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Do Not Pity the Democrats

Posted on Sep 12, 2010
AP / Elise Amendola

By Chris Hedges

There are no longer any major institutions in American society, including the press, the educational system, the financial sector, labor unions, the arts, religious institutions and our dysfunctional political parties, which can be considered democratic. The intent, design and function of these institutions, controlled by corporate money, are to bolster the hierarchical and anti-democratic power of the corporate state. These institutions, often mouthing liberal values, abet and perpetuate mounting inequality. They operate increasingly in secrecy. They ignore suffering or sacrifice human lives for profit. They control and manipulate all levers of power and mass communication. They have muzzled the voices and concerns of citizens. They use entertainment, celebrity gossip and emotionally laden public-relations lies to seduce us into believing in a Disneyworld fantasy of democracy.

The menace we face does not come from the insane wing of the Republican Party, which may make huge inroads in the coming elections, but the institutions tasked with protecting democratic participation. Do not fear Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Do not fear the tea party movement, the birthers, the legions of conspiracy theorists or the militias. Fear the underlying corporate power structure, which no one, from Barack Obama to the right-wing nut cases who pollute the airwaves, can alter. If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism. 

Investing emotional and intellectual energy in electoral politics is a waste of time. Resistance means a radical break with the formal structures of American society. We must cut as many ties with consumer society and corporations as possible. We must build a new political and economic consciousness centered on the tangible issues of sustainable agriculture, self-sufficiency and radical environmental reform. The democratic system, and the liberal institutions that once made piecemeal reform possible, is dead. It exists only in name. It is no longer a viable mechanism for change. And the longer we play our scripted and absurd role in this charade the worse it will get. Do not pity Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. They will get what they deserve. They sold the citizens out for cash and power. They lied. They manipulated and deceived the public, from the bailouts to the abandonment of universal health care, to serve corporate interests. They refused to halt the wanton corporate destruction of the ecosystem on which all life depends. They betrayed the most basic ideals of democracy.  And they, as much as the Republicans, are the problem.

“It is like being in a pit,” Ralph Nader told me when we spoke on Saturday. “If you are four feet in the pit you have a chance to grab the top and hoist yourself up. If you are 30 feet in the pit you have to start on a different scale.”

All resistance will take place outside the arena of electoral politics. The more we expand community credit unions, community health clinics and food cooperatives and build alternative energy systems, the more empowered we will become. 

“To the extent that these organizations expand and get into communities where they do not exist, we will weaken the multinational goliath, from the banks to the agribusinesses to the HMO giants and hospital chains,” Nader said. 

The failure of liberals to defend the interests of working men and women as our manufacturing sector was dismantled, labor unions were destroyed and social services were slashed has proved to be a disastrous and fatal misjudgment. Liberals, who betrayed the working class, have no credibility. This is one of the principal reasons the anti-war movement cannot attract the families whose sons and daughters are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. And liberal hypocrisy has opened the door for a virulent right wing. If we are to reconnect with the working class we will have to begin from zero. We will have to rebuild the ties with the poor and the working class which the liberal establishment severed. We will have to condemn the liberal class as vociferously as we condemn the right wing. And we will have to remain true to the moral imperative to foster the common good and the tangible needs of housing, health care, jobs, education and food.

We will, once again, be bombarded in this election cycle with messages of fear from the Democratic Party—designed, in the end, to serve corporate interests. “Better Barack Obama than Sarah Palin,” we will be told. Better the sane technocrats like Larry Summers than half-wits like John Bolton. But this time we must resist. If we express the legitimate rage of the dispossessed working class as our own, if we denounce and refuse to cooperate with the Democratic Party, we can begin to impede the march of the right-wing trolls who seem destined to inherit power. If we again prove compliant we will discredit the socialism we should be offering as an alternative to a perverted Christian and corporate fascism. 

The tea party movement is, as Nader points out, “a conviction revolt.” Most of the participants in the tea party rallies are not poor. They are small-business people and professionals. They feel that something is wrong. They see that the two parties are equally responsible for the subsidies and bailouts, the wars and the deficits. They know these parties must be replaced. The corporate state, whose interests are being championed by tea party leaders such as Palin and Dick Armey, is working hard to make sure the anger of the movement is directed toward government rather than corporations and Wall Street. And if these corporate apologists succeed, a more overt form of corporate fascism will emerge without a socialist counterweight.


