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The Collapse of Globalization

Posted on Mar 28, 2011
AP / Jacques Brinon

Demonstrators carry an effigy of Ronald McDonald.

(Page 2)

The aim of the corporate state is not to feed, clothe or house the masses, but to shift all economic, social and political power and wealth into the hands of the tiny corporate elite. It is to create a world where the heads of corporations make $900,000 an hour and four-job families struggle to survive. The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions. Charter schools, mercenary armies, a for-profit health insurance industry and outsourcing every facet of government work, from clerical tasks to intelligence, feed the corporate beast at our expense. The decimation of labor unions, the twisting of education into mindless vocational training and the slashing of social services leave us ever more enslaved to the whims of corporations. The intrusion of corporations into the public sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively by naked self-interest.

The ideological proponents of globalism—Thomas Friedman, Daniel Yergin, Ben Bernanke and Anthony Giddens—are stunted products of the self-satisfied, materialistic power elite. They use the utopian ideology of globalism as a moral justification for their own comfort, self-absorption and privilege. They do not question the imperial projects of the nation, the widening disparities in wealth and security between themselves as members of the world’s industrialized elite and the rest of the planet. They embrace globalism because it, like most philosophical and theological ideologies, justifies their privilege and power. They believe that globalism is not an ideology but an expression of an incontrovertible truth. And because the truth has been uncovered, all competing economic and political visions are dismissed from public debate before they are even heard.

The defense of globalism marks a disturbing rupture in American intellectual life. The collapse of the global economy in 1929 discredited the proponents of deregulated markets. It permitted alternative visions, many of them products of the socialist, anarchist and communist movements that once existed in the United States, to be heard. We adjusted to economic and political reality. The capacity to be critical of political and economic assumptions resulted in the New Deal, the dismantling of corporate monopolies and heavy government regulation of banks and corporations. But this time around, because corporations control the organs of mass communication, and because thousands of economists, business school professors, financial analysts, journalists and corporate managers have staked their credibility on the utopianism of globalism, we speak to each other in gibberish. We continue to heed the advice of Alan Greenspan, who believed the third-rate novelist Ayn Rand was an economic prophet, or Larry Summers, whose deregulation of our banks as treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton helped snuff out some $17 trillion in wages, retirement benefits and personal savings. We are assured by presidential candidates like Mitt Romney that more tax breaks for corporations would entice them to move their overseas profits back to the United States to create new jobs. This idea comes from a former hedge fund manager whose personal fortune was amassed largely by firing workers, and only illustrates how rational political discourse has descended into mindless sound bites.

We are seduced by this childish happy talk. Who wants to hear that we are advancing not toward a paradise of happy consumption and personal prosperity but a disaster? Who wants to confront a future in which the rapacious and greedy appetites of our global elite, who have failed to protect the planet, threaten to produce widespread anarchy, famine, environmental catastrophe, nuclear terrorism and wars for diminishing resources? Who wants to shatter the myth that the human race is evolving morally, that it can continue its giddy plundering of non-renewable resources and its profligate levels of consumption, that capitalist expansion is eternal and will never cease?


Square, Site wide, Desktop


Square, Site wide, Mobile
Dying civilizations often prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth. It makes life easier to bear. It lets them turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science or the market will be their salvation. This is why these apologists for globalism continue to find a following. And their systems of propaganda have built a vast, global Potemkin village to entertain us. The tens of millions of impoverished Americans, whose lives and struggles rarely make it onto television, are invisible. So are most of the world’s billions of poor, crowded into fetid slums. We do not see those who die from drinking contaminated water or being unable to afford medical care. We do not see those being foreclosed from their homes. We do not see the children who go to bed hungry. We busy ourselves with the absurd. We invest our emotional life in reality shows that celebrate excess, hedonism and wealth. We are tempted by the opulent life enjoyed by the American oligarchy, 1 percent of whom control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

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By Greetings, March 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most all who respond here are good thinkers.  But with little or no agreement.  What will it take to get focus????

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By TDoff, March 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

There is a simple, effective solution.

Eat The Rich.

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By zonth_zonth, March 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

well said Gary,

As N. Postman conjectured, WE MUST ask a few questions regarding each potential technological advancement
1. What is the problem that a new technology is directed at solving? 2. Will the new technology create more problems?  3. Who stands to benefic from the new technology and who stands to lose?

Such simple questions.

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By SAM, March 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“We do not see those who die from drinking contaminated water or being unable to afford medical care. We do not see those being foreclosed from their homes.”

You don’t speak for me. My father was evicted from his home while he was fighting prostate cancer. Many Americans do not live as well as you. Why not do something since you have this wonderful platform to speak out with? I wish you would start taking action as opposed to ranting about issues that you say you have little or no experience with.
I have found plenty of research online that says we can power America with mostly renewable energy sources. My brother wants to work on wind turbines but because there are so few jobs he joined the army.
Why can’t people see the Republicrats won’t save us. We’ve got to take back this country.

