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2011: A Brave New Dystopia

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Posted on Dec 27, 2010
Flickr / Ludovic Bertron (CC-BY)

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

Our manufacturing base has been dismantled. Speculators and swindlers have looted the U.S. Treasury and stolen billions from small shareholders who had set aside money for retirement or college. Civil liberties, including habeas corpus and protection from warrantless wiretapping, have been taken away. Basic services, including public education and health care, have been handed over to the corporations to exploit for profit. The few who raise voices of dissent, who refuse to engage in the corporate happy talk, are derided by the corporate establishment as freaks.

Attitudes and temperament have been cleverly engineered by the corporate state, as with Huxley’s pliant characters in “Brave New World.” The book’s protagonist, Bernard Marx, turns in frustration to his girlfriend Lenina:

“Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?” he asks.

“I don’t know that you mean. I am free, free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody’s happy nowadays.”

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He laughed, “Yes, ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays.’ We have been giving the children that at five. But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she repeated.

The façade is crumbling. And as more and more people realize that they have been used and robbed, we will move swiftly from Huxley’s “Brave New World” to Orwell’s “1984.” The public, at some point, will have to face some very unpleasant truths. The good-paying jobs are not coming back. The largest deficits in human history mean that we are trapped in a debt peonage system that will be used by the corporate state to eradicate the last vestiges of social protection for citizens, including Social Security. The state has devolved from a capitalist democracy to neo-feudalism. And when these truths become apparent, anger will replace the corporate-imposed cheerful conformity. The bleakness of our post-industrial pockets, where some 40 million Americans live in a state of poverty and tens of millions in a category called “near poverty,” coupled with the lack of credit to save families from foreclosures, bank repossessions and bankruptcy from medical bills, means that inverted totalitarianism will no longer work.

We increasingly live in Orwell’s Oceania, not Huxley’s The World State. Osama bin Laden plays the role assumed by Emmanuel Goldstein in “1984.” Goldstein, in the novel, is the public face of terror. His evil machinations and clandestine acts of violence dominate the nightly news. Goldstein’s image appears each day on Oceania’s television screens as part of the nation’s “Two Minutes of Hate” daily ritual. And without the intervention of the state, Goldstein, like bin Laden, will kill you. All excesses are justified in the titanic fight against evil personified.

The psychological torture of Pvt. Bradley Manning—who has now been imprisoned for seven months without being convicted of any crime—mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of “1984.” Manning is being held as a “maximum custody detainee” in the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Virginia. He spends 23 of every 24 hours alone. He is denied exercise. He cannot have a pillow or sheets for his bed. Army doctors have been plying him with antidepressants. The cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo have been replaced with refined Orwellian techniques, largely developed by government psychologists, to turn dissidents like Manning into vegetables. We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. Now we can all be taken to Orwell’s dreaded Room 101 to become compliant and harmless. These “special administrative measures” are regularly imposed on our dissidents, including Syed Fahad Hashmi, who was imprisoned under similar conditions for three years before going to trial. The techniques have psychologically maimed thousands of detainees in our black sites around the globe. They are the staple form of control in our maximum security prisons where the corporate state makes war on our most politically astute underclass—African-Americans. It all presages the shift from Huxley to Orwell.

“Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling,” Winston Smith’s torturer tells him in “1984.” “Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”

The noose is tightening. The era of amusement is being replaced by the era of repression. Tens of millions of citizens have had their e-mails and phone records turned over to the government. We are the most monitored and spied-on citizenry in human history. Many of us have our daily routine caught on dozens of security cameras. Our proclivities and habits are recorded on the Internet. Our profiles are electronically generated. Our bodies are patted down at airports and filmed by scanners. And public service announcements, car inspection stickers, and public transportation posters constantly urge us to report suspicious activity. The enemy is everywhere.

Those who do not comply with the dictates of the war on terror, a war which, as Orwell noted, is endless, are brutally silenced. The draconian security measures used to cripple protests at the G-20 gatherings in Pittsburgh and Toronto were wildly disproportionate for the level of street activity. But they sent a clear message—DO NOT TRY THIS. The FBI’s targeting of antiwar and Palestinian activists, which in late September saw agents raid homes in Minneapolis and Chicago, is a harbinger of what is to come for all who dare defy the state’s official Newspeak. The agents—our Thought Police—seized phones, computers, documents and other personal belongings. Subpoenas to appear before a grand jury have since been served on 26 people. The subpoenas cite federal law prohibiting “providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.” Terror, even for those who have nothing to do with terror, becomes the blunt instrument used by Big Brother to protect us from ourselves.

“Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating?” Orwell wrote. “It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself.”

Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”

Revisions have been made in this column since it was originally posted on Truthdig.


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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, January 3, 2011 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, to clarify, I propose anyone can become nasty depending on the circumstances.  I’ve seen some work that indicates some people have a higher propensity to become nasty and group together to support each other in defensive behaviors. 

Even people like the tea partiers might indeed be quite sweet and nice people, but they feel the general pressure we have created, and are forming a defensive unit.  Unfortunately, they are advocating ideologies that work against their own (and everybody elses) well being. 

To go on a tangent, we’ve perverted the meaning of ‘growth’ to mean just any darn old economic activity, regardless of the long term value and cost to society.  I’ll call this ‘growth of waste’, because it wastes raw materials, time, people’s talents, and their 401K’s!  People feel the pressure this so called ‘growth’ is exerting, especially in the areas of the country where real productivity and the good kind of growth used to happen. 

The result…....formerly decent people, good neighborly, church going people, get anxious, they band together and fight the enemy they think is the culprit.  They become both nasty and stupid largely because their frustration and anxiety have been cleverly harnessed by the media pundits for use by whomever will pay for delivery of said harnessed masses.  I give you the tea party.  It’s sad, they are screwing themselves along with everybody else by ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’, as Ardee suggests.

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By ardee, January 3, 2011 at 6:53 am Link to this comment

“Corporations are creations of governments and therefore would not exist without them; the privileged status they obtain from government is not available to individuals. But even corporations cannot themselves physically force anyone to buy their products/services. It is government with its legalized use of force that can and does compel an individual to take actions that s/he often would not otherwise do. It is the actual or threatened use of physical force by government enforcers that results in many of the decisions that each individual makes every day. “

Why just yesterday I was in the supermarket and some guy from the government made me buy a cereal product laden with sugar, though I knew that it was a bad choice! That darn government, forcing corporate products upon me…..

With all due respect to Ms. Wakfer…gag! I found this post to be a Tea Party like perversion of the problem and yet another call for the ending of government services that will certainly bring even more control by corporate interests, if not chaos and lawlessness.

That our government functions mainly to protect the wealthy, to ensure profits and currently fails to enforce regulatory responsibilities that is its raison d’etre is moot. That we should consider throwing out the baby with the bath water is an agendized and silly point of view, in my opinion.

If something doesn’t work why would one not consider fixing it? Well, because one has a hidden ( not so much in this case) agenda. The poor, the children, the elderly need the services government can and does provide. When one speaks to ending governments one also speaks to privatizing police forces, fire departments, schools et al.

The problem , as I see it, is not that government “enforcers, roam our nation forcing bad choices upon our people, that is simply a poorly written science fiction plot. The problem is that our government has been usurped by the moneyed interests and no longer serves the people. Strengthening government is what is required, throwing the corporate lobbyist out of the Senate cloakroom and out of the Legislators pocket is the necessary step. Do not be fooled here.

One can certainly see the fallacy in this poster’s premise if one simply envisions BP charged with a moral responsibility to run our fire depts., or Halliburton our police forces. Lets put Goldman Sachs in charge of our school system of course, after all they have proven to be so morally correct. Bring back Enron and give them an unsupervised and unregulated shot at honest responsible actions….After all, profit has proven to be a measure of honesty and morality after all.

Give us a break!

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, January 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment

William Greider
made the following comment providing another point of view which ties or sort of dove tails or doesn’t with John Bests nasty people and my stupid people comments, he actually shoots mine in the ass!

“I start with the conviction that people in every station of life are not stupid. Most people are pretty capable of forming opinions and insights of their own, based on their own experiences and what they see happening around them. They don’t get everything right but—guess what—neither do the governing elites, the economists and policy wonks who tell us what is correct thinking. The financial collapse and economic breakdown are dramatic evidence of elite failure, yet I see most media reporting still relying on the same old sources as if nothing went wrong. In a functioning democracy, what the people think would be regarded as a vital source for informing democratic debate. That is what the people lose—their seat at the table.”

Source: Daily Kos, January 2, “Wow - Greider on the Press & Social Security”

I found it an interesting article on social security, not sure about his concept of solidarity though.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, January 2, 2011 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

Anarchissie,  with respect to the question of corruption of government, you pose: “Or with one since any government must necessarily be composed of the same nasty human beings it is supposed to restrain”.

For me, I agree with Churchill who said how horrible Democracy is, except for everything tried yet.  I think we would fare far better to rethink and retool our methods for throwing corruption out of the US government at all levels…....no small task to be sure, and without extreme work and diligence by you and me, it’ll re-corrupt soon enough, but ther is no way, no way whatever I would think for a nanosecond to support anything resembling anarchy. 

Frankly, if so many good minds and energetic people weren’t off chasing ‘ghost solutions’, and would just find and expose corruption at any level of government, we’d be a lot better off.  WE get wrapped up in dead-end ideologies, and it wastes our energy….and while we argue away, the nasty ones steal and control and pollute and enslave. 

Our particular structure of government isn’t the problem.  The problem is that the electorate has accepted the vagaries, the double-talk of politicians.  We hear what we want and elect them.  We don’t collectively trust the brighter ones among us to demand of the press that they seriously expose the incompetent or corrupt candidates.  The press must force the politicians to remain true to their charge to serve the ‘general good’ of the People. 

It’s real work, so people allow themselves to believe what they want…..in some ‘ism’, anarchy perhaps, whereby everything goes along by some unguided natural means, but it’s a dream, it won’t work, it’s a fairy tale like the ‘free-marketers push, a smokescreen and a waste of time.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, January 2, 2011 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

I don’t know if I’m right or not, but my view have been evolving as I’ve read and observed people.  I try not to be optimistic or pessimistic, rather I take the approach that if we do the right stuff, things will go well.  If we keep letting stupid or nasty folks have their way, there will be serious trouble. 

I can kind of see the substitution of ‘stupid’ for ‘nasty’ (see Lefeller’s previous comment) because it is really fairly stupid to not realize how very damaging it is to act completely in ones own self interest over the long run.  But I think in the short term, many of us are indeed very nasty. 

The sort of problem we have, particularly as populations are pressed to compete for fixed resources, is that it becomes very easy to revert to the various self-preservation mechanisms, gluttony and greed being perhaps two of them.  Nasty? Stupid?  I don’t know, but it seems cooperation is much easier in times of plenty.  I think some people are even hardwired (and I should make a citation here, but I forget where I picked this up), anyway, some people are hardwired to become aggressive when ‘times seem threatening’.  If certain individuals have this (nasty?) nature, it can help the whole group or tribe, weak, strong alike.  It may be that homo sapiens felt threatened and the aggressive ones killed off the neanderthal, outright or by displacement, who knows?  The particular example may not be be finest, but there is evidence that we are born with differing propensities.  I would offer that we need be very careful that our society (or competing societies) must be quite careful what particular individuals or classes of individuals (tough to swallow, I know), get empowered by the natural advantages of a particular economic or political system.  It is my belief that completely unfettered capitalism favors people and professions that do not care about the long term prosperity or even survival of the larger group.  I offer only as proof the sort of people you see wielding power, and some of their exploits.  Political, economic and corporate systems favor the selection and survival (in a sort of Darwinian way) of certain types of leaders and minions.

In the 1980’s, when we said as a country that ‘Greed is good’, we made a huge cultural mistake.  The anarchno-capatalist drones try to justify this today.  Typically it’s to obfuscate their own gluttony, but they lend support to what I call ‘masters they do not know’.  It might feel quite good in the short term, but it’s an insidious long term process.  These creeps (stupid and/or nasty) have every incentive to keep up the drumbeat toward dictatorship, fascism, arachno-capitalism, oligarchy, or whatever, and they can’t see past their own immediate personal short term success.  In short, these folks need a nice secure dead-end job to do where they can’t cause trouble!  The last place we need to concentrate them is in influential sectors of the economy.

I’d better conclude, so let me say that I think a huge, huge red flag should have been in the 80’s when we thought all that ‘me generation’ stuff was so cute.  It was seriously short sighted.  There were pre-cursors to that decade, but we failed to predict how society would go along.  We were fascinated by all the goodies that went along with a seriously wealthy society and trusted far too much to people working behind the scenes.  These ‘behind the scenes’ people have stupidly, YES, stupidly, unknowingly, assisted in selling away our ability to manufacture the wealth we need to care of the citizens here.  Most of these people may not be ‘nasty’ in some circumstances, but given a limited number of options as how to survive….both individuals and corporations…....everyone does what they think will work for them because we do not have a strong, ironclad, clearly stated and agreed social contract in this aggregation of a country.

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By Anarcissie, January 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

John Best, January 2 at 7:04 pm:
’... We humans are far nastier than many of us can admit, and personally, I only began to recognize it slowly, after getting out in the world a bit and getting beyond my cozy middle-class upbringing.  Without an uncorrupted and good government, we might easily evolve to a state that more fully manifests the nastiness of the worst among us. ...’

Or with one, since any government must necessarily be composed of the same nasty human beings it is supposed to restrain.

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By Leefeller, January 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

“We humans are far nastier than many of us can admit, and personally, I only began to recognize it slowly, after getting out in the world a bit and getting beyond my cozy middle-class upbringing.  Without an uncorrupted and good government, we might easily evolve to a state that more fully manifests the nastiness of the worst among us.”

Though I like to be optimistic about me fellow humans, it can be very hard to digest at times and I would prefer to change the word nasty to stupid, if I was king things would be quite different.

