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The Election March of the Trolls
Posted on Aug 28, 2011
By Chris Hedges
All cloying appeals to the Obama administration to use stimulus money to build public works such as schools, libraries, roads, clinics, public transit and reclaiming dams, as well as to create jobs, are about as effective as writing heartfelt appeals in the era of the old Soviet Union to Uncle Joe Stalin. The trolls have gamed the system. There is no economic, political or environmental reform, from campaign finance to environmental controls, that can be implemented to impede the march of the corporate state. The rot and corruption at the top levels of our financial and political systems, coupled with the increasing deprivation felt by tens of millions of Americans, are volatile tinder for revolt. And the trolls are prepared for this too. They have put in place draconian state controls, including widespread internal surveillance, to silence our anemic left. They know how to direct the rage of the right wing toward the last pockets of the cultural, social and political establishment that cling to traditional liberal values, as well as toward the most vulnerable among us including Muslims, undocumented workers and homosexuals. They will make sure we consume ourselves.
A society is in serious trouble when its political pariahs have at the core of their demands a return to the rule of law. This inversion, with our political and cultural outcasts demanding a respect for law, highlights the awful fact that the most radical and retrograde forces within the body politic have seized control. These forces demand that we serve the dictates of the marketplace. They are destroying all legal impediments to corporate exploitation and profit, as well as dismantling the regulatory agencies that once protected the citizen. They defend torture, offshore penal colonies, black sites and kidnapping (they call it “extraordinary rendition”) of state enemies. They protect and abet financial fraud. They wage pre-emptive war. They refuse to restore habeas corpus. Without warrants, they monitor, eavesdrop on and wiretap tens of millions of citizens. They order the assassination of U.S. citizens. They deny due process. They give corporations the status of persons. They ignore the suffering of the unemployed and the poor, slashing basic social service programs while doling out hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds to corporations. On these key issues, the only ones that really matter, there is no disagreement among trolls from either the self-identified left or the self-identified right. All their public disputes in the election cycle are a carnival act.
All conventional forms of dissent, from electoral politics to open debates, have been denied us. We cannot rely on the institutions that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. The only route left is to disconnect as thoroughly as possible from the consumer society and engage in acts of civil disobedience and obstruction. The more we sever ourselves from the addictions of fossil fuel and the consumer society, the more we begin to create a new paradigm for community. The more we engage in physical acts of defiance—as Bill McKibben and others did recently in front of the White House to protest the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would increase the flow of “dirty” tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico—the more we can keep alive a new, better way of relating to each other and the ecosystem.
Most important, we must stop being afraid. We have to turn our backs for good on the Democrats, no matter what ghoulish candidate the Republicans offer up for president. We have to defy all formal systems of power. We have to listen closely to the moral voices in our society, from McKibben to Noam Chomsky to Wendell Berry to Ralph Nader, and ignore feckless liberals who have been one of the most effective tools of our disempowerment. We have to create monastic enclaves where we can retain and nurture the values being rapidly destroyed by the wider corporate culture and build the mechanisms of self-sufficiency that will allow us to survive. The corporate coup is over. We have lost. The trolls have won. We have to face our banishment.
In William Shakespeare’s play “Coriolanus” the Roman consul is deposed by the mob. Coriolanus, whatever his faults, turns on those who thrust him from power to declare a valediction we should deliver to our class of ruling trolls and all those who remain in their embrace.
Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”
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