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Where Liberals Go to Feel Good

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Posted on Jan 24, 2011
AP / Jae C. Hong

By Chris Hedges

Barack Obama is another stock character in the cyclical political theater embraced by the liberal class. Act I is the burst of enthusiasm for a Democratic candidate who, through clever branding and public relations, appears finally to stand up for the interests of citizens rather than corporations. Act II is the flurry of euphoria and excitement. Act III begins with befuddled confusion and gnawing disappointment, humiliating appeals to the elected official to correct “mistakes,” and pleading with the officeholder to return to his or her true self. Act IV is the thunder and lightning scene. Liberals strut across the stage in faux moral outrage, delivering empty threats of vengeance. And then there is Act V. This act is the most pathetic. It is as much farce as tragedy. Liberals—frightened back into submission by the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party or the call to be practical—begin the drama all over again. 

We are now in Act IV, the one where the liberal class postures like the cowardly policemen in “The Pirates of Penzance.” Liberals promise battle. They talk of glory and honor. They vow not to abandon their core liberal values. They rouse themselves, like the terrified policemen who have no intention of fighting the pirates, with the bugle call of “Tarantara!” This scene is the most painful to watch. It is a window into how hollow, vacuous and powerless liberals and liberal institutions including labor, the liberal church, the press, the arts, universities and the Democratic Party have become. They fight for nothing. They stand for nothing. And at a moment when we desperately need citizens and institutions willing to stand up against corporate forces for the core liberal values, values that make a democracy possible, we get the ridiculous chatter and noise of the liberal class.

The moral outrage of the liberal class, a specialty of MSNBC, groups such as Progressives for Obama and MoveOn.org, is built around the absurd language of personal narrative—as if Barack Obama ever wanted to or could defy the interests of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase or General Electric. The liberal class refuses to directly confront the dead hand of corporate power that is rapidly transforming America into a brutal feudal state. To name this power, to admit that it has a death grip on our political process, our systems of information, our artistic and religious expression, our education, and has successfully emasculated popular movements, including labor, is to admit that the only weapons we have left are acts of civil disobedience. And civil disobedience is difficult, uncomfortable and lonely. It requires us to step outside the formal systems of power and trust in acts that are marginal, often unrecognized and have no hope of immediate success.

The liberal class’ solution to the bleak political landscape is the conference. This, along with letters and cries of outrage circulated on the Internet, is its preferred form of expression. Conferences, whether organized by Left Forum, Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Tikkun or figures such as Ted Glick—who is touting a plan to lure progressives, including members of the Democratic Party, into something he calls a “third force”—are where liberals go to feel good about themselves again. These conferences are not fundamentally about change. They are designed to elevate self-appointed liberal apologists who seek to become advisers and courtiers within the Democratic Party. The conferences produce resolutions no one reads. They build networks no one uses. But with each conference liberals get to do what they do best—applaud their own moral probity. They make passionate appeals to work within systems, such as electoral politics, that have been gamed by the corporate state. And the result is to spur well-meaning people toward useless and ultimately self-defeating activity.

“What we need is an alliance which consciously incorporates elected Democrats as well as elected Greens and independents, as well as groups, or individual leaders and members of groups, like Progressive Democrats of America and the Green Party,” Glick proposes. “More than that, this alliance eventually needs to support and work to elect candidates running both as Democrats and progressive independents, and maybe even an occasional Republican.”

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The Tikkun Conference held in Washington last June was another pathetic display of liberal apologists begging Obama to be Obama. The organizers called on those participating to “Support Obama to BE the Obama We Voted For—Not the Inside-the-Beltway Pragmatist/Realist whose compromises have led to a decrease in his popularity and opened the door for a revival of the just-recently-discredited Right wing.”

Good luck.

The organizers of the Left Forum conference scheduled for this March at Pace University in New York City also communicate in the amorphous, high-blown moral rhetoric that is unmoored from the actual and real. The upcoming Left Forum conference, which has the vacuous title “Towards a Politics of Solidarity,” promises to “focus on the age-old theme of solidarity: the moral act of imagination underpinning working-class victories everywhere. It will undertake to examine the new forms of far-reaching solidarity that are both necessary and possible in an increasingly global world.” The organizers posit that “the potential for transformative struggles in the 21st century depends on new chains of solidarity—between workers in the rich world and workers in the global south, indigenous peasants and more affluent consumers, students and pensioners, villagers in the Niger Delta and environmental campaigners in the Gulf of Mexico, marchers and rioters in Greece and Spain, and unionists in the United States and China.” The conference “will contribute to the intellectual underpinnings of new and tighter forms of world-wide solidarity upon which all successful emancipatory struggles of the future will depend.”


