists, December 1, 2009 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

USA NEEDS A HUMANIST, MORALIST REVOLUTION !!  THERE IS TOO MUCH GREED, CAPITALISM AND EVIL IN THE HEARTS AND SOULS OF THE GNERAL US POPULATION !!

USA NEEDS A UNITED CHRISTIAN-SOCIALIST FRONT FOR THE 2012 OR 2016 ELECTIONS !!

http://jeffersonian-anti-israel-socialists.blogspot.com/

DEAR SOCIALIST LEFTIST, CHRISTIANS, MARXIST-JEFFERSONIAN PROGRESSIVE, BOLIVARIAN FRIENDS: WHAT USA NEEDS IS A UNITED CHRISTIAN-SOCIALIST JEFFERSONIAN FRONT: WITH THE IDEOLOGIES AND DOCTRINES OF: THE NEW TESTAMENT OF THE BIBLE, KARL MARX, TROTSKY, LENIN, THOMAS JEFFERSON, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, JOHN F. KENNEDY, GEORGE WASHINGTON, CESAR CHAVEZ, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, SIMON BOLIVAR, HUGO CHAVEZ FRIAS, AND MANY, MANY, MANY OTHER HUMANISTS, SOCIALISTS, PURITAN, MORALISTS AND GOOD PEOPLE OF THIS WORLD FOR THE POOR PEOPLE, BY THE POOR PEOPLE IN FAVOR OF THE POOR PEOPLE OF USA AND OF THIS WORLD !!

COMPOSED OF EVERY PROGRESSIVE-CHRISTIAN CHURCHES, ISLAMIC CHURCHES, PROGRESSIVE-JEWISH SOCIALIST CHURCHES, PROGRESSIVE BHUDHISTS, PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST ATHEISTS AND COMMUNIST, SOCIALIST AND WORKERS PARTY OF THIS COUNTRY, AND GOOD INTENTIONED PEOPLE WITHOUT POLITICAL DOCTRINES LIVING IN USA !!

THE FRONT WOULD NOT BE A SINGLE POLITICAL PARTY, BUT A COALISION WHICH WOULD COMBINE IN ONE SINGLE POLE, ALL GOOD PEOPLE OF USA, TO FIGHT THE DARK SATANIC CAPITALIST FORCES OF THIS COUNTRY

.

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By omygodnotagain, December 1, 2009 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

We’re not in the business of providing news and information, We’re simply in the business of selling our customers’ products.”
(Clear Channel CEO Lowry Mays)
——————————
That’s the truth about msm, it is not designed to give enlightened, honest information, it is designed to sell products. The same is true of newspapers, magazines.
The best place to get information is the Internet, because for the most part it has not been designed for corporate sponsorship.

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By Leefeller, December 1, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Those of us who do not watch TV, should all buy Kimble’s, so when Sarha Palin becomes fearless war hawk leader she won’t have to burn books, just shutoff everyone’s Kimble.

Better yet, why not be like China and control all forms of communication, Web, Kimble, radio and TV, newspapers ones brain, so everyone becomes a red hot red state Fox Tea Baggier really red! Not to red though, because one would become a prognosticator of Mousey Tounge!

All it takes is force feeding that tasty pablum to the masses, almost as easy as feeding GMO broccoli to a Bush!

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By Jeffersonian-Anti-Israel-Socialist, December 1, 2009 at 9:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

SUBDIVISIONS BY RUSH DESCRIBES THE EXISTENTIAL-VACCUM AND THE CHRONIC-BOREDOM FELT BY PEOPLE LIVING IN THE NEOLIBERAL TRAP OF USA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu9Ycq64Gy4

Its a song about non-conformity and how society tries to make people into a conforming drone. This is particularily bad in most cities in America where homes are built exactly the same way and by the same builder, and high school life is all about being part of the neoliberal-crowd. The song is about the need for conformity and mass consumerism in the neoliberal economic model that we live in. Neoliberalism cannot function without it. When I listen to it, I hear an amazingly written eulogy for society by Neil Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

I also think it represents Neil Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson falling away a bit from their earlier beliefs, as they mentioned they had. There is nothing inherently wrong with the American neoliberal cities or living in it, if that is what someone desires. A lot of people don’t have the desire to go to “the bright lights.” This song is clearly more about conformity, which can be found anywhere in the USA: the suburbs, in the city, or “the far unlit unknown.” In my opinion, the only flaw in this song is the focus on suburbia as the only place where conformity can be found. Popular opinion has been manipulated to belive that The Suburbs are the worst place for conformity.

