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Liberals Are Useless

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Posted on Dec 7, 2009
AP / Jens Meyer

A woman in Germany selects a candy box with President Barack Obama’s face on it.

By Chris Hedges

Liberals are a useless lot. They talk about peace and do nothing to challenge our permanent war economy. They claim to support the working class, and vote for candidates that glibly defend the North American Free Trade Agreement. They insist they believe in welfare, the right to organize, universal health care and a host of other socially progressive causes, and will not risk stepping out of the mainstream to fight for them. The only talent they seem to possess is the ability to write abject, cloying letters to Barack Obama—as if he reads them—asking the president to come back to his “true” self. This sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision.

I am not disappointed in Obama. I don’t feel betrayed. I don’t wonder when he is going to be Obama. I did not vote for the man. I vote socialist, which in my case meant Ralph Nader, but could have meant Cynthia McKinney. How can an organization with the oxymoronic title Progressives for Obama even exist? Liberal groups like these make political satire obsolete. Obama was and is a brand. He is a product of the Chicago political machine. He has been skillfully packaged as the new face of the corporate state. I don’t dislike Obama—I would much rather listen to him than his smug and venal predecessor—though I expected nothing but a continuation of the corporate rape of the country. And that is what he has delivered.

“You have a tug of war with one side pulling,” Ralph Nader told me when we met Saturday afternoon. “The corporate interests pull on the Democratic Party the way they pull on the Republican Party. If you are a ‘least-worst’ voter you don’t want to disturb John Kerry on the war, so you call off the anti-war demonstrations in 2004. You don’t want to disturb Obama because McCain is worse. And every four years both parties get worse. There is no pull. That is the dilemma of The Nation and The Progressive and other similar publications. There is no breaking point. What is the breaking point? The criminal war of aggression in Iraq? The escalation of the war in Afghanistan? Forty-five thousand people dying a year because they can’t afford health insurance? The hollowing out of communities and sending the jobs to fascist and communist regimes overseas that know how to put the workers in their place? There is no breaking point. And when there is no breaking point you do not have a moral compass.”

I save my anger for our bankrupt liberal intelligentsia of which, sadly, I guess I am a member. Liberals are the defeated, self-absorbed Mouse Man in Dostoevsky’s “Notes From Underground.” They embrace cynicism, a cloak for their cowardice and impotence. They, like Dostoevsky’s depraved character, have come to believe that the “conscious inertia” of the underground surpasses all other forms of existence. They too use inaction and empty moral posturing, not to affect change but to engage in an orgy of self-adulation and self-pity. They too refuse to act or engage with anyone not cowering in the underground. This choice does not satisfy the Mouse Man, as it does not satisfy our liberal class, but neither has the strength to change. The gravest danger we face as a nation is not from the far right, although it may well inherit power, but from a bankrupt liberal class that has lost the will to fight and the moral courage to stand up for what it espouses.

Anyone who says he or she cares about the working class in this country should have walked out on the Democratic Party in 1994 with the passage of NAFTA. And it has only been downhill since. If welfare reform, the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, which gutted the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act—designed to prevent the kind of banking crisis we are now undergoing—and the craven decision by the Democratic Congress to continue to fund and expand our imperial wars were not enough to make you revolt, how about the refusal to restore habeas corpus, end torture in our offshore penal colonies, abolish George W. Bush’s secrecy laws or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American citizens? The imperial projects and the corporate state have not altered under Obama. The state kills as ruthlessly and indiscriminately in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did under Bush. It steals from the U.S. treasury as rapaciously to enrich the corporate elite. It, too, bows before the conservative Israel lobby, refuses to enact serious environmental or health care reform, regulate Wall Street, end our relationship with private mercenary contractors or stop handing obscene sums of money, some $1 trillion a year, to the military and arms industry. At what point do we stop being a doormat? At what point do we fight back? We may lose if we step outside the mainstream, but at least we will salvage our self-esteem and integrity.

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By Aunt Gertie, December 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Petawompus says:

“I personally believe “change” is something that takes place gradually and requires patience and commitment.”

Well, thank you.  Now we know what you believe.

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By TAO Walker, December 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

Within the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth, tame two-legged ideologues of every variety are actually much worse than merely “useless.”  They are, rather, the co-opted components in Her immune system most virulently spreading the toxins of those retro-viral wannabe parasites that some of us surviving free wild Human Beings call the “tormentors”....because we’ve had to learn everything we know about them the hard way.

What we’re all-together CONfronted with here is not, in its essential nature, “philosophical” at all….or in any way “abstract.”  It is an actual disease….resembling “AIDS,” with its CONgeries of symptoms that include virtually all “....the ills flesh is heir-to.”  Industrially-induced cancers and institutionalized CONsumption are neither the most- nor the least-devastating among these.  Maybe the profit-centered slaughter and wholesale destruction of “war” gets that dubious “honor.”

Chris Hedges, like both his critics and his supporters here, is severely handicapped in his (as they are in their own) no-doubt sincere attempts to respond effectively to the “global” fever at the core of the fraudulent virtuality known as theallamericandream.  Few if any among these nice “individuals” are able to grasp the fact that what they’re beset-by is no mere “accident.”  It is a deliberate act of infection intended to burn-up the whole Living Arrangement here….their own artifactual “selfs” included into “the-bargain.”  Even harder for them to see is their own slap-happy role as half-witting accomplices, instrumental to this idiotic act of bio-chemical and electro-mechanical warfare on a worldwide scale.

So well-intended proposals for some (peacefully revolutionary?) political “mass-movement,” even if mounted, could at-best only result in a little localized temporary “relief.”  There is, however, specific Medicine already at-hand that will actually cure homo domesticus of its own fatal CONdition….and heal Earth of the intended-to-be-lethal one afflicting Her, as well.

This Old Savage is referring, of course, to what some of us surviving free wild Peoples call The Tiyoshpaye Way.  English speakers might call it Genuine Living Organic Human Community.  It is the Natural Organic Form of Humanity in-keeping with our Organic Function as components in Her immune system.

All your “-isms” are now become WASms, tame Sisters and Brothers….and “useless” is about the best thing to be said about any of ‘em.  That’s true of most of you yourownselfs right now, too….unfortunately.  But you’re all “only human,” and “....(you) can change, if (you) have to, (you) guess (?).” 

HokaHey!

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By Spiritgirl, December 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Your post is right on.  I think that the only way those “progressive or liberal” thinkers will “act” on the spirit of their convictions will be when enough of them are unemployed, underemployed, foreclosed on, savings ravished, etc. - then they will tear the house down!  People “talk” the talk about compassion, empathy, personal responsibility, helping others, etc., but the reality is that from the comfort of their cushy perch -they know that it’s not them, so therefore there is no need to actually do anything!  Until everyone irrespective of color/gender/sexual orientation/pay/geographical region of the nation/age/religionists/atheists/pagans/etc. all come together to recognize that it is all of US against the Oligarchy - then and only then will WE THE PEOPLE be able to beat the barbarians back behind the gates!

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By Peetawonkus, December 7, 2009 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, Ok. Revolution isn’t coming tomorrow. A round of applause for Captain Obvious and his crew. I don’t think anybody said that anyway. What most people are saying here, in response to the article, is that you ain’t gonna get Progressive change out of Liberals. If you want that, something else has to happen. Hence the rest of the conversation, which is about that “something else.” I personally believe “change” is something that takes place gradually and requires patience and commitment. It wasn’t that long ago, historically, that Jim Crow ended and Roe vs. Wade was decided—and we’re still fighting those battles. However, I submit that those who take train A or Bus B to gentrified neighborhood X or shopping mall Z may be looking for “revolution” in the wrong places.