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By thirdshidt, March 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

LordByron says,“And just because gravity went down for the last 10,000 years doesn’t mean it will tomorrow but the smart money say it will.”
Well I would school your dumbass in the area of Loop Quantum Gravity which hypothesis many excited modes of gravitational force at the universe’ origins including ‘repulsive gravitational’ forces,but that’d just ripped those last two brain cells that you have left to shreds.
The even more astonishing point is that one would even attempt to use a physics statement to make a biological point.
Secondly,societal changes are what are refered to as ‘psychosocial’ evolution which has positively nothing to do with the moral development of the species,but simply refers to the development of information culture(which includes for the fist time in human history the means to effectively destroy the enitre planet with the creation of nuclear warheads.)
And then this guy DavidByron goes on to make abysmally idiotic assertions about race,human civilization,Stephan Hawking and gravity(WTF?)that are completely unsubstantiated in fact but are to be taken with the full confidence of his superior intellect & sloppy third-grade historic assumptions.
Indeed,all of the rest of those weird comments don’t even warrant a response.

If we’re to make valid disputes on Truthdig at the very least lets show great writers like Hedges some respect and atleast make strategic & tactical objections to his arguments & not all of this quibbling & semantic nonsense.

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By M L, March 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our country is in desperate need of reforms but we must first take our government away from corrupt politicians,the banking cartel and the military industrial complex. We must educate the citizenry about how the Fed (banking cartel)created a consumer society and return to a constitutional monetary policy.

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By Gary Mont, March 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

DavidByron: “Hedges admits the rise in food prices is not due to lack of resources but poor distribution (speculation).  But would any of us rather go back to the morality of centuries past?  or even decades past?  That sort of fond reflection of a mythic past is more a fascist trope (pangenesis).”

You appear to have determined that the message in the article is “Lets all go back to the dark ages when things were simpler.”

The quote above, for example, (to me) suggests that technology could be used to create better distribution and legislation could be used to end the legality of speculation, whereas, to you it represents some sort of reminiscence of bygone eras.

I cannot fathom how you got this notion from what Chris has written. It almost looks as though you had planned the basis of your response before you read the article, as your stretching of the meanings of the quoted sections seems to be designed strictly to faciliate your “modern is better” response.

Moreover, your whole message seems to imply that we should simply stop bitching, pull the belts another notch tighter and await the coming of the messianic salvation that technology will inevitably bring us.

Why would those who control all technological advancement - government and corporations - allow any technology into the mainstream that would diminish their profit margin or ability to control the masses?

Surely you don’t believe that technological advancement is controlled by the general public.

While I agree that modern times are magnitudes of order better in every way than the past (in the industrialized nations), I cannot agree that passive acceptance of the current situation, and prayers to the technogods is any better solution than collecting 4 leaf clovers and praying to one or more of the current faith deities.

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By RayLan, March 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

Wow - lots of big ideas here - globalization - what does it mean? Capitalist totalitarianism on a global scale as well as I can make out from Chris’ article.
The root of the virulence clearly triangulates around the West, the US in particular. Paradoxically globalization, rather than stemming from a respect for universal human and/or spiritual principles foments from parochial xenophobic minds. The visceral stupidity of nationalism, the dumb identification with a piece of land and/or skin color underlies a sense of entitlement to feed and grow fat on anything not-self like a parasitic virus.

Everything including human life is commodified. The unifying, globalizing principle, therefore is monetary value and only monetary value.

The bottom line is the bottom line.

So is Greed unleashed, itself like a force of anti-nature to devour the planet.
I get it. Too bad many of the poster don’t.

. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

Albert Einstein

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By DavidByron, March 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

Another dumbass said,
“Heges never said that the human species is fully incapable of progress. What he correctly stated was that progress is not inevitable that anyone who believes this simply because they live in a world with technologies which are the product of literally thousands of years of inherited knowledge are sadly mistaken.”

And just because gravity went “down” for the last 10,000 years doesn’t mean it will tomorrow but the smart money say it will.


“Indeed it was physicist Stephen Hawking who back in ‘98 stated that there has been no significant change in human DNA in over 10,000 years!”

WTF has that to do with societal changes?  Besides which its simply false.  I really doubt Hawking said that but if he did he proves he’s no evolutionary biologist.  or is eg lactose tolerance “insignificant”? 

“As for racial tolerance as a sign of human progress—that’s hilarious—considering that ‘primitive’ societies as well as human civilization in general up until the 17th cen.,possessed no systems of racial categorization.”

(1) so you think there was less racism 40 or a 100 years ago do you?  then you are a moron.  (2) primitive societies didn’t have to have racism because they tended to be so xenophobic they would murder even distant relatives let alone another tribesman of the same race.  But I don’t think its a stretch to say if they ever did meet different races they’d have tried to kill them too.

“And even when things like racial & sexual tolerance were achieved”

Ooooh you think I might have a point, huh?  Not willing to pretend there was no more racism in 1850 than 2011, huh?

“it wasn’t because people just sat by & allowed ‘progress’ to take its course”

So what?  gravity isn’t because people just sit back and let it happen either.

“Indeed to belive that progress is inevitable is to effectively believe that who’s leading a nation doesn’t matter”

(1) what an idiotic accusation and (2) if that were true it would be equally true of your own position.

What a dumbass.

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By DavidByron, March 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Uniformed said:
“There is probably more slavery today than ever before, you just don’t see it in your privileged shielded lifestyle.”

Oh, “probably”?  You just have a hunch about it?  Maybe you’ve been watching too much Nancy Grace white women in peril stories.

“what about the rights of the women and children and men who the get bombed, murdered, raped and tortured by these so-called “progressive” and “civilized” societies?”

Ooooh you’re right.  That NEVER used to happen in the past did it?  In that great golden past when there were no wars and everyone got on together.

