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The Election March of the Trolls

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Posted on Aug 28, 2011
Illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

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.

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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.

Brutus:
    There’s no more to be said, but he is banish’d,
    As enemy to the people and his country:
    It shall be so.

Citizens:
    It shall be so, it shall be so.

Coriolanus:
    You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
    As reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
    As the dead carcasses of unburied men
    That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
    And here remain with your uncertainty!
    Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
    Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
    Fan you into despair! Have the power still
    To banish your defenders; till at length
    Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,
    Making not reservation of yourselves,
    Still your own foes, deliver you as most
    Abated captives to some nation
    That won you without blows! Despising,
    For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
    There is a world elsewhere.

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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By Jason Pacifico, August 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In regard to your most evocative article “The Election March of the Trolls,”  vis-a-vis trolls,  Bill McKibben and others did recently in front of the White House, next time your are “protesting” at the White House, I would be more than elated to come, if you plan on having evocative Molotov Cocktails in 16 oz Poland Spring water size bottles half filled with gasoline,  to throw at the White House, perhaps a dozen will hit, the “blessings,” “splash” or fire will make the point or the start of the revolution, before we are arrested for arson (revolution), destroying the property of the US government (our property, we are the government). 

      Vis-a-vis the trolls, Boehner, when elected the new speaker of the House, the House (Boehner) reading the Constitution of the United States, omitted key parts endorsing slavery.

Vis-a-vis the Constitution,—additionally—it was set-up for (just)  a “deranged,” sick, dysfunctional elite (1%) “We the People,” for example,  refers to the Elite (Wall Street, today, construed in 1789…) owners of large cotton and tobacco plantations (see: Unruly Rebels: The Origins of the Constitution of the United States by Woody Holton, also lecture on History Channel), and also (1789-1808) owners of the Transatlantic Slave Trade,  owners of slaves ‘till 1865 and the African-Americans second class chattelment ‘till Civil Rights Amendment of 1964, Martin Luther King, jr. 

        Concurrently, today African-American chattelment in the Jim Crow Prison Complex 1964- 2011, and (1789-2011) a second tyranny of whites (like myself) to chattelment of lower classes.  “General Welfare” clause was construed in the Constitution to mean: manage, subjugate, harmonies, “protect a given social order” in a second tyranny of whites (myself) to chattelment of the lower classes f/ 1789 forward till 2011.

        Moreover, “To secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,”  “ourselves” is absolutely not in the “plural” narrative of “all the people” but is in the “singular” narrative of the elite class (top 1-3%). The most important point here, is what the “fuck” were they saying in “Blessings of Liberty”??? is it a reference “Blessing” (a religious “secular-sectarian” belief???) to the Central Bank (First Bank of the United States (1789-1811), Second Bank of the United States (1816-1836), Continental Bank of the United States (1860-1865, FED: 1913-2011…) and “they and only they” (i.e. religious secular-sectarian”) “ourselves,” can created money “out of thin air,” today of course via a computer stroke.

        Today, i.e.: by 2009-2010 ,17.5 trillion dollars to Wall Street vis-a-vis 2008 TARP’s 700 billion added to the National Debt (see: “rolling numbers” provisions: under TARP under George W. Bush and the (evil: “ourselves”) US Congress in how they configured it in 2008!  (see: “The Great Global Debt Depression: It’s All Greek To Me”  by Andrew Galvin Marshall). 
 
        Evil, is beautiful, seductive and beguiling as the US Constitution is. The Constitution, the 3 Branches of Government, the private ownership of the FED by the top 1% (JP Morgan Chase; Citigroup; Rothschild International of England, Berlin; UBS of Hamburg, Berlin, etc.) , college education (should be free at public and private schools), etc. needs to be re-examined and exposed accordingly.

        We need a new constitution w/ 6 branches of govt., 310 million people owning the central bank, profit shares of 2-6 trillion dollars to (per) families ($2,000.—$6.000) per year, and a rolling provision in the new constitution on “guarantee living wage jobs 1” (750 billion a year under rolling numbers annually, etc.)  would give 30 million people unemployed $25,000 a year a guaranteed job.

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By Satyagraha, August 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment

@Cliff Carson,

I’m generally with you.  I say everyone to the left of Clinton should vote for the candidate best likely to beat the Republican every time(possible exception Ron Paul if by some miracle he makes it to the top of the Republican Party ticket).  You’re also right that, played the right way, committing to knocking half of the two party duopoly out would send a powerful message to the Dems—not “we’re with you no matter what”, but rather, “as go the Republicans, soon go you.”

For this to work, though, this anti-Republican voting strategy needs to be made clearly distinguishable from sheep-like “party loyalty” to the Democrats.  It must be combined with regular and vigorous (and jail-risking) direct action against the entire corrupt political system: striking, taking arrests, mobilizing the reality-based commmunity in ways legal and illegal (but always nonviolent), widely circulating aggressive agit-prop to break through the wall of pluralistic ignorance, intensely pressuring CEOs media organizations and other sources of power in ways legal and illegal (though always nonviolent), and pushing forward for a new alternative political-economic reality.

Most of what Democrats tell people to do (empty calls to “not make the best the enemy of the good”, etc) should be completely ignored at all times except every election day.  For the vast majority of days of the year, we should hold Dems accountable in as fierce terms as the Republicans, even as we vote for Dems at most one day a year.  We should let them know that we vote for them for the same reason that we would vote for Pinochet over Pol Pot—not because Pinochet is good, but because Pol Pot needs to go first.  Pinochet, of course, needs to go second.

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By c.hanna, August 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment

I think there was such a large turn-out in voters last election because so many people were fooled by Obama (who was/is? part of the CIA according to some fairly credible sources).

This next election many people will not vote, vote 3rd party, or get fooled again and think they are voting “lesser of two evils”. Ultimately, some of these elections are decided by maybe 40% of the voting population, if not less. I can’t understand why anyone would vote for the two candidates that are paraded before us for months, who are first selected by the CFR. To me this is not democracy, and it is an insult to voters. Besides that, there is the issue of corrupt voting methods using computers that may be fixed, as in what happened during the Bush/Kerry election.

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By MeHere, August 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

In addition to not giving a vote to the Dems or Reps, voting for a third party can
serve to build up a solid party over time.  But we need to believe in the process
and not expect instant gratification.

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By Arouete, August 29, 2011 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

In the Road To Wigan Pier, George Orwell complained that the problem with the unemployed is that they read to many newspapers. I suspect it was intended as a double entendre.


There is clear reason why Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges has such a huge progressive following and keeps stacking up the awards for his pull-no-punches debunking.


One of the reasons I get angry with his the-sky-is-falling rhetoric is because his has been right all along:  the sky really is falling. He, of course, is not the only one. Noble laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph E. Stigletz have been prescient with uncanny accuracy. Since the crash of 07/08 all events seem to have unfolded exactly as they have been predicting. I have to wonder if we are all now just running about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. 