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By grantup, December 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris,
Have you fallen into the trap of using self as the measurement of all human activity or inactivity.  You are a brilliant fellow with more experience of the dark side of life than most. But have you alienated yourself from those you once ran with.  I know if I voted as you did, I would feel better about myself, but what good would I do for those you ran with?  The question is: What can be done about changing a two-party political system?  I, too, write to our area newspaper; or I should say I used to.  They cut me off.  Then they let me back on, only to bury before publication anything offensive to their right-wing mentality.  Here in Magic Valley, Idaho, we like to feel all the racists are in the panhandle.  Ain’t so, pal.  But I do enjoy you Monday messages.

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By Ana, December 7, 2009 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges, thank you. You’ve nailed it again.

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By Flummox, December 7, 2009 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

prole, after reading through all of the posts I think your is the most realistic. Despite all of the passion on this issue, it is unlikely that large-scale change will becoming to America any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be suprised on this, but America seems a very long way from the kind of social upheaval being discussed.

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By garth, December 7, 2009 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

Hear! Hear!  Prole.

The Boston area is quiet as opposed to revolutionary fervor.  I think the advertisement efforts to steer everyone to the dreams of the professional class has overcome common sense and just plain observation.

Steak Houses, new restaurants on Newberry Street.  These are the subjects of the day.

I never knew how out of touch I was until I reached the age to be three generations away fom the present one.  I was a pre-boomer.
Today, living through the X, the Me, and who knows what, I am, as the writer said in a Christian Science Monitor wrote,  irrelevant.
If there is a God, or if there is any intelligence whereby good overcomes evil, I want to see it.
But that’s me.

Don’t forget, buy your New York Times to read how the Wall Streeteers are getting away with stealing your money.  Not your children’s money.  Your money.  The money you saved in your 401ks, your annuities, your mutual funds. 
They say it was all just a way of thinking.  Yeah, right!  Well, I’ve got a new way of thinking, and it involves justice, the leagal system, trials, prosecutions, penalties, ....satisfaction.
But I can’t get no satisfaction.

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By Leefeller, December 7, 2009 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

Microwaves? Maybe one could make some money selling burritos?

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By Night-Gaunt, December 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

http://www.cluborlov.com is the place to see how far we can fall once one or more calamities drops the economy all the way into the sewer. My analysis leads me to the conclusion that a cabal of ultra-rich, mostly white theocrats want to trash the USA from within and replace it with a corporate theocracy. I say they will do it at collapse #3. [See Orlov‘s five levels to total civilization (ours) collapse.] If they fail then we could go to collapse #5. Think “The Road” as a fictional example or Kunstler‘s post industrial age fiction for other examples.

Watch out but that professor of hysterical histrionics Glenn Beck has produced a book also called “Common Sense” so be careful which one you get.

The state of fear and promotion of anxiousness is also a by product of the dissolution from within of the Republic. It works well for a time anyway. We here are either very passive or too tired from looking for work or working for two or 3 for less and don’t have time nor the inclination to go out into the streets. They have prepared weapons to keep us from getting rowdy. They have prepared using either sonic or microwaves that could shut down any size protest whether peaceful or armed. There is also the old standbys of tear gas, water cannon and armored police with long hard sticks and cattle prods so be ready.

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By samg, December 7, 2009 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

chris, baby, if liberals are useless, you’re worse than useless. you admit to having voted for nader. so you actively helped bring us 8 years of george w. bush, the worst president in history. just keep voting for nader, which is just another way of voting for more republican presidents with more wars (i thought that was something you were against, in your very good book on the subject), depressions, cities like new orleans destroyed, and more tax breaks for the rich. obama ain’t perfect. but he’s trying to get this country out of the mess that you, nader and george bush got us into. it isn’t easy. it’ll take time. the american people are not geniuses. they have trouble figuring out what’s good for them. and the first black president of a white country is not exactly in a position to promote as much change as we’d like. but by knocking liberals, the only people who’ve helped us make any progress in this troubled country, you’re leaving yourself open to much worse. i’m afraid you’ve gone off the deep end.

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By Leefeller, December 7, 2009 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment

Mary Ann McNeely,

May your be right, so I may be wrong, for I only see the changing of the chairs on the good ship Albatross!

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

Mr. Hedges, we can only choose from the options available to us.  You’re a socialist and voted for Nader?  Well, good luck with selling abolishment of private property as the cure-all and thank’s alot for Bush’s two terms.

Liberals are useless?  Please try to be a bit more patient with us.  Reminding the President of his campaign promises is neither cloy nor abject to those that prefer evolution to revolution.

Momentum is tangible and you might take some satisfaction in our small victories.  i.e. Obama, Pelosi, and a timeframe for ending two wars.  Even NAFTA might some day dovetail nicely with syndicalism. 
.

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By Mary Ann McNeely, December 7, 2009 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

Can anybody detect the slightest tremor among the people of this country to finally be rid of the Republicans and the Democrats?  When true change comes (if it comes) it will happen at the local level.  In some places it will succeed and be copied elsewhere - also locally. That’s probably the best that can be hoped for.

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By Peetawonkus, December 7, 2009 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

I agree with you, Felicity. It is the “shit-stirrers” who jump-start change. Tom Paine, H.B. Stowe—and the list goes on. But those people weren’t really “Liberals” by the standards of their day. They were Revolutionaries, and were seen (and reviled) as such. Thomas Paine was hated by the American ruling class as much as by the English…as someone who would give the Great Unwashed too many ideas about Freedom. In many ways America’s revolution was a Liberal Revolution: against the oppression of one ruling class by another. Having secured that, they made sure black people remained in chains and women couldn’t vote. This is always about taking power from those who have it and putting in the hands of those who don’t. The Liberal fantasy is that we never fought for any of our Rights. They’d have us think we got them by asking nicely for them.

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By Anarcissie, December 7, 2009 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

I think a successful third party (or should I say second?) is going to run into the same problem as the existing mainstream parties: it’s going to be corrupted by its relationship to power.  I think those of us who don’t like the way things are need to think about doing more fundamental things, even if they seem small.  The high rests on the low, the great is made up of the small, and the facts of our political problems emanate from the facts of daily life.  New monarchs may be nicer than the old monarchs, but they can’t save us from monarchy.

