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I Don’t Believe in Atheists

I Don’t Believe in Atheists

By Chris Hedges
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How Democracy Dies: Lessons From a Master

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Posted on Oct 10, 2010
AP / Matt York

By Chris Hedges

The ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes spent his life battling the assault on democracy by tyrants. It is disheartening to be reminded that he lost. But he understood that the hardest struggle for humankind is often stating and understanding the obvious. Aristophanes, who had the temerity to portray the ruling Greek tyrant, Cleon, as a dog, is the perfect playwright to turn to in trying to grasp the danger posed to us by movements from the tea party to militias to the Christian right, as well as the bankrupt and corrupt power elite that no longer concerns itself with the needs of its citizens. He saw the same corruption 2,400 years ago. He feared correctly that it would extinguish Athenian democracy. And he struggled in vain to rouse Athenians from their slumber.

There is a yearning by tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement, to destroy the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They seek out of ignorance and desperation to create a utopian society based on “biblical law.” They want to transform America’s secular state into a tyrannical theocracy. These radicals, rather than the terrorists who oppose us, are the gravest threat to our open society. They have, with the backing of hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate money, gained tremendous power. They peddle pseudoscience such as “Intelligent Design” in our schools. They keep us locked into endless and futile wars of imperialism. They mount bigoted crusades against gays, immigrants, liberals and Muslims. They turn our judiciary, in the name of conservative values, over to corporations. They have transformed our liberal class into hand puppets for corporate power. And we remain meek and supine.

They want to transform America’s secular state into a tyrannical theocracy. These radicals, rather than the terrorists who oppose us, are the gravest threat to our open society.

The huge amount of taxpayer money doled out to Wall Street, investment banks, the oil and natural gas industry and the defense industry, along with the dismantling of our manufacturing sector, is why we are impoverished. It is why our houses are being foreclosed on. It is why some 45 million Americans are denied medical care. It is why our infrastructure, from public schools to bridges, is rotting. It is why many of us cannot find jobs. We are being fleeced. The flagrant theft of public funds and rise of an obscenely rich oligarchic class is masked by the tough talk of demagogues, themselves millionaires, who use fear and bombast to keep us afraid, confused and enslaved.

Aristophanes saw the same psychological and political manipulation undermine the democratic state in ancient Athens. He repeatedly warned Athenians in plays such as “The Clouds,” “The Wasps,” “The Birds,” “The Frogs” and “Lysistrata” that permitting political leaders who shout “I shall never betray the Athenian!” or “I shall keep up the fight in defense of the people forever!” to get their hands on state funds and power would end with the citizens enslaved.

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“The truth is, they want you, you see, to be poor,” Aristophanes wrote in his play “The Wasps.” “If you don’t know the reason, I’ll tell you. It’s to train you to know who your tamer is. Then, whenever he gives you a whistle and sets you against an opponent of his, you jump out and tear them to pieces.”

Our democracy, through years of war, theft and corruption, is also being diminished. But the example Aristophanes offers is not a hopeful one. He held up the same corruption to his fellow Greeks. He repeatedly chided them for not rising up and fighting back. He warned, ominously, that by the time most citizens awoke it would be too late. And he was right. The appearance of normality lulls us into a false hope and submission. Those who shout most loudly in defense of the ideals of the founding fathers, the sacredness of Constitution and the values of the Christian religion are those who most actively seek to subvert the principles they claim to champion. They hold up the icons and language of traditional patriotism, the rule of law and Christian charity to demolish the belief systems that give them cultural and political legitimacy. And those who should defend these beliefs are cowed and silent.   

“For a considerable length of time the normality of the normal world is the most efficient protection against disclosure of totalitarian mass crimes,” Hannah Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” “Normal men don’t know that everything is possible, refuse to believe their eyes and ears in the face of the monstrous. ... The reason why the totalitarian regimes can get so far toward realizing a fictitious, topsy-turvy world is that the outside non-totalitarian world, which always comprises a great part of the population of the totalitarian country itself, indulges in wishful thinking and shirks reality in the face of real insanity. ...”

All ideological, theological and political debates with the representatives of the corporate state, including the feckless and weak Barack Obama, are useless. They cannot be reached. They do not want a dialogue. They care nothing for real reform or participatory democracy. They use the tricks and mirages of public relations to mask a steadily growing assault on our civil liberties, our inability to make a living and the loss of basic services from education to health care. Our gutless liberal class placates the enemies of democracy, hoping desperately to remain part of the ruling elite, rather than resist. And, in many ways, liberals, because they serve as a cover for these corporate extremists, are our greatest traitors.


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By Hammond Eggs, October 11, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

The fascist Christian right desires the end of the world.  It may even be their greatest desire.  As this nation quickly continues to shrink into moral insignificance and bloody-minded mediocrity, I fully expect a Christian fascist eventually to become president, or, by that time, dictator, maximum leader, or whatever such a tyrant would choose to call him/herself.  Whoever that person is will control the world’s largest arsenal of thermonuclear weapons, enough to bring about the end of most, if not all, civilization. What will the rest of the world do when faced with such a prospect?