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By Mitchel Cohen, January 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think I’ve written ten times as many essays as Chris Hedges here excoriating liberals, from the Left. And I understand and share his frustration.

However, the very things he says about, say, the Left Forum can be applied to him.

Do you, Chris, really believe that non-violent civil disobedience is any more effective than Left gatherings at which people network, become aware of all sorts of movements and debates, and involve themselves in some sort of organizing?

Like Lisa Simeone above, I’ve certainly engaged in my share of CD actions, been arrested dozens of times, but do you think that CDs in this day and age is more effective than, say, the mass rebellions against NeoLiberalism now occurring in Europe, or dock workers’ POLITICAL strikes on the West Coast?

Chris is a great writer but he seems new to all of this. These were all debates that took place in our movements throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The Weather Underground movie based on Mark Rudd’s book shows some of it (and leaves a lot out, unfortunately).

My homework assignment for Chris: Instead of assuming that Civil Disobedience will accomplish anything at all (sometimes it might, most times these days it doesn’t, especially on the large issues), and instead of condemning other Leftists (like those organizing the Left Forum) who are NOT liberals, get together with a group of people (rather than alone with your computer) and come up with a half-dozen ways your GROUP could act to actually accomplish some changes.

But remember, it might take some time and actual organizing, not just writing.

Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens / Green Party

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By Larry Snider, January 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When I was young I spent time at protests and made a point of making very little room for those who believed in compromise. Sometimes I was right, but often I was just loud or standing in the way not only of compromise but also of progress. I believe we are better than Mr. Hedges thinks, capable of affecting change on many levels and in many ways. I will go to a conference now and then and listen to Chomsky or someone I don’t know to get a little fired up and refocus on my work which while small potatoes in comparison inspires people now and then and has moved a few mountains and G-d willing will help to move a few more.

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By Antichrist, January 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, I swear sometimes you scare the bejeebies out
of me.  The reason is that you are probably right.  I
marched in the street for civil rights and the ending
of the Vietnam War in the 60’s and I know the price
of justice.  The adrenaline issues from the youthful
body and is soon replaced with complacency and
hopefully wisdom.  The wisdom that it is not insanity
that turns the world upside down…but rather
conscience.  I suppose I just don’t want it to be
true that we are down to confrontational remedies
only. Causes bring back memories of the possibility
of being wrong as much as that of being right.  I
suppose there is no turning back the winds of
betrayal and greed?  It’s just that comfort in
working peacefully was disproved in our lifetime and
how I do hate the gathering clouds of discontent. If
we could only keep our heads when those around us are
loosing theirs?  Are we really at the end of
remaining calm and working in the system?  Perhaps
so…after all, we know the Wizard was a phony. I
hope we will know when we have won, and more
importantly what it is that we have won.

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By PRGP, January 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment

I need a gun and some addresses (not yet, but…). Really, this crap is pushing the tipping point of progressive patience.  The last time I wacked somebody was an NVA soldier in S. Vietnam.  He was less a threat to me and my men than the right in my own country.

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democratz.org's avatar

By democratz.org, January 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

My solution to weaken conservatives in both parties. TAKE ACTION AND SPREAD THE WORD.

A message of hope for Liberals and Progressives in America. http://www.hoflink.com/~dbaer/speech1-22-2011.wmv


Protest the companies that give money to conservatives in both parties. These companies fund conservatives and allow conservatives to inflict punishment on the less fortunate so let us hold those companies accountable by boycotting them until we get the legislation we want.

Sign this petition at http://WWW.DEMOCRATZ.ORG if you want to get congress to enact a $10 an hour minimum wage, The Employee Free Choice act, a real prescription drug benefit for Medicare in part B, an End to 2 expensive wars, a single payer government health insurance plan, Tier 5 unemployment benefits extension and the women’s freedom of choice act into law. Post this message on facebook groups, pages and profiles. Thank you.

After you sign this petition Join the the facebook page at

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sign-this-petition-for-progressive-legislation-at-wwwdemocratzorg/181036078591739

Then you can click on a link called suggest to friends.  Select every friend you have and yes it will send it to every one of your friends you select to invite to the group which will tell them to go to this petition and sign it.

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By tinkll1, January 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

Sometimes, the truth hurts.  It really hurts!  We’ve painted ourselves into a corner,
and we refuse to recognize that we are a puny, impotent minority.  Personally, I’m
too old to inhale the fumes of intoxication, to believe that most of our fellow
Americans agree with us, or even see why we still get so agitated. 

