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America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

Posted on Mar 23, 2009
AP photo / M. Spencer Green

Traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

Frank Donoghue, the author of “The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities,” details how liberal arts education has been dismantled. Any form of learning that is not strictly vocational has at best been marginalized and in many schools has been abolished. Students are steered away from asking the broad, disturbing questions that challenge the assumptions of the power elite or an economic system that serves the corporate state. This has led many bright graduates into the arms of corporate entities they do not examine morally or ethically. They accept the assumptions of corporate culture because they have never been taught to think.

Only 8 percent of U.S. college graduates now receive degrees in the humanities, about 110,000 students. Between 1970 and 2001, bachelor’s degrees in English declined from 7.6 percent to 4 percent, as did degrees in foreign languages (2.4 percent to 1 percent), mathematics (3 percent to 1 percent), social science and history (18.4 percent to 10 percent). Bachelor’s degrees in business, which promise the accumulation of wealth, have skyrocketed. Business majors since 1970-1971 have risen from 13.6 percent of the graduation population to 21.7 percent. Business has now replaced education, which has fallen from 21 percent to 8.2 percent, as the most popular major.

The values that sustain an open society have been crushed. A university, as John Ralston Saul writes, now “actively seeks students who suffer from the appropriate imbalance and then sets out to exaggerate it. Imagination, creativity, moral balance, knowledge, common sense, a social view—all these things wither. Competitiveness, having an ever-ready answer, a talent for manipulating situations—all these things are encouraged to grow. As a result amorality also grows; as does extreme aggressivity when they are questioned by outsiders; as does a confusion between the nature of good versus having a ready answer to all questions. Above all, what is encouraged is the growth of an undisciplined form of self-interest, in which winning is what counts.”

This moral nihilism would have terrified Adorno. He knew that radical evil was possible only with the collaboration of a timid, cowed and confused population, a system of propaganda and a press that offered little more than spectacle and entertainment and an educational system that did not transmit transcendent values or nurture the capacity for individual conscience. He feared a culture that banished the anxieties and complexities of moral choice and embraced a childish hyper-masculinity, one championed by ruthless capitalists (think of the brutal backstabbing and deception cheered by TV shows like “Survivor”) and Hollywood action heroes like the governor of California.

“This educational ideal of hardness, in which many may believe without reflecting about it, is utterly wrong,” Adorno wrote. “The idea that virility consists in the maximum degree of endurance long ago became a screen-image for masochism that, as psychology has demonstrated, aligns itself all too easily with sadism.” 

Sadism is as much a part of popular culture as it is of corporate culture. It dominates pornography, runs like an electric current through reality television and trash-talk programs and is at the core of the compliant, corporate collective. Corporatism is about crushing the capacity for moral choice. And it has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our lack of compassion for the homeless, our poor, the mentally ill, the unemployed and the sick.

“The political and economic forces fuelling such crimes against humanity—whether they are unlawful wars, systemic torture, practiced indifference to chronic starvation and disease or genocidal acts—are always mediated by educational forces,” Giroux said. “Resistance to such acts cannot take place without a degree of knowledge and self-reflection. We have to name these acts and transform moral outrage into concrete attempts to prevent such human violations from taking place in the first place.”

The single most important quality needed to resist evil is moral autonomy. Moral autonomy, as Immanuel Kant wrote, is possible only through reflection, self-determination and the courage not to cooperate.

Moral autonomy is what the corporate state, with all its attacks on liberal institutions and “leftist” professors, has really set out to destroy. The corporate state holds up as our ideal what Adorno called “the manipulative character.” The manipulative character has superb organizational skills and the inability to have authentic human experiences. He or she is an emotional cripple and driven by an overvalued realism. The manipulative character is a systems manager. He or she exclusively trained to sustain the corporate structure, which is why our elites are wasting mind-blowing amounts of our money on corporations like Goldman Sachs and AIG. “He makes a cult of action, activity, of so-called efficiency as such which reappears in the advertising image of the active person,” Adorno wrote of this personality type. These manipulative characters, people like Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, AIG’s Edward Liddy and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, along with most of our ruling class, have used corporate money and power to determine the narrow parameters of the debate in our classrooms, on the airwaves and in the halls of Congress while they looted the country.

“It is especially difficult to fight against it,” warned Adorno, “because those manipulative people, who actually are incapable of true experience, for that very reason manifest an unresponsiveness that associates them with certain mentally ill or psychotic characters, namely schizoids.”


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By Folktruther, March 24, 2009 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

The most effective force in instilling evil in the population is pseudo-progrssives like Hedges who espouse a fake moralism.  Hedges identifies with the anti-people values of religion, concieving people to be sinful, depraved, weak and powerless, willful, and abouve all, DISOBEDIENT, to an Elite, including a moral Elite like Hedges.

Religion teaches power values, an obedience to Divine and earthly power, and these values clash sharply with people values. The emophasis on power values is most evident in Hedges book I DON’T BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS.  Personally, I don’t believe in Hedges.