“What about the rights of all the people that get jam-packed in prisons for the sake of twisted, sadistic justice.”

Yes prisons in Charles Dickens time were so much nicer as is well known.  Hence the adjective “Dickensian” meaning opulent and well equipped.

“The morality and progress you talk about is largely fake. It’s been confined to a very small cubicle.”

That’s why global deaths from hunger have been sliced in half more than once in recent decades is it?  Oh but I am so parochial.  You must be counting other planets data?

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By Jim Yell, March 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Globalization has never meant anything, but giving Corporations and Capitalists a chance to do an end run around the laws of countries and shaft Labor in one country or another.

Most of the failed states get that way thru overpopulation, treason amongst its leadership and of course this leads to do we allow them to kill themselves are do we help them kill themselves. In Libya there is oil, but it has been run by an insane group that really has indulged in terror in the west. So unlike Iraq it has certainly made itself a target.

As to the condition of undeveloped countries there seem to be no good solution. People who insist on having 10 children when their environment can’t support 2 children are bound to find their options limited. Removing their excess people to rich countries in only a case of transfering their immediate problem to people who did not create it and since they go right ahead procreating—what are you going to do? It is an uncomfortable question, yes.

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By thebeerdoctor, March 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

By quoting the gospel according to Bob, I meant to point out the fact that much of Hedges’ articles are a kind of sermon. To that, I can only say:
1 year, 8 months, 23 days…

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By TheGodKiller, March 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment


There is probably more slavery today than ever before, you just don’t see it in your privileged shielded lifestyle. As for these bogus rights you talk about, what about the rights of the women and children and men who the get bombed, murdered, raped and tortured by these so-called “progressive” and “civilized” societies? What about the rights of all the people that get jam-packed in prisons for the sake of twisted, sadistic justice.

The morality and progress you talk about is largely fake. It’s been confined to a very small cubicle. Fuck your rights, they don’t mean shit to the millions of people that get fucked over by this system. The millions that get killed, imprisoned and raped by a heartless and cruel society that’s very much still on the tail-end of the dark ages.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, March 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

Let the people of the world ( and especially here in Amerika ) learn to create their own businesses, service companies and grow within their communities.

This attempt to pit country against country with different weights and balances only benefits those pulling the strings at the top… the hired-hands and their owners.

Let us BREAK the programming found in public schools of working for someone else and teach our children what money is, and what is isn’t.  Teach them to think creatively and to make their own way… not follow the way of the hired hands.

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By thirdshift, March 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Do people actually read anymore?Heges never said that the human species is fully incapable of progress.What he correctly stated was that progress is not inevitable that anyone who believes this simply because they live in a world with technologies which are the product of literally thousands of years of inherited knowledge are sadly mistaken.
Indeed it was physicist Stephen Hawking who back in ‘98 stated that there has been no significant change in human DNA in over 10,000 years!
As for racial tolerance as a sign of human progress—that’s hilarious—considering that ‘primitive’ societies as well as human civilization in general up until the 17th cen.,possessed no systems of racial categorization.And even when things like racial & sexual tolerance were achieved it wasn’t because people just sat by & allowed ‘progress’ to take its course—ending slavery & institutional bigotry in the US required bloodshed.
Indeed to belive that progress is inevitable is to effectively believe that who’s leading a nation doesn’t matter,economic policy doesn’t,the quality of education in a society doesn’t matter,levels of social bigotry doesn’t matter,scientific inquiry doesn’t matter & ultimatly radical political engagement doesn’t matter because our Hegelian & subsequently Marxist notion of a linear history that leads to a utopian actualization of the species will take care of all our problems.

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By kerryrose, March 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

I recently had a meeting with my Middle School son’s guidance counsler.

He said,‘We have to make the kids want their employers to stay in this country- not move to China.’

I kid you not.  Is it a huge scam to try to make the citizens feel like it is their work performance that will land them a corporate job, and not the fact that China and India have no law that forbids slave labor? 

Or is it an attempt, along with the destruction of safety nets and unions, to prepare the new generation to also become slaves in order to actually work.  (Rather than requiring corporations to uphold labor standards around the world, we’ll just have American citizens become peons.)

By the way, TruthDig featured articles a few months ago about Chinese businessmen throwing themselves out of windows at work because they were not being paid.

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By peteb91, March 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

Corporatist thugs don’t care about rights, It’s all about power and control. They will systematically dismantle every liberal ideal to create a wonderland for the rich elite. They are economic Darwinists who feel if you can’t make a fortune, or inherit one then you should be eliminated by some perverted form of economic natural selection. All stemming from that crazy lady Ayn Rand and all her materialist cronies.

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By Anarcissie, March 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

‘... We must view the corporate capitalists who have seized control of our money, our food, our energy, our education, our press, our health care system and our governance as mortal enemies to be vanquished. ...’

In short, we must meet the enemy and see that he is us.  The corporate capitalists would have no power if we had not given it to them, because we admire them so much.

The system grows out of daily life.  The shiny SUVs in front of the suburban white picket fence are matched by the shiny SUVs in front of the projects, in front of the glitzy condos, in front of the mansions in the country.  Burn, baby, burn. 

Meanwhile ‘life goes on within you and without you.’

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, March 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

Some big ole boys will surely feel the whiplash of the world’s chattel / the slaves not monetized with capital working for them….