I found the article to be true in many of its insights, and depressing and nihilistic. 
My salvation, my sanity, is with turning to family, sports, and work.  The healthcare
profession offers an intellectual refuge and some insulation from the nihilism and
existential depression that this article foments.

Still, so much truth and so little comfort.

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By Patri, January 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

Some of you may have read this article by Michael Brenner, Senior Fellow, the Center for Transatlantic Relations; Professor of International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, but if you haven’t, you would do yourselves a favor to go to it.  He describes Obama exactly as I see him—and perhaps as you see him, as well.  It’s a great article and I recommend it to Chris Hedges and everyone concerned about where this administration is going.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-brenner/barack-obama-out-of-the-c_b_813027.html

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careerdoctor's avatar

By careerdoctor, January 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

I need a drink.

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By alturn, January 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment

It’s the same in the meditation process.  You can go inside and find your inner child and take it to a wonderful garden meadow, then to leave feeling all comfy inside.  Or you can align at the brow and help transform the world by stepping down cosmic Light and have your body feels the effect.  The first is where most are at, the second is which helps facilitate world change.

Whether an inner or outer direction, it is a time to stand up and say and do what you believe.  If you are reading this site, you likely believe it is about all of us - not just taking care of the little number one. Which means supporting any and every collective action to affirm what is the common good.

“Love, Justice and correct Sharing are necessary for man to live.”
World Teacher Maitreya through an associate as reported in Share International

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By Dave Atias, January 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Don’t just “call” for things, change who’s in power.  http://www.alexwhiteformayor.com

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By Inherit The Wind, January 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment

Felicity,

Yes, ONE thing Conservatives and Libertarians are right about is that competition IS good for the economy.  Monopoly/monopsony is terrible.

Unions FORCE corporations to be competitive in how they deal with labor, rather than seeing labor as pigeons to be plucked (EG, Enron and the raping of the employee retirement fund).  Unions prevent black-listing of “trouble-makers” (whistle-blowers) and help ensure job safety.  OSHA can’t be there every day, but the shop steward can.  I once left a company when the payroll started bouncing. With a union, the owners would have been FORCED to meet payroll or at least be honest with their employees.

Wise management negotiates ways to handle problem employees with the union. The union needs to protect its members from false accusations and retaliation, but a process for getting rid of the TRULY bad apples can easily be in place.  What union really wants to be protecting a sexual predator or a thief (for example)?

But greed frequently over-rides sense and patriotism. 
How patriotic was it to close the steel mills and start buying foreign steel?
How patriotic was it to close down the garment factories and have them replaced with sweatshops in Central America and South East Asia?
How patriotic was it to quash for 30 years alternatives to fossil fuel, particularly oil?

Tax incentives were created AND ARE STILL IN PLACE to encourage companies to manufacture overseas in order to crush American unions.

Why?

We know why.

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By BobZ, January 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

Hedges is a truth teller but his solution to take to the streets will have the
opposite effect of what is desired, unless it is massively supported by the
American worker. We are still recovering from the radicalization of liberalism in
the 1960’s and the abadonment of liberalism by the Unions who turned to
Nixon and Reagan and thus became Reagan Democrats. Even today I meet
union workers who are now Republicans. This would have been inconceivable
50 years ago. All of a sudden the radical right became “centrist”, and now
Obama is being challenged to move to this mythical center so Republican’s can
cooperate with him. Big joke here at Obama’s expense. In the short run he will
look more popular but when the net affect of this sinks in to American’s who
see their way of life getting even worse, his popularity will plummet. Some hard
truths need to be told here. American corporations are not on our side and they
never have been. But now they have almost total control over every facet of our
life. No accident that corporate socialism is acceptable but real socialism is not.
Notice how the Tea Party never criticizes Wall Street or the banks, but only
government, unions, and public sector employees. Corporations have
demonized these institutions and thus hid their own unethical/criminal
activities. Now we are faced with the pressure to do “give backs” no matter what
part of the economy we make our living in. We are headed into a deflationary
economy which will require even more give backs. Meanwhile the one percent
of our society will continue to make their windfall profits and outsource what is
left of America. At some point, we may wake up from this nightmare but it may
be too late by then. We will have become victims of the “inverted
totatalitarianism” that Hedges spoke of in his latest book.