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By Ernest Logan Bell, October 11, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

I have reached the conclusion that neoconservatives are worse than liberals. They are delusional and immune to any intellectual arguments. They believe “supporting the troops” means giving licenses to the corporate state to engage in perpetual war. They believe Muslims are taking over the country even though many likely have not seen a “Muslim” in months or even years.  They believe the Bush tax cuts are the most important economic issue we face. They believe the Federal government should enforced their brand of Christian values on the world. They are my aunts, uncles and cousins; and even as the sky falls crashing on their absurd world view, they will only drive deeper into mass delusion. Like the neo liberals, their arguments lack any substance and faithfully operate inside the false left vs. right corporate controlled paradigm. Like their neo-liberals counterparts, they are victims of mind control.

Many examples from history should inspire us to resist. Carl Marx described Spartacus as “the most splendid fellow in the whole of ancient history”, a noble character, real representative of the ancient proletariat.” Spartacus was perhaps the greatest human to ever live. An escaped slave, soldier and Gladiator, Spartacus led 70 gladiators armed with kitchen implements into the Third Servile War with ranks swelling to over 70,000 men. Of course after several spectacular victories the rebellion was crushed and 6,000 survivors were crucified on the roads lining the Appian Way from Rome to Capua. He should have immediately fled to Gaul if survival was his goal. He died free fighting with his men. This would be the likely be the fate of any populist armed uprising. The Roman empire collapsed under its own weight, so will ours.  Direct resistance is futile and quixotic unless the goal is martyrdom.


Reality is not always comforting and the human psyche is not exclusive to rational thought. We must begin to think, to question as whole our chains of systematic delusion and enslavement. We must find the defiance of Spartacus and moral courage of Aristophanes (who Chris Hedges emulates). Chris is right, in our past lies the keys to our future survival. We must say no to Beck, Palin and Maddow and Obama. They are opposite sides of the coin of delusion ,despotism and tyranny. We must embrace logic and resistance in whatever form it arise, whether though Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich or Karl Marx. They represent resistance to the corporate oligarchy that is controlling and destroying our planet. It us versus them, the whole of humanity with the exception of the ruling elite is now the proletariat.  We must find a way to reach them, to unlock the chains of their mass delusion. The working classes of the world must unite.

(As for direct physical resistance look to Che’s Guerrilla Warfare,
We must be strong where they are weak. )

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By glider, October 11, 2010 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Excellent article Chris!

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By dcrimso, October 11, 2010 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

We are all complicit in an economic system that is immpossible to maintain.  Unchecked growth on a finite planet means one thing.  Certain death for human beings.

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By vicente carranza, October 11, 2010 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

A comment for you Eagle Bill.  All the comments on this article are good and everyone believe what they say.  You comment is bottom line.  That it, no more no less. 90% of all Americans fall under what you said and the sad part is none of them know it and/or would admit it.  Even all of us that post on Truthdig if we were pressure into a corner because of what we said, even if we were wrong they would fight you all the way.  And at the end they would call you the ‘F’ word and go their on way.  The big problem is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.  Take care.  Tlamatini-vicente

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By kulturcritic, October 11, 2010 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Of course Chris Hedges spells out what is obviously before us.  Of course, it begs the question of whether all political hierarchies are fascist by nature.  And I believe the argument could be made in favor of that view.  As well, Hedges singles out first the Christian Right, and then the corporate elites, then the pitifully hollow liberals… but he seems to hold strong, irrationally so, to the Enlightenment ideals of reason and scientific advancement.  But I think it could be argued that it is “the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment” that was both the fruit of Greek thought and the underpinning of those fascist tendencies inherent in our modern politics, religion and their objectifying (commodifying) ideologies.  In other words, it is not the right, left or corporate center that is to be feared, but the natural impetus of all politics since before Greece that is the locus of our enslavement.

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By exploitedtimes, October 11, 2010 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

Ah, history. Here lies the blueprint. But how can we remember back 2600 years if we can’t even look back thirty? Great piece, thanks.

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By Ernest Logan Bell, October 11, 2010 at 8:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have come to the conclusion that neoconservatives are worse than liberals. They are delusional and immune to any intellectual arguments. They believe “supporting the troops” means giving licenses to the corporate state to engage in perpetual war. They believe Muslims are taking over the country even though most likely have not seen a “Muslim” in months or even years.  They believe the Bush tax cuts are the most important economic issue we face. They believe the Federal government should enforced their perverted brand of Christian values on the world. They are my aunts, uncles and cousins; and even as the sky falls crashing their absurd world view they will only drive deeper into mass delusion. Like the neo liberals, their arguments lack any substance and faithfully operate neatly inside the false left vs. right corporate controlled paradigm. They like their neo-liberal counterparts, they are victims of mind control.

Many examples from history should inspire us to resist. Carl Marx described Spartacus as “the most splendid fellow in the whole of ancient history”, a noble character, real representative of the ancient proletariat.” Spartacus was perhaps the greatest human to ever live. An escaped slave, soldier and Gladiator, Spartacus led 70 gladiators armed with kitchen implements into the Third Servile War, with ranks swelling to over 70,000 men. After several spectacular victories the rebellion was crushed and 6,000 survivors were crucified on the roads lining the Appian Way from Rome to Capua. He should have immediately immediately fled to Gaul if survival was his goal. He died free fighting with his men. This would be the likely be the fate of any modern populist armed uprising. The Roman empire collapsed under its own weight, so will ours. Direct resistance is futile and quixotic unless the goal is martyrdom.