Yes, those dependent on their fiat will lose it, maybe all of it… and so what? 

Oops, they’ll just have to depend on their God-given talents…. but if their only talent is to tell other people what to do, if their only talent is to push the golden calf around to their greedy heart’s content.. well, then they’ll reap what they sowed, won’t they.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

—God ( Matthew 6:19-21 )

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By Matt, March 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A regulated capitalism won’t work either. The greatest problem in our design is not a group of people or an institution, it is money. Money rules. When you have a society that uses money, those who manage to make the most control everything. They can bribe the courts and the politicians to bend to their will, which is why a regulated capitalism will never work. In a system of money you will always end up with a dictatorship of the rich. All systems whether capitalist or socialists have used money, it has been the constant variable in every failed state.

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By DavidByron, March 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

What’s up with the pessimism about human nature I wonder?  This statement is clearly false for example:

“They peddle the self-delusional dream of inevitable human progress. They assure us we will be saved by science, technology and rationality and that humanity is moving inexorably forward.

None of this is true. It is a message that defies human nature and human history.”

In fact history comes down firmly on the side of progress.  This seems almost to be a Malthusian reference but Malthusians have always been proven wrong in the REAL history of the world.  Certainly there have been local economic collapses of various cultures, especially on the fringes (Greenland Vikings and Easter Island), but we are (obviously) still all here.

Hedges admits the rise in food prices is not due to lack of resources but poor distribution (speculation).  But would any of us rather go back to the morality of centuries past?  or even decades past?  That sort of fond reflection of a mythic past is more a fascist trope (pangenesis).

Humanity is moving backwards?  Really?

Should we go back to when most people figured gays should have no rights?  Or how about to when most people figured blacks should have no rights?  Were we more moral under slavery?  If you think humanity is morally degrading please identify the “golden years” for me, when things were more moral.

That time is now.  Science, technology and human morals are improving.  “Inexorably”?  Well all we can say for sure is that it has in the past (with some local exceptions).  Improving fast enough to “save” us?  Probably, depending on your definition.

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By felicity, March 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

Hard to believe but Bill Mauldin, American artist and
journalist, wrote this in the late ‘40’s.  “We must
peel back the veneer of hypocrisy and deception,
stick pins in pompous windbags, puncture inflated
egos, comfort the afflicted and afflict the
comfortable, in a word carry on the fight for the
little guy against greedy and vested interests,
bigots and fakers, potential Caesars and mis-guided

It’s smart to remember that this has been an on-going
battle throughout history and complacency at any time
is dangerous.

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By prisnersdilema, March 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

The Democratic party is nothing but Wall Street’s Bitch. Unless Obama is dumped, you
can say goodbye to the democratic party forever. Even then it’s going to take 60 years
to deal with the mess Wall Street created in this country, in the unlikely event that we
even survive as one nation.

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By Miko, March 28, 2011 at 11:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“the heavy hand of state power be employed to
prohibit the plunder by the corporate power elite”

Sadly, that won’t work, since the heavy hand of state
power is too busy assisting in the plunder by the
corporate power elite.  But luckily it’s also not
necessarily: as Gabriel Kolko extensively documented,
regulation almost always serves as a handout to the
regulated, so rather than attempting to seize the
state, the radical Left needs only to make it
impotent.  Make regulation impossible and capitalism
will fall, as capitalism is sustainable only through
massive injections of force from the government.

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By dcrimso, March 28, 2011 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

There are many writers that are skilled at describing the sorry a%$ed condition we are in, but get wobbly knees when writing about the solutions.  There are no solutions.  The future is more accurately described by Derrick Jensen in his book “The Endgame”.  Until we’re ready to give up our lives, nothing is going to change.

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By samosamo, March 28, 2011 at 11:37 am Link to this comment


By balkas, March 28 at 12:40 pm

Very few have mentioned what you ask. I came to the idea and
have mentioned it in some of my comments here at TD that the
indigenous people of the western hemisphere, at times quaintly
called ‘native americans’(america-named after an Italian
explorer)were the noblest of peoples on this planet until the
scourge of the european invasion came to infect this part of the
world with their ideologies, diseases and flippant use of their

But your comment is so true, they were highest level of humanity
and all the europeans have proved is that the human population
was at that point past the point of ‘too many’ with all the ills,
hostility and deviousness that go with that overcrowding. Proven
ever since by the actions of those invaders.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, March 28, 2011 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When did Americans become more well behaved than the Brits?,000

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By anthony innes, March 28, 2011 at 11:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges like Raulston Saul gives the usual liberal limp slap to those who suffer from the “globalist” delusion.These unelected poobahs distain the reality of an international community among other of their various conceits:
Unions not have to account for their usual abscence of secret voting,constant lobbying for more money and benefits for members clubbing with management that has the same agenda.
Private schools on the public purse.
The defense of intellectual property which plays to legal bullying by the well heeled not protection of the new synthesis.
A list of grievances that can snap your brain is out there.
We are into an age of phased transition not the graduated change favoured by the comfortable.When the hardship is more evenly distributed grows as it does each day the dialogue will shift.
Already the TUC march in London shows brand Anarchy has assumed new cool with the young.Smart peacefull occupation verses hooded police planted vandals “hijacking” the Police union backed march.
Transparency,Accountability and Justice.
Gore Vidal when asked about 911 said (paraphrased) “it should have been handled by Interpol and the ICC not war”.
Thanks to all commentators you provoked my response.As R.A.Wilson said “there is only communication among equals.”