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By Druthers, September 13, 2010 at 3:12 am Link to this comment

I posted this comment on another blog but it says what I think.
I would add that Chris Hedges is the conscience of our time in an era that has no conscience, just as Voltaire was the voice of doubt and criticism of the French Monarchy.

The class war is over just like in Iraq. The problem is that the oligarchy won and is whistling all the way to the bank. The lobbies, the corporations, the Pentagon have devoured all the bowls of porridge and even the bears are hungry.

The first thing Obama did was to nominate Emmanuel and we knew what game we were playing and the house always wins. They made a mistake in the level of investment people had put into the election. The oldies expected FDR and the younger JFK but at least now no one can ignore the power of the oligarchy. It is here and it is real. Business as usual will not rid us of it. An entirely new strategy must be worked out and there won’t be one brain to many to get the job done.

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By Rosemary Molloy, September 13, 2010 at 2:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A year or so ago, I was at the post office and was amazed to see that it has a hook-up with either The Home Depot or Lowe’s.  There were actually forms with the company logo, encouraging some kind trade with the company, possibly moving services.  I’m not sure how long this has been going on; it startled me and left a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn’t find anything on the USPS web site on it.

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By SemiFrost, September 13, 2010 at 2:52 am Link to this comment

First, I like Nader, agree with him about 100%.  Like I said, the guy is a warrior for the good.

That said: I’m going to opt for the agree-to-disagree option on this exchange.  No further debate postings on the Gore / Nader issue.  Only mentioned as to the *difference between the parties* aspect - and that pivotal swing in the course of history.

Gore is environmental, and never would have buried us in war - at least not to the depth to which we now find ourselves.

Hedges wrote a good (albeit typically depressing) piece.  Will not further detract from the subject.

... Lieberman.  Brilliant.  Like I said, Gore had plenty of faults and failings.  That move was a big example of his bad political judgment.  A REAL big example.

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By ofersince72, September 13, 2010 at 2:36 am Link to this comment


  SO WHAT ! ! ! Are you trying to stir that ten year
nonsense up again that it is Nader’s fault?
NO, it is your fault for voting Gore/Lieberman.

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, September 13, 2010 at 2:26 am Link to this comment

Hedges is right on target here. The Democrats and Republicans are a joke. The old state must be smashed.

Forget Obama, people need to start reading Bakunin.

We have to invent new revolutionary actions and movements. The Greeks are starting to get the picture, in Latin America as well, maybe Venezuela and Bolivia are not perfect, ideal systems, but it’s a sign the people down there woke up long ago. Now we need to also bring about revolutionary change in our own way!

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By SemiFrost, September 13, 2010 at 2:23 am Link to this comment

“On November 8, 2000, the Florida Division of Elections reported that Bush won with 48.8% of the vote, a margin of victory of 1,784 votes.”
“Nader received 97000 votes in Florida”

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By ardee, September 13, 2010 at 2:16 am Link to this comment

SemiFrost, September 13 at 6:39 am Link to this comment

Nader… That’s the well-meaning gent who gave us Bush II, right?

Actually,no. That you continue to echo this tired and dis-proven mantra suggests that you haven’t read, researched or given much thought to what you post.

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By ofersince72, September 13, 2010 at 1:58 am Link to this comment

The….Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
is hardly a right-wing scare organization.  Here is there
conclusion of the
The Food and Safety Enhancement Act
HR2749 (already passed)
S510   (due for a unanimous consent vote)