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By Bill Wolfe, January 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment

Check out direct action battle by these folks in northern rockies:

http://northernrockiesrisingtide.wordpress.com/

From the good people at BeyondTalk.net

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By clearwaters, January 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

Then what must we do? As David Harris wrote in his most recent blog,
(Truedogblog.com,) ” A world without self determination will not be able to rescue
or transform itself.” Participatory democracy,of course, is alway a work in
progress. If we give up participating we lose our avenues to self determination.
Then what must we do? Boycott, strike,protest,plant that garden. Corporations
need us to consume to survive. Don’t. Simplify,simplify,simplify.

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By balkas, January 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

this is only baby’s first steps. wait till it starts running and yelling: geronimo!

what it had done thus far wld have paled with what it wld do—unless a
different baby is born to throw a few puzzling stumbling blocks at its feet.

aren’t u glad this post ends. but, then, don’t all phenomena have two ends: a
beginning aaaand an end??

ok, erase this last observation! in fact, nothing ever begins or ends—every event
just twirls. tnx

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By Miko, January 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

LW: “Are you a pstate-]socialist, or not? A [state-
]socialist believes that the only “weapon” capable of
presiding over progressive change is to build a new
political party of and for the working class”

If so, the state-socialists are part of the problem. 
In any case, that’s about the craziest definition of
state-socialism I’ve ever heard.  A movement founded
on violent revolution now thinks that third-party
status in a crooked electoral process is the only way
forward?  As a pacifist, I didn’t like their old
strategy, but this new strategy you propose is (if
anything) worse.

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By lewb, January 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

Progressives need to develop a backbone and start
a new political party. I have stopped voting for
Democrats they are corporatists.I left the Democratic
Party when they nominated Jimmy Carter. They weren’t
who they proclaimed to be. They’ve abandoned the middle
class. George McGovern was the last true “democrat”.
  People are cowardly about change. They say they want
it,but they vote for the status quo every time. I
myself would pull the temple down and start over.

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By MrWebster, January 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for the link Mr. Hedges.  It seems to me that the liberal media such as it is preachs powerlessness to people on the left—never mind conferences.  For example, Jon Stewart who although obstentiously a comedian is thought to be a liberal because of what he did during the Bush years.  He has developed a following which takes his show very seriously.

He organizes a rally which is hugely attended and covered whose message was one fundamentally of passivity.  He said that liberals claiminmg Bush is a war criminal was “divisive” among other things.  The One Nation rally gets nothing.

Even much of liberal talk radio while criticizing Obama at times, ultimately preaches loyality to the Democratic Party as the only acceptable choice.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, January 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges

PLEASE be willing to run for president. Not as a Democrat challenger but as an
Independent, Socialist Party or what ever you wish. Let us do the work of your
campaign.

Consider it the ultimate act of Civil Disobedience. As an aside, a friend of mine ran
for City Council in Minneapolis. Melissa Hill ran under the title of Civil
Disobedience. She got 15% of the vote.

Mr Hedges. Seriously, please consider it. We need it and we need you. Talk to
Ralph Nader. I feel sure that he and his organization has contacts that you could
use.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, January 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

The American Aristocracy and the American Middle Class are not going to share easily; for all who think that, perish that thought.

Contention of citizens of a State with the Law and Order of that same State will only result in criminalization of those in contention with the Power of the State.

To be a Freedom Fighter representing equal rights of a population, there has to be a Political Agenda of that population and representatives of that population representing and acting in behalf of that same Political Agenda, to not be criminalized by the established law and order of a State.   

When citizens act against established law and order of a State, instead of in their best interest as a Political Class and Culture, they are criminals, and it is right and fitting that this should be so.

In the United States the American Common Populace, the common population, is the class and culture that is the unrepresented population in need of political representation, and is in the process of emerging, unifying. and developing a solid political agenda, in much the same manner as Colonial America did in the 16th Century.

It would behoove those who would represent the unrepresented American Populace to represent their own interest as a Class and Culture, because the Middle Class holds the House of Representatives and the Aristocracy holds the Senate, while the 216 Million American Common Populace hold nothing and are NOT represented by established law and order.  Therefore, if you do not act in your own political interest as a representative of your unrepresented Class and Culture for equal representation, you will be criminalized and will not be a freedom fighter.

Watch this movie narrated by Lewis H. Lapham, “The American Ruling Class” to get insight into the Aristocracy and the Middle Class that rule in the United States:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/112523
/the-american-ruling-class

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David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, January 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

QUOTE (felicity):

“Interesting, given that between 1946 and 1976 when the union movement was healthy and strong productivity doubled - even at the same time as wages doubled.”
____________

Those higher wages were the small share distribution from the massive profits corporate gained from the destruction of other industrial nations in WWII; from a subsequent “Police Action” (Korea), and from the industrial slaughter of Southeast Asians… wage increases used by Democrats to co-opt unions and secure the workers’ support for perpetual war.