Take a look a Ralph Nader’s superb analysis of the Hobson’s choice we are all facing. I have long since felt this infamous Orwellian battle of The Corporations v. WeThePeeeple was lost even before the infamous Citizens United case came down;  so it’s no surprise that some of my favorite writers and social critics are finally beginning to admit it out loud. The battle is over. They HAVE won. Pelf is the only power left in America and it is a multi-national power with no national fealty. We are headed down a dark road. The descent can no longer resist the pull of gravity. Certain forces have been set in motion thanks to the American financial sector and the inertia of those forces has the entire world in its grip.  At a certain point (as Voltaire so perfectly expressed in his immoral comte Candide – arguably black humor with the humor removed) optimism can be an irresponsible and self-destructive delusion.  One can only wonder if Lord Byron was correct when he asked, “What is hope? .... “The paint on the face of existence.  Just a touch of truth rubs it off and then we see what a hollow cheeked harlot we’ve got hold of.”


But it is worse then he thought for Byron’s infamous harlot seems deranged by a syphilitic insanity that has eaten into its grey-matter.  We “the crooked timber of humanity” now seem set on consuming ourselves.  The notion of human progress is truly an illusion for it appears we are simply not teachable. Liberalism has become infantile.

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By Inherit The Wind, August 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

One of the things that has always bothered me is that people actually seem to BELIEVE political advertising.  When a candidate is desperate, he will “go negative” and sometimes win.  But what does that mean?

Why do we give a shit if a candidate cheated on his/her spouse?

Why don’t we give a shit if the candidate sold out to corporate buyers? (Hello, Rick Perry!)

What makes us, the American people, so fucking dumb that we re-elect a George W. Bush because the GOP says “Flip-Flop!” and some lying shithead posts “swiftboat” ads that are shown and known to be lies?

Chris Hedges never can answer these questions.  He thinks it’s simply terror.  But when the parties (and Hedges) play on this terror, why don’t we see it for what it is? A play on our fears.

WHY are Americans so intellectually lazy? 
Why is is “my team, good, your team, evil” regardless of facts?

Yet even here, at TruthDig, I see apparently intelligent and educated people post the most outrageous clap-trap and conspiracy fantasies that don’t stand up to even the most minimal examination.  Why is that? 

What has killed rationality and rational thinking in Americans, from the nutty Teabagger right to the Proggie left?  I cannot believe it is corporations with their money and evil intents.  Too many here are aware of that.  Even many on the right resent the bank bailouts.  Yet despite that there is a river of irrationality that flows through all American politics.  Even Chris Hedges is badly infected with it.

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By Birch, August 29, 2011 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

No one who ever changed the world for the better, retreated to
a monastic enclave, not even Mahatma Gandhi. He just found a
better way for powerless people to confront power. And we are
not powerless. The only problem in America is the situation is
not yet bad enough to motivate people out of there comfort
zone. But in Wisconsin, when people got a real picture of how
their rights were being trampled, they mobilized and took
action. They were not completely successful in ridding the
state of their Republican overlords in the State Senate, but
they sent a pretty strong message. It just takes more of that
kind of effort and not to be fooled by slick talking tricksters
who pretend they are playing on our team, but are really
working for the other side. While I like Chris’s ardor, I can’t
accept his sense of hopelessness and resignation.

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By Michael Shaw, August 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

A vote for Obama is a vote for Perry, or whatever other idiot the republicans decide to run. Candidates are chosen by Wall Street not us! If we are too ever get the democratic party on track we need to send a clear message: Give us corporate shills as candidates, lose our support. As Einstein once put it: Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Obama has sold us up shit’s creek without a paddle and some continue to say, better him than Perry! What crap! People affect change, not politicians and until people get off their asses and face the real music we are doomed, just as Mr. Hedges points out!

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By Cliff Carson, August 29, 2011 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment

Satyagraha,

“The nuance that Hedges misses is that one can participate in a political system and work to overthrow it AT THE SAME TIME”

Right you are.  People need to realize this.  It is as simple as deciding NEVER to vote again for any candidate running as a Republican - for anything.

I say Republican because this is the Party that makes no pretense that it is going to represent the common man over Special Interests - ever.

This is not an endorsement of the Democratic Party but it is a means to eliminate half of the Duopoly.

Vote Straight Democrat.  And when the Republicans are out form a Third Party Coalition to give the Democrat Party competition - but never again vote Republican.  This action will send a mighty message to the Democrat Party and those Special Interests who depended on the Republicans that there is another shoe poised to fall. 

And if the Democratic Party doesn’t get the message, then we have to give them the same treatment.  I don’t think it will come to that.  The Party will want to continue to exist.  In the meantime that Coalition can be getting laws passed that will guarantee punishment for breaking the laws.

It will take time.  Probably several election cycles, but once set in motion, sooner or later the “Elites” will begin to see the writing on the wall.

They will realize that they have only two choices:
Become one of the people, or find a new country to live in.

The new sheriff in town should have passed laws by then that would prevent those who choose to leave from taking it with them.

There needs to be a price to pay when the people are being robbed.

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By Just Another G, August 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most quasi-academics who choose to think for themselves, do their research and finish their homework see that America has reached the point-of-no-return. It is possible that this threshold of personal liberty has already given way to the anti-democracy or faux republic of an enlightened man’s nightmare. I wonder if this bad dream is something from which our society can awaken?

The problem here is that not enough people make time to really look into this nation’s problems…most are in pleasure comas. They’re drunk on “stuff.” It is only once a person has become desperate that he recognizes his new-found problems and awakens to the world as it is for the poor, the disadvantaged or voiceless. Once he awakens, he realizes that no one heeds his pleas for help or calls to action. He sees that the world isn’t so kind once he has been deemed replaceable or unneeded/unwanted.

For those of us who have been in the game of pretend participation long enough, Hedges is but one preacher singing to the choir. Unfortunately, too large a percentage of our population are members of the church of mainstream politics, commercialism and belief. In reflection, I see that Hedges sounds the alarm on issues that many other prominent journalists and scholars have struggled to make audible for “ignorant” citizens across the nation for years…that there is the inadequacy of genuine social representation and by extension, the pointlessness of voting. There has been an economic coup of American democracy that has struck a deathblow at any hope for freedom, equality and natural human rights for all.

Lurking in every nook of the greater public discourse is a ghoul wishing to possess each of us. This possession convinces an otherwise loving and good being to give up his/her conscience in favor of corporate-minded values. Essentially, we have been reduced to intellectual and emotional savages with only the “smash and grab” mentality which looks out for number one at all times. Today, the game of intellectual capture on all levels has been decided for the most part. Capitalism, commercialism and the self-serving instinct has become the savior above and beyond even the most revered religious figures who spent their lives railing against such avarice.

A great and looming question is whether or not this contest can be waged again with another outcome? I think so.

Most reformers or progressives agree that minds must be freed from this social sickness, this mistaken belief that all things are well, or at least as good as they could be in “the greatest nation in the world.” Until then, we each must be on watch for the “trolls” or potential “agents” as described by Morpheus in The Matrix. These people are deeply unaware and possessed of qualities and positions that deny the truths of poverty, violence, inequity and corporate control of society/government. Every piece of media or information consumed in these circles has been masterfully crafted and delivered. People really believe that nothing bad is happening which might require their attention!