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By blue, March 28, 2011 at 11:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To me Chris Hedges is a visionary who can clearly document exactly what is happening all over our planet. He sees and says what needs to be seen and said. In the end the only way that things can truly change is reflected by the inner orientation within each soul on our planet. One type of soul, now in the vastly overwhelming majority, is the type who is inwardly defined by the psychology of self interest and exclusion. It is this specific psychology that then becomes the causative basis of all that Chris is documenting in terms of how our countries are defined: economically and politically.

The other type of soul is inwardly defined by the psychology of ‘giving, sharing, and inclusion’. It is this type of person who, when multiplied to make them the majority of the people on our planet, then can create the types of countries, their politics and their economies, that become self sustaining for the common good of all of the citizens.

Without this type being in the majority our planet is doomed to extinction.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 28, 2011 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

As usual, Chris Hedges is able to state the problem perhaps overstate it, and exaggerate it, but that I can forgive.

What I cannot forgive is his only “solution” is a failed, repeatedly failed catastrophic alternative:

“We must rebuild radical socialist movements that demand that the resources of the state and the nation provide for the welfare of all citizens and the heavy hand of state power be employed to prohibit the plunder by the corporate power elite. “

These “socialist movements” destroyed the economies of the nations they ran far faster than capitalism has, but they never admit it was due to their own failed philosophy. No, instead it was ‘sabotaged’ by corporations.

Damn right!  And if the radical socialist movements had been any damn good, all the attempts at ‘sabotage’ would have been like a little bird on a hippo’s back. 

So even the complaint of sabotage reveals the fundamental weakness of socialism.

No, what we need is highly regulated capitalism.  Regulations for safety, legitimate business practices, prevention of pollution, protection of labor.  Not regulation of profits.  That’s not needed.  But fair taxation policyis needed.

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By ThaddeusStevens, March 28, 2011 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

@ entropy2
‘if that power is somehow wrested from their greedy hands, who does it devolve to?’
I would say that is the nub of the issue. We must prepare ourselves to take over, and look to the examples of John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, M. Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others who led revolutions that successfully changed the culture in a fundamental way. Outlining the issues certainly helps to raise everyone’s consciousness of the surrounding mediated culture-and the article did a very good job of outlining that-but we must take the next step-organization of a new political party and the philosophy of Justice and government that will guide us to the new day of greater freedom and equality and place meaning back in the phrase ‘for all.’

‘And until we awake from our collective self-delusion,’

Well, Chris, I am wide awake and a great many others are too-at least several million. Yes we need to wake the others, but we may also have to move out ourselves to a new geographic territory (perhaps down the street from where we are currently at) and start a new society.

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By Alan MacDonald, March 28, 2011 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

I was quite disappointed in Chris’s column this week—- it was weak in language, weak in logic, and weak in revolution.

Although his column more than amply details all the ‘symptom problems’; wars, economic oppression, domestic tyranny, etc., there is no effective nor revolution inspiring focus on the causal cancer which is actually hiding behind a facade and creating all these global ‘symptom problems’ or ‘identity issues’.

Hedges drags out the old characterization of ‘globalism’ and ‘oligarchy’ as the only things to hang his hat on—- and the only things for people to hang for if they listen to his misdirected call for revolution.

It amazes me that Hedges, after his perfect diagnosis of the real causal cancer deceptively hiding behind all problems in “Empire of Illusion”, did not make the clear and obvious point that his confusing language of “globalism”, “globalization”, and “oligarchy” are nothing but the polite and non-threatening terms that the illusionists of corporate capitalism use to avoid the masses from understanding, and effectively revolting “Against Empire”.  That the numbing term “globalism” is nothing but a disguise and dis-empowering illusion for “global EMPIRE”.

My God, Chris, if you want to empower, rather than dis-empower, people to revolt against a clear and deadly present danger, why not arm people with the seminal truth that that universal, seminal, single, and global cancerous present danger is global Empire??

Calling out global corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE as the signal evil to be revolted against is the essential starting point to any responsible and serious call for any revolution for liberty and democracy “Against Empire”—- anything less smacks of aiding the very “Empire of Illusion” that Chris himself so clearly, previously, and compellingly identified as the heart of all our problems.

Surely Hedges must understand that the masses, the working/middle-classes here and around the world, the very “Multitude”, will not be empowered by calling for a global revolt against the vague and confusing concepts of ‘globalism’, ‘globalization’ and ‘oligarchy’——since these terms are either mis-understood, vague, or worse—- actually used by the corporate/financial illusionists (like Friedman) themselves to hide the real Empire itself to make “globalism” sound beneficial, forward-leaning, and exciting.

Any serious student of cognitive science and language persuasion, like George Lakoff (who Hedges loves) and Frank Luntz (who Hedges hates), should know that you don’t accept and try to re-use the Empire’s own code word against the hidden Empire, particularly without even shouting out that Empire is the enemy—- but rather that a successful people’s revolution must de-power the propaganda language that the Empire invested, and has been successfully using for more than ten years to hide EMPIRE under a more vague and polite sounding word of their Empire’s own invention.

And particularly when the American public, unlike Michele Bachmann, already KNOWS that the first American Revolution was “Against EMPIRE”, and that all Americans have an innate distrust, dislike, and built-in hatred of EMPIRE.