Conformity also occurs when many people seek the same thing, including excitement in The Bright Lights (Everyone else is doing “the cool thing”, so why shouldn’t I?). That being said, Subdivisions is my favorite Rush song, and the best synth song ever. So much to write about this song. Basically, it’s a song about the “ticking traps” that so many people fall into. A nightmare world where a person’s main desire is a never ending escape from the suburbs. The suburbs can take many forms: from the boring, quiet life of suburbia to the pleasure seeking thrill ride of the big city. Ultimately, the suburbs offer nothing meaningful, and there is no escape within or between them.

However, in the first verse an outlet is available: “the far unlit unknown.” This unknown exist within each person-the unique thoughts and feelings that make an individual; tragically, few venture very far into this territory. I’m also inclined to think that it’s more about teens trying to breakaway from suburbia (and thier bourgeoise-upper-middle class parents telling them HOW to think/beleive/be), only for some to discover (as Neil Peart writes) ”

...Some will sell their dreams for small desires - Or lose the race to rats - Get caught in ticking traps ”

Afterwards these suburb-raised, city-stressed folks “...start to dream of somewhere - To relax their restless flight - Somewhere out of a memory - Of lighted streets on quiet nights… ”

I think it’s more of a commentary on the seduction of city life and the potential trappings it brings. It is also a social commentary on how cliques are hurtful, and how expectations of comformity often drive away our best and brightest. Very much like the suburbs of Boston, Massachusets, Pennsylvania and Chicago

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By Jeffersonian-Anti-Israel-Socialist, December 1, 2009 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

SUBDIVISIONS BY RUSH DESCRIBES THE EXISTENTIAL-VACCUM AND THE CHRONIC-BOREDOM FELT BY PEOPLE LIVING IN THE NEOLIBERAL TRAP OF USA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu9Ycq64Gy4

Its a song about non-conformity and how society tries to make people into a conforming drone. This is particularily bad in most cities suburbs where homes are built exactly the same by the same builder, and high school is all about being part of the crowd. The song is about the need for conformity and mass consumerism in the neoliberal economic model that we live in. Neoliberalism cannot function without it. When I listen to it, I hear an amazingly written eulogy for society by Neil Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

I also think it represents Neil Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson falling away a bit from their earlier beliefs, as they mentioned they had. There is nothing inherently wrong with suburbia or living in it, if that is what someone desires. A lot of people don’t have the desire to go to “the bright lights.” This song is clearly more about conformity, which can be found anywhere: the suburbs, in the city, or “the far unlit unknown.” In my opinion, the only flaw in this song is the focus on suburbia as the only place where conformity can be found. Popular opinion has been manipulated to belive that The Suburbs are the worst place for conformity.

Conformity also occurs when many people seek the same thing, including excitement in The Bright Lights (Everyone else is doing “the cool thing”, so why shouldn’t I?). That being said, Subdivisions is my favorite Rush song, and the best synth song ever. So much to write about this song. Basically, it?s a song about the ? ticking traps? that so many people fall into. A nightmare world where a person’s main desire is a never ending escape from the suburbs. The suburbs can take many forms: from the boring, quiet life of suburbia to the pleasure seeking thrill ride of the big city. Ultimately, the suburbs offer nothing meaningful, and there is no escape within or between them.