Agree with everything Chris Hedges says or not, the reality he depicts is much less of a painting than it is a photograph of American society. He may capture a bit more or less light from time to time, but the ugly truths he strips down are still there, if not made more apparent. One can either awaken to this reality or soon watch their American dreams turn into nightmares. We must collectively participate and organize in whatever way we can to prevent this from happening. Do it in the two-party system, do it independently…participate!

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By RedwoodGuy, August 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

If voting is stupid, protesting can’t be far behind. Protesting is participation by another name. It’s a vote of a different kind, and it assume investment in the system.

In modern times, the establishment has learned how to effectively blunt all protests. At party conventions, they keep protesters miles away from the delegates, and make a mistake and you will spend the week in a fusion center.

The media now almost totally ignores protests. You watch the evening news, you’d barely know there was ever a protest about anything. You can however, get your head stove in, and you can spend time in jail if that’s your thing.

People are missing the point here - I think. The answer isn’t in the system at all, it’s OUTSIDE the system. Use that time you would waste protesting to go help someone do something productive. Go teach someone a skill, go help an old person shop, go grow some food for the hungry. Go put on a dance on your block, go put a smile on someone’s face. Go create community! Create. No one will stop you. Obama will not swoop in and prevent you from anything. Challenge all authority. Hell, just ignore it. Don’t wait for anyone’s approval - GO DO. GO BE.

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By shwabee, August 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The use of the word “troll” over and over again as an incantation reveals that reasoned argument is of secondary concern. The tone of this piece, as so many of C hedges’ writings, is hysterical. I generally agree with him but he is my sides lunatic fringe.  His survivalist bent is as apocalyptic and religiously demented as Perry, Bachman, and company. If you were to replace troll or corporate with some sort of racial epithet of your choosing it would work just as well.  The talk of EJ Dionne as pariah smacks of Stalainsm, McCarthyism, what have you.  There is often a false equivalency between left and right and C Hedges buttresses that fallacy.  Basically Hedges sounds like Charlie Sheen and that means he is just another sideshow carnival barker telling it like it is.  He embodies rather than explicates the illness he proports to be above.

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By Mike N., August 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

Chris you are right.  You are almost always right.  These are somber times indeed.  Max Keiser correctly points out that most Americans are fat, stupid, lazy, and basically walk around all day drinking glue.  Wait until these Teabag assholes finally realize who they are really competing with in the “marketplace.”  I think you know what I mean.  We have pulled the wool over our own eyes, to quote Stang, and now the end times are nigh.

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By RedwoodGuy, August 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

@ardee

Voting for a 3P and not expecting to win is somehow more of a protest than not voting? I can’t see the superiority at all. The two parties pay ZERO attention to what a 3P candidate polls because we don’t have a parliamentary system of power sharing. We have a straight duopoly. The winner is the winner and owes no obligation to lessor parties at all. So, I think the foundation of your premise is faulty.

As to local. Well, I called it Balkanizing. Yes, local is important and if you think your local system is actually democratic, by all means participate. I LOVE my local area, and I am whole-heartedly committed to it. I give my money and my time to my local community. I am heavily invested in it. As for the Greens specifically, meh? I am not that into gangs of any stripe, be they Democrats, Masons, Elks, Greens, or Baptists. A gang is a gang is a gang. Who the heck needs all the dogma?

I get involved where my individual effort has meaning to other people. AFAIC, business guys will rape the territory no matter what election results are. They will build their Micky-Ds and WalMarts no matter what anyone says. They will pave the landscape, foul the rivers and generally do what money guys live to do no matter what. That hasn’t changes since Columbus stuck his ugly face in the New World. So, I cede them that territory. I work on the people issues. I walk around their mess. I buy my eggs from the Chicken Lady. I don’t eat their garbage food. It’s possible to be here, but not here, if you know what I mean.

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By Branko, August 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

niceee

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By Capitalism Is The Crisis, August 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Check out Chris Hedges in a new documentary, Capitalism Is The Crisis:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYFw3O—2R0

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By ardee, August 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

RedwoodGuy, August 29 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

There are good reasons why voting for a third party is just as stupid as voting for the lesser evil.
1. The two parties have a choke hold on the electoral process itself, making it all but impossible for a 3P candidate to get the needed electoral votes. And in the mean time, you are investing in the corrupt process.

One does not vote for the third party candidate expecting her to win. One does it as a protest against the Duopoly Party that runs this nation for the corporations who pay the outrageous cost of elections. The more votes a third party gets the more concerned the two parties become.

How then do you feel about local candidates? The Green Party has as its strategy winning more and more local elections, gaining access to more and more ballots nation wide. It only serves up national candidates for name recognition purposes.

The surest way for the system to remain corrupt is for more folks to abstain from the process.

As to your suggestion to “Balkanize” well, I state instead that I do love this nation, think most folks within it are basically good folks and will continue to work as best as I can to reform the nation as I think we have a civic duty to do so. Further, the more people abstain the more hardship and horror we allow our government to commit, both locally and abroad.

I do not suggest that local groups are unimportant, quite the opposite in fact. As the old sixties saw went; “Think Globally, Act Locally”.

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By Ellen Cantarow, August 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Problem I have with Hedges’ marvelous writing is that it is ALWAYS so horribly depressing. I mean, we might as well all go out and lie down and let the rulers sledgehammer us, oil and gas us, poison the water we drink, eliminate our schools, roads, bridges, torture anyone they will, assassinate, maim, kill, white-phosphorous…but I digress. I hear Chris talking civil disobedience. I applaud that. All for it. So can he please, please, please! talk some more about it. Resurrect it, please! Elaborate please! Don’t just go on and on and on lashing and raving, however poetically. The times are too desperate for despair.

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By Satyagraha, August 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

@ joell (August 29 at 1:39 pm post)
AND @mortylee (August 29 at 1:22 pm post)

You two represent the two wings of the left, one self-defeatingly purist and the other self-defeatingly practical.

The ways in which purists defeat themselves are relatively obvious.  It may be reasonable to advise serious believers in human rights, equality and democracy to not waste their time running around CAMPAIGNING for democrats (nor to waste their money financing them).  Such efforts to shore up the Democrats may indeed be an uneconomical use of time and energy and money at this point for most of those who can see what is really going on.

But to viciously stigmatize ALL people of conscience who offer such assistance to Democrats—or even those who put in the minimal time to register and vote for Democrats—is clearly self-defeating.  There IS a difference between the parties, and that difference favors the Democrats, with regard to the Supreme Court and many other issues.

The fact that both parties are, relative to the American population in genaral, neo-liberal warmongering trolls of torture, surveillance, kleptocracy, etc. does not mean that differences between them cannot be exploited for the people’s gain.  Even prisoners plotting a collective revolt in a concentration camp can gain from playing a little politics between torture-murderers of varying levels of brutality in the meantime. This is just a basic survival skill.