Chris need sot get a grip and use both the natural, logical, understandable, and EFFECTIVE language of revolution “Against EMPIRE”—- doing anything less is just accidentally ‘feeding word confusion’ or unintentionally aiding the very “Empire of Illusion” with more illusions.

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine
Liberty over violent empire—People’s Party 2012
Democracy over violent empire—People’s Party 2012

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By aacme88, March 28, 2011 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

The army, the Vietnam war, changed my perspective forever. When I got out, I didn’t want to be anywhere, I was least uncomfortable on the road, where I was the only person in the world who knew where I was. I hitch-hiked, all over the US, Canada and Mexico.I used that time to reflect on the world as I now knew it to be.
One of the insights I got from that was the full expectation of a total societal meltdown sometime in my later life. I would say that it’s right on schedule, but in fact it’s taken longer than I thought. I was expecting the current level of chaos to appear in the 1990s. But the signs are unmistakable. Batten down the hatches. We are spiraling out of control.
Maybe Chris is right and it can be prevented. He’s certainly right that voting, and expecting your vote to make a difference, is futile. The Democrats are just as sold out as the Republicans, but more cynical, because they still play the good cop role. The Republicans have quit even bothering to pretend. That’s not a hopeful sign. They already believe there’s nothing we can do about it. But Wisconsin has them wondering. That’s the only hopeful sign since the election of Barack Obama, and we know how that turned out. But Wisconsin is real. Real people with everything to lose under the status quo, and nothing to lose, and maybe everything to gain by fighting back. They have their country to gain.
“We want our country back.” Screw the Tea Party. We’re taking their slogan. We’ll put it to a hell of a lot better use than they have. If we stand together the thugs will tremble and fade away. It’s happened too many times to doubt. Philippines “People Power”. South Africa, India before that. The countries of the mideast sweeping away one dictator after another, still to be determined what will replace them, but demonstrating the power of the people.
It’s worth doing, even if we lose. There is dignity in fighting back, and sometimes dignity is all there is left.

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By entropy2, March 28, 2011 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Obviously, almost everyone agrees that the corporate elite hold too much power over the rest of us. But the question is, if that power is somehow wrested from their greedy hands, who does it devolve to? Will it be entrusted to an already intrusive and power-drunk government or to each of us as individuals, where it rightfully belongs? I have no more desire to have my life run by authoritarian government technocrats than to be exploited and discarded by amoral corporate masters.

Simply put, coercive power will corrupt. Great power, concentrated in the hands of ANY hierarchy, corporate, governmental or theocratic, will inevitably lead to tyranny.

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By balkas, March 28, 2011 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

alas, hedges continues to proffer us sensationalism sans causationalism.
nor does he even suggest one effective-to-whatever-degree step we cld take to
just stop coming worsenings [guaranteed; 100% sure] let alone make the world
more peaceful, prosperous, secure, etc.

he’s not the only columnist who avoids to postulate or posit as factual the actual
causes for what is happening to us at the hands of very uncivilized people.

in fact, i know of no msm columnist who does not dwell on an peripheral issue
solely; detatched from many more important issues and causes for them.
in short, nothing that happens in u.s. or what u.s. does to ‘aliens’ is caused.
everything just happens and then a stream of jeremiahs ensue.

and we know that jeremiah’s laments had not averted the end of israel and later
judeah. tnx

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By aacme88, March 28, 2011 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

“They select a few facts and isolated data and use them to dismiss historical, economic, political and cultural realities. They tell us what we want to believe about ourselves. They assure us that we are exceptional as individuals and as a nation. They champion our ignorance as knowledge. They tell us that there is no reason to investigate other ways of organizing and governing our society. Our way of life is the best.”

This is scarily similar to to North Korea.

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By balkas, March 28, 2011 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

i find it puzzling that no one, as far as i know, had to date written about how, say
haydas, hopis, navajos, et al lived not having layers of society, govt-governance,
army, spies, taxes, whores, jails, media, priests, kings, ‘nobles’, banksters,
gangsters, ‘educators’,
idea of conquest-subjugation, slaves, and serfs,.

‘poor’ souls! they only had tutoring and guidance.  and, then, the priests,
europeans and later asians; armed with lust to dominate, steal anything not
nailed dwn, ‘religions’, ‘gods’, mn and one dogmas, ‘laws’, supremacism, etc.,
came, saw, and said: there is no way we gonna stand for this primitiveness.

and the highest civilization ever known to have existed had to be utterly

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By madisolation, March 28, 2011 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

The corporate billionaires are the enemy, and any individual or entity who enables them are the enemy. The Democratic Party is worse than the overtly cruel Republican Party, because the Democrats are dishonest in their cruelty. For example, the Democratic Party has decided that it’s okay for us to engage in unnecessary plunder and death “for humanitarian reasons” in a Libyan War we cannot afford without debate and input from the American people. In another time, any President who decided he had the sole right to drop bombs on another country any time he pleased would be explaining himself before Congress. Yet because their corporate employers want this “humanitarian war,” the corporate employees in Congress don’t raise their voices. They will even support murder if their corporate masters tell them to. Even those individuals in Congress who object don’t have the courage of their convictions. If they did, they’d call for the impeachment of Barack Obama.
Some “liberal” websites debate whether this unprovoked attack is a good thing: “If George Bush had done it, it would be a bad thing, of course, but blah..blah..blah…” with very few exceptions, liberal websites are gatekeepers for the Democratic Party, and these sites can be just as addictive, and they can hold back progress just as surely as watching watching cable news on t.v.
As Chris Hedges wrote:
“...until we carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the corporate state and sever ourselves from the liberal institutions that serve the corporate juggernaut—especially the Democratic Party—we will continue to be rocketed toward a global catastrophe.”
If the people you identify with don’t believe in breaking away from the Democratic Party and they don’t urge civil disobedience, they don’t really have much to offer.
As always, thank you, Chris Hedges.