However, in the first verse an outlet is available: ?the far unlit unknown.? This unknown exist within each person-the unique thoughts and feelings that make an individual; tragically, few venture very far into this territory. I’m also inclined to think that it’s more about teens trying to breakaway from suburbia (and thier upper-middle class parents telling them HOW to think/beleive/be), only for some to discover (as Peart writes) ”

...Some will sell their dreams for small desires - Or lose the race to rats - Get caught in ticking traps ”

Afterwards these suburb-raised, city-stressed folk “...start to dream of somewhere - To relax their restless flight - Somewhere out of a memory - Of lighted streets on quiet nights… ”

I think it’s more of a commentary on the seduction of city life and the potential trappings it brings. It is also a social commentary on how cliques are hurtful, and how expectations of comformity often drive away our best and brightest. Very much like the suburbs of Chicago

.

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By Jeffersonian-Anti-Israel-Socialist, December 1, 2009 at 9:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

AMERICANS ARE ONLY CONCENTRATED IN THE FOODS OF THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS BINGE-EATING HOLIDAYS NOT ABOUT POLITICS !!

AMERICANS DON’T CARE ABOUT 9-11 AND JFK !!


Dear friends, America is a real, real, real boring place to live !! it is a hell of sensory-deprivation so this hell of sensory deprivation leads people to a loss of motivation toward politics and the world.  most people in the U.S.A. are not really worried about the economy, the rampant corruption of the capitalist system and the endless wars.  The only true thing that most americans are worrying about is pleasure, to quentch their unchecked appetites, their unfulfilled hunger caused by lack of social-contact, by social-deprivation which is really caused by the american way of life (AWOL) which is a country where you have to live alone and be alone all the time, because this society is not friendly, like the Cubans, the Europeans or other countries.

I am used to living in this lonely libertarian narcissist hell of USA, because i read Fredrich Nietzsche and he often claimed that the strong men should learn to live in the 7 solitudes. 

So americans in order to fill their existential vaccum of this failed-dysfunctional society have to binge-drink or binge eat.  Many people in the USA hate illegal drugs, and drinking.  So they necessarilly have to rely on legal drugs like binge-eating. so the only thing that the USAmericans, the Wal-Mart ANTI-POLITICS, POLITICAL-APATHETIC conformist zombiefied conformist-boring drones worry about is binge-eating on nice foods like turkey, ham, Duncan Hines cakes, Pillsbury rolls, frozen pizzas, Pillsbury crossaints (They are good shit), Tostitos with melted cheese, etc. fig-bars, doritos, corn-dogs, pancakes, pillsbury cakes, kraft cheese, Nabisco Ritz cookies, combos, oreos, pop-tarts, fajitas, calzonis, Cicis pizzas, Sonic Drive ins, Golden Corral, Kentucky Fried Chickens, I-hop all u can eat buffets, potatoe salads, twinkies, little debbies, donkin donuts, struddles, apple jax, pecan pies, cheesecakes, apple pies, ice cream, M and ms, Twix, Snickers bars, chocolate chip cookies


RICOTTA,philadelphia cheese, corn syrup, pacanke flour, white-flour and Butter are another tools used by capitalist-controllers to sedate americans into an endless sleep of cheese, bread, butter and cake slavery.


.

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By Hulk2008, December 1, 2009 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

If Mr. Hedges is wrong and the US market for viewers is more sophisticated than he says, then TV shows would be cancelled right and left for lack of viewership.  Sponsors don’t support failed shows.  I sadly suspect that even Roseanne would have been a devotee of Jerry Springer.
    I would take heart in the slow decline of broadcast TV in favor of cable - except that even a few moments of a VH1 “reality” show immediately proves Mr. Hedges stance.  And how about those “wonderful” movie marathons where the same tired schlock flix are shown over and over - it’s a wonder they cause no burn-in in TV screens.

    Newton Minnow was an optimist. 

Back to books and maybe an occasional carefully selected DVD.  I remember when “cable” in the early 60’s was $6 a month and had very few commercials.  By that standard, Netflix at $8 a month is a true bargain.

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By Anarcissie, December 1, 2009 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

ardee, December 1 at 8:00 am:
’... I try to see content rather than style, which is sensible I think.’