He states that schools must instill values as well as skills.  They do.  Power values. Including those of war and violence and oppression.  Every country in one form or another teaches their children to pledge allegiance to the War Flag so when someone in authority waves it, the young of one country will march off to kill, maim, rape, loot and terrorize the young of another.  This is considered Patriotism, and is a highly cherished value of Education.  In the US this Pledge is repeated every day.

Hedges states that the solution to the soulessness of and the instilling of evil of power is “moral authonomy.”  It is not.  The only effective way that people can impose people values on power is by collective resistence.  Individual moral authonomy is ineffective in a tyrannny like that of the US, or any despotic power system.  people must unite around an ideology of truth and values, and what this ideology is must be determined historically by the people themselves.

The only thing that is certain about such an ideology is that it will oppose the notion that people are intrinsically Bad, that this Badness is inherited through sexuality, and that individuals must stand naked before the immense force of modern power systems.  This is moralistic bullshit that ideologically disarms the progressive population.

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By Somebody Else, March 24, 2009 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
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Hedges cogently says “The single most important quality needed to resist evil is moral autonomy. Moral autonomy, as Immanuel Kant wrote, is possible only through reflection, self-determination and the courage not to cooperate.”  Then Hedges proceeds in his new book to dump on atheists, the people most likely to display “reflection, self-determination and the courage not to cooperate.”  It’s not hard to imagine that his background as the son of a Presbyterian minister is informing his belief system.  I say, give it up, Chris.  What we need is a new non-theological paradigm that argues for morality (and the arguments are legion.)  I’m reminded of the newly-minted PhD philosopher whose relatives said “what are you going to do with that degree…open a philosophy shop?”  IMO that might actually be a good idea, something useful to replace religion, which is increasingly recognized as lunacy by educated, reflective, self-determinative and courageous people.

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By Yankee, March 24, 2009 at 5:57 am Link to this comment
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What to do?

Change begins at home.  The primary purpose of school is to teach children to conform, not to provide an education.  So what do you do at home?

I read to them what they are missing at school, impress on them that “just because they go to school, their education shouldn’t suffer”.  Here in the fundamentalist Republic of Texas the state school board is voting on whether allowing a questioning of evolution in the science curriculum.  My action?  Teach natural science and definately the theory of evolution.  I discuss topics with them and sit back and listen, let them think and work it out.  Impress upon them the amount of propaganda in the media.  Turn off the TV.

They can only make us zombies if we let them.

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By Yankee, March 24, 2009 at 5:48 am Link to this comment
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Yeah Michael Livingston!!  Who said:
Maybe it’s time to forget about univeristies and colleges and go straight to the source of most knowledge, books.

My view is we have sold out our decision making to those who claim to be an authority.

Of course now they’ll try to start burning the books.

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By glagadec, March 24, 2009 at 5:33 am Link to this comment

Two favorite quotes that I believe say a great deal in a few words are: “Mitakuye Oyasin”- Lakota for “All my relations”...or “We are connected”; and “I am because we are”- the Xosa people of Africa. In our hyper-individualistic society, we have forgotten these truths that should be self evident but are not. Beyond the incessant battles of dueling ideologies, opinions, religious/spiritual/economic/[your favorite “ism”] remains this great truth. We better transcend the squabbling and get back to this fact before our lonely, hermetic, individualistic “trips” bring us to shared ruin. I’m not suggesting we become the Borg, but something has to change at a very fundamental level of our identity, or we will keep going into more spirals of self destruction.It is ideas such as these that are no longer part of the core curriculum of most colleges. That’s dangerous.

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By Donald J Donaker, March 24, 2009 at 3:46 am Link to this comment
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March 24, 2009

The headline says: Stranded whales returned to sea off SW Australia

Did they realy save those whales (7 out of 70 that died) or just prolong their agony considering what mankind is doing to, what long has been thought of, oceans too mighty to ever be ravaged, but has finaly reached that point, and is continually being degraded from there?

Oh well, spend a few million dollars doing a study on the rate of degradation just as is being done on the rate of global warning.

When we get there, we will know precisely how long it took, we are masters at doing that.

Visited my daughter once in Denver. On the trip up to the mountains, pulled up to a scenic stop overlooking an expansive valley. There were pictures of a clear day where one could distinctly see all the way across to the mountain on the other side. Then it depicted other days, with what could aptly be called a no view, because not more than several feet from the scenic stop, nothing could be seen but a grayish haze. But the information display informed us about the highy sophisticated measuring device that could detect the minutist pollution particles that combined in such larger numbers to almost turn day into night.

I recall, I think it was sometime during the 80’s, a report of researchers preserving a sample of the air somewhere out west in the mountains, a rare location that held the least amount of contaminant of anywhere in the US, to use as a comparison in the future to what it was like at one time.

Can’t do anything about it, but carry on mighty engineers and scientist so that we can rest with assurance, knowing that the utmost calculation is being done, and of course, keep an accurate record of the casualties. Carry on you whales too, knowing that your life is in good hands.

It is time, it is time, the soothsayer said.

From the desk of Donald J Donaker
Real Union Of Social Science (Google it to get the website)

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By Inherit The Wind, March 24, 2009 at 3:13 am Link to this comment

Except when I post a number I know is bogus, I SAY SO! so you KNOW it’s bogus and there to make a point.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 24, 2009 at 3:12 am Link to this comment


Give it a rest.  Do you only have ONE POST you recycle and recycle?