Reality is not always comforting and the human psyche is not exclusive to rational thought. We must begin to think, to question as whole our chains of systematic delusion and enslavement. We must find the defiance of Spartacus and moral courage of Aristophanes (who Chris Hedges emulates). Chris is right, in our past lies the keys to our future survival. We must say no to Beck, Palin and Maddow and Obama. They are opposite sides of the coin of delusion ,despotism and tyranny. We must embrace logic and resistance in whatever form it may arise, whether though Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich or Karl Marx. They represent resistance to the corporate oligarchy that is controlling and destroying our planet. It us versus them, the whole of humanity (with the exception of the ruling elite) are now the proletariat.  We must find a way to reach them, to unlock the chains of their mass delusion. . The working classes of the world must unite.

*(As for direct physical resistance, look to Che’s Guerrilla Warfare, We must be strong where they are weak.)

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By Rabbi Michael Lerner, October 11, 2010 at 8:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The key strategic question facing us is this: how to win back to a progressive vision the tens of millions of people who are mistakenly believing that their fundamental needs will better be addressed by the Right than by the Left. In my books The Politics of Meaning, Spirit Matters, and The Left Hand of God:Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right I report on the research I did with thousands of middle income people moving to the Right whose economic interests would best be served by the Left. Many of those people resent the religio-phobia and elitist attitudes of the Left. Yet they yearn for a life in which there is some higher meaning available for them than the accumulation of material goods and money, and in which they are seen as fundamentally valuable for who they are and not only for what they can “do for you.” They experience religion as a resistance to the values of the capitalist marketplace which they mistakenly identify as shaped by the LEFT (ironic but true, and not totally ironic given Obama’s subservience to Wall Street and the Dem’s subservience to capitalism). Our task is to develop a progressive way to address the legitimate needs these people have and to separate them from the racist, sexist, homophobic and authoritarian hard-core right which has been so successful in manipulating those legitimate needs into a politics that actually does the opposite of what those needs are seeking. But to do this, we need a spiritual progressive Left that can speak to issues like the denial of meaning and purpose in life and the absence of love and the arrogance of those who would destroy the earth to maximize their own profits, and to project a politics that affirms compassion for ordinary people whose suffering is as much spiritual and psychological as it is economic. That’s why I helped, with Cornel West and Sister Joan Chittister, to create the Network of Spiritual Progressives and I urge you fellow readers and Chris Hedges to read out Spiritual Covenant with America, our Global Marshall Plan and our ESRA—Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution (which not only overturns Citizens United but also eliminates all private monies from elections, and requires large corporations to get a new corporate charter once every 5 years which will only be granted to corporations that can prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens!!!
  Please read these at http://www.spiritualprogressives.org, and if you agree with our direction, please JOIN the Network of Spiritual Progressives (you don’t have to believe in God to be spiritual—you only have to acknowledge that needs like love, caring, kindness, compassion. generosity, forgiveness, thanksgiving, joy, play and awe & wonder at the grandeur of the universe should have equal play with economic needs when building a progressive politics).
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By DavidByron, October 11, 2010 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

I made some comments on the end of Chris Hedges piece from last week in answer to a number of themes that had come up in the comments thread there (and several of them have come up again here, and perhaps come up a lot).

To recap they were replies,

On the question of violence and non-violence
On the question of third parties
On Communism and Socialism
On the lessons of history
On how politics really works behind the curtain
On the question of what to do first
On working with a minority
On “Tit for tat” game theory

I dunno if I just wasted my rime because the comment move from one Hedges article to another or what?  Should I repost here?

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By eagle bill, October 11, 2010 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

The average American is an idiot, capable only of mindless consumption. This is a direct result of sixty years of the most sophisticated propaganda (advertising) and a deliberately dumbed down education system from community colleges through the elite Ivy League. This is why the moronic philosophies that Glenn Beck endorses are not laughed off the television. An educated population would instantly reject such nonsense.

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By marybeth, October 11, 2010 at 8:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I belive I do not need to look back to the Greeks. I simply read again Kurt Vonnegut’s last book “A Man Without A Country ”  He ends with a poem, the last words being ” When the last living thing has died on account of us, how poetical it would be if Earth could say,perhaps from the floor of the Grand Canyon, “It is done.” People did not like it here.

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By Anarcissie, October 11, 2010 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

It’s nice of Hedges to mention Aristophanes; those who grow weary of chugging along in the handbasket can have something to read while waiting for it to arrive at its destination.

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were probably sexist enough.  They believed in and were supported by slavery, and other peculiar institutions of their times.  I have to assume they were thoroughly imbued with the culture of their world.  However, I have to confess I’ve never made a study of the question.  I think if the radical feminists of yesteryear had found anything sympathetic in any of them, they would have made him a hero of their cause.  But instead what we hear about is Xanthippe and her chamber pot.

As to democracy, it is said that it is the worst system of government, except for all the others.  Obviously, if a large number of human beings can get up to foolishness or evil, so can a small group, or an individual, and the fewer who are involved, the less will be the perception, consideration and restraint of those in command.  The idea of somehow putting a committee of wise, virtuous self-selected philosopher-kings in charge of the state is so childish as to beggar comment; thus one of my friends insists that The Republic is satire.

It is something of a stretch, though, to regard the Western democracies as democracies.

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By M L Baker, October 11, 2010 at 8:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When our government compromises, undermines or attacks the values of equal rights of all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and when it recklessly expends the lives of its people for crass motives of profit and power, then it is our right to alter or abolish it
Thank you Elroy for educating a handful of your relatives and peripheral contacts because it’s only an educated and aroused citizenry that can alter our government.
If we don’t stand for something we will fall for anything.