John Best, a very enlightened synopsis, possibly because I am in agreement? Also, it seems I may need to do a little update on Edmund Burke, was this a Burke form of sarcasm or am I missing more than my out of context deluded usual?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  Edmund Burke, Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)

“No matter what happens, it all comes out in the end.” Leefeller Guy, little known skeptic, ranter & Hypochondriac (past - present so far)

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, January 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

Lefeller said, “Even in disagreement it should be possible one could come to an agreement, except it seems some peoples opinions are set in stone?”. 

I used to think this too…...when I thought everyone had the objective of living together decently, perhaps with a live-and-let-live approach, being reasonable, and fair.  I could write a bit of an essay on how rare conditions are which create cooperation, and how many people seemingly cooperate only with those ‘of like mind’, or who are ‘like them’, which are both just ways to tag a potential cooperator or collaborator, or even conspirator as being ‘in the same tribe’.  Tribes aren’t what they used to be.  Now there is a tribe of apparent anarcho-capatalists, who, try to wave the ‘capatalist’ flag and avoid trying to be branded for what they are…faschists.  I digress.

Your point, about assuming a discussion is ‘in good faith’, presumable to resolve conflict and somehow reach consensus, (Or should I say CONsensus, as TAO Walker gently emphasizes).  In reality, in these electronic and various other media, what appears to be an attempt as teaching, or reaching understanding is actually coercion.  There is often no real respect for the other persons, or their ideas, experience, education,or anything.  With these corporate drones, pawns of the masters of the Club for Growth, or the Chamber of Commerce, or some think tank, there is only the objective of 1. making confusion such that the dust of the scuffling obscures what is really happening, and 2. convincing people to trust the anarcho-capitalists. 

I would urge anyone to not waste their time arguing with those who trot out neat theoretical explanations of economics that end ultimately in ‘the magic invisible hand of the mystical market will make this a land of harmony and honey”.  I’ve seen many hundreds of these drones prattle on, and ultimately, all they want you to do is sit out a political process in a state of confusion, or vote for them.  I’m not saying one party is any better than another, both sides use these “pseudo-science appeals to theoretical” understandings of economics. 

Ultimately, they (both sides, Dem and Rep) and the layers and layers of complimentary organizations and unwitting supporters beneath them, just fight to keep secure comfy jobs for themselves and the least number of people they need in order to retain power.  It is that simple.  There are so, so many ways people who work can be tricked and cheated out of their work, that it is irresistible to clever lazy ones, and they do not argue to resolve conflict, they ‘argue’ to retain the upper hand. 

We humans are far nastier than many of us can admit, and personally, I only began to recognize it slowly, after getting out in the world a bit and getting beyond my cozy middle-class upbringing.  Without an uncorrupted and good government, we might easily evolve to a state that more fully manifests the nastiness of the worst among us.  We are not at all above repeating the cycles of invasion, inquisition, genocide, torture, slavery, etc.  On the bright side, we can do many things to avoid the worst. 

Please, stay skeptical, and don’t put trust in those who speak in the language of the ‘free-marketeers’, the anarcho-capatalists, the oligarchists.  And if you can muster the energy and courage, remember this:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  Edmund Burke, Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)

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By elisalouisa, January 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement.

Buyer Beware. There was a time when one could rely on quality with certain brand names. No more. Cheap mass-produced items are the norm for name brand products such as Disney, of which Hedges’ statement above is an apt description. Shoddy goods can be purchased with boundless credit and when
buyers cannot fulfill their obligations as to amount owed, we must all pay, through higher prices and/or government using tax payer money to fund banks “to big to fail.”

The corporate state always wins.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, January 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm Link to this comment

Even in disagreement it should be possible one could come to an agreement, except it seems some peoples opinions are set in stone? What really is troubling to me, I find economics very much like religion; or even more accurately compared to politics, maybe economics is politics? There seems to always be a self righteous person who feels they know the truth and are sure to let everyone know about it. They know the facts and the skinny when actually they are shooting from their ass, I am referring to those making the decisions affecting our lives.

I do not know crap about economics, but from what I have seen even the experts don’t seem to know their ass from a hole in the ground either.

For what it’s worth, (not much actually) with unemployment so high and the new Global scheme of things shafting the working classes of the world; I see the world becoming a right to work world like Texas!  Mind you my opinion does not make a hill of beans and with absolutist certainty I can safely say my opinion doesn’t mean squat.

John Best you got me thinking about the pricing of things with an eye for maximum profit, and I see this same new world scheme of things paying the lowest wages to the underpaid workers of the world.

Damn, we are all going to Texans now!

Sometimes the exchanges here on TD provide learning experiences by showing how people think or not and how people express themselves, which is great for assimilation of ideas instilling the cartoon light bulb over me head.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, January 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment

I’m about done addressing you, as the personal attacks are intolerable, but perhaps just one item…..

You ask, “Are you suggesting that entrepreneurs purposely try to hide information?”.......YES!  HELL YES!  ABSO-F*&^ing-LUTELY, they do it all the time!  It is SOP for damn near every single product that is on the shelves.  And be sure you understand that I mean ‘Entrepreneurs’ in the broadest sense to include almost all busineses, big and small.  Here’s one aspect of how competition works….........if I, as a hypothetical manufacturer or distributor reveal every tiny bit of relavant information, wether it makes the product look good or bad depends on how much information my competition reveals.  If my competition chooses to be selective, it gives him the advantage.  Think about that.  That is marketing 101. 

Only the minimal bit of positive information is revealed, that which is perceived ad needed to get the sale.  Period.  Anything more is stupid, regardless of how it would help the consumer.  Hell, they might use additional information to pick your competitons product or service! 

With any given product I look at, and I am professionally qualified to make these determinations, it is exceedingly obvious that key parameters are obscured by junk information, if they are present at all. 

Not to be pro-government, because I am not pro or against, but with respect to food items, I wonder if there would be any relevant information at all, if not for evil regulations. 
 
By the way, money has no value in-and-of itself.  That is an illusion put forth my your masters.  The reason most economists struggle with the value of money is that they are charletains, and merely need an explanation the public will swallow.  If they are really trying to define the value of money as you do…..a value relative to a self centered perception….....well, that’s exactly how we get into “speculative bubble style economies’, and I use the word ‘economies’ very loosely.  Actually, to the charletains, the only value in defining the value of money, is in the value of being able to use the ‘definition’ to continue to fool the public.  Great work if you can get it. 

Fat Freddy, you really seem like a kid out of school with a very narrow theoretical understanding that has no real world experience yet.  I’m not putting you down, really, but you are absolutely certain of yourself and dead wrong.  Go out and try to run a business and see how well your explanations hold up.

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By The Muse, January 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fat Freddy responded to John Best - January 1 at 6:46 pm

“Maybe the reason you don’t understand how competition works, is because you were taught in a governemnt created monopoly; the public school system.”

Spoken like a true corporate shill. Competition under our current “Capitalistic” system has NOT worked.  “By the fruit, so shall the tree be known.”  Look around you, Oh unwise one, and see the destruction of an entire nation by the machinations of “competition” under the banner of “less government”.

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By Fat Freddy, January 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

John Best

The ‘true’ entrepreneur (LOL) desires the consumer to be ‘educated’ with the spin on his product or service that helps sell the most at the highest profit…...regardless of what real information might help the consumer.

Are you suggesting that entrepreneurs purposely try to hide information? You really have no idea how competition works, do you? With profit, is loss. It is the fear of bankruptcy that keeps a free market system honest. It is the entrepreneur’s function to offer a similar or superior product for less money.  If he can not do that, he goes bankrupt. Thus, it is the consumer that benefits. It is coercion and manipulation of the “system”, by governments that skews that function and creates false market signals, and provides protectionism and favoritism to specific companies.

Maybe the reason you don’t understand how competition works, is because you were taught in a governemnt created monopoly; the public school system.

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By Fat Freddy, January 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

John Best
Don’t pick a snipe here and there.  Look at how a perverted definition of what value is will drive the market! 

Absolutely. But where does that perverted definition of value come from? What is the one constant in all transactions? Money. What is the value of money? How has the value of money been manipulated by the government and the Federal Reserve, and the large banks? What is inflation? Can we inflate our way out of debt? If you want to know where price perversion comes from, look at the money manipulators, not the free market.

If you can not define the value of money, you can not define the value of anything.

Why don’t you give me your definition of “value”? If yuo can place a firm definition on the value of money, you are a better man than most economists. Economists of all flavors have been struggling with this question for over a century.

Indeed, isn’t this skew toward the entrepreneur’s desired perspective of reality the job for which the advertising industry is hire?  Yes indeed

By “skew”, do you mean accentuate the positive? When you are on a job interview, don’t you do the same thing? If you are looking for “brutal honesty”, I’m afraid you won’t find it, anywhere. If you do, please let me know. I’ll use it for my dissertation.

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By Anarcissie, January 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy—the page I mentioned is http://1freeworld.org/govandstate_az31.html.  I posted the URL here previously, but it disappeared or was put in some other discussion.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, January 1, 2011 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

Fat Freddy, I restate correctly, that “Never, never have I ever heard any from the ‘free market’ camp emphasize, let alone mention the absolute requirement that customers (consumers) be well informed about all aspects of the value of the product”

Your responce: “This is utterly wrong. It is an educated consumer that the true entrepreneur desires.”

No, you are not only wrong, but misleading.  The ‘true’ entrepreneur (LOL) desires the consumer to be ‘educated’ with the spin on his product or service that helps sell the most at the highest profit…...regardless of what real information might help the consumer.  This is trus to the point of intentionally obscuring the truth, which seems to be a pattern around the MBA crowd, screaming “Caveat Emptor”. 

Indeed, isn’t this skew toward the entrepreneur’s desired perspective of reality the job for which the advertising industry is hire?  Yes indeed.

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By SingleStepper, December 31, 2010 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Spot on perfect until the line the government is making war on African Americans.

They’re all fat and driving nice cars, but haven’t worked a day in their life.

Bush gave millions of them houses and it caused the 2008 meltdown.

We even made one president.  No sly liar, the war is against the middle class.

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By Anarcissie, December 31, 2010 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy—My definition of the state is, roughly, all that is established or held in place or defined by the government.  I will try to put up a longer article on this somewhere later.

Clearly, I regard the opposition between corporation and government both libertarians and welfare statists are so fond of as fanciful and invalid.

My purpose in mentioning intellectual property was not so much to question its existence but to note the aggressive way in which it has been expanded in recent years by the ruling or owning class.  Other previously unregulated, unclaimed resources have similarly been sequestered, propertized and turned over to private persons and corporations by governments, such as the EMF spectrum as used for broadcast communication.  I’m aware that many libertarians oppose some or all of these developments.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, December 31, 2010 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy says “No. Smith used the Labor Value Theory.”  And that is not utilitarian?  As far from the perversions of ‘value’ that are currently offered?

Fat Freddy says, “I think you place too much emphasis on exactly what value is.” —Certainly you might prefer to obscure this absolutely essential concept. 

Address the issues man.  Don’t pick a snipe here and there.  Look at how a perverted definition of what value is will drive the market!  Go back to your consumer electronics example…...surely you concede that this is utterly meaningless with regard to the large issues affecting the human condition! 

How we define ‘value’ in the products in the market is absolutely the essential to the evolution of the market toward either fair or foul ends.  WE can end up ultimately with a superficial disposable world, having an unsurvivable bubbly economies, or we might evolve toward something that serves more people better.

It is possible you fancy yourself as one of the elite who, having been loyal to the ‘new economic ideologies’ will retain the favor of masters you serve but do not know.  Come on Man!  You’ve allowed your head to be filled with illusions of true knowledge.  There is only so much room in a priesthood.  Re-think the whole thing before it’s too late for you.  How old are you Fat Freddy?  Step back and be objective about the whole fantastic puzzle and stop wasting the MBA mantra on me.

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie

And there has been much discussion in Austrian and libertarian circles about intellectual property. Rand was for it, but more recently anarchist libertarians have made a case against it. I’m a little behind the curve. Here are two, (one video, one paper) things I’ve been meaning to get to:

http://blog.mises.org/15019/intellectual-freedom-and-learning-versus-patent-and-copyright/

http://www.stephankinsella.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/kinsella_ip-libertarianism-liberty-2009.pdf

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie

I not sure I accept your definition of “State”.

... I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as “taxation”; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area. An institution not possessing either of these properties is not and cannot be, in accordance with my definition, a state. On the other hand, I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of an individual.

Whenever there is property and private contracts, there will always be disputes. Always. So, there will always need to be some intervening “authority” to resolve these disputes. Private arbiters, and mediation can provide resolution of these disputes without resorting to violence, except in extreme cases, and even then, ostracism is preferable. There was a time when ostracism was Capital Punishment.

Rothbard lays the basic foundation here:

http://mises.org/daily/2429

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller,

Anytime someone mentions betterment for the masses, the poor or people in need, their is always a very quick reply from the right or Fox News.  “Communist” “pinko” “Socialist”.

That’s because they assume that this “betterment of the masses” will be performed by government bureaucrats allocating resources, against market demands, through the use of force. Any coercion of an individual to sacrifice for the good of the whole, is Collectivist. AKA, Communism, Socialism, Fascism etc. At least, that’s how I look at it.

Wouldn’t you agree that a government grant to Monsanto to create a new hybrid wheat plant that yields higher harvests, or grows in arid conditions, is for the “betterment of mankind”? The next question, of course, would be, who would own the patent on that new hybrid, and should there be patents? But I digress. I feel that all government grants and subsidies are a form of coercion, and are “immoral”, regardless of their intentions.

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By Anarcissie, December 31, 2010 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy—No doubt violence occurs and has to be dealt with.  However, I think it’s highly questionable whether we want to make it the centerpiece of our social institutions.  I’ll also observe that this particular super-institution is not static but is constantly being extended, strengthened, and centralized, the most radical extensions lately being in the realm of so-called ‘intellectual property’.  I ask—where does it end?  When absolutely everything is owned and controlled by some totalitarian state?  (Because property as we know it, like war and class, is the state; and the modern state’s claims are definitely totalitarian.)

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

As I recall, Smith tended toward a more utilitarian version of value.

No. Smith used the Labor Value Theory.