I demonstrated months ago that YOUR numbers are bogus, simply bogus and do not stand up to close scrutiny. Yet you pop up to post these totally spurious numbers again and again, as if ignoring their problems will somehow make them real.

93% of voting Americans when asked what they thought of ElizabethE’s numbers said they were BS.  See? I can make up phony statistics and polls too!

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By elizabethe, March 24, 2009 at 12:47 am Link to this comment

Litl Bludot, The Corporate Corrupt Media enforces the MONIED ONLY can compete on our stage with national limelight.  They would not allow money out of politics.  They refused.

In the sixties they liked Nader, and John Gardner, and people who stood for values and principles against corruption, but now, they love the corruption irretrievably.

As I seek where to post my overdue retort to this editor of Truth Dig, I promised to prove Obama did not offer what the voters claim they voted for…he never offered any cuts of military and did not offer to bring the troops home, he offered increases unconscionably…there was an article saying where are the cuts…as if promised, and I and another commentator said we would get him on that…liar…as are they all, they are promoting Obama the Innocent when he is Obama the upfront Corporate Corrupt Hype Hypocrit using the Sandwich Cookie tactic of hype on the outside and corruption on the inside, corporate profit war not peace, he wants it…Commander In Chief the media calls him but you try to make them make him get out there on the front lines where he should when he bombs and let him fall instead of our four troops killed in Afghanistan thanks to Obama’s bombs…who dares to declare increased military worldwide, Obama needs to face the drums of war “in person”—Nader called Bush a Corporation back in 2004, and the Washington Post editorial complained as if it made no sense, the reality that Bush was allowed Corporate Corrupt War Racketeering without law or cause and continued and increased, now, with the Post encouraging the war, as do all the mainstream media, this is what they did, the media who says they have not put corporation into the white house instead of a true leader of people, but, certainly they have put corporation….Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and I hear Raytheon is doing “well” lately too…and ...taxes as bonuses ...noted they were NOT EARNED, failures given bonuses, and so, this is heralded as saintly by the media, there is no limit to the corruption of the media and the false image they love so.  For the good of the country?  For Peace?  Safety?  No, not at all.  For the evil of profit and greed without any checks, and cuts in government so the greed can take all…yes, this the corporate corrupt media puts into politics as if it is all it is worth.

Some of us believe otherwise and would indeed take the money out of politics.  I believe the SIX not TWO contest for 2008 netting a valid President and proving the morality of people and their expectations of what is best can happen and the power of the ballot can happen, the people can void the election and demand the incumbents must face their four challengers, for a SIX not TWO contest and let the people decide with the national view of the SIX are the real slate.

The FEC, Federal Election Commission, with our taxes could do the presentation if the 50 states requested the new informed voting result, and a three step presentation offered by the FEC, A-printed booklet of the SIX backgrounds, track, and platform offered; B-polls once people know what is offered by each of SIX not TWO (the media only gave TWO in the polls, oh yes, it is true), and C-THE DEBATES where the truth of Peace and cut the military budget would net the proper debate and reality of our government and the budget on track for PEOPLE not corporate greed and unprincipled war and environmental hazards and safety hazards, not to mention illegality nationally, and internationally.

The media wants money in the politics to make corruption their rule unchallenged, the people have to take charge of the demand for honest politics, the FEC can do it, and can spend the taxes for people to have government for people!

End the cynicism of cannot and bring on the can do!

(We did not have a democratic election, there were four challengers against two incumbents who both were warmongers…and the media didn’t want the people to know!)

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By Litl Bludot, March 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

Incredible essay. In my simplicity, the solution is money out of politics.

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By M.B.S.S., March 23, 2009 at 9:49 pm Link to this comment

i tell people that i went to school simply for the sake and love of learning, and people look at me like i am crazy.

i was once mocked as impractical by a fellow who probably went on to build war machines for boeing. 

the scary reality is that the point in my education when critical thinking was least valued was in college.  the point at which it was most valued was in elementary school.

chris, great piece.

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By elizabethe, March 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