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By Wikileaks for Nobel, March 28, 2011 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

As usual, Mr. Hedges is “spot on,” as the Brits say.  The one thought about which I have question is that of our electoral system.  He is right to say that the Democratic Party is worse than useless in offering any solution to our many problems—indeed, it is a central part of those problems—but implicitly, I wonder, does he offer that some other party might offer us a solution?

My own guess is, given the not-at-all-subtle taste for tyranny on the part of the current corporate cutout in the White House, we are further along the downward spiral than mere electoral solutions could remedy.  By all means, speak up for honest politicians—there are a few—and rally around issues crucial to our self-defense…but increasingly, I think our best chances lie in the expanding “gray realm” between politics and outright victimhood.  The key is this:  if we don’t help each other, we are screwed. That was true of all the political movements mentioned by Mr. Hedges, and it is true today.  Regardless of label, ideology, or anything else, it comes down to whether we have it in ourselves to aid each other.  The government is our enemy, as are all the other corporate arenas of our society.  What hope there is, is fugitive, consciously moving under the radar of the judicial and electoral systems.  I’m not an anarchist, but it appears “the rule of law” is becoming simply hammer and anvil—with us being the anvil. 

Find people you trust, and create democratic relationships, where trust is protected and never given without safeguards.  We need to be neither fools nor victims.  As always, actions speak louder than words.

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By thebeerdoctor, March 28, 2011 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

“And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my songs well before I start singin’”

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By Kalpal, March 28, 2011 at 8:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Countries run by a dictator or oligarchies are very easy to bribe or coerce. A simple offer of a 5% cut of all business activities is more than adequate to make those in charge fabulously wealthy. All they need do is inhibit local competition and deny any collective bargaining rights to the populace.

Corporations acording to SCOTUS are persons whose obligations are not to any nation but to its ownership. Since coprorations usually have the resources to bribe legislators they need not worry that they will be encumbered by the need to behave in a responsible manner towards the citizens of any country in which they operate.

Such activities left Mubarak of Egypt with a fortune of several billions and most national leaders like him have amassed massive piles of assets since they were paid part of the income that normally would be taxes paid into the public coffers to enhance life in the country that supplied the labor and materials which are the genesis of the wealth.

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By balkas, March 28, 2011 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

yes, for yrs i have expected worseninigs for ‘weakling’ people and peoples—-
‘aliens’, afortiori.

for at least 10k yrs ancient, middle, and modern ‘nobility’ had lead us from
disaster to disaster.

present ‘nobility’ [‘educators’, banksters, pols, clergy, plutos] do not behave in
basics any diff than their idols of yore.

unless we do not form an antipodally-standing governmental party to the one
that solely represents sacerdotal, plutocratic, ‘educating’, disinforming,
judiciary, military-militant classes, we can expect many more and much more
severe catastrophies.
some phenomana never change. addicts to prestige, governmental, judicial,
cultic, informative, monetary powers will never give it up w.o. a strong political
party fighting them.

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By Big B, March 28, 2011 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

I am afraid globalization is here to stay, or at least it will get far worse before it gets better (who am I kidding, it won’t get better. This whole “globalization” scheme will end in a landscape resembling “1984”, with a few large corporate fascists states in control of nearly all remaining natural resources and existing markets.)

knobcreekfarmer is absolutely correct. Depleated petroleum reserves will be the ultimate determining factor in just how far we will de-evolve in the 21st century.

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By ardee, March 28, 2011 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

Hedges has a knack for emotional but realistic rendering of the truth of things. I usually agree with most of what he writes, as I do here. However there is one point I would address as differing from Mr. Hedges eloquent opinion

He posits, and I disagree, that the current spate of revolutionary actions in certain nations is a signal of the coming death of globalisation. I think that said uprisings do not guarantee whatsoever that the fascism infecting our governing institutions will end.

People rise up to end starvation, to end lives of tragedy and poverty, to address such basic unfairness as has become intolerable. Yet we do not know what government will replace the ones overthrown, if indeed they even are in the end. Governments are not administered by angels, as Alexander Hamilton noted, and those who replace dictators may themselves be turned by money and power.

Just as important we must understand these dictators are aided, installed in many cases, and abetted by the Western nations, and especially by US corporations in order to provide safe havens for our corporate business interests. The ruler of Yemen, a perfect example, allows black ops CIA operations in his nation, operations that assassinate at will, and then he takes the credit for such deaths. Is it any wonder we bomb Libya and ignore Yemen? This must end.

We the people must not be lulled to sleep by access to cheap plastic toys, enslaved by credit, or live is such fear of our jobs and homes that we refuse our responsibilities to the world and abet, if only by our silence, the installation of dictators for stable business climates. Instead of meddling abroad Americans must look to clean up our own messes,.