I think you place too much emphasis on exactly what value is. Of course the Austrians use subjective value in their theory, but they didn’t completely rule out the utility value either. You mentioned market equilibrium. There is no such thing. Austrians reject the mathematical equilibrium approach of neoclassical economics. The assumptions of the equilibrium models are intended to simplify rather than represent reality. As an alternative to equilibrium, Austrians offer the model of market process. Individuals, within the institutions of a market economy, trade and otherwise cooperate to achieve their own chosen goals. Through trading, individuals learn new information, causing them to revise their plans. The market process is this “series of systematic changes in the interconnected network of market decisions” However, Austrians recognize that force by both individuals and governments exists, and that market theory does not completely explain reality. Austrian economists define economic concepts by the subjective intentions and beliefs of acting individuals. An object has no value except to an acting individual; no object is a means unless considered such by an acting individual.

You said:

Never, never have I ever heard any from the ‘free market’ camp emphasize, let alone mention the absolute requirement that customers (consumers) be well informed about all aspects of the value of the product

This is utterly wrong. It is an educated consumer that the true entrepreneur desires.

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

The problem with property is that (in our usual conception of it) its objects are something that can and should be defended with violence

Correct. Violence is necessary. But only as a response to the initiation of violence or force. If you think that violence can be avoided, you have very little understanding of human nature, or even nature in general, and I doubt that. Violence is a part of life which needs to be dealt with. Private property is a means of avoiding violence and confrontation, however it is not perfect. I don’t walk into my neighbor’s house and take his food, not because the state is there to protect him, but because he will fight to prevent me from taking it. So, I offer him something in trade for it. Perhaps a new coat. That’s how humans survive. We exchange the things we need. We don’t give them away. We can form groups, through mutual consent, to work together to reach common goals, but the proceeds will always be divided in some way. How those proceeds are divided is open for debate. Once they are divided, the allocation becomes the property of the individual. No one else has a claim to it after that. That is the foundation of property. Resources need to be allocated in some way. Otherwise, there would be complete lawlessness and no individuals would ever form groups through voluntary associations.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, December 31, 2010 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

Lefeller,

You ask a great question, “A very important question Wonder how value fits into Adam Smiths prosthesis of things?” 

As I recall, Smith tended toward a more utilitarian version of value.  Not that Smith is the end-all, know-all.  He is given the status of a saint by some.  Yes, he did a marvelous work for the time, and in the style of enlightenment thinking, he seemed to hope to explain complex issues with a simple model.  Yes, there is value in that approach, but it is easily abused.  Too many like Smith have tried to model ‘soft sciences’ in the way Newton did physics.  With theorems so elegant in mathematical beauty and precise in predictability, surely divine in origin, many like Smith sought an explanation that would give them the intellectual stature of a Newton.  And we’ve been falling for the junk science of these folks ever since.  Not that their work is without value, but the nature of it’s conjuring…....derivation of ‘proofs’ through observable data, is so often mis-applied outside the hard sciences.  And these ‘theorums’ give us false foundations to follow along in funding and fueling all sorts of counterproductive effort.

So, don’t feel that if you become an expert on Adam Smith you’ll be an expert at anything at all.  Even simple pricing has been perverted.  ‘What the market will bear’ is the credo of today, neglecting the effect of how the market determines value.  There is no longer any ethical connection to the real value of things, or the real costs including environmental and social costs.  In fact, the new crowd, the children of the 80’s?, the next generation Mad Men now push an ideology and a new ‘ethic’ of business that values the profits themselves as being the sole factor in all calculations.  Some businessmen used to do ‘cost-plus’ methods of calculating the price charged.  It reflected a certain ethic that it was somehow akin to thievery to charge ‘what the market would bear’.  That ethic has been almost entirely eroded.  It is a human weakness, related to the prisoners dilemma, that forces the ‘weak and greedy’ to cave in to their insecurity about humanity and charge what the market will bear.

But back to Smith and value for a second…...assuming we can neglect some other factors you mention, (and we cannot), one might say Adam Smith (who was also not the all-knowing God) had only so much information from which to deduce his work.  And this is a broad problem.  Being surrounded by a Puritan influence, he wrote a practical work that didn’t adequately see the influence of factors that today’s marketeers emphasize and exploit.  I speak mostly of various psychological factors, which Smith touches, but are the predominant factor in today’s US economy.  With our particular style of media, and the power to influence large masses very quickly based on psychological appeals, (get the girls, make your neighbors jealous, etc), we coerce and coax consumers to value things in ways Smith did not emphasize. 

Smith’s underlying principles are useful, but easily manipulated by applying them to generally.  Think of a sleazy preacher and how one might use the bible to seduce a congregation into buying him a Cadillac…....that is the Wealth of Nations.  A good work in the hands of good people, but a wicked tool for those who would pervert our idea of value to be so skewed toward the cheap, ecologically unsound, economy-undermining products and policies that today’s Mad Men, the MBA cult, would have us believe. 

I will say that if we accept the coercion to value the absurd, and define value absurdly, then the market will produce absurdity and the society will follow.  Further, to our peril, we will empower those who promote the absurd.

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

RenZo

Perhaps my time would have been better spent going to India, and getting a free vacation out of the deal. I really don’t care what they do in Europe or India. I’m telling you that socialized medicine in the US looks like Medicaid for all. Medicare, and Medicaid do not even come close to providing quality, affordable healthcare. The fact is, health “insurance”, has been manipulated by the government with tax breaks aand subsidies, and private institutions with “charters” from the government, since its very inception. It’s not even really “insurance” in any real meaning of the word.

Healthcare, like any other “good” or “service” can not be monopolized and provide quality, affordability, efficiency, innovation and effectiveness. Nothing can under the condition of monopoly status. I hate top keep using this example, but, Ma Bell.

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By Anarcissie, December 31, 2010 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy, December 31 at 3:10 pm:

ardee

I think you need to read Proudhon and Kropotkin to understand where Anarcissie is coming from. You’re a little off the mark in your assessment.

  “Philosophically, this creed is an all-out assault on individuality and on reason. The individual’s desire for private property, his drive to better himself, to specialize, to accumulate profits and income, are reviled by all branches of communism. Instead, everyone is supposed to live in communes, sharing all his meager possessions with his fellows, and each being careful not to advance beyond his communal brothers.

  At the root of all forms of communism, compulsory or voluntary, lies a profound hatred of individual excellence, a denial of the natural or intellectual superiority of some men over others….”

- Murray Rothbard (1970)

http://mises.org/daily/2197’

The problem with property is that (in our usual conception of it) its objects are something that can and should be defended with violence, while its framework, its reality, are social relations.  (No property on a desert island.)  Its objects are held to be like extensions of the body.  Hence the backformation of self-ownership; first, my property is my body; then, my body is my property.  This is, however, fallacious: the material goods and social structures which surround us may be necessary to us, but they are not identical with us, they are not our bodies.  We are stuck with our bodies, but we can change, trade, add to, delete our material goods and our social forms.

At the same time, human beings need to appropriate parts of the world to live—food to eat, houses to live in, and so on.  Property is the social form which subsumes and ‘covers’ this need.  Property becomes identified with this necessity and the objects involved, although it is one of many possible social forms which the working-out of the necessity might take.

The connection between property and violence necessitates the state, a permanent social organization of coercion whose purpose is to regulate social relationships, especially those of property, and whose fundamental tool is violence (war, police power, surveillance, secrecy and so on).  In accepting the idea of property as permanent, we accept violence, and therefore the state, and its necessary concomitants, class and war, as permanent parts of our lives and those of our social order.

The way this works out in the case of food is an instructive case in the working-out of property.  There are people who are hungry, who do not have enough to eat or who have to eat degraded foods.  At the same time, about half of the food produced in the U.S. is thrown away.  We observe that property functions to increase scarcity in this case.  However, scarcity is not its purpose.  The purpose of the state is to increase the power of the powerful and the riches of the rich, and scarcity sometimes, but not always, works to favor this purpose.

In ardee’s view (as I read it), the state is acceptable but ought to pay off as well as regulate the losers.  For instance, while Food Not Bombs and I give to all who come around, if you go to most food pantries or other charitable establishments you have to show documents showing that you are an officially-recognized poor person.  In effect, you’re subordinating yourself to and working for the system, ‘The Man’, in that role.  It’s a kind of job.  I reject this form of domination.

Others, like Mr. Rothbard, I imagine, don’t want to hire any losers.  In fact, they don’t seem to have any idea what to do with them.  As I note above, I think his apparent identification of the self with social power and material objects (other than the one body the self inhabits) is fallacious, although I suspect I would agree with many of his critiques of state power.

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By Leefeller, December 31, 2010 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

Anytime someone mentions betterment for the masses, the poor or people in need, their is always a very quick reply from the right or Fox News.  “Communist” “pinko” “Socialist”.

Rebuttals of simple thought seem so sad.

Now, I am not up on my Adam Smith, but his idea was something like competition of capitalism, provides the best product at the best price,.....the bestest for the slob on the street, possibly true back in Adam Smiths days, before monopolistic manipulations of things, like governments, products and the new world scheme of things.

Wonder how value fits into Adam Smiths prosthesis of things?

Yes, there is value in Goldman Slacks Xmas boninesses, I can feel the trickling down right now!

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, December 31, 2010 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

Fat Freddy…...please review our posts.  You sidestep my questions and not-so-obliquely challenge my credibility.  You seem unwilling to consider that you may be involved in a self-serving philosophy that tries to make a complex system far too neat.  Economics has been politicized, as is evidence by your handling of the meaning of the word ‘value’. 

I am very, very interested to learn exactly at what point in your evolution you decided to learn your particular version of the meaning of the word ‘valeu’ as it is applied to market equilibrium?  This is a serious question, I hope you will do the courtesy of a reflection and reply.

Perhaps as you consider this, please also think back to the more traditional way ‘value’ is defined, in a utility sense.  You surely know, subjective value is not utility value.  You may agree that subjective value, value in the mind, is based on advertising, meaningless specifications, and a barrage of psychological manipulations.  One cannot say a market will gravitate toward the same long term position if the term value is defined in two ways.  Indeed Orwell was quite correct about the degradation of the language.  ‘Subjective’ value, or individualized value, or self-oriented value will certainly drive a market equilibrium to a given point.  When the mass of consumers are more objective about value, let’s say more practical, then they look at things like ‘how long will a thing last?’, ‘what are the real long term benefits?’, ‘can I service the thing’, ‘what is the return on investment on product A versus product B’, and perhaps a somewhat new question we are discouraged from even thinking about, ‘what is the planned obsolescence of the product?’.  Questions like these…....serious questions that imply a consumers understanding of the economic utility of a product, are the stuff of ‘determination of value’ that is essential to a market producing a generally better result. 

The ‘specifications and features’ you cite for some Yamaha electronic consumer playthings as having some weight in a discussion of this nature indicate to me that you may be under the influence of the modern perversions and manipulation of economic theory.  These perversions of meaning are the essence of Orwell.  This determination of value is so, so fundamental to the most basic mechanisms of market operation, that to supplement a serious ‘objective and independent economic value’ measurement with an ‘apparent self oriented value’ perception is an indicator of the insidiousness of our current problem, and an indicator of the incredibility of those foisting themselves upon us as economic gurus.   

in conclusion, if you are willing to address the subject of the discussion, and avoid making implications about the credibility of those involved in the discussion, it would speak well of you.

John Best

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

ardee

I think you need to read Proudhon and Kropotkin to understand where Anarcissie is coming from. You’re a little off the mark in your assessment.

Philosophically, this creed is an all-out assault on individuality and on reason. The individual’s desire for private property, his drive to better himself, to specialize, to accumulate profits and income, are reviled by all branches of communism. Instead, everyone is supposed to live in communes, sharing all his meager possessions with his fellows, and each being careful not to advance beyond his communal brothers.

At the root of all forms of communism, compulsory or voluntary, lies a profound hatred of individual excellence, a denial of the natural or intellectual superiority of some men over others, and a desire to tear down every individual to the level of a communal ant-heap. In the name of a phony “humanism”, an irrational and profoundly anti-human egalitarianism is to rob every individual of his specific and precious humanity.

- Murray Rothbard (1970)

http://mises.org/daily/2197

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By ardee, December 31, 2010 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

The problem with anarchy, in a nutshell:

“Incidentally, I don’t do charity; I give food to rich and poor alike.  Whoever shows up and wants it.  This is my vision of communism and anarchy, the kind of world I want to live in—do live in, for a couple of hours a week.”

That the supply is finite and the demand almost infinite may be an opinion. That the rich can afford to purchase their own food is simple truth. Another such truth , or opinion, or both, is that when one ascribes to the Anarcissie world view as expressed above one is seemingly diminishing the needs of the poor, sidestepping ones obligations to those in need, however casually or entertainingly one expresses that sentiment.

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Sorry, one more thing. I can’t believe I missed this.

...be well informed about all aspects of the value of the product in the market.

Value is subjective. Haven’t you been paying attention? That’s why a company like, say, Yamaha, makes 33 different audio receivers instead of just one. Which one is most “valuable” to you, is not necessarily what is most valuable to someone else. You and only you need to compare and contrast the different features and prices to decide what best suits your needs. Get it? You can even go to a company like Crutchfield, that does their own independent testing of the products they sell, read the reviews, and make up your mind.

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/av-receivers-amps/

http://www.crutchfield.com/learn/learningcenter/home/receivers.html

There’s a wealth of information out there, that is fully supported by the free market. Get off your ass and do the research.

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

John Best

One more thing. The difference between a college classroom and the real world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlVDGmjz7eM

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By nahummer, December 31, 2010 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Great article! When I was thinking about the midterm election in the States I couldn’t quite figure out if it all seemed more Orwell or Huxley, I went with Orwell:
http://theendisalwaysnear.blogspot.com/2010/10/this-month-in-wingnuttery.html

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

John Best

If you want to learn about economics and how the “system” works, here are two reading lists, from two different perspectives.