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By prole, December 7, 2009 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

“The qualities inherent in good soldiers or Marines, like the qualities I found among those boxers, are qualities I admire—self-sacrifice, courage, the ability to make decisions under stress, the capacity to endure physical discomfort, and a fierce loyalty to those around you, even if it puts you in greater danger”...and are the qualities inherent in heroic Hezbollah and Hamas and other unbowed resistance movements that are anathema to slobbering liberals. “If liberals had even a bit of their fortitude we could have avoided this mess. But they don’t. So here we are again, begging Obama to be Obama. He is Obama. Obama is not the problem. We are”…we have met the enemy and she is Us. The resistance movements know this, they aren’t waiting for American policies to self-correct, Obama is definitely a problem, but it didn’t start with him and it won’t end with him, so the resistance movements will always be necessary, whatever the vicissitudes of American electoral cycles. The American working class is a mixed bag; as noted, “They may not have been [be] liberal”… “but they were far more grounded”. Sometimes they support more ‘progressive’ policies, sometimes they do not – and much of the time they just don’t show up at all.  It’s very unlikely, but not impossible, that a mass movement for structural change will arise in American society anytime soon; for many of the reasons Hedges has alluded to in previous columns. If you take the Green Line E train down to Mission Hill these days, or the Orange Line to Roxbury Crossing, in the largely black Boston neighborhood you won’t see much political graffiti on the walls or grassroots activism in the streets. And if you take the #93 bus down Bunker Hill St. through the center of Charlestown, the formerly white working class neighborhood, it has become increasingly gentrified. Across the Charles River, Harvard Sq., once a locus of counterculture ferment has been turned into a mini-mall of fashion boutiques and chain-store retailers for affluent consumers. Obamaism is both cause and effect. Sadly, it’s about as far as America’s inherently conservative society is prepared to go in the way of practical change, i.e. not very far at all. There are seldom “little gatherings of progressive and liberal intellectuals at Harvard” or the vicinity anymore; it too, is an inherently conservative institution and bastion of the ruling elites, that brooded Obama. And Cambridge Common, where anti-war protests were almost a daily occurrence during the Vietnam era is mainly used for softball games and dog-walking now. If there’s an American ‘velvet revolution’ somewhere out there waiting to be born, it’s hard to see where it’s going to come from. So that leaves the indigenous resistance movements to chip away at the American imperium from without. They too, “know precisely what to do with people who abused them.”

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By chaztv, December 7, 2009 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

We can fight back.  Start here:
Use Cash. 
A simple plan to get change:  Deprive banking and other financial businesses of the income they gain from credit and debit card services, fees, penalties and interest.
By taking a simple action:  Use Cash instead of credit and debit cards.
You have been an advocate for the citizens of the United States of American to take action to support banking and finance reform.

Use Cash gives everyone a simple action of protest that can be repeated day and will register their desire for change directing with those in control of Big Banking.

Learn more at: http://www.UseCashMovement.org

We hope you can lend your support in whatever way possible.

Thank you,
Chaz Valenza

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By felicity, December 7, 2009 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

We really shouldn’t decry the roles played by the politician or the political writer as useless.  It took a long time, but it was the combined effort of a politician (Wilburforce if my memory serves me correctly) and a guy on the ‘street’ to finally end British slave-trading.

Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” did much to raise the shackles of the colonials, eventually leading to the American Revolution.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had a major influence in how people saw slavery, eventually leading to the Civil War.

In the end, it’s ‘street’ action that accomplishes change, but often in the beginning it’s the shit-stirrers who motivate them.

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

It’s the conservatives that turned liberal into a dirty word.  This liberal voted for Nader and marched in protests.  But I’m now too handicapped to march, so I write letters and emails and phone my reps.  They generally don’t listen and seem to be as fucked up as the average American for whom facts mean nothing.  I blame everybody.  But I agree that only bodies in the streets—and some investment banks going up in flames—will get them to pay attention.  And since I read both conservative and liberal sites, I have to tell you that there is a great deal of anger in the country.  I sincerely hope the anger explodes into another American revolution.

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

Anarcissie wrote:

“I think it might help if people would separate the notion of liberal from the idea of the Left.  The Left is a sensibility and a set of theories and practices that follow from that sensibility: a desire for peace, freedom and equality (really, all the same thing).”

YES!  That is absolutely correct.

After we helped Bill Clinton get elected and were soon betrayed by his “centrist” policies, why would we be surprised that Obama is taking a similar path?  We know Hillary and John Edwards would have done likewise.

It seems that both major political parties have lost the ability to make real positive change and both represent corporate interests (the military industrial complex) over peace, progress and prosperity for their constituents.

The Democrats and the Republicans are out of ideas and political debate is no longer about a vision for a better tomorrow.

Rather, it has devolved into a bitter, mindless contest between two out of touch political parties who—when in power—are barely distinguishable from one another.

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By scotttpot, December 7, 2009 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

Similar to the Mafia wife who would rather not know what her hubby has to do to
keep them living the high life , Americans prefer to live in an illusion of a
righteous and just America that serves as policeman and aid donor to the world.

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By RobertinWestbury, December 7, 2009 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

I too have been very dissappointed with Obama since he took office.  I never supported the bailouts.  But I felt he was better than McCaion, and as someone else so aptly decribed, ‘the crazy lady’ from Alaska. 

I’ve read that he was advised by the Clintons to modify his ‘leftest’ views so that he will appeal to moderates and independents, as Clinton claims he did. 

Maybe that’s the way to win elections.  Maybe our numbers aren’t great enough that they have to appeal to these fence sitters that decide elections and too easily buy into the propoganda of the right. 

In that case we do need a grass roots movement.  Until then it’s not going to change..

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By Mcoyote, December 7, 2009 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

Chris is wrong in his thesis, “The liberals are useless” when looked at from the dirty, blood soaked lens of the ruling class. The liberals are not only useful they are in fact the primary ideological support for the ruling class. The liberals serve, even more than the conservatives, to provide legitimacy to the overall structure of our grotesque social system.

The ruling class doesn’t fear any ideology, any alternative lifestyle choices, any theories. Elite clubs of intellectual snobs refining radical theories pose no threat to them, either. Intelligent people who have an inflated sense of their own self worth are very easy to buy off and neutralize.

Narcissistic Code Pink style antics and guerrilla theater are useful to the ruling class and are welcomed and encouraged by them. Speaking truth to power? You might as well throw marshmallows at a charging rhino. We need to speak truth about power to the powerless.

It is broad participation by the people in politics that the ruling class most fears and works hardest to prevent. That is why saying in essence to millions of people that “you aren’t smart enough (or pure enough in the case of the New Agers) to join our elite club” is the kiss of death for any serious political movement that claims to be in any sort of opposition to the ruling class.

This is a chronic problem and blocks or cripples any attempts at mobilizing the working people. I believe that a relatively small group of people control all discussion and all power on what passes for the Left in this country, and that they would sooner surrender anything else - including selling all of us down the river - before they would let go of their sense of exceptionalism, superiority and entitlement.

“Liberal” has come to mean “a superior sort of individual,” while “progressive” has come to mean “an individual traveling the path to enlightenment and transcending above their inferiors.” No matter how many radical theories or what ideology or superior personal spiritual beliefs you set out as window dressing, the cult of the enhanced and actualized individual will always be contradictory to and destructive of efforts to build the working class solidarity that is essential to any serious political change.

Why are there so many arguments, so much bitter antagonism, such paralysis and confusion on the much ballyhooed “Progressive-Liberal-Left”?

Because people fight for their positions as though their personal identity depended upon them, as though their existence depended upon their political position or theory. That is because their personal identity does depend upon their political positions. They are one and the same - “be the change you want to see.” The Modern Liberal actually means “seek the change that suits who you are as an actualized individual” since it never involves self-sacrifice or focus on the needs of others, but always on individual personal choices and self-expression. In fact, their political positions are not political positions at all, but narcissistic expressions of their personalities.

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By garth, December 7, 2009 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

The Internet has turned into the Enemy of the Left. Blogging, posting, and petitions have done nothing to change a violent, corrupt , immoral system.  It will take people in the streets protesting and striking to create change . Protests and
strikes of millions of people were accomplished with nothing but telephone land lines in the 60’s .Go to Washington January 23rd and show our leaders that you really care .Make a cardboard sign and go to protests,put a bumper sticker on your car,wear a political T- shirt, risk being a bad guest and talk about politics.
Kill your television and don’t think reading this is going to create change-the change comes from your behavior.