The business about the poor taste and shallow thought of the lower orders is mighty old and well-worn, so I can’t say that I see much content in Hedges’s latest effort.  At least it doesn’t contain a Thomas Friedman video.  However, I’m going to shut up about him.  I do hope to find out more about “insurrection”, though.

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By Dr. Taam, December 1, 2009 at 8:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

today, after I get home from work, I will spend time with my family, read to them, either build legos with my son or do some art, make dinner with my wife, and then finish reading an old pulp scifi book and go to sleep.

we don’t have cable tv, we only watch old hollywood or foreign movies on our dvd player 2 to 4 times a week, and we don not own a widescreen tv.

where does Oprah fit into that picture?

things might be bad out there, but if you are still employed, you can reel in your spending, quit TV, and learn to enjoy life without all that nonsensical clutter of American Mall Culture.

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By johannes, December 1, 2009 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

If you want to see te corrupt all sickmaking so called political correct left-right and in the middel money making media, look to Europe how they are started to lynch the Swiss who voted to keep the minarrets out of their country, real the Frence leftisch are the most corrupted in name of freedom, one wayfreedom they are oncorrect against their own democratic voters.

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By Leefeller, December 1, 2009 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

As more people become unemployed, do they watch more and more TV? Seems as a grand scheme goes, this could be working, amusingly a scheme supported by the non working!

This is sort of like people voting against their own best interests, except they do not have to vote?

More TV, closing schools, raising the price of beer, seems things are working out very well for the opportunists.

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By omop, December 1, 2009 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

The prime “nonsense of US” policy is still mired in The Blueprint for the Bush
policy drawn up several years earlier by three of his top national security advisors,
Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser who were working for
conservative pro-Israel think tanks. 

The centerpiece of the recommendations was the removal of Saddam Hussein
as the first step in remaking the Middle East into a region friendly, instead of
hostile, to Israel.

Their plan “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” also
signaled the need to break up not only Iraq into 3 separate states, but also
Afghanistan and Pakistan. Making it easier for Israel to be top dog.

  This evening the present President will continue “the US addiction to nonsense”,
by annoucing that several thousand US military will be shipped to Afghanistan
to protect the US from further 9/11’s that were ostensibly according to official
reports committed by Saudis.

  Further “nonsense” that the President will cover along with the decision to
send thousands of young Americans to Afghanistan will be a schedule for
bringing them back home.

  The reality that no wants to face is that the number of un-employed
Americans is fast approaching the entire population of Canada which
is around 35 million.

  If questioned those 35 million would not give one whit as to whether Obama, Cheney, the Brookings Institute, or Israel’s views on Afghanistan mean much to them and their families.

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By D.R. Zing, December 1, 2009 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

Wow, Edward, Mr. Unregistered Commenter.  That was an awesome reply. 

It’s not just the entertainment that’s a problem; it’s the “analysis” that is nothing more than an intellectual food fight foisted on us by talk show hosts posing as journalists. 

At least with Bill Maher and Jon Stewart you know they are comedians. On news stations no one seems to realize the analysis is a joke. 

I lend my voice to others who are calling for the break up of the national television news media.

There is nothing more inefficient, biased, nothing more opposed to truths that are self-evident, than corporations that are formed over time by merging multiple corporations into a single gargantuan tyrannical conglomerate.

They have no business owning national television news stations. None.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 1, 2009 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

omygodnotagain, November 30 at 3:13 pm #

I agree with Chris Hedges, we are on the Eve of Destruction, I would welcome a military take over by Patriotic Generals like General Odom.. and a purging of our elites. I think our banks should be nationalized and a cap put on executive salaries. There should be a massive penalty for any corporation who has closed factories in the last decade, and an offer of amnesty if they return them Stateside.
The last two administrations should be arrested and charged with crimes against the American people held in public. Lobby’s with overseas interests should be put under CIA surveillance, and we should change the campaign law so it is paid by the public with the media giving free air time in return for its right to broadcast the drivel. In addition an Affirmative action program should be installed to reflect the ethnic and racial make up of the country. After the purge there should a multi-party system so that the current lot never get their hands on power again. In addition more rights should be returned to the States so that the Federal Government is kept in check.