First, the post-Keynesians:

http://wfhummel.cnchost.com/index.html#2

Second, the Austrians:

http://mises.org/daily/3128

Once you begin to understand how the system works, you begin to understand exactly how the kleptocrats use it against us.

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

TAO

Even “Fat Freddy” should be reassured, because there’s no “power” on Earth can force anybody to “Love one another.”

Of course, you can’t force someone to love you, which is why I’m Losing My Religion, among other things.


Life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I’m
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

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By Fat Freddy, December 31, 2010 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

John Best

For instance, the centerpiece idea: Free Markets. Show me just one please, anywhere in the world, excluding the Econ 101 classroom

Why? I’m looking for new solutions, not old ones. And Econ 101 doesn’t teach free markets. In fact, only at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and maybe George Mason University will you learn free markets. Certainly not in most college classrooms. Which is why. I suspect, you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Never, never have I ever heard any from the ‘free market’ camp emphasize, let alone mention the absolute requirement that customers (consumers) be well informed about all aspects of the value of the product in the market.

Then you haven’t been paying attention, or reading Consumer Reports, and you are unfamiliar with all of the private companies from Good Housekeeping to the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) that provide such information. You’ve obviously never shopped at Syms, where “An educated consumer, is our best customer”. If you are too lazy to do your homework, you deserve what you get. Sure, advertisers accentuate the positive, and eliminate the negative. But why would you take the word of someone trying to sell you “Magic Beans”? Tell me, how long do think someone would stay in business selling magic beans, or broken tape recorders? You can either do the research yourself, or allow the government to do it for you with guns, shackles and jails. And we all know how well the government does it, right? How long did Madoff run his Ponzi scheme, after numerous warnings to the SEC? Oh, but we need more regulations, I’m sure. How long have we had a War on Drugs, and how’s that working out for ya? Do we need more law enforcement to stop the illegal drug trade?

They are very, very neat arguments, self contained, and effective in narrow contexts, but, it is a far more than a stretch to extend economic arguments into sociology or psychology in any significant degree.

First of all, if you can’t do basic math, you can’t do Calculus. The arguments may seem narrow and simplified, but I am starting with the foundation. If you would like more detailed information, I would suggest you open your mind, drop all of your indoctrinated, preconceived ideas, and do some research. Of course economics is a Social Science. What else would it be? A hard science? Economics is, and I quote,

a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

- from Merriam Webster (my emphasis)


It is you who is suffering from indoctrinated intellectual constipation. You refuse to see things for what they really are. And, you stink of fear. That is how they control and enslave you. You make a good little slave, and people like you make great pets.

http://urbangardenmagazine.com/2010/11/human-farming-the-story-of-our-enslavement/

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By Nick, December 31, 2010 at 1:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

1984 and Brave New World- both great books

I wouldn’t say we are at the point of no return just
yet and we are not near the depressing states of
society in both those pieces. It might be a warning
for the future, but thankfully we still have time to
change things before that.

And I would have to disagree with your comment on
unregulated capitalism- when has such a system ever
been practiced? We were closer to it in the 19th
century, not the 20th and certainly not now.

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By TheQuestion, December 31, 2010 at 12:23 am Link to this comment

I keep wondering what would happen if people printed out the first two
paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence and mailed it to the President, their
Senators and Representatives, their Governor and state congress people, the
Supreme Court justices and as many Federal and State judges as they can?

Would 10mil, 50mil, 100mil copies wake them up?

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By gerard, December 30, 2010 at 10:48 pm Link to this comment

LoriF has the spirit it’s going to take, and there are more signs of it every day.  It’s the only reason I open up the Truthdig site every day.
  At this moment I think Assange’s message on the vital importance of accurate, timely information, (through leaks if not directly through media which have all failed us up to now) needs to be borne in mind.  Freedom of the internet is of primary concern to us all.  We need to realize the vital impact of what he and Manning have done, WikiLeaks wishes to keep doing (if they aren’t censored out of existence.) We also need to remember the vital importance of defending Manning and Assange when the time comes. 
  We will probably have to fight ex post facto laws cooked up for the express purpose of convicting them and everybody else, even though they have not disobeyed any laws on the books presently, thanks to the hard-won Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing—remember that word, guaranteeing—free speech and freedom of the press (including the airwaves and the internet.Things are that crucial.

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By Marcoslee, December 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment

This is going to be considered an important article
as we go along from here,I think.  Ike said we had a
MIC very seriously, backed up recently by new
evidence of how seriously Ike must have been
concerned about the MIC and about speaking to the
public about the MIC.  The only thing is, and I would
want Chris to feel free about this, is that I think
he stole all of the passion and ideas (except for his
brilliant use of Orwell and Huxley!) from me. See if
you don’t agree at free, safe writer’s and readers
website
http://www.scribd.com/doc/45838381/Revolution-or-
Extinction

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By TAO Walker, December 30, 2010 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

“WriterOnTheStorm”‘s persistent obsession with finding some way to have his comfort and CONvenience, without being eaten alive by the cannibalizing disease process using those things (among others) to lure him into (and keep him in) its virtual clutches, is something to behold.  Apparently having to concede that HumanBeings cannot actually “thrive” as Insects, he now proposes what might be fairly and accurately termed the “cyborg” solution to his dilemma.

Its fatal flaw, however, is in its foundation upon a premise observably false to Natural Fact….namely that “civilization” is the “operating system” for Human “society.”  This conceit requires the ‘finding’ that prior to the onset (10 to 12 thousand years ago for the present strain) of its process here, no genuine Human social arrangements existed….that only “civilized” people are truly Human.  That a few million years of Human presence among the other Children of Earth, ORGANized in a Way that kept us whole and healthy and sustainable in our various habitats for those countless generations, is of no real account in such a cooked-books reckoning.

Somehow we came-up short, all those millennia, in realizing our “biological imperative of species propagation.”  Unless, that is, our actual “imperative” is not merely maximizing our raw numbers, but in sustaining the integrity of our given organic function within Her larger Living Arrangement.  Maybe “WriterOnTheStorm” is simply projecting onto Her much more vast ‘canvas’ his own “individual” anxieties about “self”-presevation and “self”-perpetuation.

As “operating systems” go, as it happens, that of “civilization” is the eCONomy, with its characteristic institutional sub-systems mistakenly assigned (in his attempt to fabricate a more “user”-friendly alternative) to the disease itself.  Our social arrangement’s vaguely analogous (but hardly identical) feature is our Kind’s given organic function within Her Living Arrangement.  The best evidence of that vital function’s actual existence is the systemic disintegration occurring as it goes not just inadequately fulfilled, but is actively thwarted by a suppression regime CONsisting mainly of much too “self”-referential behaviors exclusive to “individual”-ized members of the virtual subspecies homo domesticus.  AIDS works pretty much the same way, and to the same general effect, in Humans who’ve CONtracted that degenerative CONdition.
     
Our tame Sisters’ and Brothers’ raw numbers are indeed proliferating, here in these latter days.  Unless Humanity is basically Insect-ile in nature, though, and is only emulating Maggots on a corpse fulfilling their given and necessary function, these ” modern” run-amok masses of Two-leggeds might not be a real reliable sign of subspecies “success.” 

This is especially so in-light of the great bunches of our Relatives who are languishing and vanishing, as homo domesticus-induced deterioration of the Biosphere “progresses” perhaps beyond recovery.  Only tunnel-visioned homo-centric blindness would call such self-destructive behavior “thriving.”

Meantime, no-doubt the atoms making-up “WriterOnTheStorm”‘s own corpus do enjoy complete indifference to any particular Way they might be arranged.  It seems a real safe bet, though, that he is pretty heavily invested in keeping their present configuration intact for as long as he can….by any means available.

So it must be only “evidence” of his own limited vision, and not indicative at all of anything more than that, when “WriterOnTheStorm” is unable to accord a Living Person-ified Being whose Form is a Planet the same interest as his own in keeping the shape She spent not merely thousands but billions of years getting into, by the time She so lovingly brought Humanity into Her Living Arrangement.  Or is that an unfair reading of his words here?

The “bug-out” quip is hilarious, though.

Hokahey!

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By elisalouisa, December 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

By TAO Walker, December 30 at 9:53 pm
Hard to tell whether “elisalouisa” figures it’ll be better to hang all together, or submit helplessly to the tormentors’ unstoppable (she says) depredations all-alone.

There is acceptance while as the same time resistance. The power elite have their think tanks going full speed. Being aware of this fact does not preclude that one should not resist. As you say, “the best laid plans even of “self” styled demigods go often awry . . . in some pretty spectacular ways, too.” In my vernacular that would be ‘life is full of surprises.”

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By John Best, December 30, 2010 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

REDHORSE wins (in my book) the best practical identitication as to why problems get worse instead of better. He says, “The “system” isn’t broken. “Ism’s” aren’t the problem. It’s the venal, corrupt to the core psychopaths twisting and subverting our legislature for personal gain who are creating this misery.”

The solution may be a new political party (stay with me) that requires any candidate to forever relinquish any claim to compensations above that of the average American.  Including Salary, health care benefit and retirement.  If such public servants are caught feathering their nests…....prison.  This would severely limit the type of person seeking office, and more importantly would incentivize themselves to do the things that improve the average condition of people. 

He’s right, ‘ism’s’ aren’t the problem, because without corruption, they’re harmless.  ‘Ism’s’ are just used as shields by the corrupt. 

To return to what I advocate: a new party based on austere, serious, simple, unadorned thinking people might actually attract voters equally from both parties.  It might especially work at the local level.  All that is needed is for someone (volunteer please) to draw up a contract and framework for enforcement that would be a strong deterrent to the “power breeds corruption” weakness.  Just empower bright average people to run for office with that contract signed and motorized, then do two things.  First, watch them like hawks.  We all must submit to the recognition that non of us is above corruptibility, so, close monitoring and complete LACK of trust should be the norm for a true public servant.  Second, make news out of these people.  Those who are willing to serve without hope of bettering themselves (or families) by it surely are to be made newsworthy and indeed should have the celebrity coverage we normally reserve for Hollywood trash.

And not to be a snob, but damnit, the interrelation of ‘normal’ pre-existing issues compounded by modern trans/supra national interests economic interests does take a lot of study and intellect to comprehend, let alone to tinker with, so we need extremely bright people without big ego’s.  How many of this specie actually exist?

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By WriterOnTheStorm, December 30, 2010 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

TAO,

Don’t bug-out on me. If you can’t get my meaning from the bees, let’s drop the
hive comparison and go for a computer analogy. You won’t like it any better,
but others may find it instructive. Let’s say that civilization (politics, religion,
morality, technology, etc) is the Operating System of society.

It’s important to recognize that any operating system functioning today is the
result of thousands of years of evolution, descending from early agrarian
societies. Things were tried, new problems emerged, discoveries were made,
new solutions were adopted, opposing ideas were proposed, wars were waged.
And all of this in pursuit of the biological imperative of species propagation. In
the course of this struggle, the notion of the individual has also evolved.  While
we might agree that western society places far too much emphasis on the
individual, (the driving principal of capitalism is individual triumph), you go a
step further to claim that individuality is a false construct, an illusion that is
bound to destroy us. Fair enough, except that everywhere one looks, it appears
that humanity is thriving. Life expectancy is up, population is up, overall health
is up, and all of that is made possible by a highly evolved, complex operating
system.  It’s pleasant to believe that it would all function better with a much,
much less sophisticated operating system, but at best, that’s pure assumption.
From our personal exchanges, I know why you persist in this, but others can
probably guess.

WriterOnTheStorm is a big fan of the Tiyoshpaye Way, but is still waiting to be
convinced that it is somehow more “organic”, or more pure than any other OS.
Even if the TW were preferable in every way, that in itself would not make it
viable on a mass scale. Your message sometimes sounds like “just drop out”.
But we’re not talking about private salvation here. We’re talking about building a
better operating system.

You want to speak of nature as though there is some grand mechanism of
balance at work. But there’s no evidence that mankind has any sort of greater
function within the “Living Arrangement”, even a menial role as planetary anti-
bodies. The earth couldn’t give a rodent’s backside wether it’s us big-brained
bipeds, or mesozoic lizards, or protozoa who do the inheriting. In fact, the
planet’s deep abiding indifference to all the biological coming and going may
be its most majestic quality.

Meanwhile Hedges’ weekly jeremiad against Civilization 5.0 too often fails to
take into account that fact that it has been a biological box-office sensation.
Sometimes, he doesn’t seem to understand what he’s up against. The Romans
were brutish, self-serving sons a’ bitches, but it was hard to argue with their
plumbing. We westerners may be a pack of greedy, imperialist pricks, but it’s
hard to argue with our hospitals, and our genetically modified super crops that
feed the world.  Of course, we all have our arguments with biology, point is,  we
don’t win them very often.  Human beings only change the Operating System
when the biological facts on the ground force them to do so. And not one
moment sooner.

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By TAO Walker, December 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment

Hard to tell whether “elisalouisa” figures it’ll be better to hang all together, or submit helplessly to the tormentors’ unstoppable (she says) depredations all-alone.  Still, the best-laid-plans even of “self”-styled demigods go often awry….in some pretty spectacular ways, too.

“All we are is dust in the wind.”....or in “Leefeller”‘s red-rimmed eyes.  As The-Most-Interesting-Man-In-The-World might advise in such supposedly irremediable CONditions, “Stay inebriated, my friends.”

Which brings us around to “David J.Cyr”‘s cosmic dustbin.  He at-least acknowledges the possibility that a few of us surviving Savages might still be here, after all is said and done, to tell this Story to our GreatGrandChildren.  The Call of the Free Wild is, of-course, something any number can heed….though he might be right in his belief that most won’t.

“Anarcissie” reminds us of just how really cheap “talk” is, anyhow.  Hell, what worth doing isn’t always a lot less easy than….just saying?  Up-to-it or not, though, no one will be able to enter a plea of “ignorance” (about exactly what needed to be done) as as any excuse for their own default decision to take the-easy-way out.