The Violence of “Nonviolence” :

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=492&Itemid=1

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By John, January 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“And civil disobedience is difficult, uncomfortable and lonely. It requires us to step outside the formal systems of power and trust in acts that are marginal, often unrecognized and have no hope of immediate success.”

I do regular small acts of civil disobedience by screen printing a few hundred artistic stickers each month expressing criticism of local politicians, corporations and their agendas like attacks on the homeless, corporate welfare for local rich people, etc

I’m not the only one doing this. We must be having a tiny bit of success at ruffling their feathers. A city councilman has introduced legislation to greatly increase the severity of penalties for putting up stickers and posters on the street. He asserts that they are acts of vandalism. He is also advocating for the installation of huge corporate logo signs on local skyscrapers.

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By mike, January 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with ‘glider’.
My question is, where are we going when our judicial system is corrupt?

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By LW, January 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris—speaking as a socialist, and addressing someone who claims to be one himself—I take issue with your assertion that “the only weapons we have left are acts of civil disobedience.”

Are you a socialist, or not? A socialist believes that the only “weapon” capable of presiding over progressive change is to build a new political party of and for the working class, one that works to replace capitalism with a genuinely egalitarian, socialist way of life.

You can protest from now until the cows come home and spend the rest of your life writing about how you chained yourself to fence over the weekend, but until you take an active role in building a socialist political party, or at least working to develop a genuinely socialist consciousness within the working class, you are about as helpful as the Democrats.

What are you waiting for? Why are you not addressing the role of existing socialist parties in this country? Do you see any of them as providing viable leadership for the working class? If not, why not? These are not unimportant questions. It is as inexplicable to me that you do not address them as it would be if The Nation endorsed Sarah Palin for president.

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By glider, January 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

Chris really gets it now and is becoming a significant leader rather than a sad Obama apologist from years past.  I applaud his recent activism and dedication to stand up for right versus wrong.  How many can claim the same?  I admit to some confusion of the narrative of the sellout of the “liberal class” as I think it is more clearly an inherent sellout of the system in which “leaders” of any significant political class are bought and manipulated by corporate sponsors.  Really Chris, it is not a sellout of the liberal class but rather a result of a thoroughly corrupted system.  I suppose this is partly semantics but I find this rhetoric unnecessarily confusing.  We live in a corporate state that corrupts all movements that threaten it and that is the bottom line.  No need to get fancy with promoting the failure of the “liberal class”.  That is inherent in our fake democracy.

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By felicity, January 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

Inherit - you’re right.  Capitalists, people who
function to increase profit/capital, have worked
assiduously for years to destroy any union
movement(s). One of their, what has become
practically a bromide, tactics to destroy the union
is claiming that unions, by design, deter
productivity in the work place. Who could possibly be
for that - no one. 

Interesting, given that between 1946 and 1976 when
the union movement was healthy and strong
productivity doubled - even at the same time as wages
doubled.

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By felicity, January 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy - Interesting ‘read’ on mercantilism, as I
understand it a system that stifled, in fact prevented
competition by government controlling the market place.
Without competition there was no incentive (or need) to
innovate, improve or develop new and better products.

Are liberals really touting that system? If so, they
should also be touting corporate cartels, monopolies,
and giant ‘trusts’ which also stifle competition -
something I find hard to believe they would favor.

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By Lisa Simeone, January 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As much as I admire Chris Hedges, and though I
remember the effective street protests of the ‘60s and
‘70s, I really wonder if this is the way to go anymore. 
I’m asking this as a sincere question.  I’m willing to
put my body on the line, but I wonder if it will even
have an effect.  The oligarchs can easily ignore us. 
The power brokers are adept at doing what they want,
when they want, how they want.  Does it really matter
if we take to the streets?  Even if tens, if hundreds, of
thousands of us did?  Then, it seems to me, they’d just
send in the riot police.  Have all the protest
demonstrations against the various G- summits
accomplished anything?

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By Mark A. Goldman, January 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

I’ve been saying for a long time what Hedges is saying here. Now I can hardly say anything at all without repeating myself. And now having said that, I don’t see any point in saying anything more… except maybe this:

The way we got here probably started with a small group of dedicated people (probably inspired by greed). This was powerful motivation for them, and their concocted arguments found fertile ground on which to grow because everyone who bought those arguments could see the potential for personal gain, with very little personal pain.