***************************************************

Yeah we should, since we have the EXCELLENT models of how well that worked in Latin America, SE Asia, and Africa…they went right to freedom, justice and prosperity for all (all who ruled that is…)

Then we have the usual nazis with their blame the Jews, oops, I mean “Zionists” for all the ills and troubles in the world.

Finally, we get Leefeller, who, tongue in cheek manages to say more, with more clarity and perspective than anyone.

Anyone who’s worried about the dumbing-down of America needs to come here and have their worries turned into total terror!  Most posters here have the insight and perspective of callers to the right-wing radio shows, only they claim to be “left” rather than “right”.

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By ardee, December 1, 2009 at 5:50 am Link to this comment

The original meaning of “Third World” referred to nations aligned with neither the West or the Communist Bloc.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_World

But ,in the sense it is used here, as a reference to poverty and abusive govts., I think there is much evidence that we approach such condition. The shrinking Middle Class, that bastion of education and democracy, points to such status I believe. The migration of money to fewer and fewer leads to said conclusion as well.  One needs not speak to the increasing isolation of our govt from the wishes of its people, does one?

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By truedigger3, December 1, 2009 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

Oubourous wrote:
“I’m sorry, but you misunderstood; it’s 95% of Americas citizens who’ll be living in third world conditions, many already are.”
______________________________________________

Are you saying that 95% of the population are living in a third world condition??!! You are completely wrong.!!
From where did your get that rediculous figure. Are you living in the backwoods somewhere?. The US is a big country and I am sure MUCH MUCH more than 5% are NOT living in third world conditions.

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By truedigger3, December 1, 2009 at 4:10 am Link to this comment

Purple Girl wrote:
“The acceptance of Palin as a viable VP,let alone Gov, is evidence enough, but playing with the idea of Beck Or Dobbs running is criminal. They are suggesting a Flim Flame Man as a candidate for POTUS!”
_________________________________________________

Purple,

I agree with you about Palin and Beck. They are couple of posturing empty buffoons.
I don’t agree with you about Lou Dobbs.
People are accusing him of racism, because he wants to protect the middle and working class in this country from the continuous stream of illegal immigrants who are taking jobs from the working people in this country and in the process causing the decline of unions and wages and benefits offered to working people.
He is not a BIRTHER. Whether you agree with him or not, I myself is not sure, all he said was that to put this conroversy to rest, why not the president just produce his birth certificat and put the whole thing to rest. That all he said.
He is also against relocating manufacturing plants overseas and laying off American workers.
Lou Dobbs is a populist, and if he is for REAL, then he is worth looking into.

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By ardee, December 1, 2009 at 4:00 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, November 30 at 8:56 pm #

ardee—I guess I said I was going to swear off Hedges.  But lambasting celebrity culture is such a tedious cliché, and he waxes so hysterical about it, that I forgot my oath.  I shall try harder in the future.

You are free, obviously, to post opinion about any and all. It does seem that the style of this author rubs some the wrong way, but so did the writings of others as well, Thom Wolfe, Thom Paine, many such. I try to see content rather than style, which is sensible I think.

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By Leefeller, December 1, 2009 at 12:47 am Link to this comment

Edward,

My short attention span found you post most enlightening.

Thanks.

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By bEHOLD_tHE_mATRIX, November 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What this country needs is a carnage rich and
destructive domestic war to straighten itself out.  Now
that is some ‘reality programming’ that would sell a
much needed product…. the wholesale realization of
the horrors of war and therefore the need to put war
making to an end.

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By Joel Friedland, November 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Not referenced in this article are essays from the 19th century that corroborate your views:  some of what Toqueville wrote in “Democracy in American” and much of Emerson’s essay on “Self-Reliance”.