Too much pragmatism can be self-defeating too, however.  There is a mindset to thowing your support behind the lesser-of-two-evils that is in psychological tension with the mindset of self-endangering civil disobedience, forthright noncooperation with oppression and atrocity, and commitment to nonviolent revolution.  Chris Hedges is trying to jolt us out of the lesser-of-two-evils mindset, to get us to see that our political class is utterly bankrupt, and to see that what we can gain by participating in it does not compare with what we can gain by (nonviolently) overthrowing it.  I think Hedges is generally right about this.

The nuance that Hedges misses is that one can participate in a political system and work to overthrow it AT THE SAME TIME—though navigating the cognitive dissonance here does require a deftness of psychological self-mastery that most people have yet to cultivate.

In any case, Hedges is an important voice, because among the people who are psychologically incapable of working both inside and outside the system, we need many many more people willing to work outside of it than we currently have.  How many people ever go to any protest, let alone get arrested for a cause these days?  How can we expect to change anything unless this demographic fact changes?

Viewed most charitably, Hedges is not trying to convert pragmatic insider liberals (can you imagine a pragmatic insider liberal being converted by Hedges anyway?) but rather to give disillusioned outsiders SOMETHING TO DO.

By the way, if you are a disillusioned outsider, and you want something specific to do, try this: http://october2011.org/welcome.

Chris Hedges will be there.  And it’s better than just throwing up your hands in despair.

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By dabba, August 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@phreedom

Truly no insult intended, but protecting yourself online by posting your name and address makes about as much sense as trying to escape a burning building by leaping into the furnace. It just doesn’t follow.

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By nehama purta, August 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All true, and beautifully said.  My only disagreement is that i don’t think trolls are
that organized.  It’s more like they undermine the organizing structure of the
state, out of pure self interest, and we end up with entropy of the state.

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By cpb, August 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

Nice callout RedwoodGuy.

It is strange how often someone comes out claiming to like
Hedges but then clearly demonstrates something different. 

Anyone who knows Hedges knows clearly that he is beyond
choosing a team on the field.  Ipso facto there is another
motivation behind the post perhaps? 

cough_TroLl_cough

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By Myshkin, August 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

Hey RedWoodGuy,

You’re absolutely 100% right. Your diagnosis is sound and your prescription is reasonable and healthy too.

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By ron hansing, August 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

CHRIS FOR PRESIDENT… YEAAAAAAAAAAH !

I am so glad that you have all the answers…

I sure hope they will let you out of the mental hospital so you can campaign…

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, August 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

D.R. Zing, August 29 at 12:30 pm commented on what I think is a key part of the problem.  I’m not sure if the FCC was ever too free from commercial interests, but the incestuous relationship between advertising and consumerism seems to have evolved so as to produce the seemingly incurable society of pampered, self-centered, apathetic consumers who pass for ‘citizens’. 

It turns out the lowest common denominator for advertizing is related to our worst charachteristics as humans.  Greed, jealousy, self adoration, self indulgence, etc.  If we could go back and insulate the FCC and broadcast regulations, certainly hindsight would dictate some changes, and D. R. Zings proposal would go a long way.  But even to implement that simple proposal seems near impossible. 

But my beef with Hedges regards what he calls a troll.

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By kmdyson, August 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

Mr Hedges is sadly correct…both sides seem intent on creating some kind of neo feudalism ...talk about the road to serfdom…

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By RedwoodGuy, August 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

@mortylee

Ok, I give up. Why do we all have to play football again?

Well yes, you are hawking the establishment line then aren’t you? We have a duty! We must perform it! We must rock the vote! It is American!

Yeah, and it’s an order just like “go shopping and let us handle the terrorism.”

I don’t like football. How’s that? Come to think of it, I don’t even like gym. Why can’t some of us just go off and make our own world? I stood in the mirror and looked closely…..I have no US flag tattoos on my arse, no wires coming out of my head, no Elephant or Democrat brand burned into my hide. Must I really choose a team to play on? C’mon, you aren’t serious are you? Is that the absolute limits of your imagination - we must be Democrats or Republicans?

Nope. We can be free to choose another path. A much more noble one that getting in the sewer with the likes of Barry and Perry.

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By PaultheProgressive, August 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Even though the results would not be seen immediately, the best solution I see is not to vote.  The Democratic party will lose its power base and need to approach its voters, and do their will, in order to get back into power. In the mean time the right wing will only make things worse, forcing the public to look elsewhere for leadership.

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By joell, August 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

“We have to turn our backs for good on the Democrats, no matter what ghoulish candidate the Republicans offer up for president”

This   is   the   real   difference between Chris Hedges, Nader,  Mckinney,  Glen   Ford, Cindy Sheehan who   represent the   REAL Left and those   in the PHONY Left like Dennis Kucinich & Bernie Sanders.

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By mortylee, August 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

Chris, I love your writing, but it seems, in your despair, you’re promoting your own
form of fear.  The trolls will only have one if we refuse to fight, and that’s seems to be
what you’re prescribing.  I think this is foolish and wrong.

Politics in America, for better or worse, is football. There are two sides only, and you
have to pick one, or you’re not in the game.  Now, you claim the liberal team, “our”
team,  i.e., the dems, suck, and yes, they have played badly of late.  So let’s scream at
the coach, and swap out some players.  But it is ludicrous, and self defeating, to refuse
to play, or worse, back some mythical “third” team, that won’t even get on the field.

And I’m sorry, if you can’t see the difference between the Republicans and the Dems,
at least with regard to Supreme Court nominations, you’re blind.

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By alturn, August 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

Life has been too good for too many in the United States to confront the underlying rot and decay that has been going on for years.  It is only today as the wealthy have gone overboard in their power grab that people are becoming unsettled enough to take a look at our collective eroding circumstances.  When things get uncomfortable enough, they will be ready to listen to voices who long have said global sharing, justice, love and cooperation are the way of the future.

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By alanmcc, August 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

Lovely prose, as usual.  Mr Hedges does the Jeremiah
bit as well as e.g. William Rivers Pitt, or any one
of a dozen others.

But there are Things That Can Be Done(TM), and I wish
that Mr Hedges would write about them a little, and
maybe even participate.

1.  Only a handful of states are Battleground States.
The rest of us: people in Massachusetts, New York,
Maryland California, Oregon, the State of Washington
as well as the District—also Utah, Tennessee, Texas,
Idaho, Alabama, Mississippi—know which way our
state is going to go.  So why not vote Green, or
write in Michael Moore or even Chris Hedges.  That
way your vote has a chance of being noticed.

2.  I and a couple of others have been active in the
D.C. area, getting out on the street.  We have read
the polls telling us that the American people don’t
like our wars, and so we go out to Metro stops, farmers
markets, etc, and sell our lovely “No Afghan War”
buttons for $1.  Since they cost us 27 cents, in lots
of 1000, and since between 25 and 40 people buy a
button in n hour, our profits are substantial.  We
use them to buy our equally gorgeous “End These
Wars” yard signs, and we go out to knock on doors
of houses with yards, offering them free.  We get
lots of takers, and every taker is basically a
vigiller, speaking out. 