Even “Fat Freddy” should be reassured, because there’s no “power” on Earth can force anybody to “Love one another.”  He can enjoy the futile exercise of his sacred “Self-Ownership,” and welcome to it, ‘til Hell freezes-over….or he’s sick-and-tired of the “self” delusion, whichever comes before The-Chicken-or-The-Egg.

Meantime, it looks from here in Indian Country like “LoriF”‘s chances, if she does follow her own Best-Lights as she’s described it, are about as good as they’re gonna get for any of us.

HokaHey!

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By Anarcissie, December 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

Sodium-Na—I’m not surprised Hedges gets an excited response in other leftie venues as well.  In fact, I’m jealous!  In this case I was amused that so many rushed in proffering their Obvious Solution To The Problem—all different, of course.  I think this occurs because Hedges generally goes on at length about how awful everything is, but declines to offer any way out; and Nature, in the form of Truthdig opinions, abhors a vacuum.

Incidentally, I don’t do charity; I give food to rich and poor alike.  Whoever shows up and wants it.  This is my vision of communism and anarchy, the kind of world I want to live in—do live in, for a couple of hours a week.  Paradise if you want it.  Most people apparently don’t—yet.  I’ll keep trying to show it to them: peace, freedom, equality, and cookies.

You sort of have to stand the world on its alleged head to see it aright sometimes.

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By REDHORSE, December 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment

The “system” isn’t broken. “Ism’s” aren’t the problem. It’s the venal, corrupt to the core psychopaths twisting and subverting our legislature for personal gain who are creating this misery. That’s the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY of it. End of story. Continued reports on the stench and ooze of the Washington corpse has become redundant. It’s the same thugs different day. I suggest that you are being set up for broadcast of the great “final truth” in which you will be politely told Martial Law is being instituted for the good of the Nation (free American Flag lapel pin included). Again: Strong opinion isn’t action and TRUTHDIG is a forum not a political platform.

    Obama isn’t the anti-Christ but he is (like Clinton and Reagen) one of the great political Tricksters of our age. Stop giving your power to thugs and thrive. Continue to invest in the maudlin sentimentality of return to a time that never was and perish. ANY LIVING IDEALS OF AMERICAN FREEDOM LEFT ARE INSIDE YOU!! THE CAVALRY AIN’T COMIN’!!

    The VOTE is no longer a symbol of change and unity. Many here discount it out of hand. The only place to start is a local drive for major campaign finance reform and States Rights. If money and revolving door thuggery continue this “pathetic little circus” is going to carry us all straight over the edge.

    Help yourself!!

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By Sodium-Na, December 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

For elisalouisa,

elisa,

Thank you for your genuine wishes. It came out of your good heart spontaneously. I could tell.

From now on,I will concentrate more on my website and less in posting. Check it out when you have time. I even may stop posting not only on Truth Dig,but also on the other two websites I usually post on. I am just getting tired of posting. Most of the old time bloggers I enjoyed exchange views with have disappeared. They either died or they just got tired of posting. In my dictionary,they were the caring and noble bloggers,inspite of my disagreement with them on some issues.I hardly see their equals these days. Well,elisa,please forgive me if I disappointed you in any way I am unaware of. 

I wish you and your loved ones a Very Happy New Year and Beyond. Take good care of your health,elisa. As far as I am concerned,it is okay for a human being to lose everything he or she has as long as his health or her health remains in top shape. Take care.

Cheers,elisa,for a better tomorrow…

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By LoriF, December 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Four months ago, my husband and I turned off our TV.  We were fed up with the constant commercials, product placements and “junk food” programming.  I had also come to realize that the news I was watching didn’t actually contain much information.  After hearing about the Wikileaks issue on NPR, I looked it up online.  What followed was a daily quest for more information.  It amazed and horrified me that other countries knew more about what was going on in the US than I did! 

I have struggled with the heavy weight of believing that there is nothing I can do.  I am a married, 40 year old woman living in a small town in Indiana who trains dogs for a living.  I’ve never been in trouble with the law, or caused any waves of any kind.  However, I’m not going to just sit back and hope that someone else will take care of this for me. 

I’ve read every posting on this thread.  Regardless of which stance is taken, it is obvious that there are some brilliant minds on here.  Can’t we organize into a group and actually get some movement into this?  Although I love the idea of returning junk mail (and will be doing so!), I just don’t understand how that will have the effect we need it to have.  In my opinion, we need to organize and gather people together. Individual actions are wonderful, but seem to go unnoticed.  I’m tired of feeling helpless.  Maybe nothing I do will help, but at least I will have tried.

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By elisalouisa, December 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

As your statistically backed post points out Sodium-Na, whatever the website, Chris Hedges stirs up the gold dust; those who have gold within respond.

Sorry you are not well Sodium, may the New Year bring health to you and your
loved ones.

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By Leefeller, December 30, 2010 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

Apathy should be in the forefront over my fear and concerns.  But with all this dust flying around and now sand storming it still seems to really mean very little in the grand scheme of things, but I do find myself being very afraid.

Hedges does his doomsday stuff then Glen Beck does his doom days stuff and the twain meets in the middle?

Almighty Fear a powerful tool used by the powers that be since the dawn of time. (I should make it clear, I wasn’t here for most of it like some of you).  So the mega fear-mongers from religion effectively using a 3000 year old fear and dance routine to governments doing their own version of the hokey pokey, (especially Republicans)  then I find the Mass Media making news out of thin air, like some sort of horse and pony show.  So it could be said, with all this singing and dancing, hokey pokying and horse and pony showing, kicking up the mother of sand storms with so much dust, one has little option, but to be blinded with fear.

Lately, I find myself filled with fear, being so afraid of everything, I can only handle typing this from under me bed.

Basically it is very clear to me now, I see the whole picture very clearly, everything makes sense to me, especially with the price of Tequila going up!

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By John Best, December 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Fat Freddy: “What is evil is the initiation of force. If we can not make decisions for ourselves, then they are being forced upon us. Of course, with freedom comes responsibility. We must hold people responsible for their actions. Responsibility and freedom go hand in hand.”

One might say your statement above is contradicting.  I’ll suggest the devil is in the details.  Unfortunately, both sides argue from somewhat polar opposite positions, ideologies that are too theoretical, too neatly explained, ideologies that are therefore very palatable intellectual traps that are hard to step back from.  There is truth in what you say, but the application of partial truths will not work.  For instance, the centerpiece idea: Free Markets.  Show me just one please, anywhere in the world, excluding the Econ 101 classroom.  Never, never have I ever heard any from the ‘free market’ camp emphasize, let alone mention the absolute requirement that customers (consumers) be well informed about all aspects of the value of the product in the market.  In fact, ‘free marketers’ often use the ‘caveat emptor’ distraction, which absolutely perverts the function of a free market. 

Apologies for getting on a tangent above, but the ‘classic’ economic arguments you obviously understand and make are narrow and certainly do not take into account anything remotely approaching the range of factor that shape our worrld.  They are very, very neat arguments, self contained, and effective in narrow contexts, but, it is a far more than a stretch to extend economic arguments into sociology or psychology in any significant degree.

Lastly, it has been my personal experience, (and I am sorry to lump you into this crowd for now) but those who make these neat overly simplified arguments are almost always fighting battles for masters they do not know.  I’ll leave it at that.

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By Sodium-Na, December 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

Re: Anarcissie,December 29 at 6:36 pm.

Quote
=====

it’s hard for me to check my metaphor box with so much dust being raised.

Unquote
=======

Anar,

Since you seem to think that “so much dust being raised”,here,on Truth Dig every time Chris Hedges writes a column,I wonder what will you call what he stirs on Common Dreams website each time he publishes a column there? The following numbers may be of interest for statistical comparison:

~ “Recipe for Fascism” by Chris Hedges,published on Nov.8,2010,puplished by both websites:

Total comments appeared on Common Dreams: 338.
Total comments appeared on Truth Dig   : 253.

~ “The Origin of Americ’s Intellictual Vacuum” by Chris Hedges,published on Nov.15,2010,published by both websites:

Total comments appeared on Common Dreams: 360.
Total comments appeared on Truth Dig   : 143.

~ “Hope,Real Hope,Is About Doing Something” by Chris Hedges,published on Nov.29,2010 by both websites:

Total comments appeared on Common Dreams: 201.
Total comments appeared on Truth Dig   : 124.

~ “Better Memories of War on the Way to Jail” by Chris Hedges,published on Dec.20,2010,by both websites:

Total comments appeared on Common Dreams: 275.
Total comments appeared on Truth Dig   :  93.

~ “2011: A Brave New Dystopia” by Chris Hedges,published on Dec.27,2010,by both websites:

Total comments appeared on Common Dreams,sofar: 482.
Total comments appeared on Truth Dig,sofar   : 193

Anar-I went through all the above diggings just to prove one single point to you: the “dust” Chris Hedges raises on Truth Dig website becomes pale and less impressive,in comparison with the “sand storm” he causes as he publishes a column on Common Dreams website,every two weeks.

I wish you a Very Happy New Year and beyond.

Please keep helping the homeless/poor. That’s the greatest noble thing one may be able to do. My wife and I used to do it through her church,but we could no longer do so: she has ended up disable and I have ended-up having serious issues with my heart. I have to baby my heart to survive.

Cheers for a better tomorrow…

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By Fat Freddy, December 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

bakari45

Please do not insult me again. I do not advocate extreme selfishness, greed, or lack of empathy. I do not propose a Utopian society, as you do. All I advocate is the free exchange of goods and service with no coercion. If we are not free to exchange the things we need and want, we simply are not free. Free markets are the “effect” not the “cause” of a free people. The free exchange of goods and services is just as important as the free exchange of thoughts and ideas. You can’t have one without the other.

There is no “exploitation” when two people freely exchange goods and services for their own mutual benefit.

Without a monetary system, how do propose exchanging goods and services? Barter?

I agree that most people are not greedy and selfish. Which is why a truly free market without government can exist.

Economics is a Social Science. It can not be avoided. There are those that use their understanding of economics to exploit those who do not understand it. You find those people in positions of power. You find them in the financial, and political institutions. I’m afraid your fear or exploitation comes from your lack of knowledge of economics as a Social Science.

Greed and selfishness are not evil when tempered with compassion and understanding. What is evil is the initiation of force. If we can not make decisions for ourselves, then they are being forced upon us. Of course, with freedom comes responsibility. We must hold people responsible for their actions. Responsibility and freedom go hand in hand.

You imply I support greed and selfishness. I could imply you support irresponsibility just as easily.

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By Anarcissie, December 30, 2010 at 11:43 am Link to this comment

<b>TAO Walker, December 30 at 7:53 am: <b>

Now is the time for all Persons of good will to come together, where they live-and-breathe everyday, in aid of our Mother Earth….and one another. ...

Easier said than done.

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By elisalouisa, December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Our “tormentors” know how to play us TAO Walker. The next few acts have been set into motion and like a speeding bullet cannot be reversed, even for people of good will. For the most part, we shall not have to tear each other apart, it will be done for us, in a more expedient manner.

Not to worry, just think of all the football this weekend.

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By zagostino, December 30, 2010 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

@RenZo:

You write “If everyone hollered loud, really loud and
endlessly at their elected representatives, our
country would be different (and better).”

I don’t think that would be the case. Not to equate
the oppressive dictatorship in Iran with the Inverted Totalitarian one we live in here, but just look at
events during the recently disputed election there.

You can heroically protest in the street and shout at
the top of your lungs every night from your roof - at
the risk of your life -, but it doesn’t necessarily
lead to the over throw of an oppressive regime.

You can holler loud, really loud, as you want but
unless a mechanism exist to translate that rage into
effective action, the apparatchik ensconced in
his/her office(and the powerful oligarchs he
represents)will not give up power without a fight, a
fight that needs so much more than shouting.

In terms of your comment,“There are quite a few even
here who do not admit to this awareness or dissent
from it in one way or another” I agree.

During the holidays, the mall parking lot was full of
large SUVs and the stores inside crowded with throngs
of people buying all manner of consumer products. I
don’t think there is much hope in replacing the
religion of consumption with self-sacrificing activism.

What I am bemoaning, is the lack of an organizing
force to take the dissatisfaction with the corporate
state (and the wider consumer culture) and make it
more responsive to the general welfare of the
majority of people.

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By David J. Cyr, December 30, 2010 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

QUOTE (Walker):

“We’re about to find out once-and-for-all, as a Species, just exactly what we’re really made-of.”
____________

Some are made of stardust; most are just made of dust.

The uneducable majority are clamoring to repeat (D) corporate party cycle in 2012.

Since there’s no time left on the climate change survival clock for any more of that “fooled again” foolishness that’s a strong indication that humans may be neither fit nor worthy to survive.

Extinction will be Nature’s way of ending this failed experiment.

Perhaps some sensible primitives might survive, but the “best and brightest” will return to the defective dust they were made of.

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By drbhelthi, December 30, 2010 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

“Only children who never learned to play nice in the
sand box express themselves the way you do.”

Talk about having not learned how to play nice in the
sand box - - . 

Scapegoating is the cheapest manner of making oneself
feel important.  Some folk “beat the shit” out of their
credibility via their manner of expressing themselves.

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By mrfreeze, December 30, 2010 at 3:37 am Link to this comment

Fat Freddie - You’re the type of jerk I used to beat the shit out of in gym class: smug, know-it-all, spoiled and self absorbed.

I enjoy kicking your ass here on these threads as well. You add NOTHING of substance to these discussions except your toxic bull-shit. The more you write, the more ridiculous you reveal yourself to be. No ADULT is a libertarian. Only children who never learned to play nice in the sand box express themselves the way you do.

Please, do us all a favour and go post on some jerk-off libertarian sites. Your world view is jaundice shit!

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By TAO Walker, December 30, 2010 at 2:53 am Link to this comment

Now is the time for all Persons of good will to come together, where they live-and-breathe everyday, in aid of our Mother Earth….and one another.  That part of the disease process operating to “individual”-ize captive Humans, keep these alienated and isolated IDentities in CONstant fear of each other, and turn each against all, has now reached its peak. 

This is not a test.  THIS IS THE ACTUAL EMERGENCY!