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By Shift, November 30, 2009 at 10:54 pm Link to this comment

Unfortunately there is no last minute repentance to compensate for long term substandard citizenship.  A tsunami of corruption and moral decay has been unleashed and there is no national fix, only fatalism remains as people await the certainty of their demise.

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By Edward, November 30, 2009 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is bieng overlooked is the market. They are not
selling us crack they are selling us what sells. If
you try to convince people this stuff is all crap
they will agree with you and immediately return to
watching dancing with the stars. It is a way of
escaping reality that they know to be full of
troubles beyond their control. They don’t even want
to think about it to be honest nor do they even
bother to discuss it most of the time. Real news is
boring, C-SPAN comes close to pure discussion of
issues and relavent history, but it can knock you
unconcious in 30 minutes unless your quite strong
willed.  I love C-SPAN, but I also watch it when I
can’t sleep. The household debates that insue when I
attempt to view thought provoking programing with my
family reveals the true source of the problem and it
is us.

We are the reason we are addicted to fluff and
instant gratification. During my time in China I have
watched the slow emergence of the same media culture
that exist in America. The race to the bottom is on
and the only obstacle is government censorship of
morally questionable media crack. Our government gave
up on regulating media with the exception of dirty
words and wardrobe malfunctions. They for now are
free soft porn filled networks like Cinemax at least
in the form we see it. They crack down on porn like
they crack down on drugs, while allowing prostitution
to be exist with minimal interference. The irony is a
lesson to sexually repressed America. They are
pragmatist not Christian moralist. They use the media
to promote the country and it’s developments on state
run networks. The propaganda has the positive effect
of making people a bond with their country allowing
for social responsiblity to evolve in an atmosphere
of greed and pure capitalism that would make a
Republican weep with joy.

It is not a conspiricy, just the market supplying
what people consume the most. We don’t have a wide
array of state owned networks we have “Freedom”.
Freedom to watch celebrity gossip, soft porn, reality
tv, and fake conterversies. We choose it, and if they
put something else on they got about 30 seconds
before we change the channel. The most distributed
information that achieves critical mass gets out in
sound bites. So the best thing thinkers can do is to
figure out ways to compress the information into
sound bite form. In concise language frame our
problems of the day, and who needs to be hated on.

So far people know the banks are bad, but they
already had a credit card rate hikes and overdraft
fees to remind them. People know politicians are bad,
but which ones? We don’t have consesus on specific
enemies just general professions and industries on
the naughty list. The lack of details lets the bad
blend with the good leaving people with undirected
rage toward the machine.  We need to direct that rage
at specific targets as conservatives often do. The
Hollywood elite, the speaker of the house, the New
York Times, they specify who needs to be blamed and
hated in simple terms. We have to work with short
attention spans to influence our neighbors. We need
to spare the long intellectual diatribes for like
thinkers, and use them to specify and prioritize the
hit list of people screwing us over. Who, where, what
they did to us in short form for distribution of info
to the dancing with the stars audience.

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By Anarcissie, November 30, 2009 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

ma77hew, November 30 at 8:14 pm:
’... We’re setting out from a point of extreme isolation, of extreme weakness. An insurrectional process must be built from the ground up. Nothing appears less likely than an insurrection, but nothing is more necessary. ...’

Is this “insurrection”, like, a thing, a buzzword?  The reason I ask is that a few weeks ago one of my activist friends, a young woman, handed me a xeroxed leaflet titled “Fuck Your Insurrection”.  I thought the use of the word insurrection was curious and I asked her about it—I am usually pretty out of it—and she said, “Oh, yeah, it’s what these guys say when they break windows and set fires in trash cans.”  There’s a lot more to it but I don’t want to go off on a rant if I’m totally on the wrong page.  Let me know.

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By Steve E, November 30, 2009 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes this article really shines a light on the apologists for the” American Way ” and
the true realists such as the author Chris Hedges. As ex president Bush stood on
an aircraft carrier and declared victory during his” Mission Accomplished” speech,
his approval rating was 95%. I knew then debauchery would be the order of the
day. Now wallow in it scumbags, Disneyland is finished. The only thing The United
States of America offered was consumerism, now that is fading very quickly. The
only thing left is perpetual war, pedal to the metal.