Pictures and more information are at   http://www.waifllc.org .

What we don’t have is enough volunteers to help us.
Maybe Mr Hedges, next time he is in D.C., can look us
up, try selling some buttons or knocking on some
doors, and then use his Truthdig soapbox to write
about us.  If we had a dozen volunteers to help get
our signs out, the D.C. area would be covered with
our yard signs; one on every yarded block

(I don’t have any idea whether Mr Hedges reads
the various comments here;  we’ll see if these
remarks get noticed)

Best wishes to all!

Alan McConnell, in Silver Spring MD

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By Anon, August 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris is right on the mark but for a curious omission.  The possibility of an “Egyptian” event happening here.

Is this too terrible to contemplate?  Will unexpected spontaneity fool even the sharp observational powers of a Chris Hedges?  I don’t think so.

Come on Chris, tell us about the alternatives. Oh, plenty of radical groups waiting in the wings for just such a thing. Will the unending banality of the media stave this off?  I don’t think so.  It’s already been planned for, of course (see Jesse Ventura’s TV production “Prison Planet”).  But the question of where it will start, and when, and how?

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By RedwoodGuy, August 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

There are good reasons why voting for a third party is just as stupid as voting for the lesser evil.

1. The two parties have a choke hold on the electoral process itself, making it all but impossible for a 3P candidate to get the needed electoral votes. And in the mean time, you are investing in the corrupt process.

2. There’s actually no guarantee that a 3P candidate, even if winning, could bulldoze through the immense corrupt institutions that are governing. The courts are corrupted, the Congress is corrupted, the intelligence and security apparatus is running open loop and so on. A 3P candidate simply won’t have the powers to cut through this corruption.

3. The most likely truth is that a nation of 300M people of unlike cultures is not actually governable. Better to “Balkanize” and get on with your own people.

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By Ronald Thomas West, August 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

“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”

There are good people on the other (conservative side) side who feel precisely the
same and had arrived at identical conclusion:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/63338354/Ron-Paul-Fantasy-Fallacy-and-Foible

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By D.R. Zing, August 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

I would totally back a third party that advocated
breaking up the corporate television news media.

One simple rule:  If you own a national television news
outlet, you cannot own another corporation, and another
corporation cannot own you.

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By Marian Griffith, August 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

An article that accurately sums up the current voter dilemma. Vote, knowing that it is only a choice between two marginally different bads. Or abstain from voting to ‘register your disgust with the whole false choice’, knowing that you handed control to the most radical and fanatical (and the most delusional).

Chris Hedges wrote:
“The only route left is to disconnect as thoroughly as possible from the consumer society”

This I think is the key to change. Stop playing by the rules of the totalitarian capitalism. Build up a smaller economy in parallel to that of the corporate state.
They aim to control us through the shackles of fear. Fear for poverty, fear for the ‘other’, fear for the future. We can counter that fear by forming smaller close-knit communities where people know each other, and thus are more likely to support each other. If a community comes together to build a house there is that much less need for mortgages, and this lessons the power of the banks. Same with food. If we produce it ourselves we have control over how healthy it really is, and the Monsanto’s of the world have less control over us.

Chris Hedge then continues this advice with:
“and engage in acts of civil disobedience and obstruction.”

I feel this is only marginally useful advice. Civil disobedience, Ghandi style, certainly has its power, but it requires people willing to risk live and health. Because, make no mistake, especially if the second part of this advise is followed the corporate state will respond with violence, disappearance, character assassinations and every legal and illegal, lawful and lawless trick it has given itself through a long succession of laws like the Patriot Act, for exactly this reason. To isolate troublemakers and to scare those who would object to corporate excesses, so that no coherent opposition can form. That is, if their control over the media does not allow them to hide signs of protest entirely. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that such a campaign of intimidation is already underway in certain circles that are most likely to go contrary to the interests of the corporate powers.

That said, I am not arguing to hide, but rather warning that civil disobedience and obstruction increase the level of violence from the protesters’ side and that those who do must be prepared for immediate and overwhelming force. A police state, even one that is under construction, has to come down hard on individual protests, before it can become a movement.

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By ChukLitl, August 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

They want you not to vote. Quit picking the lesser of two evils & pick any third party, there’s probably one out there closer to your beliefs than either of the biggies. If the half who don’t vote would, we might defeat the bought system. My candidates usually come in 4th with 4%, but at least I don’t have to hold my nose choosing between stink & stench.

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By entropy2, August 29, 2011 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

Why do I choose not to vote?

When you vote within our current monolithic power structure, you legitimize a dangerous concentration of power. The vessel that holds concentrated power…a corporation, a religion or a government, does not matter. It is the very concentration of power that leads inevitably to corruption, exploitation and tyranny.

I am convinced that there are many, many more non-sociopathic people in the world than there are sociopaths. The proof of this is the fact that society even functions at all. Most people just want to get along day to day and be left alone, and are willing to return the favor. But, it only takes the actions of one sociopath to undo the good work of many responsible people. And the more power that a sociopath is invested with, the more damage he can inflict. So, what do we do? We hand ultimate coercive power over to fallible humans and pray that they don’t turn that power on us or other innocents. And, sadly, we cannot really know how sociopathic a person can be until we give him the power. Moreover, concentration of power attracts sociopaths…and concentration of power, itself, brings to the surface sociopathic tendencies that may have been previously muted by countervailing social pressures.

Now, just because I won’t vote, that does not mean that I have surrendered to apathy or have have turned my back on my human sisters and brothers. It does not mean that I don’t believe in democracy. But the mechanisms of democracy, on a large scale, produce the opposite of democracy’s ostensible goals, i.e. the balance of personal freedom and the common good.

I believe in the distribution of power. Rather than trying to find ways to concentrate power in order to crush an opposing power, I am working toward helping people have the choice to trade their dependence on hierarchies for non-exploitive, “flat”-structured interdependence. I believe that our salvation relies on finding and forming relationships of trust with like-minded and like-hearted individuals. We need to isolate and turn our backs on the sociopaths. In short, I feel the best way to “fight the power” is to render it irrelevant.

Is this utopian? I don’t think it’s any more utopian than thinking that we can find enough people who are, at once, smart, honest and non-sociopathic, invest them with enormous power and charge them with the impossible task of creating “the common good” for 300 million individuals. We’ve been trying that for a long time…look what it’s gotten us.

We need to start stepping up to the plate ourselves!

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By gregorylkruse, August 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

There is no solution to the problem of empire.  There was no solution to the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire, the Soviet Empire, the German Reich, the British Empire, etc.; there is only resistance.  Resistance can cause pain, misery, and/or death. Once the trap snaps shut, you won’t have to go looking for trouble, it will come to you.  I was lucky to be born in a time just after it was believed that all empire had been destroyed.  It has taken a long time to become apparent that the empire we are facing now is global, non-governmental, and completely immoral.  It is not something that can be stopped, influenced, or appealed to.  Submission or resistance are the only options. Which will you choose?