So the only way this is going to turn around is when a small group of dedicated people offer arguments that will also fall on fertile ground. The problem is that that ground will not be fertile until people have nothing left to lose and when they realize that any action they take will make them either better off or dead… and when either of those two outcomes will be an improvement over the status quo. That day is coming, but I imagine that it will still take awhile to get there.

http://www.gpln.com

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By Inherit The Wind, January 24, 2011 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Fat Freddy, January 24 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Big B,

FWIW. All of my grandfathers and great uncles were entrepreneurs. A tailor, a farmer, a builder, an auto mechanic, and a machinist. It was my Great Grandfather who was in a Union. He was a Sandhog around the turn of the century. Back then, the courts were corrupt, and didn’t recognize a worker’s right to a safe working environment. Unions were “necessary”. Now, union leaders are just a bunch of rent-seeking oligarchs, who steal from consumers, and force businesses to move operations overseas. Unions are antiquated, and have become a “management tool”, to control workers.
******************

Yup. And the answer is…...Unions MUST be revitalized, must start using their connection to management to FIX things, not be part of the problem.

Unions need to be re-born and stop taking the standard right-wing abuse that they promote “inefficiency” and “laziness”.  Take a page from the Libertarians’ book: Unions re-define themselves as labor-providing corporations, providing high-quality service.  Republicans HATE unions as the old Southern plantation owners HATED abolitionists and outlawed educating slaves.  Unions teach workers they don’t have to take whatever is dished out to them, that they CAN fight back if they only just stick together.

When unions were strong, the corporations and the American economy were strong.  When the unions were broken, the economy started going in the toilet and concentration of wealth increased.

And, once upon a time, unions STILL did great things—think of Caesar Chevez and the United Farm Workers.  OH, were they HATED by the growers—how dare they demand decent wages and safe working conditions?

Even today, despite the apparent bad press, the Stage Hands union were able to force the Broadway producers to finally renegotiate their contract. 

two factoids:
1) The best paid stage hand in any Broadway theater makes less than the worst-paid musician in the pit.
2) Broadway sells more tickets annually than all the sports venues in New York City COMBINED, yeah, than those guys who can pay Derek Jeter and Ladainian Tomlinson all those millions

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By felicity, January 24, 2011 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

Chris is right of course.  Since we have for all
practical purposes lost our representation in the
House, Senate and Administrative branches of
government, our only recourse is to take to the
streets.  In essence we have to make it safe for
sitting politicians to do the right thing by showing
them that we will support their re-election if they
do the right thing. 

As it is now, sitting politicians are putting their
‘seats’ in jeopardy by doing the right thing.  As it
is now, they are not working for the good of the
people/country. They are working for those who
promise to return the favor by funding their
campaigns.

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By George Jospeh, January 24, 2011 at 11:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I respect Hedges very much and share many of his views, but he is becoming a little repetitious of late. Uhm, we get the picture, and symbolic protest are not going to change much of anything. Indeed, these are also ‘feel good’ acts, and to engage in psycho-babble,can give some a sense of moral superiority.

Is old fashion organizing the answer. I am the type that takes a lot of mundane work. Is it being tried, but to no avail as the media simply does not cover it? And if an organizing campaign is to be successful in these times, a media strategy is crucial.

I read and hear about some successful union campaigns, a few successful local initiatives, but really have no idea as to what is occurring in this front. It would be nice if someone like Hedges can get off the soap box, stop sermonizing, and examine whether or not their is some hope for organizing, other than feeble events that nobody takes seriously. Just saying.

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By Big B, January 24, 2011 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

Wake the fuck up fat freddy, if the unions became the tools of the company, then why did corporate america spend so much money in a war that has eliminated unions from private sector businesses, and are now doing their damndest, with the help of the politians they have purchased, to evicerate the public service unions as well? Stop jerking off to your pictures of Lyndon Larouch and Ronny Ray-Guns long enough to to realize that, as union membership has dwindled (because our good american capitalists moved their jobs to third world, and BTW, thats libertarianism at its core, They got theirs, fuck everybody else) so have real wages. Benefits have dried up and blown away (don’t have to pay benefits in mexico, or indonesia) Americans work more hours for less money than workers from any other westernized democracy. THE LABOR MOVEMENT IN THE USA CREATED THE LARGEST AND MOST PROSPEROUS MIDDLE CLASS IN THE WORLD, AND IN TURN, MADE THE USA THE ENVY OF EVERY OTHER NATION. But it also committed the cardinal sin of capitalism, it re-distributed wealth and political power DOWNWARD, to the working class. Then, of course, the corporations (and the nine families) declared war on this new american utopia, and did exactly what all good capitalists and libertarians have done throughout history, they used their ample wealth to crush this workers rebellion, and turn the wealth train back around. (there was a time when small businessmen, like your relatives, could make it in america, but now, thanks to economic libertarianism, or Darwinism, nothing but major corporations dot the landscape.)