There is a majority of registered voters registered non-partisan, over 100 million, and there are 62 million registered in the COMBINED two parties.  24 states do not register party.  About 82 million voters.  26 states have 21.3 million outside the two parties by choice.  I am one of those; I live in Massachusetts and it is NOT “supposed to” be a SAFE STATE (for no choice and no ballot surprises of unseating incumbents?)  The BEST candidate is supposed to be “allowed” in national limelight, and the voters are not supposed to PREFER cynical media delivered corrupt politics, the voters are supposed to want the FULL SLATE presented nationally, and are supposed to want the best to win.  The media told the voters they wanted the two parties and the media said the voters wanted a Democrat if they wanted Bush out of office (gee whiz what a handy usurption of the Constitutionally provided election for incumbents go when their term ends and elections are supposed to be GENERAL NATIONAL AGENDA REALITY where the majority rules with informed views showing as strong ballot power, not corporate corruption tyranny and no choice, is the “safe” choice.  Any sane person who wants democracy should want a contest seen in the proper civilized and orderly and lawful fashion not delivered, why?  The media was full of glee and told the public Obama was a no accomnplished innocent man who would do whatever they hoped for, and the voters heard hype, not truth.  Obama promised red ink military increases and occupation of Afghanistan, and what pol sci professors proclaimed any democracy due and required?  Did the media censor them?  I will say they did censor me.  Massachusetts did not publish the information that Nader was on the ballot due to completely meeting and exceeding the signatures required through ballot access petitioning, and that there is 50% no party registration and only 36% Democrats and 13% Republican.  Nationally, the proportion is about the same, but who wanted democracy?  Not the two parties they are against it, they want the corruption.  They are delivering that, handily with the media as their eager henchman.  It is not valid.  It is not the masses who want Obama’s war.  Obama did NOT inherit the war, as the media says.  He wanted it, and is seeking it, and needs to be stopped by the people at a majority level of informed reality.  He intended occupation and red ink and military increases and knew he could not get it from the budget, and the corporate corrupt failure investments is his attempt to net money for more corruption, and he cannot do anything honest, at all. There is nothing good going on with corporate corrupt politics that seeks war with taxes instead of democracy and public interest.  The media is the worst culprit.  Voters should know enough to force truth and justice against the invalid two party rule and demand the contest and redo the truth to see the truth of the moral decay…those in power who refuse to allow U.S. Constitutional elections?  polls that list all six names and ask the question, “who do you believe is best?”

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By elizabethe, March 23, 2009 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

Well, I agree with the fact that moral decay is rampant in the U.S. but I would assert it is upfront worst in the media itself, ironically, considering they are supposed to be our watchdog of the government “for the people” and not “for corruption” especially when it grows from individual corruption of individual officials and their behavior to “corporate” corruption, and even worse, global corporations. 

I submit the MEDIA IS CORRUPT and tries to make us as bad as they are, and WE ARE NOT!!!!

I object strenuously.

The helpful adage of Dale Carnegie and others, I am sure he did not invent it, but did assert it as what he himself did, when very upset, literally stuck a clean piece of white paper into the typewriter, and wrote on the blank white sheet, “what is the problem?”  The adage that applies, is the first step to solving a problem is to identify the problem.

Moral decay in the U.S.  Identified as YES, it is there.

Secondly, source, or degree?

Politics is corrupt, and I accuse the media of being the primary cause, not the people!  Surprise to Hedges, I am sure.

We are NOT two parties, and Nader told the people the two parties are corporate corrupt, and the people did not comprehend the reality of that.  Certainly the intelligentsia did.  The media did.  The pol sci professors did.

Who cared?

The few who voted outside the two parties and wanted the PROPER HOPE, CHANGE, and PEACE to happen.

Enough for now.

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By Stanley, March 23, 2009 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Valuable :}

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By keepyourheaddown, March 23, 2009 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment
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e mindful when your attention focuses on the workings of the outer world for the prevailing thoughts are around fear and scarcity. We caution you to not fall prey to such thinking as things are not as they appear. They are merely the illusionary remnants of a consciousness that is in the final throes of its existence. In our observation of the mind of man, we have come to understand the power the mind has over the manifestation process. If one looks for darkness then darkness is all they see. If thoughts are charged with fear, then fear attracts the experiences to feed itself. If one does not trust themselves then they will not trust others. It is an insidious process where one thought begets the other.

Yet, if humankind remembered that things are not as they appear, they would find the light they seek and the darkness would be no more. They would find within decay the opportunities that lay buried just below the surface. They would gain the clarity needed to manifest what they desire in the present moment and in the future. Where is the light? It is in the quality of your thoughts and it is in the emotions of the heart. Combined they make it possible for you to find the guidance you seek and to move in the direction you desire.

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By mcthorogood, March 23, 2009 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment

We live in trying times and it’s foolish not to believe that a fundamental shift must occur in our society.  Our politicians expect to re-inflate the asset bubble and to return to the previous years of prosperity.

Dr. Chris Martenson, the author of the Crash Course attempts to tie together three topics in the news today; the economy, energy and the environment. A common thread is the exponential growth evident in the economy, energy, and the environment, in the face of limited resources. Dr. Albert Bartlett, University Colorado-Boulder, also explains exponential growth in his lectures.

These are the facts, we may dispute them at our peril.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, March 23, 2009 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

If I had my way, I’d move Brother Hedges articles to appear on Sunday. That way I could get all my rambling rants, magical thinking,  and moral browbeating on a proper sabbath day.

Here he seems to suggest that if we could just get kids to read more Kant and less Adam Smith, all our problems would melt away in a generation or two. But from the outlier’s camp it’s plain to see that it ain’t about “edgykation”.

The Great American Id has trapped us all in the meat grinder of juvenile self gratification. This neurotic drive permeates everything we are as a people. It is inextricably intwined in our identity. It defines our actions and thoughts. At best, education provides a fleeting glimpse into the true nature of our predicament. More often, education only affords us prettier words with which to describe the exquisite tortures of the apparatus.