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By Donna Fritz, August 29, 2011 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

*** Note. EJ Dionne, Robinson, Amy Goodman and other
apologists are the very people that he talks about. -
Michael Cavlan RN

Amy Goodman? Are you sure about that? I’ve been
listening to Amy Goodman for 9 years. She’s hardly an
apologist.

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By RedwoodGuy, August 29, 2011 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

Hedges has jumped into the alternate universe with both feet. It’s about time we had this level of acknowledgment. There’s only so much E.J. Dionne party tool whining a person can take.

Use jiu-jitsu. Turn the enemy’s weight and force against himself. Now is a unique time in history when an alternate society can actually exist INSIDE the foul one.

Voting is every bit as stupid as consuming a McDonald’s hamburger, or giving your shopping dollars to WalMart. “I’m going to create better health by consuming more junk food!” Does that make sense to you? If so, then vote.

The parties are a criminal enterprise. Supporting them is not one bit different than supporting the mafia. Who can possibly describe what is to gain by voting?

Witholding your approval (not voting) may look symbolic, but it is the ultimate modern revolution. No need to kill anyone, starve them. Starve them of your money, your time, your enthusiasm, commitment, your love, your vote. F*ck ‘em!

Learn how to be self sufficient. Form teams with others. Support your community with time, money, and effort. Walk an old lady across the street. Get it? Leave Rick and Michelle and Barry to go masturbate somewhere. Get it? You are FREE!

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By Razul, August 29, 2011 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

Caustically incisive as usual.  Let those of us who still resist the corporate state band together and let everyone know that we are boycotting all elections until the power to control our country is returned to the working class and not in the hands of the cabal of plutocrats, corporate thieves and quasi-fascist demagogues (I’m talking about you Glen Beck!).  Let’s show the world what a sham democracy really exists in this country and make it a 20% turnout. We still have the power to say NO!

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By cpb, August 29, 2011 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

@ mrFreeze

It is not “we” entertaining ourselves to death so much
as we are being entertained to death.  Critical
difference.  I’m not sure what side Postman comes out on
but I have always meant to read that book. 

It is true that the electorate has to some extent
‘allowed’ the status quo to maintain and evolve itself,
but it can also be stated that the electorate has been
utterly co-opted.  Why the electorate are the way they
are? - asking that question is key.  The answers are
myriad of course, but there’s an underlying theme.

Modern so called democracies have never lived up to the
ideals that they cloak themselves in.  The average Jane
or Joe has next to zero agency in the politics that make
the decisions that have the most impact on their lives. 
Agency has been reduced to Coke vs Pepsi, Chev vs Ford,
Theatre vs WWF etc.. I admit to generalizing but it is
not unwarranted.

It is true that peeps need to stand up and take some
responsibility for themselves.  And many will need lots
of help, lost as they are in a world of pop-culture that
has never suggested they look beyond the next
blockbuster or Monday Night Football to think about
social justice issues.  Chris suggests that peeps assert
themselves in particular ways.  Others may have
different ideas.  To place excessive blame onto the
electorate is to deny history, to obfuscate reality, and
express little hope for the future.

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By mrfreeze, August 29, 2011 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

Dinman - THANK YOU! Thank you for your observation. It is WE the People who bear a great deal of culpability for the utter disaster that has befallen our government and culture. Americans do seem to have divested themselves from the electoral process. The reasons are many, but may I point out that Aldous Huxley got it right when he suggested that we would simply entertain ourselves do death(Read Neil Postman’s incredibly prophetic book of the same name). After all, isn’t our modern, electronic, plugged-in, financialized world nothing more than Huxley’s Soma? We are too fat, happy and lazy to be real citizens.

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By cpb, August 29, 2011 at 10:55 am Link to this comment

@ diman

“For just once I would like to see Chris Hedges to put
the blame where it truly belongs - the public. Enough
already with your finger pointing towards the elites, we
know they are part of the problem, nothing new about it,
but who put them there? You did, the american public -
docile consumers who are at this point in time not even
worthy to be called citizens.”

This is absurd and implies you don’t actually read much
Hedges.

Yes yes, it is all the peeps fault!  Makes so much more
sense now.  Stupid peeps!!  Yeah lots of ‘em are pretty
stupid, but how did that happen do you think?  Couldn’t
have anything to do with education, government
propaganda, the media?  I don’t suppose Madison Avenue
has anything to do with this?  What about Wall Street? 
Not those things surely, cause that brings us back to
the elites again.  What could it possibly be?  Of course
we have to consider lessons from history, this didn’t
just happen overnight you know!  Any elites to consider
in recent history?  Shite, ok, what the heck is it?  Is
it voting machines?  Supreme Court appointments?  Super-
Committees?  Could it be the industrial gases in the
air, or maybe the toxins in the water?  The pharma in
the water?  Surely that one holds some water? 

Oh right, I’m sorry, not sure what I was thinking. 
You’re right diman - One day we all just woke up stupid
and bent over and begged the elites to please use some
lube.  I got it now.

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By balkas, August 29, 2011 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

it is the addiction to supremacist behavior or way of life that causes personal
supremacists to do all kinds of ills to biota and less-valued {in their eyes, id est}
people and voelker

supremacists [along with religious supremacists and their belief in own infallibility,
sybaritic way of life, me-better-wiser-more deserving-than-u] wld stop at nothing in
order to maintain their addiction.

curioso appears that 99% of voters in u.s cast the ballots for just such people.

and from this fact rises also intentional stupidity of, say, 30mn supremacists. they, i
suggest [as does hedges] appear aware that they talk nonsense.
however, controlling utterly the army, courts, manufacture, work, cia, fbi, ‘education’,
‘information’ money, meanings in flag; possessing wmd, they can do whatever they
want to own domestic pop or even a nation.

i see only two ways out of this quagmire: enlightenment [note, please, they can’t wait
for u or ‘aliens’ to get violent] and voting for a party that stands antipodally to the
party now in power.

btw, the ‘terrorists’ in palestina, iraq, afpak, and elsewhere appear to be aiding
personal, religious, and cultural supremacists. I myself prefer crying and laughing
about what is going on or going for a bottle or telling my wife: i lav u! and saying, Do
u also need money and the doctor after that?
and u guessed what she said! tnx bozhidar balkas vancouver

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By ohiolibgal, August 29, 2011 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

Nice article, I basically agree.

There are obviously big issues, fitting the “elephant in the room” idea, that aren’t even broached on MSNBC or with most liberal talkers.

It’s like we live in bizarro world now and have no viable party to vote for, only one to vote against, and that’s a big reason why why we’re headed where we’re headed.

Another is the dearth of a huge platform for real investigative journalism, we see virtually none of it these days on MSN.

All if it is life in the oligarchy 2011 and it’s going to take hordes of people in the streets to get any real change for the better.

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By frecklefever, August 29, 2011 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN AN EXPOSE ON LIBYA TERRORISM READ PEPE
ESCOBARS ARTICLE TODAY IN THE ASIA TIMES….IT TIES IN WITH CHRIS
HEDGES…PEPE IS A SEER..