After all that has happened in america in the last 30 to 40 years, do you really still believe that the corporations are going to do the right thing, and share their wealth with the working class, in the form of better wages and benefits? It has never happened in human history, and it never will.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will” Frederick Douglas

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By Henry Pelifian, January 24, 2011 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

Our modern presidents have been politically intimidated by the accusation of being weak on defense to such a point that our foreign and domestic policies are economically and strategically reckless.  The major reason why this is not common knowledge or accepted is because our mainstream media, especially television news, appears not to tolerate dissent, so we have had the same policies or essentially the same policies for the last fifty years. 

Our public airwaves have no obligation to provide complete and objective coverage of critical information, especially regarding major Congressional legislation.  The primary job our our public airwaves is to make a profit.  Profit is fine, unless it interferes with providing the American people with sufficient and complete information to make informed decisions in our democracy.  The entire profession of national radio talk show host is usually just an extension of our two political parties with all the attendant propaganda, misinformation and incomplete information. 

Almost every national policy is a failure:  foreign policy, health policy, education policy and transportation policy. They are a failure primarily because there is no real attempt to solve problems because special interests usually trump the public interest.

Our government misled the nation in the Vietnam War and did the same in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It appears wars are a way to cover up government incompetence and malfeasance in both foreign and domestic policies.

In essence our country appears to have a “private” foreign policy and “private” domestic policy that is often divorced and disconnected from the best interests of the American people. These policies are “private” because private interests have successfully prevailed over our elected politicians who apparently have abandoned the public interest. 

Current political judgments codified into national and foreign policies require intense scrutiny for both short-term and long-term benefit of the American people, which has not occurred in the mainstream media. 

A combination of crony capitalism and crony democracy has descended upon the nation.

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By David J. Cyr, January 24, 2011 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

QUOTE (Chris Hedges):

“The last thing the liberal class intends to do is fight back.”
____________

Why would they? Their “passive” aggression has been so very, very good to them.

The Violence of “Nonviolence” :

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=492&Itemid=1

Liberals get what they want, whenever they’ve gotten what they said they didn’t want.

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By Fat Freddy, January 24, 2011 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

Big B,

FWIW. All of my grandfathers and great uncles were entrepreneurs. A tailor, a farmer, a builder, an auto mechanic, and a machinist. It was my Great Grandfather who was in a Union. He was a Sandhog around the turn of the century. Back then, the courts were corrupt, and didn’t recognize a worker’s right to a safe working environment. Unions were “necessary”. Now, union leaders are just a bunch of rent-seeking oligarchs, who steal from consumers, and force businesses to move operations overseas. Unions are antiquated, and have become a “management tool”, to control workers.

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By surfnow, January 24, 2011 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

Ardee asks:
So, who is this “liberal class” anyway? Where are they, what is their power base, what do they stand for? Does anyone recall hearing someone stand up and claim to be of this class?

Liberalism has been redefined in the past three decades. Just be pro-choice, for the repeal of DADT,support same-sex marriage and be for a few more meaningless issues and you will be called a “liberal”. You can still be the biggest warmonger and lay down to big oil and pharmacy all you want and still be in the club, which is how the Clintons can still be referred to as liberal.

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By Fat Freddy, January 24, 2011 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

But, but, I thought GE was one of the “Good Guys”.  They are mostly unionized, and they build wind turbines. They own NBC. Oh wait, they just sold NBC to Comcast. Hmmmm. Shortly after the “approval” of the sale, Olberman “quit”. I guess GE is on the liberals shit-list, now.

What we are seeing with the liberals beloved unions (in the private sector), is an “unholy” alliance with management. I’ve been saying for a while, that monopolistic unions are just as corrupt as monopolistic corporations. We are entering a phase of Mussolini’s Corporatism. The real definition of “Corporatism”:

from San Jose State University

The basic idea of corporatism is that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining. The American president Lyndon Johnson had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, “Let us reason together.”

http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/corporatism.htm

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By Old Hayek, January 24, 2011 at 9:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Someone once observed that Liberality is predicated on surplus. When there’s plenty to go around, people can afford to be generous (those so inclined anyway).