TaoWalker suggests that Western society can be divided into the tormentors and the tormented. I wish it were that simple. It would make weeding out the bad apples child’s play. But it doesn’t work like that. What we’ve got is the constant upward push of wannabe tormentors, tormented in turn by those with their fingers on a bigger lever. It is the very impetus to escape the torment from above that fuels the torment below. We are, each of us, slipping inexorably and effortlessly between the roles of the tormentor and the tormented. This is the genius of the apparatus. You can hide away, go under the radar for a while - this is what Hakim Bey refers to as the TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone). But even us Zarathustras have to come out of our caves eventually. And when we do, it’s just a matter of time until we butt heads with someone who wants to prove how big his lever is.

If all this sounds desperately hopeless and bleak. Take heart. Remember, it’s not about you. It’s called evolution. As William Saroyan so elegantly put it: Every man comes from a long time ago, and is on his way to a long time hence.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 23, 2009 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

I’m not a big fan of Chris Hedges but this is definitely his best piece I’ve ever read.

Yet Hedges is ULTIMATELY wrong.  Weirdly, the ultra-religious Right is right about one thing—morality isn’t taught in universities or by politicians, but is taught in the home, by Mom and Dad to the Kids.  I’m a Lefty, a Liberal, a big fan of Obama, but I believe that MY kids won’t learn morality unless I, and my wife, teach it to them in our word, our actions and…our reactions to their actions, both positive and negative.

Yes, folks, it’s up to YOU to raise your kids.  I’m not worried about my kids—we are as unbending as stone when it comes to moral choices.  But the so-called “moral right” are best represented by Sarah Palin and how well her hypocritical morality left her with an unmarried teen whose kid is father by a delinquent son of a drug dealer.

Do I need to say more?

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By Brook, March 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s define who “the elites” are, and if you don’t include federal government employees you are blind and biased.  They are one of the few sectors of this society that remain untouched by this recession.  While every other class of society suffers, federal workers get their COLA, their unparalleled health insurance, and their gold-plated retirement.  Productive workers in the private sector foot the bill for this, of course. 

Even state governments are making deep cuts, while our federal government becomes more bloated, beauracratic, and dysfunctional.  Yep, time for another revolution.

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By flow, March 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

For anyone looking for a guide to help light the way to liberation, I humbly suggest How to Practice : The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama. It presents in plain terms the essential aspects of the path to personal liberation. And Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer: The Hidden Power of Beauty, Blessings, Wisdom, and Hurt by Gregg Braden.

Neither book is a religious tome in the conventional sense, but each contains powerful wisdom concerning the essential training in the Art of Mindfulness. Beginning with morality, integrity, awareness and transformation. I genuinely enjoyed both of them, I recommend them here for anyone asking “what can we do.” The oft repeated sage advice of the Great Soul Mohandas Gandhi comes to mind, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” These books have helped me understand where to begin in my life.

Thanks, Mr. Hedges, for an inspiring article.

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By Wilberforce, March 23, 2009 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment
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It’s all about what can be done. I would say speak out, except that media gatekeepers don’t allow educated speech, and commenting on blogs is lost in the flood of trash. I’d say get involved through NGOs, but many are beholden to the same corporate structures that control everything else. I’d say build new organizations, but again, they’d be lost among the endless rows of liberals talking nonsense about every topic imaginable. The powers that be have already filled liberal space with dingbats.
I’ve tried talking about educated values (see Low Culture in High Places at, but the public has been force fed decades of media bull——. By now, they’re too ignorant to recognize high culture. And they don’t like it much when it does appear.
The best we can do is speak clearly, live responsibly, and hope to set an example.

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By gerald lagadec, March 23, 2009 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment
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I teach writing at a local college;it’s a relatively small school that serves a large percentage of blue-collar, middle class students. I was really blown away by Chris Hedges article because it was- in spirit- exactly the thesis of my lecture today; actually it was more of a harangue, a frustrated diatribe against the exact apathy and ignorance of so many of my students. He’s absolutely correct about the transformation of our colleges into trade schools. When I attempt to get discussions going about the types of issues discussed in the article[as catalysts for essays] I am met -most of the time- with a kind of stony, “flat liner” silence. I often feel that they are wired so differently than I that communication on an abstract level is futile…but I keep trying with occasional “hiccups” of nascent consciousness that quickly slips back into a sort of dull pudding of platitudes and impoverished generalities. Their minds have been dulled and bludgeoned by crassness, consumerism, “entertainment” and the atrocious capitulation of the media bread and circuses that now runs the whole show. I fear for us!“How do you fight an enemy that sets up camp in your own head?”

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By TAO Walker, March 23, 2009 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

Again Chris Hedges offers us a cogent analysis of the condition our tame Sisters’ and Brothers’ CONdition is in.  What he and most responders here have yet to get-to, though, is the iron-forged link between what ails the domesticated peoples and their industrially-induced “individual”-ity.  Our tormentors haven’t gone to all the trouble they have reducing so many Humans to this pitiful state for no reason.  They and their two-legged tools know, as their captives still do not, that “individuals” are absolutely no threat whatsoever to their parasitic selfs OR their intended-to-be-Earth-killing operations.