Jon said it.  See above.  I’m ready

As Ghandhi said: ” Go to America.  Take those jobs from the dreamy Americans.  It’ll be like taking candy from a baby.”
As Hu Jintao said, “Lend them money.  that’s all they respect.”
As Bin Laden said, “They try to wipe us out because of our religion.  But we know, there is more.  We will die for our cause.”

As Gates and Clinton said, “We’ve got to get the bad guys.”

Who would you follow?

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By Dar McWheeler, December 7, 2009 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

Liberals are fine; Democrats are useless.

As I see it, all politics moves to the right. Wittness the US shuffle.

Republicans have moved right, assuring their demise in terms of across-the-board acceptance.

Democrats are the new party of business, that the Repub’s used to be.

The Greens, ala Nadir et all, will fill the void on the left.

And life goes on.

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By scotttpot, December 7, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

The Internet has turned into the Enemy of the Left. Blogging, posting, and
petitions have done nothing to change a violent, corrupt , immoral system.  It will
take people in the streets protesting and striking to create change . Protests and
strikes of millions of people were accomplished with nothing but telephone land
lines in the 60’s .Go to Washington January 23rd and show our leaders that you
really care .Make a cardboard sign and go to protests,put a bumper sticker on
your car,wear a political T- shirt, risk being a bad guest and talk about politics.
Kill your television and don’t think reading this is going to create change-
the change comes from your behavior.

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By Peetawonkus, December 7, 2009 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

I’m going to have to go with rainbowlaw and Anarcissie here. This sense of betrayal and the anger from it that Hedges write about does result from confusing Liberals with the Left. The Left has always known that the Democratic Party will stab it in the back at the first opportunity—despite the fact that the Left gave the Democratic Party some of its best ideas.

I voted for Obama because, after 8 years and 2 stolen elections, I didn’t want to see the country fall into the hands of the duffer from Arizona and the crazy lady from Alaska. But with his vote on FISA I knew what Obama was about. It was a vote of expediency not one of starry eyed illusion.

Although Nader has all the charisma of an 8th Grade Math teacher, he’s a good person and an excellent writer. Nader makes a great lieutenant but a poor General. Despite that, a vote for Nader would be great but one reason why all that failed was because it was a top-down movement. There was no base to appeal to or support it. Hence so many bitter Naderites who can’t get out of blog land.

If we are to seriously talk about a Progressive Party, we need to build a movement from the bottom up, starting with school boards and dog catcher. That’s how the evangelical Right did it. It takes time and patience and the will to continue over decades despite setbacks and failures. Too many Liberals (and Lefties) think you can intellectualize social change into being. That’s only one front in this war. We need boots on the ground.

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By Jon, December 7, 2009 at 10:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I saw this in the 70’s, and I still see it. Visit some of the liberal and progressive blogs——nothing but energy absorbers (I blog therefore I’m doing something, and never have to actually DO something), and places for personal statements and ‘MY letter to Obama’ posts.  It’s like that famed relationship where ‘he (or she) isn’t that into you’ and you spend countless hours in your head, analyzing his/her’s latest action, or thing he/she said—looking for that glimmer that he/she loves you.  On and on it goes.

But there’s more.  A lot of the liberal class are safely ensconced in safe, very safe jobs, but to remain safe, they have to be careful not to take a stand or utter a comment, or go against whatever system they are hiding behind to remain safe, such as as university, or a medical practice, etc.  A few, sure, are so safe, they can say what they want, and some do.  But more are great at writing about what ‘those people should do,’ but never walking their talk or advice.  And this has been the case since the 70’s, and still is.  Robert Reich—-safely employed by UC Berkeley, or Paul Krugman at Princeton with the Nobel Prize—- and you can name hundreds more of these liberal bleacher seat advice givers, who never had any real world experience, so they can drop their little advice-grenades each week, but at the end of the day, they get into their new BMW’s with heated seats to drive to the posh part of town to go to sleep at night.  This is the liberal class in America. They like revolution and will direct it, as long as they personally are not having to walk with the crowds in the rain.

In the 70’s I noticed as Hedges mentions, the incredible ‘missions’ that the Catholic Church had in Latin America, while the towns where the church was located had similar if not worse squalor, but that was ok, since what mattered was to be ‘out of country,’ as if that was a credential worth getting as testimony to one’s sincerity.  Jesus only works out of country apparently, not domestically. 

These are but a small handful of memes that have infected America.  There are others too, and they all have made us very ill, unable to see the actual truth.

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By spike65, December 7, 2009 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

I wholeheartedly agree, but would also mention the utter bankruptcy of the AFL-CIO, which remains a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, with no breaking points there, either—not even the weird and insufficient and Orwellianly-named little EFCA bill.

I’m a lifelong unionist, but the movement’s leadership is as corrupt and braindead as any middle-class liberal you could care to name.

To me, this is the key.  If the AFL-CIO ever revolts, it will both scare the overclass and peel off some of these pathetic post-liberals and remind them of that modern political liberalism is supposed to be a compromise, not a concession.  It might even make some of them see the flaws of compromising with evil.

We need a social movement.  Isn’t that the lesson of history?  Abolition, suffrage, civil rights…and now survival/democratic socialism…It never has and never will come from office-holders.

Thanks,
Michael Dawson
http://www.consumertrap.com

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By Iansf, December 7, 2009 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

Hedges writes: “Anyone who says he or she cares about the working class in this country should have walked out on the Democratic Party in 1994 with the passage of NAFTA.”

Does that include the members of the working class who remain in the Democratic Party, or worse, the Republican Party? Because many do, you know. Why do writers like Hedges not allow working class people to speak for themselves? If liberals are cowards, as Hedges claims, then people like Hedges are patronizing and arrogant.

As for the brave Marines and boxers he so admires, I wonder how willing he would be to get behind their political views. I suspect that very few of them would ever consider voting for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney - and that many are ardent supporters of Sarah Palin.

I grew up in a proudly liberal “working class” family, and I have little patience with lectures from people who claim to be looking out for the working class. I’m very angry with the Democrats for caving in to corporations, but people like Hedges make me even angrier.

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By garth, December 7, 2009 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

I appreciate Chris Hedges’s articles.  But here I have to differ. I think I’ll go back and finishe the article later.

Liberals are good for kissing ass.  Steny Hoyer and Tom DeLay debate on C-SPAN shows this.

Liberals are good for trying to hide under the group name that they are supposed to represent.

It’s your friends who’ll screw you.  You know what to expect from your enemies.

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By G.Anderson, December 7, 2009 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

The arguments are all true, so what. Yes liberals are screwed up, self indulgent, politically myopic, and weak.

But generalizations like this, could fit almost any segment of the American population. So, go ahead and and vent, pound the walls, cry into you pillow if you want to, but don’t give up.

Don’t convince people that they have no hope, because when TSHTF, it might be useful to take what your feeling and turn it into a political movement.

Political betrayls have a way of doing that. When people lose everything, they lose it. At firt their anger will be some what random, but that will change.

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By LostHills, December 7, 2009 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Liberals are useless if they keep voting for Democrats. We need a National
Progressive Party, and we need it now.

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By joel, December 7, 2009 at 9:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hear Him! Hear Him!!!

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By felicity, December 7, 2009 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

Like ardee, my question after reading the article was “...why is this so.” 

Then montanawildhack’s “...me, I’m a coward by nature…”

Then jerrycoleman’s we’ve become a fearful nation.

And that’s a wrap. The question remains, however, what’s the source of the fear.  Standing on curbs and corners holding protest signs or marching down LA’s main thoroughfares with signs in hand, which we did for years, is hardly hazardous to one’s health. Yet there seems to be a notion that street action - the only kind that seems to shake up the power establishment - is dangerous.