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By Stencil, October 11, 2010 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

Bob, you should get Chris on LRC and get that boob Miller to rename the show LRCA, Left, Right, Center, Anarchist.

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By Twelfthman, October 11, 2010 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Hedges’ column has only one flaw. While he insists, rightfully so, that we are finished unless we hinder the corporate state, his only recourse is civil disobedience. He does not realize that the mighty machine has a crack in its armor. The short paragraph below proves, beyond doubt, that a citizen is, by law, not required to have income tax withheld from his/her paycheck. Income tax is a house of cards built without a foundation, maintained by oppression, prejudice and vested interest. Remove any card and they all fall, along with a government whose time has passed.

Here is the card that Aristophanes would have played if it had been dealt to him. Only withholding agents are authorized to withhold tax from a paycheck. The Internal Revenue Code defines a withholding agent at IRC 7701(a)(16) which states, “The term ‘withholding agent’ means any person required to deduct and withhold any tax under the provisions of Sections 1441, 1442, 1443 and 1461.” The first three sections apply to nonresident aliens and foreign corporations, while 1461 just makes the agent responsible for monies collected. The IRS website adds the following; “You may be a withholding agent even if there is no requirement to withhold from a payment,” (i.e. if an employee volunteers to have money withheld.)

There is the law, coherent and not subject to interpretation. An employer is required to withhold income tax from a paycheck only if the employee is a nonresident alien or foreign corporation. We need only to obey this law, stop feeding the corporate state and watch a corrupt regime crumble.

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By Bisbonian, October 11, 2010 at 7:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“There will be no brown shirts but nocturnal visits from Homeland Security. “

Yeah.  The Blue Shirts.

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By Ed Lytwak, October 11, 2010 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

It is not the religious right with their hypocrisy and phony Christian, aka patriarchal, values that is the real threat to our democracy.  Nor is it the political right-center-left political charade and accompanying media illusion that is at the root of our failure to effectively resist.  The real enemy does not care anything about religion, morality or values except in so far as they are instruments to achieve their singularly focused ends, money and the real politic power to protect their concentrated wealth.  Their anonymity is their shield and their clarity of vision is their strength – nothing matters except commodities and profits.  It is not Jesus but Ann Rand that is writing the great American tragedy.

The barbarians are at the gates but they are not the real enemy.  Like the Greeks, many don’t even know the old world is lost and the gate keepers - a nameless, faceless enemy hidden behind corporate masks.- now controls our government, society and sadly culture.  But there are now, today, in America many who are enlightened, effectively resisting and working to create a new world.  It is time that we begin to call this resistance by its name “resilience.”  This non-violent resistance at the moment remains in the shadow of the corporate-oligarchic darkness that covers the planet but is growing steadily and strongly toward the light.

Quite simply, resilience is creating an alternate non-corporate economy, society and culture based on matriarchal values of empathy, social responsibility, non-violence (but not pacifism), kindness and compassion for the entire web of life.  Whether it is corporate control of our food, the importance of right livelihood, the strength and power of local community or the vital necessity of surviving on a dying planet, there are already millions of quiet resisters.  Anyone interested in learning more about resistance through resilience is encouraged to check out the latest Yes! Magazine http://www.yesmagazine.org/  The fall issue focuses Resilient Communities and contains among other things a seminal article “Crash Course In Resilience: We can strengthen our communities and ourselves to prepare for the uncertain world of failing economies, climate change, and oil depletion” by Sarah van Gelder

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By elisalouisa, October 11, 2010 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Interesting post Ardee. Just putting those facts out in Tea Party country as to Big Oil etc. is doing something. I like to think that as a rule Californians are more open minded than people in other parts of the country, which brings to mind, would a Tea Party get-together in the East have been as receptive.

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By wfalcone, October 11, 2010 at 7:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe I’m totally naive, but I don’t really blame the Democrats,particularly the liberals, for accepting corporate money. What choice do they have in this current climate ?
To change the state of corporate America they have to first get elected. So I throw Obama a pass since I would never define him as “weak”-easy for some white guy to say.
It takes serious cojones for him to just run for President, let alone try to face off against the horrific powers of a Corporate Oligarchy.

The only starting point for progresives is to set an agenda of change that is SIMPLE and easily definable-
how about withdrawal from Afghanistan/Iraq (I think a strong majority would be in favor-despite the howling that would be heard from the radical right.)
Another effective manuever would have been (and hopefully still can be ) a simplification of healthcare reform (Obama’s biggest mistake.)
All the complicated healthcare legislation did was confuse citizens into thinking that it only helps “someone else” -if anyone at all.
Obama and the Dems should have expanded Medicare. Very simple-very effective. Medicare for everyone at age 55. Expansion could occur down the road.

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By FiftyGigs, October 11, 2010 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

Democracy dies if you don’t vote.

This crap talk about revolution sounds like so much right-wing blathering. Yeah, you all go do that. Why not right now? Stand up, turn off your computer, and take up arms. If not now, when. If not us ... yawn.

Lock the door on the way out.

Hedges makes some great points in this article, but soon veers in crazy circles ... liberals are traitors, liberals are corporate competitors, Obama is weak, Obama is part of the powerful, democracy is dying, hinder it.

Hedges has described Rove’s fondest dream, the “end game” of corporate forces. Do what Hedges says. Believe Eden is at the end of anarchy.

THAT’S how democracy dies. When the King builds God’s biggest army to make you think you’d better not oppose him. When the entire machinery of the most powerful country on earth tells you that you’re so defeated even the party that opposes them is the same as them so don’t bother voting.