We’re about to find out once-and-for-all, as a Species, just exactly what we’re really made-of.  The tormentors have bet the last of their dwindling degenerate “energy” that an abused, CONfused, terrified mass of CONfined Humans will tear each other to pieces as the “global” false-eCONomy implodes spectacularly all around us….which it’s already doing.

Most all of us believe sincerely we’re Personally better than that, Brothers and Sisters.  Most all of us believe sincerely our families, friends, and neighbors, the people we will actually sink-or-swim with, are mostly better than that.

We ALL damn-well better be, too.

HokaHey!

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By boojieboy, December 30, 2010 at 2:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Surely the tension between the power of the public-as-a-whole (embodied in constitutional democracy) and small groups of individuals (embodied in the corporation) has been one of the driving forces of history for the last, oh, say 500 years? If you dialed the clock back to about 1890, you could look at what existed in the US at that point and say, “see? Huxley/Orwell was right!” Corporate media giants like Hearst drove the US govt into massive wars to suit their own corporate interests. I’ll admit, this is not a very well thought out argument, but someone needs to say “we’ve been here before.”

Just because it looks like it’s been trending in that direction lately, doesn’t mean the extreme envisioned by either author is inevitable. No need to feel helpless, people.  Just as corporate/govt structures are pushing against our freedoms, individuals and groups are fighting back. The key to this is the availability of good information, together with a vigorous debate about what it means, and a continuous questioning process about what should be done about it. Surely, the internet has been, is now, and will continue to be the salve that cures the festering boils that periodically appear within our society.
The wound itself is painful, and the healing process hurts, and the scars that are left behind hurt for a long damned time, but just like we get past our wounds, we’ll get past this rough spot in our nation’s history.

Of course, Chris’ basic point about the complicity of corporate-owned celeb/journalists is well considered. These a$$hats need to be watched, and then at every opportunity when they fail in the most basic function of their chosen profession—fact checking—they need to be called out, loudly, and publicly. There need to be consequences for being willfully wrong.

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By John Best, December 29, 2010 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Truedigger3, I re-offer a solution to getting honest people into government:
“I think we need to empower those who will commit (under fear of imprisonment) to live absolutely no better at present nor in the future, than the “mathematically quantified average condition” of those they are entrusted to govern.”

Needs work, yes, but I think the present and most past Legislatures have shown we can not trust them with power…...we need promises in writing.  A movement might come about (initially at local level) whereby candidates would be supported only if they sign an appropriate document to weed out those undeserving of trust. 

We get a contract for every damn thing these days.  For hiring a contractor!  Why not for those entrusted with the control of our Government? 

I say it: if there were no corruption in government, good corporations would thrive, bad ones would go elsewhere.  Good would follow.

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By RenZo, December 29, 2010 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment

@ zagostino
I disagree with your posting which essentially says we all know this stuff, we all agree, now what should we do about it?
There are quite a few even here who do not admit to this awareness or dissent from it in one way or another. Those of us who suggest steps have no power to make them happen. If I tell you the first step is to turn off your television, would you simply do it? I dint think so. Likewise all the advice that appears here, all the first steps, all the plans, movements and parties…
The point is that WE have become a society of sitters not demonstrators, lookers not doers, talkers not screamers. That is what must change. If everyone had voted the last time around, Congress would be very different (I think). If everyone hollered loud, really loud and endlessly at their elected representatives, our country would be different (and better). Get involved locally, vote, register voters, join the Board of Education & the Democratic Party steering committee or any other frakking local organization that will make a difference. And spend less time blogging here there and everywhere.

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By zagostino, December 29, 2010 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment

Rep. Jim McDermott in todays Huffpost (12/29/10)
writes “...our government is not operating as a
democracy ruled by the will of the majority, but as
a strangled entity tightly in the grasp of the
Senate Republican minority and its take-no-
prisoners minority leader.”

Here you have a member of Congress telling you that
your gov’t has been usurped.Whatever the
historical/economic/political/social process that
got us here, it is here, it is a fait
accompli.Bernie Sanders told you the same from the
opposite isle not long ago.

It is needless to invoke Orwell and Huxley,
although it adds a nice literary flourish. You have
members of Congress telling you what you need to
know. It’s not a question of convincing people that
it’s raining; we can feel the cold, wet rain as it
hits our faces.

How to create a mechanism for coalescing and
channeling the diffuse outrage felt by so many into
an effective movement. That should be the sole
focus. As long as the form that this outrage takes
is the confines of this text box nothing will
change. I have partially diffused my outrage just
like so many of the millions watching Stewart and
Colbert do each day without adding one ounce of
force to bringing about the change I/we so desperately are seeking.

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By truedigger3, December 29, 2010 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

Re: By kenfreedomrings, December 29 at 10:18 pm,

No Ken, No.
The real problem is that the government is owned and controlled by the corporations.
The first thing that has to be done, is to free the government from the corporate domination. To do that “if it can be done al all”, is to elect honest government that put the interests of the common people ahead of the corporatocracy by doing the following steps:
1) Public financing of the elections.
2) Closing the revolving door between government and the corporations.
3) The News Media has to be freed from corporate ownership and advertising influences so people can get the truth instead of corporate propoganda and brain washing 24/7.
The corporations as long as they own and control the government they will continue to use it whether it is strong or weak government, so as I said before, the real solution will be an honest strong government that has the power to put the corporations in their proper place.

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By kenfreedomrings, December 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

truedigger3, December 29 at 9:49 pm said:

Ken,
You are putting the carriage in front of the horses. First, you have to break the corporate power and automatically the people will get a government that represent them and care about the common people and not the super-rich elites.


Well, you miss my point. That has been tried for over a century. And the corporate elite always get the better of the deal (kicking and screaming on the way to the briar patch). They have the power to control the legislature. You will never control them that way. The only way to do it is to control the govt itself which is the enabler of corporate power.


All the tea baggers are doing is attacking the government, forgetting or deliberately ignoring that the government now is a tool contolled and owned by the corporate power.
Never I heard a tea-bagger attack corporate power and this is expected since many contributers and super-rich backers are corporate elites.!!


Well, never say never again, because you heard it from me, one of the first tea partyers—out of Chicago. If you track the movement, you’ll find that the tea party was started by Chicago area libertarians, of which I am one.

btw, sure would love to engage this discussion without the prejorative, “tea baggers”. It’s very insulting.

Yes, we will see if it pans out the way you say it will. It might. But I believe Rand and Ron Paul won’t permit that.

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By truedigger3, December 29, 2010 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

Re:By Ken Prazak``, December 29 at 12:19 am
(Unregistered commenter)

Ken Prazak wrote about the tea-baggers:
“But the spirit of the movement is to break down government power, which will in turn break down corporate power”
——————————————————————————-
Ken,
You are putting the carriage in front of the horses. First, you have to break the corporate power and automatically the people will get a government that represent them and care about the common people and not the super-rich elites.
All the tea baggers are doing is attacking the government, forgetting or deliberately ignoring that the government now is a tool contolled and owned by the corporate power.
Never I heard a tea-bagger attack corporate power and this is expected since many contributers and super-rich backers are corporate elites.!!
I bet you, that most of the elected tea-baggers will call for cutting social programs spending, cutting corporate taxes and eliminating what are left of any regulations. Nothing will happen to military spending, farm subsidies or any subidies, rebates or tax loop-holes for corporations.

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By MrWebster, December 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you again Mr. Hedges.  You are right about the prison system suppressing actually the most resitant and violently oppositional group in America which are African Americans.  By violent I mean consistent but sporadic uprisings over such incidents as the Rodney King beating.  White people yes are victimized by the police everyday also, but local gruops do not rise up violently.

But the prison system will have to evolve to hold a growing and violent white underclass especially as many whites may begin to reject the ideas/myths they held in common with the exploiting elites (just look to many teabaggers).  I fully expect debtor prisons in one form or another to return as enforcing the corporate state and suppressing rebellion among poorer whites especially those who fell into poverty from the middle class.

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By RenZo, December 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

@ Fat Freddy
You equate socialized medicine with free clinics, where the only medical care providers available are ‘butchers’(sic).   
To bad you had to go to a free clinic. Your time would have been much better invested if you had gone to Holland for dental care as I did. The doctor there performed a root canal, rebuilt a complete tooth from scratch, did it quickly (in two days) and apologized when he charged me $250 for the whole deal.  I estimate from infinite other dental experiences that this would have cost me several thousand dollars in the USA (that medical paradise you love so much).  On top of all that, he didn’t hurt me,  he was a Kenyan orphan who was taken in by a family in Holland (and was therefore Dutch), and he was a charming and really fascinating conversationalist who worked without a receptionist or assistant, in a startlingly modern & clean office with apparently the latest imaginable dental equipment.  That is standard medical or dental care inside a socialized medical environment (i.e. the whole country, not just a free clinic amidst capitalistic beasts) in the first world. I probably would agree that our free clinics don’t belong in the first world, but I am not sure we are there anymore.
I have had similar medical experiences in Italy, France and Canada, with highly competent, pleasant, effective and either free or extremely cheap medical care for urgencies while visiting as a tourist.  Imagine what we could accomplish here in this wonderful paradise of brilliant thinkers and entrepreneurs.

You mention that you “... wouldn’t trust those doctors to give me an enema.” I am a doctor, and I would be delighted to give you an enema as long as you shut up while I am doing it. Shall we exchange numbers to get the purge on?

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By Terry OConnor, December 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Happy New Year?

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By bakari45, December 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy:
“Whenever there is a planned economy, there will always be a counter
economy. .“

Freddy, while I understand what you’re saying, I think even though all
the details of a resource-based can‘t all be worked out at this point, I
do know that we humans need to rise above the extreme selfish
aspect our nature in which you speak of.

Human greed, extreme selfishness, and lack of empathy all speak to a
librarian ideology about human nature that simple does not work for
most people on the planet.

If there’s no monetary system, if there’s no opportunities to suck up
resources because you’re greedy and selfish, then it will be harder to
have that “counter economy.“

Secondly, a resource-based society is not some grand utopia. It does
say anything about the absolute equal distribution of goods and
services. It addresses the need for us to better use technology not to
just make junk, but to further improve life and make better use of
resources.

Lastly, Capitalism, not technology, exploits human and non-human
resources. It divides and makes people selfish. The only people who
would be against a resource-based society are people who are greedy
and selfish. I think those people are a minority of the population,
though they have a system that encourages and protects their greed.

We need to start thinking outside of the box. Have some vision for
different society and world.

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By REDHORSE, December 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

Indeed they are gangsters CYR. Murdering thieves. “Isms” are dead by virtue of ecological collapse. It is the profligate immorality of American elected leadership and jurisprudence denying social/economic stability not a “system of government”. There is no “government”. Heartless thugs are heartless thugs—what you see is what you get. Remaining vestiges of social support now amount to largesse to maintain illusion and appeasement.

  Strong opinion may or may not lead to political action but for their own good most should accept the reality that Thugland runs 24/7 and it doesn’t care what your opinion is. If the thugs want your opinion they’ll give it to you—at a profit. Cackle, moo or bleat to your hearts content.

  America is full of experienced knowledgeable intellectual truthspeakers but the reality is more than most can bear. So they rationalize. Meanwhile the reality of corruption is as plain as the in your face social/financial disintegration and open looting of the American economy now under way. For “the people” dreams of Apocalypse is the new Salvation. Fullness of Life exists in the land beyond—what?

  The murdered gypsies, intellectuals, soldiers, citizens and Jews of Nazi Germany were desd long before they entered the boxcars that carried them to the gas chambers. How many trembling in the windowless “shower rooms” wondered how and where they missed the crossroads? Where was the line of demarcation that sealed their fate? Did they blame themselves? Horror became terror. The rumors were true.

    Hitler considered himself a reasonable man. All megalomaniacal narcissistic psychopaths do.

    The American psyche is fractured. Perhaps beyond repair. The living myth of Democracy is dying and no one knows what will replace it. Vision is absent and for whatever reason “the people” can/will no longer act in their own defense. Some feel “the people” deserve what they’re getting. Obama, the Republicans and the “gold sacks” boys certainly do. Meanwhile, Boehner is on the phone to Bush and Cheney. Cheney is explaining the Dark Side and the deals he made with the Devil himself.

    Happy New Year!!

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By musabr, December 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason.
Ayn Rand

Many posters here have a talent for “commenting” which I find yielding to the money master’s demands; you’re selling/giving away your intellectual talent for nothing more than “having your voice heard” - that is very inefficient because this site is not that well frequented by the earnest masses.

I suggest y’all visit my site for a real solution to the infinite chain of “expert” economists that the financial collapse has caused.

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By Anarcissie, December 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, December 27 at 4:58 pm:

‘”Clockwork Orange” comes to mind or even one of my favorites, Woody Allens “Sleeper”.

Hedges started off his article with a chronic case of the “we’s”, even so, I find his premise very close to the way it seems.

Opportunism, power and corruption go together like…... like bread, butter and tequila!’

You can’t beat Hedges for stirring up the congregation, can you?  All the regulars have chimed in here, each with his own facet of gloom and doom, and many with their Solution to All That’s Wrong!  Even TAO Walker’s got his pedal to the metal, hitting on all cylinders! (I hope he will forgive the so-inappropriate metaphor; it’s hard for me to check my metaphors box with so much dust being raised.)

It’s so great, I’m not even going to post my usual utopian schemes!  Someone else must have done it already.  Just remember, though, on December 21, 2012, the Maya Long Count runs out.

————

Fat Freddy—empirically, the smallest human unit of survival and culture seems to be at least a few dozen people, plus, of course, the huge network of non-human entities which support them.  We experience the world as individuals, yet they don’t exist separately in nature.

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By Midwesterners, December 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

I agree with everything Chris Hedges has written here.  Being born in the early 1950s and having participated in the Civil Rights and Anti-War demonstrations of the ‘60s, I never back then could have foreseen the COMPLETE Corporate take-over of America or, more accurately, the Globe.  Perhaps even more sadly, I never would have believed that so many Americans would be so willing to allow this tragic trend to happen.  It goes way beyond blaming the Corporate-owned Mass Media for supposedly brainwashing folks.  There really is a wide-spread complicity among Americans in allowing the Corporatism of every aspect of life—despite the “fact” that we may be powerless to change it in the end!