Poppycock.  If you can stand getting an occasional ‘finger’ or a shout of ‘go-back-to-russia,’ or ‘dirty commie,’ or ‘get-a-job,’ you can survive the street in tact.  And that’s where the action is, where it’s always been, where ‘change’ starts.  So get with it.

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By Mcoyote, December 7, 2009 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

The consensus from which liberals and Democrats operate:

“They” are the better people. “They” are smarter, “they” are humane, “they” are more compassionate, “they” are better informed. “they” are better citizens, “they” are more cooperative and realistic. “they” are winners- not losers, and “they” deserve everything “They” get. ‘They” are spiritually superior. “They are centered and balanced, calm and insightful. “They” are on the right side of history. “They” are building a better world.

The general public does not realize that “they” are the better people, and the ones who should be making the decisions. Of course the only logical reason for this public oversight is because- “Republicans are able to take advantage of the people’s stupidity and ignorance and turn them against us.”

As Liberals “they” understand that most of the problems in the world are the result of stupid people running things. If “We the smart people” were in charge, all of the problems could be solved with science and technology and rational social planning.

Class analysis, and the struggles of working class people against tyranny have no place in modern society. They are obsolete and passé, and only something that we read about or see in movies. Romantic as those stories are, they are no substitute for hardheaded practical reality, whether we like it or not. This is a matter of being a mentally healthy, modern, well-adjusted adult in society. None of the lessons from history apply, because things are different now. Only strange maladjusted people are attracted to obsolete political ideas. They are all obviously losers, and are a great danger, almost as much of a danger as the Republicans are.

Since politics and economics in the traditional sense are dead, liberals embrace a new paradigm of self improvement and self-actualization. Anything that interferes with their focus on themselves and their pursuit of creating themselves as an actualized being is to be rejected. The way to achieve the perfect society in the liberal mind is first to create a perfect self. Meanwhile, so long as the authorities do not interfere with their self-actualization, then we must comply in all ways with that authority. This allows the liberal perfect self-expression within perfect social conformity. Anyone who attacks their personal choices is the enemy, and anyone who attacks the social system based on personal choice is also the enemy.

As fully-realized liberal-progressives “they” understand that “their” enlightened self-interest is the ultimate engine of social progress.

Others, however, who do not share our values are not to be given personal choice, when and as the liberal can prove that their personal choices are wrong, often with righteous claims that their choice impacts us somehow. Liberals support the police state and massive incarceration of people, so long as they are being harassed and imprisoned for the right reasons. Any variance from the liberals idea as to how people should be is quite naturally the right reason, by definition.

Liberals believe that we must “be the change we wish to see,” and the change they wish to see is more people like them: polite, talented, beautiful, intelligent, calm, successful, clever, enlightened.

So liberals merely need to be themselves, focus on themselves, and serve themselves. Those who cannot or will not become like them need to back down and get out of the way.

Liberals fully support aristocracy, capitalism, corporate domination, and consumerism, provided that they support the liberals self-actualization and afford them the personal lifestyle choices they prefer.

“The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative.”

- Malcolm X

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By Anarcissie, December 7, 2009 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

I’ll oblige elisalouise and complain briefly that, once again, Hedges is waxing hysterical about the obvious.  However, there is something more important here.  I think rainbowlaw is showing you the way out, the way forward.  I guess it was inspired by Hedges’s article, so I have to give him a pass this time.

I think it might help if people would separate the notion of liberal from the idea of the Left.  The Left is a sensibility and a set of theories and practices that follow from that sensibility: a desire for peace, freedom and equality (really, all the same thing).  Liberalism is the political system of capitalism, which, unlike more purely authoritarian ideologies, will sell you as much peace, freedom and equality as you like as long as you don’t interfere with the privileges and powers of its ruling class.  Thus it will appear to be leftist when expedient, or something else otherwise.

There is not much use ranting about liberals, just as there is not much use ranting about capitalism.  Try to change your life and the lives of those around you in immediate, concrete ways, like rainbowlaw.  Monarchs, leaders and bureaucrats are not going to do this for you.  They have other concerns.

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By Anarcissie, December 7, 2009 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

I’ll oblige elisalouise and complain briefly that, once again, Hedges is waxing hysterical about the obvious.  However, there is something more important here.  I think rainbowlaw is showing you the way out, the way forward.  I guess it was inspired by Hedges’s article, so I have to give him a pass this time.

I think it might help if people would separate the notion of liberal from the idea of the Left.  The Left is a sensibility and a set of theories and practices that follow from that sensibility: a desire for peace, freedom and equality (really, all the same thing).  Liberalism is the political system of capitalism, which, unlike more purely authoritarian ideologies, will sell you as much peace, freedom and equality as you like as long as it doesn’t interfere with the privileges and powers of its ruling class.  Thus it will appear to be leftist when expedient, or something else otherwise.

There is not much use ranting about liberals, just as there is not much use ranting about capitalism.  Try to change your life and the lives of those around you in immediate, concrete ways, like rainbowlaw.  Monarchs, leaders and bureaucrats are not going to do this for you.  They have other concerns.

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By zeroinfinity, December 7, 2009 at 8:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is one of the best articles I have read on truthdig in a long time.  Thank you very much for writing this article, Mr. Hedges.

I believe the misuse of semantics and the absence of context in most debates is one major problem of our modern society in the USA.  For example, what you mentioned about President Obama regarding public perception of him being a liberal.  Personally, I have to clarify and give context to what I mean by “liberal” or by “progressive” or by “left-wing” whenever I discuss political topics with…people who I feel comfortable hehehehehehe as all three terms in quotes truly are ambiguous and HEAVILY depends on the context. 

As of today, in my opinion, President Obama seems liberal in regards to economics, but not progressive or left wing politically.  If this was the contrary, he would have divied-up the bailout money equally to every man woman and child USA citizen for THEM to invest in however way one sees fit - not for fiancially rewarding mulit-millionaires for acting like Wall Street is Las Vegas Blvd.  It annoys me so much when President Obama is labeled a socialist in most media.  He is not, repeat not, a socialist.  A reverse socialist maybe…

Progressive, I believe, is perhaps the most vague term of the three.  “Progressive” can mean many things.  A society can “progress” from/to monarchy, dictatorship anarchy democracy tribalism etc..  This depends both on how the society overall feels and accepts the transition to whatever social change occurs and its interpretation of those in power. 

Anyway, what bugs me about the USA society the most, really, over anything else, is the idea that somehow individualism is a virtue and ANY policy enacted that really could be for the benefit of society in positive ways is either disregarded or abolished by the government citing USA Constitution reasons.  That…pisses me off!  Big time.  Perhaps the USA Constitution needs changing.  After all, it is the oldest continuing Constitution in the world (I read that in the Guiness Book of World Records) and it is antiquated for the modern age in many ways.

What would make the USA society revolt, Mr. Hedges?  I have a couple of scenarios:  1) If food winds up being too expensive for the majority of citizens to buy it (it is at the precipice right now for most USA citizens). 
2)  If the USA government keeps going down the road regarding its failure to maintain its electrical power grids (The power grids in the USA have, check this out, been in need of repair and upkeep since the 1950s).  Perhaps you can think of other scenarios that could cause a society to revolt against the government but uhhhh… our society seems to be too busy watching propaganda and eating scientifically unhealthy foods.