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By Ouroborus, November 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment

truedigger3, November 30 at 9:41 pm #

I’m sorry, but you misunderstood; it’s 95% of Americas
citizens who’ll be living in third world conditions,
many already are.

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By chaztv, November 30, 2009 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

Chris, great post.  I wonder if we as a people are willing to do something, anything.  I recently proposed that we all (right, left, center) start by putting down the plastic and using cash.  It’s a small step that will stop at least some money from going to the top one persent.  Please consider this simple plan at http://www.UseCashMovement.com .

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By Vincent, November 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another raving, raging column by Hedges. And I loved it.

We are truly in the midst of a tranformative event and people don’t care, so long as Wal-Mart is open.

I especially enjoyed this gem:

“The working class, comprising tens of millions of struggling Americans, are locked out of television’s gated community. They are mocked, even as they are tantalized, by the lives of [celebrities].”

According to TV, all blue-collar families belong on the Jerry Springer Show. So why sympathize with them when we ship their jobs to China?

The last show that presented the working class in a decent way from probably Roseanne.

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By sawdusttx, November 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

You go, Chris! I don’t care how many times this has been said already, it should be said again and again until somebody starts to pay attention. The only piece of trivia crap missing here is a count of how many people want to see pictures of Tiger Woods’ supposed girlfriend.

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By truedigger3, November 30, 2009 at 5:41 pm Link to this comment

Many people wrote in this thread declaring and weeping saying that the USA has become or shortly will become a third word country and the torch will pass or has been passed to Asia.
Please people stop and take a long breath and think.
The United States is still immensely powerful and iis still mmensely wealthy and will stay that way for a long time to come.
Yes, the country has its serious problems first and foremost is the rising permanent unemployment and the gradual disappearance of the middle class due to the wealth of the nation is moving upward to the super wealthy.
Another problem is environmental degradation.
These problems with some effort can be solved.

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By Anarcissie, November 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

ardee—I guess I said I was going to swear off Hedges.  But lambasting celebrity culture is such a tedious cliché, and he waxes so hysterical about it, that I forgot my oath.  I shall try harder in the future.  Of course, some of the comments here are considerably more interesting than the article; I’ll get after them instead.

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By PatrickHenry, November 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

Obviously MSM news is slow to be allowing this side show to rate as “news”.

Sensationalizing sensationalism.

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By ma77hew, November 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

We can no longer even see how an insurrection might begin. Sixty years of pacification and containment of historical upheavals, sixty years of democratic anesthesia and the management of events, have dulled our perception of the real, our sense of the war in progress. We need to start by recovering this perception.

It’s useless to get indignant about openly unconstitutional laws such as Perben II. It’s futile to legally protest the complete implosion of the legal framework. We have to get organized.

It’s useless to get involved in this or that citizens’ group, in this or that dead-end of the far left, or in the latest “community effort.” Every organization that claims to contest the present order mimics the form, mores and language of miniature states. Thus far, every impulse to “do politics differently” has only contributed to the indefinite spread of the state’s tentacles.

It’s useless to react to the news of the day; instead we should understand each report as a maneuver in a hostile field of strategies to be decoded, operations designed to provoke a specific reaction. It’s these operations themselves that should be taken as the real information contained in these pieces of news.

It’s useless to wait-for a breakthrough, for the revolution, the nuclear apocalypse or a social movement. To go on waiting is madness. The catastrophe is not coming, it is here. We are already situated within the collapse of a civilization. It is within this reality that we must choose sides.

To no longer wait is, in one way or another, to enter into the logic of insurrection. It is to once again hear the slight but always present trembling of terror in the voices of our leaders. Because governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the crowd will string you up, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the population.

We’re setting out from a point of extreme isolation, of extreme weakness. An insurrectional process must be built from the ground up. Nothing appears less likely than an insurrection, but nothing is more necessary.


http://libcom.org/library/coming-insurrection-invisible-committee

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