Use your head.

Everyone and everything everywhere is telling you not to vote.

Disobey.

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By Gil Gaudia, October 11, 2010 at 7:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is a genuine pleasure to read these comments, most of which indicate to me that many of my fellow Americans are capable of looking at a serious issue, analyzing it, and even disagreeing about it with reason and civility.  Just wait until some of the feces-soaked, defenders of the faith wake up and put their twisted weltanschauungs to the task.

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By balkas, October 11, 2010 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

I do not know whether readers overestimate value of constant stream of
jeremiahs.
Describing what onepercenters [masters of nature and thus people] do to nature
and people has some value.
However, we need to know—or if cannot know, at least postulate—why-how-
when we became slaves or serfs.

i say we became slaves and serfs millennia ago and over either centuries or
millennia. Our first masters were probably sorcerers,charlatans, shaman;
followed by priests.
And ever since the comletion fromfreedom t serfhood had been comleted, we
have lived in all lands [save americas or parts of afrika] under a theocracy.

let’s face the fact: priests have always utterly controlled their own serfs. They do
now, too.
Priests control at least 3bn people who will always vote as directed: vote for
masters-owners of nature and people.

In US we may have as many as 5o mn who are owned by priests, ulema and
other such criminal minds.
Owning people is the ultimate ecstacy, empowerment, etc.

So do i fear muslims? U bet i do. They are more faithfull to today’s ‘nobles’
[mafia] than any other cultists.

Imo, that’s why they are allowed in. They are money in the bank. Besideds that,
the more different cultists and ethnic groups in a country, the easier it is to rule
it. tnx

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By QuantumBubbler, October 11, 2010 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

“But he understood that the hardest struggle for humankind is often stating and understanding the obvious.”

And that would be because of the bias which people have to embrace to support the political side of the problem according to the group they have joined their thinking with. Out of one side of your mouth you might admit Dems and Pubs are both at fault, and then the other side of your mouth will blame one or the other.

I guess, at the end of the day, the more duplicitous among us have shuffled many more brain cells around and feel a great feeling of accomplishment. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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By barney, October 11, 2010 at 7:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

are you kidding looking for the meaning of civil disobedience after living thru the Butch2 years?  Ever hear the old chestnut OHIO?  Come on.  There’s 40 PEOPLE in this country sitting around doing nothing and you’re asking some bullshit definition a la first year in liberial arts college WTF civil dis is?  Hey man I’ve off for a real democracy this country is not fit to live in for thinking people.

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By Wikileaks for Nobel, October 11, 2010 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

The absence of demonstrations is a mistake for multiple reasons; one obvious fact is that it leaves the field open to those who are garnering the attention and influence that polls show come from being active:  the Tea Party.  It is the self-satisfied (if complaining) passivity of the so-called “left” that is the most notable feature of the political terrain; the recent gathering in DC sponsored by the AFL-CIO and other liberalish groups was a welcome exception.

How long has this nation been at war?  A decade.  Where is the antiwar movement?  Viewing and clicking—that’s where.  Oh, and complaining…on boards like this, and perhaps to a few friends. 

To talk of “civil disobedience” when people are not even willing to show that many Americans object to the atrocities perpetuated daily in our names, is meaningless.  Get out of your chair.  Do something in the real world.  Defend Bradley Manning, oppose the war, work for honest political candidates (not the crap hacks we get from the Toxic Twins).  Or else accept the loss of our country.

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By Marriea, October 11, 2010 at 7:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If one can control one’s thinkings you can then control one’s actions. Americans have benn conditioned to think we are the world’s power, the riches country on this earth, and politicans let folks believe this, all the while taking a little here and there out of the till just to cover themselves.
Our problems are everyone elses’ fault, except our owns, or so the saying goes.
At work, when service talks are given, the talks are always aimed at the whole. So even if there is only one or two infractions breakers, everyone is guilty. However, the ones who are breaking the rules never believe that they are the ones, because nowadays, the guilty is not held accountalble for their actions.
Politically, when a rich guy anounces he or she wants to make me as rich as them, I laugh.  I’m holding on to a limb, but, one has to know that no one is going to help you attain riches especially if they have it and you don’t.
When I hear politicians talk about ‘YOUR TAX DOLLARS’
the only thing I can see is monies being taken from me before I even know what I made in the first place. That’s means that was the King’s share. It doesn’t belong to me, and never will. And if the king feels I didn’t pay my share, he not only takes that portion back, he/she charges me interest and penaties on the amount said due and if I have to pay an attorney to dispute it, I’m farther in the hold.
People really need to wake up.

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By CharlesBivona, October 11, 2010 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Fascism is coming to the USA. Big Smiles. Big Smiles NOW! BIG SMILES or else…

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By ardee, October 11, 2010 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

I just returned,ironically enough, from the heart of Tea Party adherents, Anderson,Ca. This little farming and fishing community ten miles below Redding has signs everywhere in support of said Party. I was there for the Salmon opener on the upper Sacramento River but had time to engage the loyalists while unwinding post fishing, in the Rooster’s Landing tavern.

My appearance hardly fits that of a conservative, with my long hair down to mid back, and my thick drooping mustache, so I was the obvious focal point of all the usual rhetoric about Obama’s communist leanings, desire to tax them all out of existence and the like. Quite a couple of days! In fact, the only reason I was tolerated and able to debate with them was the twofold image of my ape hanger equipped Harley parked outside the bar and my six foot 230 lb. no neck image. Also, my fishing partner, whose RV we were camped in, goes about 320, though he is a christian, apolitical and rather passive.