I will close with saying that the USA has not had any leftist ideas proposed as solutions to its social ills (the ills, unfortunately, has since become tradition) in a very long time.  In my opinion, Democrats are moderate centrists and Republicans are basically conservative right.  Yet, BOTH serve as the bearers of corporate dominance over the majority of the society, at society’s expense, while using propaganda to make the society believe this is ok.  All this is tragic to USA society as a whole.  There has not been any real left governance inside the USA for several generations.  I agree with you that no “liberal” wants to speak up about this, Mr. Hedges After all, No USA citizen would really want to be called a “pinko commie”. Yet, I really believe it is coming to the point where people are going to be so desperate for our government to implement a different set of circumstances for our society that they are willing to risk their own lives for that.  Rest assured, that time will come if the path the USA government and its citizens (each plays its part, but for different reasons, and ALL reach the same inevitable results for all concerned) keep choosing to take is still being followed indefinitely.

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By Thomthum, December 7, 2009 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

OK OK I Agree like everyone else who posted above me..

NOW WHAT?...Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Anyone?

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By Jim Yell, December 7, 2009 at 8:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have suggested that we should ammend the process of voting to give force to opposition voting. As the system works voting for a 3rd Party Candidate is like buying a lottery ticket, not likely to help anyone.

If the election process counted the proportion of voting for a candidate to the other candidates and said quite simply that if no one candidate could get at lest 40% of the vote, to have a majority than they should have to run the election again and the candidates would have to go back and get annointed as candidates again. As this would make the total votes for 3rd party candidates important enough to stop the process, it might give the voter a true value for their vote.

Right now if you had a mess of right, left and center 3rd parties that could divide the votes so that no one had anything approaching a true majority of opinion, the election would go to the simple majority that might be the most distructive to the country, as in fact happened in recent memory.

I had a mild amount of optimism for President Obama, which began to devolve into unease as we got closer to the election and now I wish I had written in the candidate that I had really thought was the most honest and progressive, Kucinich. It is clear by now that it wouldn’t have made any difference, except I wouldn’t now have to feel totally ignored by my candidate.

Sort of in the same conclusion as this article, but I feel little in the article addressed the fact that the flaw is substantially in the all or none manner in which we vote. And, Also I should like to add that considering the dynamic of our voting system trying to figure out who is lest likely to commit crimes against humanity and the American People is a question that begs to be addressed.

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By Peetawonkus, December 7, 2009 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

Hedges nailed it. Liberals can’t get out of their own way. It would be nice if Democrats in the House and Senate had the courage of their constituent’s convictions. A majority in the House and Senate and a Democrat in the White House and they still can’t get anything decent done. Incompetence married to lack of vision. What a hopeless clusterf**k.

At this point, the Democratic Party is basically the “nicer” corporate party.

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By TongoRad, December 7, 2009 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Yeah, but let’s not romanticize the working class and idealize some BS projection of working class authenticity as an antidote to liberal obtuseness.
Working class stiffs can be just as f-ed up as anyone else, it’s not as if they have some existential pipeline to the godhead.

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By elisalouisa, December 7, 2009 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

I shall comment before the usual posts come on that in essence describe Mr.
Hedges’ columns as an orgy of “ranting and raving.”  Also before the posts that
classify people who care and take action as “fanatic” and mentally not as stable as those who sit back and are content. Excuse me but I am not content and I also
cannot understand why there has not been outrage at NAFTA, Wall Street
criminals being given millions of dollars in bonuses, our treasury giving away
taxpayer money to criminals and thus license to commit more crime, not to
mention perpetual war killing, maiming and mentally destroying our youth and
thus our nation. Those who control our elected officials do not care about this
country, is that not evident after all that has taken place? Our college
students should be incensed and demonstrating. Where is the spirit that gives life
to such movements?
It is not God that is dead, it is we who are dead.

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By omygodnotagain, December 7, 2009 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

Chris
What these liberals forget is when the right or left totalitarians take over they will be the first to go. It happened in the Soviet Union, it happen Germany. Read into the Congressional Minutes is this famous quote
First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist
Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up I wasn’t a trade unionist
then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up I wasn’t a Jew
then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up I was a Protestant
then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up

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

in europe and Greece they are not afraid to demonstrate in the streets.

why is it that in america there are no street demonstrations?

why are americans so submissive?

seriously.

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By amy, December 7, 2009 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

I wish Hedges and Nader would point out the role that our voting system plays in
the refusal of liberals to leave the Democratic Party.  If people could vote 3rd
party without fear of spoiling,  I think they would in droves.

That said, I do vote 3rd party under the current system and I agree that more
people should.

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By rainbowlaw, December 7, 2009 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

We could not agree more with Mr. Hedges. 

We are out lesbians, trying to do our bit to make a difference in our own small community.  As it turns out, we have learned this is the only way we can have a definitive impact.

Right now we are building a house from recycled materials and trying to create a self-sustaining life here in rural (right-wing) WV. 

When we first became activists for LGBT civil rights (at over 50 years of age we rode bicycles coast-to-coast—twice—to advocate for marriage equality), we naively expected HRC and other National Gay Rights organizations to get involved in organizing events where we rode… instead, we were largely ignored by these “leaders”... or worse. 

Even organizations that started out with the intention of making positive social change for the benefit of poor and/or oppressed minorities—once they became “National Organizations”, they got all caught up in maintaining or getting access to power.

When that happened, they sold their souls—if they ever had one—and became part of the problem.

It may seem sad but living in reality is much healthier than fooling ourselves into believing some benevolent and powerful leader will do what is right and make it all better for the rest of us.

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By Howie Bledsoe, December 7, 2009 at 6:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can rightly say that I know what a liberal is anymore, unless you´re talking about smug, well educated 30 somethings with cushy jobs who have Obama magnets on their SUVs.  Yeah, why should THEY give a damn? Why on earth would we wait for these people to incite revolution? It aint gonna happen until that SUV is repossesed, and that´ll take a while still.  Forget these jokers and concentrate on the people that can make a difference, like student aged kids who cant afford tuition and cant find work.  Like struggling families with foreclosed property and huge debt, or like retired lawyers who cannot believe how far their once great country has sunken.  These are the people we need to focus on, not the self obsessed snobs with comfy jobs.

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By Ouroborus, December 7, 2009 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

Amon Drool, December 7 at 9:45 am #

Well, somebody’s got to do it.

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By thecrow, December 7, 2009 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

“He is Obama.”

Yes, Mr. Hedges. And any “liberals” paying attention in 2008 knew the fix was in.

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2008/10/21/coke-or-pepsi/

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/meet-the-new-boss/

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/the-ones-who-attacked-us/

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By Bronwen Rowlands, December 7, 2009 at 6:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yup.  Good one, Chris.

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By Clayton Buch, December 7, 2009 at 6:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges hits the bullseye again.  Chris Hedges for President… or ... for Chomsky.

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By jerrycoleman, December 7, 2009 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

I think that the nation has become a nation that is afraid. I think that our people, our neighbors, and our friends, have become fearful. We have been lulled to sleep over the past few decades and now that we need to wake we are afraid of what we have to awake too.

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By talullah, December 7, 2009 at 5:58 am Link to this comment

Why does any journalist believe that *his* passionate whining will result in something more or better than the usual Hallelujah chorus? 

Maybe Hedges would do well to pack up Todo and to return home for while, perhaps to examine or re-examine some of the readers’ letters that such put-upon entities as The Nation (Hedges describes it as experiencing a “dilemma”) aren’t printing, don’t find fit to print.