The FSEA gives the Food and Drug Administration tremendous
power while making the Agency less accountable for its
actions. It fails to describe how the resources it provides will be allocated. The industrial food system and food imports are badly in need of effective regulation
, but the bill does nothing to prevent the FDA from concentrating a disproptionate amount of its resources
on local food producers.
  The stated purpose of FSEA is to “improve the safety of food in the global market.” It was disclosed at the June
3rd hearing that, out of the 378,000 food facilities that
have registared with the FDA, 220,000 of them are foreign
facilities that export to the United States. Rep Dingell
commented that the percentageof our food coming from out of the country will increase in the future.  This creates massive food insecurity in our country, yet the bill
continues to push the federal governments policy of food
interdependence.  While information FDA obtains may be
exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information
Act [5 USC 52(a)] it may still be provided “to any foreign
government agency; or any international organization established by law, treaty or other governmental action
and having responsibility to facilitate global or regional
of harmonization of standares and requirements in a area of responsibility of the FDA; or to provide and
coordinate public health efforts….”[section112(b)(4)p71]
  Food security is achieved by becoming as self-sufficient
as possible in food production.  Lessening the regulatory
burden on small farms and local artisanal producers will
improve both food security and food safety.  If the FESA
is implemented, many small farmers will not have the
economics of scale to comply with its onerous requirements
  The Food and Safety Enhancement Act needs to be defeated
Any food safety bill should target industrial food
processors and imports while leaving the local food
system alone.

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By SemiFrost, September 13, 2010 at 1:39 am Link to this comment

Nader… That’s the well-meaning gent who gave us Bush II, right?  With the happy collaboration of SCOTUS, and the not-so-happy acquiescence of Gore, who essentially chickened (another less polite term comes to mind) out.  Sure, no denying that he remains a solid warrior, Nader.  Still, he should have seen Florida coming and got the F-k out.

(Now, Chomsky, oh, imagine were he to get some cable airtime.)

Agreed, of course, that the Dems are essentially enablers and the second-tier handmaidens of the oligarchy - worse than ever.  But, to the point of there being no difference between the parties: No denying, were Gore, for all his failings, to have taken the presidency, the US and the world would now be a much different place.

But I digress…  Or is it regress?

The resistance which C. Hedges encourages, the scale of it, is now impossible.  Well-executed en masse demonstrations, strikes and consumer abstinence from the goods and services produced by the adverse corporations is simply too much to ask of a dumbed-down, increasingly despairing, desperate and fearful populace.

Here is a heavier, more at-hand and nothing-left-to-lose hammer which could drop:  Those pissed off and ever-more frantic middle class and small business owners could, en masse, stop paying Federal taxes.  If even a small block does so, it would overwhelm enforcement capabilities.  And when others saw they were getting away with it, the number would rapidly increase.

The Feds (Wall Street / top 1 percent) would panic, with China, the Saudis, Japan and South Korea seeing their already fictional T-bill values about to crash.

But, such a movement would essentially require the conception of a third party, with articulate, honest and ridiculously gutsy leaders.  Their stated directives would be along the lines of:  *You can no longer use our money to support incompetent and corrupt corporations.  You can no longer use our money to murder foreign civilians and fatten the coffers of war profiteers in the execution of absurd and purposeless military endeavors.  If you get your sh-t together, you CAN use our money to build and rebuild infrastructure, educate our young people, provide quality health care to all US citizens, and…*

A long shot?  You know it.  A widely implausible Hollywood-scale long shot.  But more likely and far more bottom-line practical than banking on in-the-streets and consumer boycott uprisings.

That ain’t gonna happen.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, September 13, 2010 at 1:02 am Link to this comment

Strategic Disengagement. These two words are not a description, but a living action. Strategic Disengagement: not only in the area of politics, but culturally and metaphysically as well.
There are no solutions to be found in our celebrity driven Cul-de-Sac, just continuous distraction.

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By Dennis, September 13, 2010 at 12:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks Cris, for continuing to lay out the truth as it is. I have vowed to never vote for a democrat or a Repub again. I know, never say never, but I feel so betrayed they would have to be burnt down and built up for me to entrust them again.

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By ofersince72, September 13, 2010 at 12:03 am Link to this comment

Hey Capitol Hill

  Think love and tolorance, practice it, not just empty
  give forgivness, don’t just ask for it.
  be a peacemaker, don’t be a warmonger
  be meek,  not haughty
  work for the 300 million, not the 05%
  give the young something to look forward to, not
  reasons of hopelessness.
  DON’T ATTACK IRAN!!!!!!!!!!!REPEAL 107-40!!!!!!!

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