I did, I really think, make a couple of good points by remaining calm and rational and avoiding the knee jerk liberal phrasings that these folks automatically reject. Explaining that the Tea Party is financed by Big Oil and actually is a tool of big business and that the Obama campaign was itself financed by the very same folks who prop up the Tea Party seemed to bring a few thoughtful looks to some eyes, but that might have been the two rounds I bought during the debate. The bartender who was , by the by, cute as hell, told me, about two thirty that morning outside the RV where we sat,unwinding, that she thought I was like David, going against a bar full of Goliaths.

In the end no one seemed particularly offended, though the next days fishing was a bit rough , what with the lack of sleep and the endless beers. Most waved to me while passing as we fished up and down the Sacramento River, so perhaps dialogue is really possible, which is the real message of this post.

In three days we caught ( and mostly released) thirty one Salmon to 35 lbs. A good time was had by all and political education in redneck land continues.

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By Sylvia Barksdale, October 11, 2010 at 6:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Strange! Just yesterday I wrote a friend much the same about Americans as Mr. Hedges depicted here.  No one could be more correct on our complacency.  Indeed. we know what’s going on and what awaits if we do not act, yet, our easy chair and TV still beckons us.

Americans are in the grip of fear for the future such as we’ve never known and it is valid.  Ideologies vary widely and wildly amongst us thus it is close to impossible if not entirely for us to unite as a people in order to reclaim our country.  Civil disobedience is definitely in order, yet, the major question is, would it bring about a police state?  How many lives would have to be sacraficed?

I am not familiar with the work of Aristohanes but he is among my collection.  He will be next on my reading list.  I am familiar with Kant and his Critique of Logic and Reason and believe anyone aspiring to lead out country should have to memorize this section of his work.  I am familiar with Chris Hedges and have most of his Truthdig work neatly assembled in a folder.  I consider him to be our best modern day philosopher.

Thank you, Mr. Hedges

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By jan de bont, October 11, 2010 at 5:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is definitely one of Chris best article. The people commenting not only understand him, they have added their own visions. No vile comments here. The article is great and it has only reached the few that agree with Mr. Hedges and so do I. But what is all this great commentary if none of us seem to have a real clue what to do about it, or if there is even anything we can do. Is it like so many times before repeated in history, that we know, but just let the other side take control, as we thought they would.  Why did we vote for Obama, why did we believe he could make a difference? we must have believed that change might be possible. There was still lots of activism in the air, which has now completely been deflated as hardly anything changed after he came into power. Corporate America is stronger than before, they had one very specific goal after this election, to make President Obama fail. With all their money and control of the media it wasn’t even that difficult. Obama’s lack of guts only gave them more power. All they had to do was not to invest all the money that was given them (for free) and make sure the job market would collapse and stay low. Off course many people fell form that gimmick, with the snake oil salesmen and woman in the lead and the Christian right wing jumping on board. The result is a new modern form of a Feudal society, which already exist in Russia, China, India, Japan.
Mr. Hedges doesn’t give us any idea if we even have a chance to change it, nor does any of the comments above, nor do I. But I still haven’t given up hope that someone will. The alternative is just to depressing.

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By Paul_GA, October 11, 2010 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

As I see it, the Tea Party movement is a reaction to the decline of the American Empire and is founded on the forlorn hope that, if the Demos are swept out of office, the Repubs can “save” the Empire. I think that no one can “save” the Empire now; all that can be done is delay the inevitable fall. And it’s possible that delaying the fall will only make that fall even worse when it comes.

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By omygodnotagain, October 11, 2010 at 5:18 am Link to this comment

I see no alternative for now to the corporate state there are too many people in the world, too many mouths to feed,too many children to educate, too few wortwhile jobs.
Last century, authoritarian state governments backed by brilliant intellectuals, in the Soviet Union, China and other places tried with disasterous results. We are stuck with the choices of awful and dreadful. I dispute Hedges attack on Christianity as it holds within its teaching care for the poor and the less fortunate. The fact that militant Christians of a violent Old Testament bent are getting heard, merely means those who realize that Christianity was a rejection of self centered violent tribalism and a call to genuine humanitarianism need to stand up and be heard.
It is time to talk about the Good Samaritan not God striking down thousands of Midianites for no reason.
Time to reflect on the Mother Theresas, Albert Schweitzers. To accomplish this as Hedges has mentioned in earlier articles, we need to scale down deglobalize, deal with local needs, a form of winning
converts to a humane society one citizen at a time.
That is something we can do.

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By Elroy, October 11, 2010 at 5:17 am Link to this comment

“What is civil disobedience?” asks kerryrose (7.46
am), and I have no answer. I don’t believe much in
demonstrations, and would not dare stop paying my
taxes for any reason. All I can do is try to
convince a handful of relatives and peripheral
contacts that the Tea Party, Glenn Beck and Fox
News are not on their side. So far, it’s a losing
battle.

But I don’t give up. Right now I’ve boiled down
Chris Hedges “warning” and put it on my FaceBook
wall, with a direct link. Maybe readers will pass
it around. Maybe a spinoff circle will start
questioning their trusted sources of rightwing
propaganda. Maybe progressive political figures
will develop guts. Maybe the so-called mainstream
media will start ringing Chris’s alarm bell. 
Maybe, maybe, maybe.