I read The Nation. I find it difficult to believe that such pieces as the one by Jeremy Scahill, on the subject of Blackwater and graymailing (“graymailing” being a weasel word for blackmailing), can appear on December 4th and, on the morning of December 7, still have inspired no responses.

I mean, for a political writer, how many types of sources can there be?  I count three: the politician, the writer and the reader.

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By Bubba, December 7, 2009 at 5:56 am Link to this comment

ardee: “I find nothing in this article with which I am in disagreement, ....  The question that remains unasked in this article is why this is so?” 

Motivation of the altruistic variety is inadequate.  Far too few of us, liberals or otherwise, care enough about the conditions of our fellows to really want to do anything to change those conditions — if it requires doing something significantly more, something significantly other, than we’re already doing. 

Motivation of the self-interested variety is also inadequate.  The vast majority of us are still far too satisfied and comfortable, or not nearly dissatisfied and uncomfortable, with our lives to really want to do anything to significantly change them. 

Before we get off our asses, for the sake of others and ourselves, we will require, indeed we will demand, more suffering; probably much more suffering; and especially our own. 

Not to worry: it’ll all work out in the end.

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By Amon Drool, December 7, 2009 at 5:45 am Link to this comment

i’ve taken shots at hedges in the past for being too much of a scold; but, godamn, sometimes those of us on the ‘progressive’ side of things need a scolding

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By Kiki, December 7, 2009 at 5:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ardee -

Agreed.

Another question left unanswered is what to do besides complain.  Voting for Ralph Nader solves not one single problem unless self-validation is a problem requiring a solution.

So I’m left to wonder whether there is any more point to this article than there is to liberals writing huffy letters to the White House…

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By Guy Montag, December 7, 2009 at 5:40 am Link to this comment

“War is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics and of troops by politicians.” 
              —Chris Hendges

Three years ago Kevin Tillman published his eloquent letter, “After Pat’s Birthday,” on truthdig.com:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20091106_happy_birthday_pat_tillman/

Kevin wrote, “Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country. ... Somehow this is tolerated.  Somehow nobody is accountable for this.”

Kevin hoped a Democratic Congress would bring accountability.  But, just as with warrantless wiretapping and torture, those responsible for the cover-up of his brother’s fratricide have not been held accountable by the Democratic Congress. 

In his book, “Where Men Win Glory,” Jon Krakauer blamed the Bush administration.  However, the cover-up has been a thoroughly bipartisan affair.  The Democratic Congress and the Obama Presidency have protected General McChrystal from punishment for his central role in orchestrating the cover-up.

[see http://www.feralfirefighter.blogspot.com for supporting documents]

Sometime after his April 2007 hearing, Congressman Waxman got the word the “fix” was in, to lay off McChrystal.  Shortly before the August 2007 Tillman hearing, McChrystal was dropped from the list of witnesses and never interviewed despite his central role in the cover-up. 

Senator James Webb conducted a secret “review” of McChrystal’s role.  On May 15th 2008, the Senate Armed Services Committee (headed by Levin and McCain) held a secret “executive session” where McChrystal testified behind closed doors about his actions “in detail.” Shortly afterwards, the Senate promoted him to Director of the Joint Staff. 

On May 12th 2009, despite McChrystal’s central role, President Obama handpicked McChrystal to be his new commander of the Afghan War and for promotion to the Army’s highest rank.  Ironically, on the following day Obama gave the commencement address at Arizona State University inside Sun Devil Stadium without once mentioning Pat Tillman! [Note:  see Bob Young’s “Obama’s Big-Time Fumble” (Arizona Republic 5-17-09].

After a pro forma June 2nd hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate (begged by Senator Reid) confirmed McChrystal’s promotion on June 10th.

It’s not surprising that after the initial fratricide cover-up fell apart, Army officers and the Bush administration lied to protect their careers.  Reprehensible, but understandable.  But the Democratic Congress, after they took control of both Houses in 2006, could have gone after those responsible.  Or at least not promoted them!  Their hands are dirty as well with the betrayal of Pat Tillman.

The media’s been complicit as well.  The New York Time’s Thom Shanker wrote a May 26th piece “clearing” McChrystal of all wrong-doing shortly before McChrystal’s confirmation hearing.  Thom’s enjoyed favorable access to McChrystal since then (so much for the NYT’s coverage “without fear or favor’!)

And Andrew Exum’s review of Krakauer’s book for the Washington Post covered for McChrystal as well.  Yet, Andrew never mentioned his extensive personal and professional conflicts of interests: he is a “fan” of McChrystal, worked with him closely during the past summer Afghan War assessement, and he works for Nate Fick’s [“Generation Kill” LT] Center for a New American Security (CNAS)that meets with McChrystal weekly and is leading the push for the Afghan surge.
 
Five years ago, Pat Tillman’s family were handed a tarnished Silver Star.  It was a travesty of justice that McChrystal was promoted to the Army’s highest rank, and handed his fourth star.

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By JEff D, December 7, 2009 at 5:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bravo.  Been saying this for years and I seem to alienated/disowned every ‘liberal/progressive’ I’ve known precisely because of Hedge’s observations. I have come to despise these self-absorbed, self-righteous, and pathologically greedy and deluded people.  Their main objective is their comfort; material and psychological and they will never, ever, ever allow that to be undermined or threaten by the likes of working class/poor scum. Afterall, we don;t have an education so we can not possible know how to use our brain;s correctly.  They take their orders from those whom they serve; corporate, governmental and institutional power and their main objective is making sure their social status and material position is defended against any claims from below. They are the real enemy, the real traitor and should be the first target to be attacked.

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By Antinazionista, December 7, 2009 at 4:46 am Link to this comment

WTG Chris! Damn right, I cannot understand people who
do not have a fire burning inside them when they see
injustice. The mistake liberals make is that the
enemy thinks like them - they do not. The enemy will
take everything they have, and then spit on their
grave. I believe in 2 eyes for an eye. If Goldman
Sachs rapes the tax-payer, then the tax-payer should
castrate Goldman Sachs, and hang a sign round it’s
corporate neck informing of the crime. The enemy will
not stop until it suffers, liberals need to get that
message and get it quick. And, make no mistake - the
corporate elite are the enemy of American
meritocratic democracy.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, December 7, 2009 at 4:43 am Link to this comment

In this Chris Hedges self-revelatory piece he points to something Joe Bageant has discovered: liberals lack true empathy. The espouse causes alright, but when it comes to understanding the true plight of their fellow Americans, those who are a part of the real world, basically they are without a clue.
Since beer IS my business, I can give you a good example. I recently received an e-mail from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas where they are celebrating their 100th year of operation. The brewmaster said on the e-mail that if anybody cared to send congratulations, he would post them “IN THE BREAK ROOM” at the brewery,
As someone who has worked in dozens of factory jobs, I knew exactly what “break room” means. Like the late Studs Terkel pointed out “nobody wants to be working class anymore”. Instead the so-called educated liberal class derides all those working people, for the food they eat, the beer they drink, and the cars they drive.You see so many Americans are really ‘disposable citizens’ for the vicious tricks and manipulations from Sarah Palin, or for that matter Barack Obama, who use their selected platforms to convince the “rubes”, to give them their money, or worse, to sacrifice their children’s lives.
Go to a site like Alternet, where there are nearly always articles complaining about rube behavior in all of its various forms: whether its their music or their tail gate grills. A diatribe delivered with a sacrosanct smugness of educated superiority. My God dear reader, liberals are so full of it they can not even smell themselves. Witness Michael Moore’s pathetic plea for Obama to be the Obama he has created in his delusional brain… I guess that is a message of importance, you think? From one millionaire to another.
I will never forget the image of John Kerry, while running for President, decided to show people he was just one of the folks, by going duck hunting in Ohio. The wind surfing husband of the Heinz inheritance looked like a plus-six foot version of the cartoon character Elmer J. Fudd (Millionaire “I own a mansion and a yacht”) wanting to know whether it was wabbitt season or duck season.
The other think I noticed about the liberal class over the years, they are humorless. Even celebrating a holiday tradition becomes a political agenda. The hypocrisy of their cultural mores is seldom question. It has been said that Barrack is “cool with his Apple” and many of his devotees put his message on their cell phones. Amazingly, the very same people who complain about Walmart, see no problem with Apple or Verizon or Microsoft technologies helping to manage their ever-so-busy lives. Even at Democracy Now! there is a request to donate Mac laptops… all I can say to that: what in the ubuntu are you doing?