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By marie burnett, August 29, 2011 at 10:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I decided, long before the current election cycle began, to write in Chris
Hedges for president of the USA.

Everyone is invited to join me in this effort.

I realize that many of you will find this plan irritating or infuriating.

But I did not vote for Obama in the last election.

So, Chris Hedges 4 Prez.

I’m going to start making the t shirts and key chains now.

Let me know if you want to pre order.

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By SarcastiCanuck, August 29, 2011 at 10:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris,a newspaper man named H.L.Menchen once wrote,“Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Chritianity has made them good”.I guess the trolls have figured that one out,eh.

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By indc, August 29, 2011 at 10:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am terribly sad to be in agreement.  It is a bleak time without a clear route to recovery from the corporatist assault and the seeds of fascism that have been planted.

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By phreedom, August 29, 2011 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Part 1

Thanks Chris,

As usual, striking cords you do Chris, though cords
sunk in the thick muddy fear of our own society. We
all fear it now, our own culture, a fear that has
become the cost of being a citizen, and where the new
patriotism is a firm denial of such fear. The price
today, to exhibit courageous and independent
behavior, well, is too great. To identify oneself as
the author of any defiance of our corrupt culture,
without a powerful pimp ready to protect you, well,
is a vulnerability grossly disabling to an individual
or even a handful of them, who show themselves, who
protest.

I was chosen for jury duty awhile ago, and my portion
of the jury pool was brought to a courtroom where the
Judge asked, “does anyone know a police officer
and/or works in law enforcement?”, 90% of the jury
pool raised their hands, I did not,,then the judge
asked, “is there anyone here who would not trust a
police officer just because they were a police
officer or a person in law enforcement?”, an extreme
quiet fell over the court room, and let me tell you,,
that was very difficult, since the room was very
acoustically sensitive, a pin drop sounded like a
scream in that place, yet not a sound after the judge
posed this question? No one raised their hand, though
there seemed to be a reverse gravity under the arms
of a few, including my own, as we struggled to keep
our hands down. If these people were like me, they
wondered if that impulse to raise one’s hand to such
a question was wisdom and pertinent to the intention
we projected on the Judge, as coming from the Judge,,
or was the impulse to raise one’s hand to such a
question some last ditch opportunity to demonstrate
against the growing police and surveillance state we
are now apparently buried in, way past our ability to
enjoy any rights or civil liberties. I realized I was
afraid to act, though I knew that such action would
be truthful in terms of the way I had come to
understand and experience a subtle, but strong effort
to recruit all citizens into the growing police
state. 

My point,,, well, part of capitalistic theory or
doctrine is to assume all want to join and thus all
must be recruited to participate, would be better
off as members, and so it is the same with a police
state. It is not that the idea of police is bad, 
but rather that we are being slowly recruited to be
police in some manner, since it is assumed we all
want to join the police state, just as it is assumed
that we all want join a capitalist economy. The
success of this is evidenced today,,, because,  “you
are just plain stupid not to join or allow your
recruitment, into these clubs or systems”. You will
not get the benefit of financial security if you do
not join the capitalists, and you will certainly live
a life fear ridden if you do not join the police
state.

Rhuen Phreed

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By phreedom, August 29, 2011 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Part 2

I normally sign my comments in Truthdig, personally
and geographically, by using my real name and my
address, not as a projection of ego, but rather as an
act of defiance to the growing police state and its’
banker, the capitalistic economy. I practice this
specific signing off to confront my fear of this
nefarious marriage of the police state and
authoritarian capitalism. I have signed off on my
comments in Truthdig in this manner for a few years
now, but recently I have been warned by Truthdig to
no longer include personal information about myself,
where I live, my address, etc.., as I always have? I
thought at first that my last 2 comments to Truthdig
pieces made someone of power angry, in area that I
live, but then I thought this warning might be an
example of that subtle recruitment effort by our
troll political and corporate masters, to have us all
work for the them, the man, as we use to call it.

And so now, some fear has cropped up for me, I am no
longer protected by specifically identifying myself,
and where I am located. You see, I feel only by using
our true names and mentioning what area of the
country we live, do any of our comments have
resonance and/or meaning. For some of us, our only
real protection against reprisal, is to be in plain
sight. I hope Truthdig reconsiders this warning to
me, to not identify myself geographically. Well, that
Truthdig consider their warning might be a bowing to
the edicts of the police state, and the heavy hand of
financial blackmail and extortion of the capitalist
overseers.

I have asked Truthdig, “why the sudden warning?”,
after all this time?  I asked thoughtfully, and
reviewed the rule for commenters, that they cited in
the warning to me, but I did not find it applicable.
To date I have had no explanation or response from
Truthdig. Whats up Truthdig?? Who made the call?

Trolls it is then, all around.

Rhuen Phreed

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By omop, August 29, 2011 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

“The real rulers in Washington are invisble and exercise power behind
the scenes”. Feleix Frankfurter. US Supreme Court Justice.

  James Paul Warburg a German banker and responsible along with
Kuhn, Loeb and other Wall Street bankers. for the creation of the US
Federal Reserve told a US Senate Committee in 1914 that…“We shall
have world government whether or not we like it. The only question is
whether world government will be achieved by conquest or consent.”

“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is master of all
its legislation and commerce”. President James Garfield.

Ergo. Does it really matter whom of all the trolls gets elected?

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By diman, August 29, 2011 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

For just once I would like to see Chris Hedges to put the blame where it truly belongs - the public. Enough already with your finger pointing towards the elites, we know they are part of the problem, nothing new about it, but who put them there? You did, the american public - docile consumers who are at this point in time not even worthy to be called citizens.

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By LillithMc, August 29, 2011 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Some thought with the election of Obama much of what we wanted would be done.  Now we know the corporations won.  They have the money, the power and the media.  Live our lives as if they don’t exist. If we buy something from them, be demanding and don’t let them bully.  Become friends with emerging markets who may want to invest money in the US with people who have a good business plan.  Obstruct the corrupt.  Travel globally.  Be involved locally.  Know who is bought especially in the judicial system and try to prevent them from gaming the system.

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sallysense's avatar

By sallysense, August 29, 2011 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

it’s refreshing to read chris hedges again!...

can’t be so engrossed in one’s own opinion…
that there’s no room for wisdom to do anything!...
even a dummy like me can see through superficiality…
where too many thoughts get stuck in topside mentality!...
so go against democrat and republican corporate infiltration!...
starting with your voter’s registration change to no party affiliation!...

(imagine a nation where corporate-fed political parties lose powerhouse holds…
thanks to we-the-people refusing to dwell in and build and support their abodes!)...

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, August 29, 2011 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

@ MC RN

“In fact even Chris Hedges gets “ink” here.”

Well that’s profound.  Not to mention hypocritical, for
the opportunity it provides you.