What else can I do?

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By Jack E Lohman, October 11, 2010 at 5:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Democracy is dying because the Fat Cats that fund the elections want democracy to die.

Nothing is going to change until we have public funding of campaigns. Politicians spend taxpayer dollars because they ARE PAID to spend taxpayer dollars, and robbing the SSI fund (as just one example) gives them the cash needed to attract campaign dollars. What is it about political bribes do we not understand?

Our problem is NOT government, and it is not R’s or D’s. It *IS* that government is owned by the special interests that want in the taxpayer’s pockets.

CEOs want short-term profits to increase their already massive salaries, and are willing to share those profits with the politicians that made it all happen. Thus NAFTA and other laws are passed that enable outsourcing to countries with wage scales one-tenth ours. And our country crashes while China and India flourish.

As a former CEO my company would not have survived if I had an employee or board of directors who took money on the side and gave away company assets in return. Our country can’t survive this corruption either.

So nothing changes. We elect a new group of politicians and the Fat Cats simply re-direct their bribes as we continue down our spiral. Only a national revolution will get our attention, but then it’s too late. And all because our politicians refuse to stop the bribery they benefit from.

If politicians are going to be beholden to their funders, those funders should be the taxpayers. And at $5 per taxpayer per year it would be a bargain. Even at 100 times that. We MUST demand that our senators and representative pass the Fair Elections Now Act.

Jack Lohman …
http://MoneyedPoliticians.net

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By Jack E Lohman, October 11, 2010 at 5:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Democracy is dying because the Fat Cats that fund the elections want democracy to die.

Nothing is going to change until we have public funding of campaigns. Politicians spend taxpayer dollars because they ARE PAID to spend taxpayer dollars, and robbing the SSI fund (as just one example) gives them the cash needed to attract campaign dollars. What is it about political bribes do we not understand?

Our problem is NOT government, and it is not R’s or D’s. It *IS* that government is owned by the special interests that want in the taxpayer’s pockets.

CEOs want short-term profits to increase their already massive salaries, and are willing to share those profits with the politicians that made it all happen. Thus NAFTA and other laws are passed that enable outsourcing to countries with wage scales one-tenth ours. And our country crashes while China and India flourish.

As a former CEO my company would not have survived if I had an employee or board of directors who took money on the side and gave away company assets in return. Our country can’t survive this corruption either.

So nothing changes. We elect a new group of politicians and the Fat Cats simply re-direct their bribes as we continue down our spiral. Only a national revolution will get our attention, but then it’s too late. And all because our politicians refuse to stop the bribery they benefit from.

If politicians are going to be beholden to their funders, those funders should be the taxpayers. And at $5 per taxpayer per year it would be a bargain. Even at 100 times that. We MUST demand that our senators and representative pass the bill at: http://fairelectionsnow.org/about-bill

Jack Lohman …
http://MoneyedPoliticians.net

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By Shenonymous, October 11, 2010 at 5:11 am Link to this comment

Quite true, gerryhiles, Plato was something of an elitist who came
from the Greek aristocracy.  But still gave insight into many great
ideas, which needs much more discussion than just a few passing
remarks.  His student Harry Stotle also had some great things to say
as well, but like Plato, except for Diotima, also was a bit of a sexist. 
So what else is new under the sun?  Some men had great ideas and
some not so good. 

Aristophanes was underrated over the millennia and now because of
the electronic media, and Chris Hedges, might just have a resurgence
of popularity.  Rightly so, though, as even the great Plato had respect
for him.  Too bad most of his writings were lost.  The ones we still do
have though are worth looking up (available free on the net if one wants
to hunt) and reading.  Try his “Peace”  it is a hoot but poignant and
appropriate for today’s dilemmas.  Funny how after 2500 years, eh? 
Does history repeat itself? I hear from time to time a play or two of his
are produced for the theater so he is not completely forgotten.

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By BR549, October 11, 2010 at 5:07 am Link to this comment

Hedge’s second paragraph, above, is confusing. It sounds as if he is unfamiliar
with the reasons behind the formation of the Tea Party and any other
oppositional group that might make some attempt to keep our Constitution
viable. Whether the Tea Party remains a genuine group depends on just how
much it becomes infiltrated by the corporate Right and subverted from within.
Time will tell.

The Tea Party’s motives in the beginning were as pure as the wind-driven
snow. What those are now is a big question mark, since that party was
highjacked early on by the Right. Now, of course, the elitists who are
attempting to seize more power are the ones claiming that anyone that
threatens their plans to enslave the population, by using the Constitution as
the legal framework for normalcy, is branded as a terrorist or belonging to a
militia, even if they possess no firearms, no formal training, or do not engage in practice
sessions. It is the height of absurdity.

There are still MANY people in the Tea Party, who are laboring under the
misconception that the party still retains its original convictions. They do not
yet see that they are being led, in Pied Piper fashion, out of town and into the
river. That doesn’t make these people evil; misinformed and naive, possibly, but
not evil. The problem is that they’re fed up and have no other place to go, and
the subversive elements on the Right are all to willing to herd that group into
another pen of disinformation and keep them isolated from the rest of the
population. It’s a strategy.