On a personal level, I am always aware of how much harder it will be for my twenty-something children to “make a life for themselves” than it was for us-folks of a previous generation.  I certainly do not have the kind of optimism towards the future that was possessed by my mother and father, who fought in Europe during WWII while my mother raised my brother back home in Chicago.

Chris Hedges’ pessimism is clearly not the least bit over-dramatic or overstated. I just wish there were more people alive who even knew who Chris Hedges was!  They certainly DO know the names of all those Reality TV Stars and the rest of that sordid ilk!

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By 4721 Archer, Sir, December 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

I like you Hedges.  I like you an awful lot.  But you really ought to use italics for the titles of novels, not inverted commas.

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By Fat Freddy, December 29, 2010 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

We need to transition from a monetary-based society to a
resource-based society, where things are produced based on
needs and available resources, not profit. People need to have real
vision towards this type of society and world.

And how do propose such a system would function? You can’t escape the three very real concepts of

a) Subjective value
b) Marginal utility
c) Division of Labor


Who determines what people need, and what they don’t need? Aside from food, clothing and shelter, what do all people need? Who determines what food, or what clothing, or what shelter? Who allocates those needs? Humans don’t just need, they desire. They want to make their surroundings more comfortable, or remove unease. Humans will never achieve a state of perfect unease, so we interact to reduce, or augment it. One trades with another to their mutual benefit. This leads to subjective value.

Whenever there is a planned economy, there will always be a counter economy. That’s human nature, and it can not be avoided. The counter-economy will always undermine the planned economy.

The first two chapters of this book briefly, yet effectively, describe the basics of economics and human interaction:

http://www.kopubco.com/pdf/An_Agorist_Primer_by_SEK3.pdf

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By Fat Freddy, December 29, 2010 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

mrfreeze

As such, he has no expertise or capability of understanding complex human interaction,

Wrong. Actually, you are the one that does not understand “Human Action”. Economics (little e), is human action. If you do not understand economics, you do not understand human action. In fact, Austria Economics is based on praxeology which is human action, and not on mathematics and statistics like Economics (big E).

...compassion or cooperation

I absolutely do. I just think it is immoral to be forced into it. That’s the difference between libertarians and statists; the “justified” use of the initiation of force. I am more than willing to help those in need, when I can, but it should be my decision, not yours, not the union’s, not the corporation’s, and not the democratically elected government’s.

“what’s in it for me as long as I don’t have to pay for it.”

Is that it? I want something for nothing? Your joking, right? You have absolutely no clue as to what libertarianism or anarcho-capitalism is.

Your ignorance is embarrassing. Next, you’ll tell me that Anarchy is Somalia.

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By truedigger3, December 29, 2010 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

Re: By diamond, December 27 at 10:21 pm

diamond wrote:
“Dick Cheney said on ‘Meet the Press’ that they were going to have to go to the ‘dark side’ for a while: but that was just another lie. He lives in the dark side and always has and the Republicans/neo cons/Tea Party are just the political wing of the dark side, which Orwell foresaw so long ago and warned against.”
————————————————————————-
diamond,

OH PLEASE. Stop that partisan crap of yours. The New DLC Democrats, who control the Democratic Party now, are complicit and in complete partnership with the Republicans/neocons in both the foreign/Demostic policies and that includes your beloved Obama.
The Democrats are worse, because they are using deceiving rhetoric, bullshitting and make belief theatrics to camoflagues their true ugly selves and their real intentions.

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By Fat Freddy, December 29, 2010 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

TAO Walker

Actually, I was joking. I can respect an anarcho-primitivist position. However, I don’t think it is very practical, especially in a West Philly neighborhood, as was the case with MOVE and John and Ramona Africa.

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By John Best, December 29, 2010 at 9:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

bakari45 states: “We also don’t need a violent revolution. The revolution needs to be one of sabotaging the capitalist system in any way, form, or
fashion. This kind of movement will have an effect around the world.”

An accompanying problem is, money and economies will follow political leaders who say “Take my huddled masses, give them bread and circus, and exploit to the extreme, so long as I may retain power”.  It already happened here.  As impediments to profit arise, capital moves, like water flowing downhill. 

The movement of capitol is facilitated by the least noble among us…....the greedy, the glutinous, who naturally attain the advantage of tools of mass manipulation that come with economies of scale.  Survival at large or small scales of commerce is based on a prisoners dilemma scenario…....whoever sinks to the nastily efficient position fist gains the advantage. 

I am not hopeful.  Our nature, Homo Sapiens, seems to have facilitated out-competing the Neanderthal.  The pairing of the religion of extreme capitalism, with our nature to cooperate most effectively only to destroy perceived and easily manufactured enemies, dooms us to those who understand and can pull our strings.  Profit through destruction of a society is simply more efficient than construction of same. 

So, I disagree with the idea of some form of random ‘disruption’.  We must disrupt only the corrupting aspects of this system.  In my view, the ‘capitalist system’ cannot exist without governments which are willing to ignore a responsibility to uphold ‘the social contract’.  Global lack of uncorrupted government is the problem.  If corruption is the target, and we identify and diminish it globally, then the abusers of capitalism will play very nicely.

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By David J. Cyr, December 29, 2010 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

QUOTE (of an avatar that misplaced hopes in Democrats):

“When did the voters get a chance to vote for, or as you say, against a publicly run health care system?”
____________

2008.

Those who voted for either McKinney or Nader for POTUS voted for Single-Payer. Those who voted for any of the other POTUS candidates voted against it.

Obama said (quote), “If you’re starting from scratch, then a single-payer system, a government-managed system like Canada’s, which disconnects health insurance from employment, would probably make sense. But we’ve got all these legacy systems in place, and managing the transition, as well as adjusting the culture to a different system, would be difficult to pull off. So we may need a system that’s not so disruptive that people feel like suddenly what they’ve known for most of their lives is thrown by the wayside.”

Discard a thoroughly rotten system that chains people to their employers’ “benefit” plans that profit insurance gangsters who deny payment for sickcare? Discard a “healthcare” system that has no care for health? Obama clearly said, “Not me!”

A liberal hears “Yes we can!” whenever a Democrat says “NO WE WON’T!”

America’s corporate gangster state allows elections because the great mass of conservatives and liberals ever reliably vote together (as one) for either this or that interchangeable part corporate party fascist.

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By skimohawk, December 29, 2010 at 7:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I see more thoughtful comments.
I do see some left-leaning content in some of the comments, but so far nothing that really comes out arguing what a great job Obama is doing. It’s because Obama is and always was just “More Of the Same”.
( Would we really be better or worse off had McCain been elected, Sarah Palin’s idiocy notwithstanding? )

Several have complained about the authors’s “gloom and doom” writing and his failure to offer solutions.
Perhaps it is up to we, the readers, to offer possible solutions:

Point out loudly, whenever appropriate ( in spite of what your goddam in-laws want or don’t want to hear )
that “The Emperor Has No Clothes”.

Stop BUYING “stuff”. How much “stuff” do you really need? Do you really NEED that “stuff”, or are you just buying “stuff” for the sake of buying more “stuff”? Get off the merry-go-round.

Stop believing “the man” is the cops, the National Guard, or the military. They’re just the toadies for the banks and the major multi-national corporations ( Nestle’ is a prime example. )

Stop believing you’re offered any choice by “Democrats” or “Republicans”. Again: just toadies for banks and corporations. We knew Obama was just another lackey for the banks before we voted for him. We should now be surprised or disappointed?

Educate yourself and others on the history of the rise of corporate power worldwide since World War I.
Start with the story of Daimler-Benz’s collaboration with the Nazi machine in the 1930s. As you learn what’s been happening for the last 80 years, what’s occuring at present becomes crystal clear: the big money is in marketing war. The truly unfortunate part is that it matters little to the corporations who wins or loses: they still manage to get their money.

Refuse to buy into “the big lie”.
No Boeing 757 aircraft hit the Pentagon: the claim is absolutely false.
The entire 9-11 farce was simply a ploy to legitimize and sell to the American public yet another never-ending war against a phantom “enemy”. ( See also: “War on Drugs” ) ( See also “Goebbels Hitler Big Lie” )

Knowing what is actually happening is a start.
( Or did you think the decline of academic achievement levels in public schools happened by accident? Ask any 20-year-old kid “Who was Krupp?” or “Where did Kaiser-Permanente get their start-up capital?” )

When you understand what’s really going on, it will make sense when I tell you it matters not what sort of obfuscation you listen to, be it Rush Limbaugh or Lawrence O’Donnell or Anderson Cooper or Gwen Ifill or Alvin and the Chipmunks: it’s all part of the same smokescreen of bullshit brought to you by our sponsors, who are busy looting the treasury.

Stop believing their crap. Let them know that you know it’s crap.

Now let’s shift gears a moment:
To those of you who propose thinly-veiled suggestions of “revolution” ( or overthrow, if you will):
Ask yourself this:
When the people march in the Senate Square crying for bread, how will you respond should the Tsar order the artillery batteries to fire?
Empty rhetoric did not lead to the demise of either Mussolini or Nicolae Ceau?escu.

Cheers!

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By Igloo, December 29, 2010 at 6:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I used to think only folks in places like North Korea were brainwashed, never suspecting how deeply the Media and its corporate manipulators have brainwashed the American public. However, even in the 1830’s Tocqueville found American society stifling in its self-censorship, in its ability to force the bulk of population to toe the line and to shun any opinion contrary to what the majority thought. Tyranny of the majority rules and it takes people like Hedges to help us see through the farce. Bravo Chris!

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By gerard, December 29, 2010 at 2:15 am Link to this comment

Alan MacDonald:  Thanks for your thoughts.  Here is my experience with the tactic you suggest:  I have been requested in no uncertain terms to “not talk about politics” because it is too much of a “bummer” and I’m too “dark” and “negative” and will I please see a psychiatrist because “just talking about things doesn’t do any good.”  Etc. etc.  I am definitely persona non grata around my own home.I often make jokes (usually sarcastic, but funny) about things, they “aren’t funny” and “why am I so down all the time?”  People don’t “get” sarcasm because they don’t see the funny side of desperation and craziness. It scares them, apparently.
  Most of them are bright people, and pretty well educated; a few are into religion and can’t help believing in a gruesomem future, but are sure they can avoid it by being good.
  Actually, I wrote a pretty good essay recently “In Defense of Being Sad”, (which relates to the subject of empathy and its importance) but I don’t expect to be able to get it printed. Even people in my “writers” group look on such things with a jaundiced eye.  Everybody around me is chasing madly after “happiness” though they aren’t all into religion or “happy” TV programs. A few are Dale Carnegie types. They all listen to the news from various sources, but it brings them down and they resent it. They have no clear idea that they can “do anything about it, except a few environmentalists. Most of them, if they talk about the future at all, are scared.
  My contention is that most people are frantically chasing happiness, and the faster the run the more it is evading them. Frankly from my life experience and my education, I never thought things would be all that good.  Now that things are getting all that bad, I’m not surprised, or even very scared.
  Oddly enough, I’m one of the minority writing on TD regularly who thinks we can pull ourselves out of this horror if we work together, and I try to do what I can with contributions, etc. I’m too old for active protesting etc. unfortunately. 
  If you have any thoughts on this , or experience with it, I’m entirely sure I’m not alone. Sharing would be appreciated. (Excuse the confessional if you find it a bit much..)

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By mdgr, December 29, 2010 at 2:12 am Link to this comment

“Yes, but Where’s the Hope?”

“. . . .Yes, but the picture he paints is too dark. Yes, but it diminishes the possibility of hope. Yes, but Hedges is a negativist. Yes, but we can find a way. Yes, but he’s a fear-monger.”

I find none of these arguments either cogent or persuasive.

All Hedges is saying is that we have a certain trajectory, and that we shouldn’t believe in fairy tales.

He doesn’t say that we should blow our brains out. What he says instead is that maybe we should tone-down the Prozac.

It’s a message that’s integral to this article itself. There is a quote in it that’s of relevance. Actually, Hedges might also have written it for those who are loudest in this “Yes, but” camp.

It sort of speaks for itself—wherein the preaching of hope is held to be good, and everything else is not. Let’s see what he actually says.

“Acceptable opinions have a range of A to B. The culture, under the tutelage of these corporate courtiers, becomes, as Huxley noted, a world of cheerful conformity, as well as an endless and finally fatal optimism. . . . All messages we receive through these systems of communication, whether on the nightly news or talk shows like “Oprah,” promise a brighter, happier tomorrow.”
 
Maybe Hedges should have concluded this article with a smiley face. But I’m rather glad he didn’t. Truth in itself can be empowering.

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By bakari45, December 29, 2010 at 1:46 am Link to this comment

Alan:
“The biggest problem with diagnosing Empire and actually doing
anything about it is to simply talk about it with friends,
acquaintances, business colleagues, classmates, family, etc. etc.”

Alan, I’m pretty new to this discussion forum, but I like your
analysis. The average American knows little or nothing about
Empire because they have been one of the most propagandized
people on the planet. They/we have been spoon-fed the American
Dream for so long that they can’t imagine that they have been
lied to and used.

Now really, I also think the problem is a lack of real vision. With
the support and election of Obama, people—young people!—
said they support change. But yet, we all know (and I knew before
he was elected) that he and his capitalist-supporting regime have
failed. But we should not be surprised. He brought nothing to the
presidency but professional campaign slogans that we hear year
after election year. Obama may have had grass root organizing
skills, but he had no radical political training. And if he had, he
would never had gotten elected. So let’s stop depending
Democratic and Republican political trolls. They are waste of our
fucking time. All they do is talk and work on the behalf of the
corporate class. Most of them are nothing but political trolls.

But on the other hand, people wanted something different in
electing Obama. They wanted change. Bold change. Radical
change. They didn’t know exactly what that was, but neither did
their great Black hope. So what does this tell us? It tells us that
what is needed is revolutionary political leadership that is not
afraid to call for the dismantling of the capitalist system. No more
liberal mumbo jumbo about the mixing social welfare state and
capitalist economy. Fuck that. It does not work.