The Natural FORM of Humanity within the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth is what English-speakers might call “community”....though this old Indian prefers the Lakotah term Tiyoshpaye, since “community” has come to be applied to so many random collections of ersatz “individuals” that it’s become almost meaningless.  Human Beings do not occur and are not viable in Nature as “individuals.”  They are, however, real easy pickings for all those practioners of the array of depredations decried here today by Chris hedges and others.

Genuine Living Human Commmunities (as near an equivalent in English to ‘Tiyoshpaye’ as this old Savage can get) are not nearly so susceptible to the in-your-face corruption and ruthless exploitation so blatantly rampant here in these latter days.  In fact, neither the seductive blandishments of false “comfort” and crippling CONvenience, nor the stampeding panic of the applied rule-of-FEAR, can have their intended effects on Two-leggeds abiding within the integrity of their given organic function within the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth.

Casting desperately about for some ideological/institutional/electro-mechanical remedy for the afflictions catalogued here must prove futile….however sincere and well-intentioned the seekers.  It is only in their own essential Human Nature that they will find everything they need to get free of the CONtraption whose owner/operators are now making-no-bones-about its ultimate designs on the virtual world-o’-hurt where they “spend” their diminishing half-lives.

To have any chance of living-through this meant-to-be-terminal assault on Earth and ALL her Native Children, our atomized Sisters and Brothers will be well-advised to reORGANize their otherwise dead-meat “selfs” into Tiyoshpayes….by whatever “name.”


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By HSU Journalism Club 1, March 23, 2009 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

“Resistance to such acts cannot take place without a degree of knowledge and self-reflection. We have to name these acts and transform moral outrage into concrete attempts to prevent such human violations from taking place in the first place.”

This is exactly what Mr. Hedges gives us. My deepest thanks.

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By BruSays, March 23, 2009 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

KDelphi and Jean Gerard and others…

Regarding “things we can do.”

1. When, at the movies during the trailers, you’re presented one of those assinine “Citizen Warrior” songs or a Marines or Air Force recruitment commercial, BOO IT when it’s over. Hiss at it. Don’t just sit there and ignore it.
2. Don’t EVER let someone equate success with wealth or income. If someone says, “Oh, he’s really successful. Look at that house (or car or boat) he owns” stop them right there. Challenge their knee-jerk association of success with money.
3. Ignore those who wear their wealth on their sleeve or under their gas pedal foot. Ignore the Rolex, the Maserati, the Prada. 
4. Congratulate acts of kindness. Thank the person who holds the door open, who lets you change lanes, who picks up a piece of trash!

Whatever you do, do something! Nothing is more dangerous in a democracy than an ignorant, uncaring, uninvolved electorate, as the past eight years can atest.

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By Bud, March 23, 2009 at 11:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Moral degradation,arrogance,greed,and corruption is running rampant in our society.When you look at the incompetence,and ineptitude in congress,and enhance it with corporations attempting to justify their obscene behavior,it’s enough to warrant the re-invention of the guillotine.These individuals have got to have more balls than Brunsdick!!





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By KDelphi, March 23, 2009 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

“The corporate state holds up as our ideal what Adorno called “the manipulative character.” The manipulative character has superb organizational skills and the inability to have authentic human experiences. He or she is an emotional cripple and driven by an overvalued realism. The manipulative character is a systems manager. He or she exclusively trained to sustain the corporate structure, which is why our elites are wasting mind-blowing amounts of our money on corporations like Goldman Sachs and AIG. “He makes a cult of action, activity, of so-called efficiency as such which reappears in the advertising image of the active person,” Adorno wrote of this personality type. These manipulative characters, people like Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, AIG’s Edward Liddy and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, along with most of our ruling class, have used corporate money and power to determine the narrow parameters of the debate in our classrooms, on the airwaves and in the halls of Congress while they looted the country.

“It is especially difficult to fight against it,” warned Adorno, “because those manipulative people, who actually are incapable of true experience, for that very reason manifest an unresponsiveness that associates them with certain mentally ill or psychotic characters, namely schizoids.”

Gawd, he’s good…especially for a divinity student. No seriously. Hedges always has a very excellent point to make. I would “re-diagnose”—i think that Adorno is speaking of another disorder. But, schizoid will do.

Brian, Geithner et al, do NOT “suffer” from a “mental disorder’ , in the traditional sense, anymore than Bush was “stupid” in the traditional sense. They do not suffer. Hence, the inability to have a truly human experience, and, the constant ability to appear “cool” or cold, as I see it. I have not empathy for them, And they have none for others. You should have none for them. They are not, what you typically think of, say, when you are in love, or, spending time with friends, as “human”. I really believe that!

Jean Gerard—good suggestions to start! But, we MUST be willing to put our lives on the line. That is what I belive. I certainly would—to not see the uS go down this road ANY FURTHER! Being anti-war doesnt necessarily mean that there are not things you would die for.

But, dying or suffering for this corporatist, capitalist, war state is particularly useless.

We must take back our schools and universities! NO MORE JUNIOR HIGH NATL GUARD!! Jeez! Who thinks that THAT one is ok?? Give poor kids clothes and books and pcs, and have them join the Junior ROTC!! What horseshit! Stop “charter schools”! Make public schools work and, stop blaming the kids who fail there!