Lastly, to address Kerryrose’s post (October 11 at 7:46 am), civil disobedience
is the thermostat or safety valve to regulate the social disruption and
destruction caused in Washington. It is a political bio-feedback mechanism
that, when the system is working properly, keeps everyone operating under the
rules that people agreed to. When those controls don’t work, or when
Washington pulls some number like putting a penny under the fuse in the fuse
box, things start breaking. That’s when the well thought out long term plans of
very wise men are sabotaged by short-sighted men with avarice on their mind.

So far, history has shown us repeatedly that when those in control break those
bonds of agreement, the very system they hoped they would ride to glory may
glimmer for a short while, but always burns itself out. That is because it lacks
integrity. The people, who have made those decisions to undermine the system
they had sworn an oath to, ultimately undermine their own connection to
humanity and the crumbling corpse of their once great empire is the price they
pay for the lie they created.

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By jimch, October 11, 2010 at 5:05 am Link to this comment

Like Aristophanes, Hedges and the posters today, I have long trumpeted the impending demise of our “way of life” due to precisely the messages today. The problem is my SOSes are falling on receivers that are tuned into different frequencies, i.e., no one is listening. The handwriting has been on the wall for a long time, but solipsism and arrogance supercede any pragmatic views and are driving us post haste off the cliff. Ultimately, as is suggested, there’s going to be a helluva price to be paid.

Shenonymous writes: “Unfortunately we do not have any writers of the caliber of Aristophanes
who sees the current of politics today well enough to write powerfully….” Even having one will be of non-effect, for the number of readers is now so limited sad to say - approx 1 ppm.

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By Druthers, October 11, 2010 at 4:53 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous
“Unfortunately we do not have any writers of the caliber of Aristophanes
who sees the current of politics today well enough to write powerfully
convincing and moivating pieces that will capture the imagination of the
American people. “

Nor did the Greek. Aristophanes was unable to do more than alert by his pen the tragedy he saw unfolding before his eyes. The Athenian democracy died.
We have powerful writers who day after day point out in detail the crumbling of our democracy to a disinterested public, some of whom indict writers like Chris Hedges for not providing them with magical solutions.

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By vicente carranza, October 11, 2010 at 4:38 am Link to this comment

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s civil disobedience for us was taking to the street in all kinds of protests. Today civil disobedience is a state of mind that the majority of people have to have in order to accomplish what we want. Because of the number of people we have and with the kind of public education that the majority have rec’d civil disobedience (if we want things to get better or go back the way they were) will not work.  We need a revolution, another words a complete change if we are to survive. Lack of good and common sense intelligence is killing this country. Everyone knows a little bid of everything but not eenough of anything—-so you cannot tell them anything because everyone is an expert and everyone is right. Especially people who are left brain hemisphere dominant.  Hope I help.

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By godistwaddle, October 11, 2010 at 4:30 am Link to this comment

Sometimes i think i’m just a cranky old atheist. I see humanity beaten down by the continual application of Naomi Klein’s “disaster capitalism,” too overworked to do anything but work, eat, drink, sleep and twist with anxiety about keeping a wage slave job and a roof, as incapable of thinking about change as the skinny donkey walking endlessly around the pump in the pitiless desert.

I am deeply skeptical, and deeply depressed about humanity’s future, which, in terms of evolutionary time, will be mercifully short, I suspect.

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By Ouroborus, October 11, 2010 at 4:23 am Link to this comment

It’s difficult to add much to Hedges recitation of
Aristophanes’ wise council.
I and many other activists from the Viet Nam era have
been frustrated (to say the least) and appalled at the
apathy. The major reason I left.

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By Shenonymous, October 11, 2010 at 4:19 am Link to this comment

For the first time in a couple of years I find myself in agreement with
Hedges.  His well-written analogy of what was Aristophanes’ project is
an excellent description of what is happening not only in the United
States, where it is happening right before our very eyes, but throughout
the world.  There is a concerted effort to trounce liberalism and the
lessons learned from the Enlightment.  Richard Wolin’s “The Seduction
of Unreason” is an amazing account of how and why this is happening.

Unfortunately we do not have any writers of the caliber of Aristophanes
who sees the current of politics today well enough to write powerfully
convincing and moivating pieces that will capture the imagination of the
American people.

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By kerryrose, October 11, 2010 at 3:46 am Link to this comment

What is civil disobedience?  I don’t understand it. Although I am unwisely not deferent to authority I don not know how to be civially disobedient.  Is it in protests on the street?

I know if I object to the corporate monopolizing of my utility bills, and the outrageous prices I have to pay to turn on my computer,heat my home, or run water, and don’t pay my bill—- I’ll soon sit in thirsty darkness.  Violence underlies our normality, and it takes poverty to experience it.

How can we be disobedient in a way that can make a change.  Ideas anyone?

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By Druthers, October 11, 2010 at 1:51 am Link to this comment

With ignorance expanding by leaps and bounds, spurred on by brute emotion and supported as an ideal, it may be too late. 
Collective madness and hysteria furnishes its own fuel and the reward is an internal feeling of being alive. That this door opens onto an abyss is set aside.  Our black hatted pilgrim ancestors must have experienced this same exhilaration as they hounded isolated women on whom they sadistically projected their inner demons.
Happy endings are in fairy tales, in life these mad frenzies end in horror and suffering.

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By Textynn, October 11, 2010 at 1:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Amen Brother. Please write more about our two party system that is really more of a one party system. People really are not getting this and the longer they don’t get this, the more damage is done. 

Still we have to vote out the Tpers and the sociopaths the best we can. I’m really having a hard time with what to actually do regarding the issue of voting for members of either party.

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