We need to transition from a monetary-based society to a
resource-based society, where things are produced based on
needs and available resources, not profit. People need to have real
vision towards this type of society and world.

We also don’t need a violent revolution. The revolution needs to
be one of sabotaging the capitalist system in any way, form, or
fashion. This kind of movement will have an effect around the
world.

My suggestions: political education. Read Ellen Brown’s The Web
of Debt. Check out the visions of the Zeitgeist movement, and the
video series, The Money Masters.  Even if you don’t agree with
everything they say, the movement at least has visions for
change.

And lastly, stop voting in presidential elections. They are a
complete waste of time. We need to build political organizations
to sabotage and transform the capitalist system.

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By Kanomi Blake, December 29, 2010 at 1:08 am Link to this comment

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”—Philip K. Dick


Nice juxtaposition of the two most famous dystopian novels as a metaphor for the transition from the oil-induced stupor of the suburban dream to the wholesale neo-serfdom screaming down the tracks right at us. Still, those books show their age in parts (1932 and 1948 respectively), and there are a lot of other interesting dystopian novels out there.

A more recent one is Jennifer Government by Max Weber; while probably not as literary as those two, it takes the trends towards privatization of government to satirical extremes: all government work except police work has been outsourced, the NRA is a private militia, people have the last names of their employer, and Nike shoots up shopping malls to create false demand for their sweatshop shoes.

And there are many by Philip K. Dick, especially Ubik, Flow My Tears, Martian Time-Slip, A Scanner Darkly, and The Man in the High Castle.

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By Alan MacDonald, December 29, 2010 at 12:19 am Link to this comment

While I agree with most of what Chris has to say about the changing (worsening) nature of the covert corporate/financial/militarist Empire that now IS the US faux democratic government, I am a bit more optimistic that a popular rebellion “Against Empire” (Parenti) can be achieved IF the American public is simply told and proven that their former country is now an Empire.

The general population of America has never been leveled with about the morphing of their country, their democratic Republic into a hidden Empire—and when they are informed and aware of this awful state, they will respond, because they will not tolerate Empire—and will have the courage to confront it.

The middle-class is not doing so well financially as to be complacent, but they generally are not using their minds effectively enough to realize that they are getting screwed almost as much as the working-class.

The middle-class, although they are not living quite as comfortable a life as they think, are not yet aware that they are viewed by the ruling-elite as becoming one with the working-class. 

Thus the fading, falling, hectored, and vulnerable middle-class in America do not yet have even the awareness of Europeans to yet recognize that they are on a downward slope to serfdom, and do not yet recognize solidarity with the working-class—- against the ruling-elites’ disguised Empire.


The second point beyond non-recognition, non-empathy, non-solidarity with the working-class is that the chronically mis-led middle-class Americans have no, nyet, zero understanding of the ‘evil empire’ in which they are controlled and abused.

This may be very hard to appreciate for many folks here, but the understanding that we are trapped in a ruling-elite corporate/financial/militarist Empire, which is merely hiding behind the facade of its fully ‘owned’ and controlled TWO-Party, virtual “Vichy” sham of democratic government, is NOT understood by any appreciable percentage of the middle-speed brained, middle-class in America.


But if we were to ask 100 (or 1000) prototypical middle-class Americans if America is actually controlled by an EMPIRE, we would quickly get tired, annoyed, and maybe scared by hearing ALL of them saying to us, “What are you, crazy?”, “Are you some kind of Commie?”, or “Hold it right there, I’m going to report you to that cop over there.”

If we think that average Americans have any idea that they are actually in the belly of a deadly, and truly “Evil Empire” (as that oxymoronic moron once said), we are ‘over under-estimating’ the situation (as an even bigger idiot tried to say).


In summary, nothing will happen until people who have the understanding, courage, and commitment to personally and repeatedly say to every superficially content middle-class American they know, instead of talking inanely about the traffic, the weather, the price of gas, the latest NFL game, or what’s on TV tonight; “hey, lets get serious.  This is the real situation in America.  It’s a disguised Empire.  It’s very dangerous to the lives of all of us, and even more, to the lives and future of all our children.  And while I’m not trying to scare you or just kid around, here’s why it’s a deadly serious problem, and here’s some information that you need to understand and give some very serious thought to right now.”

The biggest problem with diagnosing Empire and actually doing anything about it is to simply talk about it with friends, acquaintances, business colleagues, classmates, family, etc. etc.

At the risk of mis-under-utilizing a schmaltzy advertising phrase that I generally can’t stand;  “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk in Empire”

It’s not impolite, although sometimes it may seem personally embarrassing, to speak-out, (and even ‘preach’) about the devil of a problem that we have with this guileful Empire.

Best,
Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By John Best, December 28, 2010 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ardee says, “I see no over arching enemy consciously leading us towards totalitarian sameness. I see corporate bodies working for their own self interests…”  I will offer that those corporations are driven not only by the greedy, but by everyday people trying to escape the fear of losing the (false) security provided by their tiny fortunes. 

We have met the enemy and he is us.  Our own fears and inability to establish trust and social contract on a global scale.  We even lost what we had on a national scale, and I am inclined to believe it, the social contract’, was always just a dream in America, never a reality.  Well, perhaps just an easily shattered dream.

The efficient mass harnessing of investor fears provides far more urgency for corporate activity, corporate dominance by whatever means is available, lest darwinism prevail upon the stragglers.

And as our weakness, our justified inability to come to a trust, a social robust contract,  translates upward into the efficiency of the corporation, it prioritizes all efforts and endeavors not according to how they serve humanity.  Effort is refined to increase anything that can be marketed as ‘profit’. 

I wonder how we will find a new home for our hope, and how the hope can be a real hope.  I think we need to empower those who will commit (under fear of imprisonment) to live absolutely no better at present nor in the future, than the “mathematically quantified average condition” of those they are entrusted to govern. 

There you have it.  A new tangible social contract signed and notarized by anyone holding any public position.

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By Lentenlands, December 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Despite the sad and sick realities of this article - The American
People are waking up.

There is hope.

http://smashabanana.blogspot.com/

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By TAO Walker, December 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment

Any “power problem” experienced by domesticated “individual”-ized people is the direct and inescapable consequence of them having forsaken their given place in the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth, as components in Her immune system, and taken-up instead the pursuit of some entirely homo-centric and “self”-centered agenda….like “happiness.”  Since much of Humanity has been co-opted, as part of an immuno-suppression regime initiated here by a retro-viral invader, into behaving with just exactly such lunatic folly, “the problem of power” plagues and preoccupies them incessantly.

Us surviving free wild Peoples are not troubled by it at all….ever.  “Power” is an illusion, anyhow.

Neither are we concerned about “the numbers.”  “(G)erard”‘s obsessive questions about how many “individuals” can survive the effects of their own chronic “self”-ishness simply has no meaning outside the virtual world-o’-hurt where she and those billions half-live under the constant fear of annihilation.  The ‘answer’ will be determined by how many of ‘em can outgrow in-time the fatal CONfinement of their induced “individual”-ity, to rejoin us and All Our Relations here in the great big wide wonderful Living World where we all together do the Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.  All that “self”-dramatizing “civilized” angst just ain’t our thing….thank you all the same.

“JD mysticDJ” seems afflicted with the same kind of “human”-ist ailment as “gerard.”  Even most of our tame Sisters and Brothers still at-least recognize ego-mania when they see it in some hapless “individual.”  Yet when an entire subspecies exhibits the same behavioral symptoms of insane “self”-importance, its captive members don’t come close to recognizing it as their common CONdition.

This fantasy of Human “exceptionalism” is the product of a fever dream.  Crashing and thrashing around in its throes has our tame Sisters and Brothers on the brink of extinction….along with the retro-viral agent inducing it in them.  Homo-centrism or human-ism or whatever you might call it is a symptom of disease.  Sure, it got you all really ‘high’ on your “self” for awhile.  This is its inevitable ‘down’-side, though.  Its effects are severe, and chances are a lot of you won’t survive them….in your present incarnation.  None of those locked inextricably into their “individual”-ism will make it.

This Old Indian doesn’t mean for that to be “painful” for anybody….but it might be even so, if you don’t just get-over your “self.”

Hokahey!

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By elisalouisa, December 28, 2010 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment

TAO Walker Dec 28 at 5:28 am
Some insist that Humans have been the instrument and agency of their own domestication.  That no other known Species has inflicted that degrading and degenerative CONdition on their own Kind, though, at-least makes it questionable whether our tame Sisters and Brothers are not their “selfs” the
“livestock” of some non-human order whose presence and manipulations are no more detectable to the inmates than the board-of-directors at Tysons, Inc. is to those billions of abused fowl “owned” by them and their “shareholders.”

Fascinating to say the least.

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By bakari45, December 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

aacme88:
“Maybe it is for YOU to offer the solution, which you haven’t done
either, just shoot the messenger.”

Acceme, for me the solution is a transformation of capitalist
economic order—a transition from monetary/profit-based society
to a resource-based society where things get done not for profit
but are based on technology and available resources we to get
them done. It’s like a group of people stranded on a island without
money. They maintain their survival by using the available
resources, not create a monetary system that divides and ultimately
destroys them.

As for your view that it’s the responsibility of the President and
Dumo party, I think it should be clear by now that neither party is
going to challenge and transform the capitalist system, and they
definitely are not going to prevent the doom and gloom that
Hedges so eloquently describes. They are in fact a part of the
reason he can repeatedly write these jeremiads.

As I pointed out in another post, we all need to get politically
educated. Read Ellen Brown’s “The Web of Dept”. Check out the
Money Masters series and the Zeitgeist movement videos on
YouTube. Read some Marx and study why the capitalist system
does not bring about sustainable progress for most people in the
world. We need to start having visions for a different way of life. It
won’t be easy, but the old social economic order is just that—old
and out of order.

And like I said, I‘m not disagreeing with Hedges, and I don’t expect
him to personally solve anything. I just think he gets off on writing
doom and gloom pieces because that kind of analysis sells well
with most liberal thinkers who are scared to call for the complete
overthrow of capitalism. I mean damn, do really need yet another
article by Chris Hedges to realize how fucked up things are? I’m
sorry, but his analysis is getting boring. His latest book will
probably be the last one I read, unless he starts providing some
visions for better society. If Hedges thinks capitalism is the
problem, then he should say it clearly, and the in the next
paragraph describe what he thinks would be a better alternative.
But he won’t do that, because that kind of analysis doesn’t sell.

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By Ted G, December 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just like Winston Smith’s endless war, the War on Terror is a fraud based on lies.  Believing in al-CIA-da and Osama the Boggie Man is like believing in Santa Claus.  Of course, Hedges won’t tell you that.

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By gerard, December 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

Sorry.  My previous post was addressed to TaoWalker, but I got in such a hurry to send it that I forgot the assignation.

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JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, December 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

TAO Walker

My grandfather from my mother’s side of the family was ½ Blackfoot, which has always been a source of pride for me. The Blackfoot effectively impoverished the J.P. Morgan sponsored original Mountain Men by stealing their horses and hat making material and selling that hat making material to another Capitalist leviathan located north of the mouth of the Columbia River.

However, my sense of pride was diminished somewhat recently while watching a documentary about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. My having been very interested in the Westward expansion and colonization since the time of Ponce De Leon, this documentary reinforced something that I already knew.  The myth of the noble savage is overrated. The Blackfoot, in addition to being very good at harassing J.P. Morgan’s boys, were also very good at harassing weaker Native American “communities.” From a purely humanitarian perspective I’d say Mother Nature’s Living Arrangement is somewhat flawed, by an apparent human “Nature.”

Personally, I’m all for an idealized version of the ultimate communist peace pipe dream of community, but it seems that “Mother Natures Living Arrangement,” and her children’s “Nature” will not allow such a “CONtraption” to occur.

It seems to me that the root of the disease that infects us all is the apparent “Nature” of human beings. Hitler once said, “I see no reason why man should not be just as cruel as nature.” Of course many of us hope that Hitler was not representative of man and his “Nature,” the root cause of symptoms that are attacking the “Living Organism” seems to originate with a moral carcinogen. Without placing this carcinogen in remission the disease will fester unto morbidity.

Mother Natures Living Arrangement obviously includes predators sinking their fangs into the throats of prey. Perhaps human beings will rise to the level of relative maturity and independence, and come to consider Mother Nature to be nothing more than an annoying, interfering, in-law.

The Earth (Note the depersonalized non-gender designation) is our home, and must be cared for, the issue is important to our survival and quality of life. Lacking an invader from the cosmos or a suicidal Solar compulsion, the destruction of the Earth can only be a human endeavor, just as preserving the Earth is the responsibility of the Earth’s human inhabitants. Perhaps reverting to a primitive hunter gatherer or exclusively agrarian society would accomplish that task, but short of nuclear conflagration such a thing occurring does not at all seem likely. I suppose that such a conflagration occurring would not at all be desirable to most. After all, it’s a moral issue, and our survival is dependent on our ability to make decisions based on the most elemental perception of morality.

Morality (Definition): Conforming to the rules of right or wrong conduct.

I suppose that most of us could come up with a list of wrong conduct as long as your arm, or longer, depending on the commitment to the task. As for me, I’m desiring progress towards a more morally sophisticated human understanding, and away from Mother Nature’s dog eat dog individualism.

There’s much more to be said but I’ll conclude by offering my opinion that when considering the interaction between the white man and Native Americans, Native Americans demonstrated the greater nobility. 

(Incidentally, the character of Morpheus comes either from a phantasmagorical movie, or from ancient Greek mythology. The ancient Greeks, apparently, originally believed that Morpheus took the form of a daemon. A daemon was originally considered by the ancient Greeks to be an ethereal being beneficial to mankind. Plato changed that perception, but Plato had some ideas that were kind of loony, and morally suspect. Plato as renowned as he is/was, needed to progress a little; he needed to work on that four, or was it five, humours theory a little more.)

HokaHey

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