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By leveymg, March 28, 2011 at 7:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is well spoken, and I can’t argue with much of it.  But, what I’m not seeing here are the specifics of a workable alternative, or how we get from A to B.
We all know about what the problems are. Doing the work to dig out of the grave that Wall Street and Wal*Mart have dug for us is the really hard part - just knowing which way to dig in a world where the laws of nature, themselves, have been commodified is going to be difficult . . .

I would love to see Chris take a turn with the shovel, and see which way he digs.

- Mark

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By knobcreekfarmer, March 28, 2011 at 7:18 am Link to this comment


Right on spot as usual.

“They presage a world where vital resources, including food and water, jobs
and security, are becoming scarcer and harder to obtain. “

- yes it’s called “LIMITS TO GROWTH” and peak oil is the 800 pound gorilla in this reality.

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By StopTheInsanity, March 28, 2011 at 7:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

there’s a glaring contradiction and blind spot in this essay as follows:

“We must embrace, and embrace rapidly, a radical new ethic of simplicity and rigorous protection of our ecosystem—especially the climate—or we will all be holding on to life by our fingertips.”

runs counter to:

“It does not matter that the middle class—the beating heart of any democracy—is disappearing and that the rights and wages of the working class have fallen into precipitous decline as labor regulations, protection of our manufacturing base and labor unions have been demolished.”

this is a blatant, crippling and counterproductive disconnect.

which is to say, you cannot have a thriving amerikan middle class and “a radical new ethic of simplicity and rigorous protection of our ecosystem”.

for they are, by definition, diametric:

“Humanity would need five Earths to produce the resources needed if everyone lived as profligately as Americans”
(regardless of techno-fix religion)

this is the nightmare of the amerikan dream.

and trying to save the dream will only prolong the nightmare.

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By Everest Mokaeff, March 28, 2011 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

We used to talk about battling greedy corporations.It’s like a new gossip in the town. For many of us it is but a strong metaphor - an idea worth living for or fighting against, depends whose side you’re on. I see every day devastating consequences of brainwashing, reckless consumerism and ignorance. On my own I can do nothing about it. A lot of persons whom I consider very close to me, are obsessed with celebrities gossips and newest ipods - all that crap pouring on us from commercials. My dear friends are integral part of the system we are so eager to destroy. They are sentinels. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to show my girlfriend a different side of the coin, she stubbornly dreams of palaces, parties and all that stuff capitalist institution propagandists want us to fantasize about. There is no way I’m able to unplug her from the matrix, because we’re exposed to it 24/7 thru various channels of manipulation, predominantly television. It’s everywhere. What in practical terms can we do? It took me a while to understand things governments and corporations alike do not want me to know. To get there, I first cut off myself from brainwashing machine, namely television. I watched it but this was my choice and I stirred clear of all known outlets of corporate lies and state propaganda. Then I started listen to different kind of people. I started reading different kind of papers and books. All of a sudden, I started thinking and speaking for myself. I started doing things on my own. And I started taking responsibility for everything I’ve done ever since. Secondly, I stay away from all sorts of traps laid down for stupid consumer to get him trapped in monetary vassalage. It’s not easy to consciously reject material wealth in society that is based upon it. The first blow to the system is to break free. If you’re as interested in dismantling the system as many of you claim here, it’s time to get your freedom back. Beware, the moment you get self-conscious, the system imminent response will be full-blown retaliation.

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By Steve E, March 28, 2011 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

A fantastic reality check Mr. Hedges and thank you again for your courage.

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By Gary Mont, March 28, 2011 at 6:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well said.

We’ve been down this same road before and so far, the wealthy have always won and always pulled the society apart in their mad quest to fulfill their own make-believe claims.

No words can reach them, simply because the path they have chosen rewards them with more and more wealth and this perpetual gain in wealth constantly opens up new ways and means to profit even further.

The addiction to wealth as power, is far stronger than addiction to any drug, because it truly makes people gods among men, able to make other men do their bidding no matter what the task might be.

The article truly lays bare the situation mankind currently faces, and names precisely those who are orchestrating the next fall of man.

Sadly, intelligent solutions are now desperately needed in order to determine how best to save the human race from its inevitable and painful demise.

Sadly, because the minds best suited to this task are the very minds currently employed by the wealthy worshipers of Mammon, to determine the best ways to turn planet earth into private wealth.

I believe it was Goebells who stated that, should the fascists be forced out of existence by the rest of humanity, that they would go out with a big enough bang to shake the whole planet. It would seem that this is indeed the true goal of today’s elite.

It is certainly the true outcome of their actions.

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By William, March 28, 2011 at 5:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Last summer I was in the midst of a heated discussion among friends, we could fittingly be described as self-professed anarchists hellbent on changing the status quo you so well described in this particular article. During the stated argument a friend revealed thoughts on how to change or break this cycle many of us have come to understand; sadly his answer lie in martyrdom and personal sacrifice against the powers to be.
Here-in lies the issue. I explained to him that the necessary tools are mass movement and organization, a few million goal oriented individuals in non-violent continual protest across the country and the globe; Seattle on the largest scale possible, if you will.
You see, it is no longer imperative to illustrate the issues - for many they are clear - we must move beyond and bring the power back to the people. Therefore I request for the mutual benefit of the population, conductive information, I no longer wish to wake up and feed my consciousness with that which I am already aware, rather let us all collaborate and come together with real solutions, answers and coordinated movements so that one day the article you have written will not be simply done in vain.

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