We have to stop paying busines so well. We have to respect them about as much as they respect us. We have to put out a call for the humanities and to pay accordingly. Lets put MORE money into environmental, AmeriCorps and other volunteer and common good projects.  CUT THE MILITARY BUDGET!

Anyone got others? I am sure I can think of some. Vote for school levies.Make state universities free to all who wish to go.

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By Bzzkillrr, March 23, 2009 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

I have a question: I always thought Eisenhower’s original phrase was “military-industrial-“congressional” complex”.  (see “origin of the term”).
  I agree with Mr. Hedges and am sympathetic to his overall message. I’ve read four of his books, numerous articles, and listened to many of his recorded lectures. I am curious, however, why an “expat.” now living in Canada can apparently get away with misquoting a very prophetic insight by Ike. Not that I necessarily disagree with substituting “academic”. Having never attended a “university” I can’t directly speak to this. Finally, perhaps my entry will appear like nit-picking to some. My appologies to you in advance. However, for the record only, can someone please clarify?

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By Michael Livingston, March 23, 2009 at 11:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe it’s time to forget about univeristies and colleges and go straight to the source of most knowledge, books.

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By Jean Gerard, March 23, 2009 at 9:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In pointing out all that is wrong there is a danger of aiding and abetting a paralyzing fear which is already loose in America.  Therefore it is imperative to answer with specifics on what people can do and what people are already trying to do it. Such people and organizations are working 24/7 and need all the help and funding they can get. If it werr not so corrupt, media could help out by making such people and organizations broadly known, for starters.  Try Quakers.  Try Fellowship of Reconciliation.  Try Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Code Pink, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to name a few.

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By Robert M. Deniz, March 23, 2009 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article is great,in that it presents what has happened to education in particular and the morals of our country in general. Thank you Chris Hedges for writing a brilliant article and thank you to TruthDig for printing it. But the question is, what are WE going to do to change it?

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By RobAlb, March 23, 2009 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

In a word: “WOW!”

During my studies in graduate school, we discussed the important movement in Latin American Christianity known as “liberation theology.” The movement sees education of the oppressed masses as the key to their liberation. It seems to me that what we need is that same kind of liberation.

My entire educational life has been deliberately “impractical,” with the emphasis on critical thinking and getting to the “right” questions rather than the “right” answers. Consequently, I am both amused and horrified at what passes for education these days. And what passes for entertainment: “Survivors”? You’ve got to be kidding! They should be working together to solve their problems, not trying to “take each other out.”

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By Corporate Drop Out, March 23, 2009 at 8:55 am Link to this comment
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Brian, your words should be carefully noted and heeded by all who want to stop feeding the madness. As someone who has spent many an hour arguing online with political opponents, I can now see so clearly that these battles of wit only fed my own anger and ego.

I would add to your advice something I myself have since learned: the only hope for giving our opponents incentive to consider a different perspective is to first do the same for them. Take time to consider and ponder where they are coming from. It will make a noticeable difference in how we communicate with them. No longer will be trying to change their mind, but rather, let them see our minds are open enough to give credence to how they’ve formed their own opinions. You’d be surprised how often they’ll let down their guard and return the favor, if they sense you don’t have an ulterior, insincere motive.

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By prolefeed, March 23, 2009 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

Excellent article.

My wife teaches fifth grade and just emailed me that her school is planning to eliminate all art and music classes next year.

In addition, outside playtime after lunch has virtually been eliminated.

I responded to her that although our country will be full of overweight, talentless, robots with minimal creativity, sitting in cubicles, at least they’ll be able to understand how derivatives and credit default swaps work. And they should be able to build some reliable nuclear missle defense systems.

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By AWM, March 23, 2009 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

To succeed as a student one must simply regurgitate the propaganda fed you. If you use your right brain and question this input you are marginalized and/or drugged into submission with drugs like Ritalin.

As the author states the education system is no more than a factory designed to create corporate drones and obedient laborers.It has been so for at least the last 30 yrs and will take decades of work to reverse.

Education is the is the front line in our battle against the ruling elites for an educated and well rounded public one capable of critical and indepentant thought is their worst nightmare

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By Thomas O. Anderson, March 23, 2009 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

I have definitely saved this article for future reference. Hedges is at his best.

The “education” offered in this piece is worth a hundred times the trivial scoops of “schooling” doled out by either kindergartens or universities.

In a world where anything of value is expected to come with a hefty price, I must thank Mr. Hedges and Truthdig for the free and much needed wisdom.