America has been suffering a slowly accelerating erosion of “abundance” since the ‘70s, which pretty much explains the decay of the Left in this country. This trend has been “jet-assisted”  by the propaganda organs of the neocon-hijacked GOP, which have managed to make traits like greed and envy socially acceptable, even desireable.

On the other hand, if freedom means having nothing left to lose, it may also be true that having nothing left to lose makes one free to be liberal. Time will tell.

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By Big B, January 24, 2011 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

Chris continues to rail against the dying of the liberal light. Make no mistake, things are going to get much worse before they get better, if they ever get better again.(which I doubt)

The liberal base in the US is dead. It is dead because corp america and the “nine” families targeted the american middle class for termination back in the mid 1970’s, knowing that was where the power of american liberals was truely centered. Elimate their good paying union jobs and you strangle the funding that kept american liberals a viable political and social entity. It worked like a charm.

We here in western PA were here at the begining of the labor movement, and we have lived long enough to witness it’s demise. We remember the homestead steel strike and the brutal suppression of the working class by the beast that was Andrew Carnegie. Many of us now realize that it will take many battles perhaps even more brutal than those, to turn this floundering liberal ship around. It will just take a little more time, as the once powerful american middle class still has some wealth left, but not much longer now, as Boomers retire and a new generation of americans enters the job market that will pay them less than their grandparents made, with little to no benefits, the rest of the middle class will whither and die.

A whole new generation of american workers will have to fight the same battles against the forces of corporate fascism that their great grandfathers fought. The good news is that their grandfathers eventually won. The bad news is that by the time of the next great american labor upheaval (in about 20 to 30 years I wager)the climate will really be going tits up, the gas will be prohibitivley expensive as it disappears, and the USA will be bankrupted by the 21st century resource wars.

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By madisolation, January 24, 2011 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

Jane Hamsher and David House have been detained by officials at Quantico. Jane Hamsher’s car has been towed. Please go to:
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/
and:
http://firedoglake.com/
Read about it. Get the word out. Combined with Chris Hedges protests and David Swanson’s protest at Quantico earlier and now this, we’re seeing that people are starting to fight back.

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By par4, January 24, 2011 at 8:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Touche, Robespierre. You beat me to the punch.

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By Fat Freddy, January 24, 2011 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

Here’s the video from Freedom Watch with Nader and Paul.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiqz33nLGUU

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By Fat Freddy, January 24, 2011 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

The Democratic Party is not, and never was “liberal institution”. Unless you consider Mercantilism to be “liberal”. There’s the right, and there’s the left, and where they overlap, in the middle, is Mercantilism. The problem, as I see it, is many contemporary liberals confuse free markets with the Corptocracy of Mercantilism.

Mercantilism has had a “good press” in recent decades, in contrast to 19th-century opinion. In the days of Adam Smith and the classical economists, mercantilism was properly regarded as a blend of economic fallacy and state creation of special privilege. But in our century, the general view of mercantilism has changed drastically.

Keynesians hail mercantilists as prefiguring their own economic insights; Marxists, constitutionally unable to distinguish between free enterprise and special privilege, hail mercantilism as a “progressive” step in the historical development of capitalism; socialists and interventionists salute mercantilism as anticipating modern state building and central planning.

http://mises.org/daily/4304

Everything Hedges described in the last paragraph is what Classical Liberals have been trying to fight for quite a while. Maybe that’s why Ralph Nader has recently reached out to Ron Paul and the Libertarian National Party. I just received a letter in the mail from Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the LP, who said Nader called him and wished to join forces on civil liberties issues. He also recently appeared on Freedom Watch, Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show, with Ron Paul. Maybe that’s why the pseudo-liberals wish to portray libertarians as the conservative right’s big, bad, ugly brother, and constantly point to the Koch brothers as being the poster boys of the libertarian party. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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By ardee, January 24, 2011 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

So, who is this “liberal class” anyway? Where are they, what is their power base, what do they stand for? Does anyone recall hearing someone stand up and claim to be of this class?

The strength in American politics today lies on the right. The legacy of Reagan, continued by Clinton, surviving Bush and owning Obama. The careful and shrewd expenditure of vast sums of money, buying media outlets, building organizations, promoting activist judges at every level including the Supreme Court, all because the Democrats were weak, splintered and easily maneuvered. As they still are currently.

Perhaps the looming battle over the Health Care Law will rally Democrats, will force them to stand before the public and ,finally, speak truth to the lies from the right. But I wouldn’t count on it.

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By Robespierre115, January 24, 2011 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

Another brilliant dose of truth by Hedges. A needed antidote to pathetic articles like the Boyarsky one.

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