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By CantarellisDead, December 7, 2009 at 4:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh, it will get worse. The problems are ecological in nature. A zero-sum game for the remaining energy resources of the planet.

We will all become even less and less “liberal.”

As world oil production declines, world exports decline even faster, putting the kibosh on growth.

Suddenly we’re all at each others’ throats.

Read Dmitry Orlov for how to ignore politicians and rescue your own *ss.

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By montanawildhack, December 7, 2009 at 4:17 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges,,,

Absolutely, Positively Right ON!!!!!

There’s passion and anger in your column and that’s what we need right now to prepare for the Revolution!!

As my favorite Terrorist Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty has to be nourished from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”

And as Ghandi said to his followers, “I can promise you nothing but prison and death.”

Me, I’m a coward by nature and I drink too much and I’m a little soft around the middle and I have a real aversion to prison and death but I promise to be the best Goddamn cheerleader Ever yelling from the safety of the sidelines…. 

Now let’s go get ‘em!!!!!!!

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By ardee, December 7, 2009 at 3:55 am Link to this comment

I find nothing in this article with which I am in disagreement, the Left in this nation is certainly as Mr.Hedges portrays them to be,apparenlty cowardly, ineffective, dejected and even defeated. Further, and perhaps most importantly, his noting of the way Leftists refuse the natural, no, necessary linkage to the working class makes any hope for change rather remote.

The question that remains unasked in this article is why this is so?

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By ThomasG, December 7, 2009 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

Liberals that aren’t liberal are useless.

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By Baronscarpia, December 7, 2009 at 3:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges -

Saying you’ve “done something” by voting for Ralph Nader is like saying you’ve “done something” by not voting.  The net effect is the precisely.  You’ve salved your conscience and given yourself high moral ground for writing trivial, useless columns like this one, but you’ve had no more actual effect on politics, law-making and policy-making than the liberals you chastise.

Please…save your “shame” for your quadrennial electoral masturbation.

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By Ouroborus, December 7, 2009 at 3:33 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges says;
“I save my anger for our bankrupt liberal
intelligentsia of which, sadly, I guess I am a
member. Liberals are the defeated, self-absorbed
Mouse Man in Dostoevsky’s “Notes From Underground.”
They embrace cynicism, a cloak for their cowardice
and impotence. They, like Dostoevsky’s depraved
character, have come to believe that the “conscious
inertia” of the underground surpasses all other forms
of existence. They too use inaction and empty moral
posturing, not to affect change but to engage in an
orgy of self-adulation and self-pity. They too refuse
to act or engage with anyone not cowering in the
underground. This choice does not satisfy the Mouse
Man, as it does not satisfy our liberal class, but
neither has the strength to change. The gravest
danger we face as a nation is not from the far right,
although it may well inherit power, but from a
bankrupt liberal class that has lost the will to
fight and the moral courage to stand up for what it
espouses.”

And;

“The qualities inherent in good soldiers or Marines,
like the qualities I found among those boxers, are
qualities I admire—self-sacrifice, courage, the
ability to make decisions under stress, the capacity
to endure physical discomfort, and a fierce loyalty
to those around you, even if it puts you in greater
danger. If liberals had even a bit of their fortitude
we could have avoided this mess. But they don’t. So
here we are again, begging Obama to be Obama. He is
Obama. Obama is not the problem. We are.”
=============================================
I’ve been seeing and saying it for yeas as well; but
as someone who often interrupted school for logging,
fishing the north Pacific, and working in factories;
who’s going to listen to me.
The more I read Hedges the more I like and respect
him; his words ring true, thanks Chris.
==============================================
C. Curtis Dillon;
Once again your post resonates with me.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, December 7, 2009 at 3:12 am Link to this comment

Cris asks the same question I’ve been asking this last year: were is the anger?  The liberal agenda is being trampled by this administration and no one is doing anything.  I say something bad about Obama and I get jammed for not giving him more time to push his agenda.  One guy went so far as to list (in 2 separate posts) all the wonderful things Obama has done for us.  Most of them were by executive order or token swipes at the real problem.  Give the LGBT community a crumb but don’t use the old executive order to stop “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.  Sign an order closing Gitmo but keep those secret prisons in Iraq and AfPak running full tilt.  And don’t, for fear of the terrorists, don’t throw away the Patriot Act (what a horrendous name for this theft of our fundamental rights).  And then pay lip service to fixing health care but cut secret deals with all the crooks so their cash flow isn’t damaged.

But, as Hedges points out, most liberals only want the credentials but not the hard work that goes with them.  They don’t go to the “dangerous” parts of town because they might get hurt.  They are the most hypocritical of all ... worse than right wingers in that they have no real substance.

What a sad state of affairs we have come to.  I’m ashamed.

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By miller, December 7, 2009 at 2:39 am Link to this comment

Well-said.

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By writerman, December 7, 2009 at 1:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When talking about poitics Jerry Garcia once remarked that, voting for the lesser of two evils, was still voting for evil. Now, is this cynicism or a realistic apprasal of the nature of the ‘twin party’ system in the United States?

Compared to most other ‘western’ nations isn’t it strange, or at the very least, curious, that the United States has been ruled by just two political parties - or factions, who swap political power, for centuries? The two party system has a monopoly on power and has never been seriously challenged. How healthy is that in a democracy?

Of course the political system is ‘rigged’ in favour of conservative values and stability, which was the reason for, and the ‘deification’, of the Constitution. There’s an ‘inbuilt’ bias towards conservatism and elite rule, that is virtually impossible to overturn.

Obama is an attractive ‘fugurehead’ on the ship of state, one should understand that we are talking about the corporate state here. In America it has evolved into powerful new form of global empire, the like of which the world has never seen before. Never has one state straddled the globe like the American Empire. It is an empire where business/state/military/media have merged into a dominant whole. Political power, like economic power, have arguably never been so concentrated before, and the interests of the people so ‘uninteresting’.

As much of what passes for ‘economics’ today, when one strips away the jargon, reminds one of the dogmas of the eighteenth century; it isn’t surprising that the ‘social conciousness’ of the eighteenth century has also blossomed, and returned with a vengence, during the last thirty years.

What have the last thiry years really been? A cultural revolution, only in reverse. A determined and concious effort to push back the tide of social reform that we’ll characterise as ‘the 60’s’. That shift, scared the hell out of the ruling elite, and not just in the United States. Consumerism was fine, but the growth of political radicalism, was something else entirely, because that could eventually lead to demands for economic, structural reform; a redistribution of power and weatlh in society, and that thought is forbidden.

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