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By Purple Girl, March 23, 2009 at 5:37 am Link to this comment

No Longer trying to Just keep up with the Jones has become the goal of Screwing the Jones to get ahead.
Erin Burnette dared claim that ameircnas are pissed at Corp America for breaking the Contract of Public Trust. It’s far more widespread than that, it’s also the Contract Media Broke with US. They not only lured US into the Con of Wall street (E- Trade) with channels like CNBC, they kept US hypnotized as they emptied the valuts with BS ‘news’. While they were pilferiing the coffers, we were entranced by Stains on a Blue dress and the definition of “is”. This has been going on for Decades. We have been Behavior modified to seek out and focus on shiny objects, instead of the insideous crime being committed againt US. They might as well held our eyes open with mechanical contraptions- much like in Clock Work Orange. We are guilty of conspicuous comsmption, living beyond our means. But the real crime was being committed by those running the hideous experiment on our national psyche. Not only have we been distracted, but our memories have been erased and replaced. Our Deductive reasoning dwindled down to whether one American Idol Contestant can capture the Attention of the Masses, better than another.
Using Wall streeters as thee scape goats is as riduclous as using illegal immigrants as the cause of our woes. It’s not the applicate who is to blame for your job loss- it’s the one who employed them. It is not the Greed of Streeters, but the ones who not only gave them a means to fulfil their aspirations, but those who also voted in those enablers.
My anger has been brewing for 30 yrs- brought to a boil everytime a Republican or a ‘Third Way’ DLC’er is wins a seat in the Public Service sector. I now recognize my own complicty by voting for Bill 2 x’s. Has anyone else bothered to look in the mirror?
We have not screamed loud enough, admitted the Truth about thsoe we have elected. Now we want to hold a President on 2 months in office accountable for not being able to rectify 30 + yrs of high crimes. This began with Nixons delusions of granduer- “if the president does it, it is not illegal”. Picked up a full head of steam with Ronny’s re institution of the Feudalistic Cast System, Trickle Down. HW’s first Blood for Oil War to satisfy the Saudi’s. Continued covertly during Clinton with breaking down all the safeguards created after the last great depression. And so why should anyone be surprised when all this resulted in the Kingship of George the W. There are common threads which span this era- a Few who have played in the Halls of Power and Industry. Need only follow the Work history of Cheney,Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz to see the Doctrine which has brought our country to it’s knees. Yet not one Media outlet, One ‘Free Press’ dares utter such a reality. Not one demanding Justice for their High Crimes. Nope still letting Cheney Spew his treasonous thoughts on any Channel. Not one question- not even venturing to see his reaction to the recent ‘assasination ring’ allegation (Truth).
the media is not only guilty of failing ‘The People’ , they have been Complicit- Propaganda depts with Lies and distraction as their main MO’s.

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By ma77hew, March 23, 2009 at 5:21 am Link to this comment

As I was raised in a military home where fundamentalist Christianity was the religion and universities seen as satans classrooms. Chris Hedges has always been that clear voice that echoes back into my early perspectives and reveals how sadly twisted and misguided it all was. With his compassion and understanding but still stern hand and clear moral compass he points to the injustice, and the intolerance that has become our society.

Thank-you Chris

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By Fadel Abdallah, March 23, 2009 at 5:00 am Link to this comment

Just judging from the title of this piece, even before reading it thoroughly, I must agree with Chris Hedges that what ails America is a moral crises long in the making. The economic crises is just the outer physical manifestation of moral bankruptcy.

Now, here’s the bad news! Money comes and goes, and in one or two years the financial crises might ease and Americans will go back to their old habits of moral double-standards and false sense of their exceptional ism and arrogance .  But the disease of moral sickness cannot be fixed overnight or in a matter of few years; it’s time-span is generational, and it will take revolutionary measures to achieve it, given that a good majority understand what it takes morally to start working on fixing the problem!

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By iska, March 23, 2009 at 3:08 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges is back at his simple and powerful best.

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By Brian, March 23, 2009 at 2:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For those who feel compelled to see justice done and truth realized, this article implies a question that it doesn’t satisfactorily answer: What is to be done? One solution is to abandon the country to itself, let Rome rot and wash one’s hands of it. But supposing one feels compelled to stay and try to root out the rot, what is an appropriate response to the madness ( it seems appropriate to call it that since it operates without regard for the total sustainability of the society, much like cancer operates without regard for the total organism). If we are willing to see that it is rooted in a certain type of madness than the cure would seem to require sanity; How do we determine what is sane and what is not? The madness has these characteristics: ” childish hyper-masculinity,” “brutal backstabbing and deception,” “masochism,” and “sadism.” What are the countervailing indicators of sanity: maturity, femininity held in appropriate regard, honesty, loyalty, and generosity, the avoidance of pain for oneself and others and empathy for those who suffer. The last is most vital if sanity is to be restored. The culture is mad because the people suffer from madness, in both senses of that word. If you show empathy for them, as you must toward the insane, is it possible to fight them at the same time? Of course not, one leads them to sanity, this is empathy realized. How is sanity realized for others? to be sane for others is to be sane for oneself. Meet the masculine with the feminine, meet deception with honesty, meet pain with healing, meet cruelty with forgiveness. This is the task that true culture warriors will take responsibility for.

Do not fight, that is the road to defeat. If you want to fight then what you really want is to feel good by being right and making others wrong. fighting makes those you fight stronger.

If you know of no other response than to fight, then relax take a deep breath and recognize the insanity that has possessed you, but that is not you. 

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”

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By Shift, March 23, 2009 at 2:03 am Link to this comment

Powerfully written !  The omission however is that we on the left, continue to power the engine of the right through the support of abortion rights; thus, we lose the moral authority to successfully challenge the right effectively.  Simplistic?  Maybe, but more true than not.

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