C’mon Michael, this TDig bashing kick you’re on is getting
tired.  You used to contribute thoughts and arguments, but
lately it is bash bash bash and plugging for smoking-cat-
river.  I think the former casts you in better light.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, August 29, 2011 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges states

They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity—the 2012 presidential election. Journalists, whose role has been reduced to purveyors of court gossip, whether on Fox or MSNBC, descend in swarms to report pseudo-events such as the Ames straw poll, where it costs $30 to cast a ballot. And then, almost immediately, they blithely inform us that the Iowa poll is meaningless now that Rick Perry has entered the race. The liberal trolls, as they do in every election cycle, are beating their little chests about the perfidiousness of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama.

—————————————————

Note. EJ Dionne, Robinson, Amy Goodman and other apologists are the very people that he talks about. Yet they get regular coverage here at TruthDig. In fact even Chris Hedges gets “ink” here. With the message to NOT VOTE. Almost like the corporate owners of the political system do not want dissenters to vote. Makes it easier to ignore us. To give a “mandate” on the corporate owned system, pseudo democracy two party system.

YES VOTE. Just do not vote for any of the corporate parties. Consider it another version of civil disobedience, another part of the resistance. Funny thing though, those voices seem to not get “ink” at TruthDig.

Wonder why?

Meanwhile at firedoglake there is plenty of discussion on this. Come join the fun.

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By CJ, August 29, 2011 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

“Troll” is an excellent metaphor, perfect atually. And “totalitarian capitalism” is
where they and we live. True, it’s not how we usually think of totalitarianism—
pictorially inside heads like those old, grainy black and white filmettes
presented by our gloriously free media of Soviet troops marching alongside
tanks and missile carriers past Kremlin goons in those funny hats every May
Day. In fact, I can’t recall during my childhood of ever thinking of the “Eastern
Block” as having color. I always pictured it as gray. As, I suspect, did a lot of
people old enough to remember what appeared on television in the 50s and
60s. Even after the first color TV I still thought of the U.S.S.R. as colorless, and
TV media here continued to show that gray footage every May Day or on
anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

Propaganda was very effective—then as now. Back then I wasn’t supposed to
think of the Eastern Block as being colorful. It was TOTALITARIAN, the color of
which is drab. That was in addition to absurd duck-and-cover exercises in
schools across America. (To this day I wonder if officials really thought we’d be
safe from a through nuking so long as we ducked under our kiddie desks.)

Whether they really believed it or not (and what idiot could have believed it?),
terror works—then as now. I suppose that by the mid-60s we’d had about
enough, the Beats having come to realization sometime before then. Eventually
—by the early 70s—a lot of people had come to realization and somehow even
got McGovern running (still hopelessly) for president. Compared to whomever
since, McGovern really was a raving radical.

As still a sheep at the time, I voted (for the first time in my life, when the
necessary age was still 21) for Tricky Dicky, who—looking back—was
somewhere to the left of Bill Clinton and, apparently,  Barack Obama.

It took a Reagan to get totalitarian capitalism seriously underway, and this time
it wasn’t colorless. In fact, it was hardly noticed—then as now, except even
more (or less?) so by now. Until one lost something—a job, a house, a life.
Although even losses like those weren’t and still aren’t enough, not least as
victims are made to feel responsible for whatever befalls them.

That, by far, is the most effective means of totalitarianism. It’s akin to brain-
washing. Actually, it IS brain-washing, reinforced daily by or through big media,
where all trolls really live. This newer, far more colorful, capitalist brand of
totalitarianism is the repressive desublimation of which Marcuse theorized. It is
the whole-hearted embracing of the way of the entrepreneur, of the market,
and not the way of, say, the Buddha or the revolutionary Christ or the early
(some like to claim, but late too far as I’m concerned) Marx. It’s not even the
way of the Nixon.

But who cares about all that old-thinking crap? We got Beyonce massaging her belly
as though he or she in there might be the Second Coming (for you Christians
out there). We got brunch after jogging with IPods and IPhones attached to
bodies. We got three dogs each and lofts and entertainment centers and cute
little cars or humongous SUVs. We got STUFF, man. We got GOO! At least we
got it so long as we can eventually pay one troll or another for it. “Eventually” is
the operative word there, ever since trolls of yore invented finance capitalism.
What greater invention in human history than CREDIT, the very definition of
fungible.

Unless that would be our brains, or rather our minds? We have avatars too.

The really most terrifying thing is that this capitalist brand of totalitarianism in
combination with technological advance has rendered our minds TOTALLY
fungible. Thought, quite simply, is no longer needed, let alone wanted. We have
at long last achieved Marcuse’s single-dimensionality, which also turns out to
be the ultimate, troll.

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, August 29, 2011 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

I shouldn’t have to post this but for the record:

“In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts
inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an
online community, such as an online discussion forum,
chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking
readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise
disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4] The noun troll
may refer to the provocative message itself, as in:
“That was an excellent troll you posted”. While the word
troll and its associated verb trolling are associated
with Internet discourse, media attention in recent years
has made such labels subjective, with trolling
describing intentionally provocative actions outside of
an online context. For example, mass media uses troll to
describe “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites
with the aim of causing grief to families.”[5][6]”

- from Wikipedia

There are trolls on this site, as on most sites with
something interesting and political to say.  Whether or
not they live under bridges, they have internet access. 
They may protest the expectation that they accommodate
words with different meanings, but that is just more of
their own trolling blather.

They may view each blog as an opportunity to modify
their approach or add to the diversity of their fiction. 
They do not like to be called out.  The more intelligent
ones can be harder to detect, unless you’re reading all
postings thoroughly.  In my experience most don’t fall
into this category.

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By prisnersdilema, August 29, 2011 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

A police state needs fear as the blood flowing through it’s veins. Like a steady drum beat, ever growing louder in one’s ears.

Their answer to the crumbling of this society, will be fear and more fear, spoken by the intellectually irrational. Those who congratulate themselves that they are are not stupid. Yet being smart only matters if your sane.

It is the tactic of control that was used in the U.S.S.R, one that failed as the country collapsed economically. The same will happen here.

There is no stopping it now. The plutocracy, has taken control of the government, but they cannot govern, nor will they. Instead they will try to rule.

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By California Ray, August 29, 2011 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

It is unsound tactics to stop voting. Not casting a vote will be attributed by the
overlords to “voter apathy,” and the sheep will be told to pay it no heed.  Rather,
one must send a message that the disconnected exist as a force to be reckoned
with. Unfailingly casting votes for “third-party” candidates sends that message.

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By Alan MacDonald, August 29, 2011 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

“We get to choose the rhetoric and manner in which we are deceived and disempowered. Nothing more.”—- profound observation by Hedges!

This is a great article by the leading revolutionary “democracy-thinker” of our times.

Hedges understands the deadly danger of what he calls the “corporate state”—- but as a rallying cry for the Second American Revolution the term ‘corporate state’ is weak and will not light the spark of the Revolution.

As was true in 1775, the cry for Liberty & democracy over violent ‘EMPIRE’ is the only sufficiently accurate, compelling, and energizing call to Revolution.

Despite how much Hedges, and many other great social critics and movement organizers, have written in the last several YEARS about the massive oppression we face, there remains no substantial recognition that our former country has been captured by a disguised global corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE, which hides behind the facade of its TWO-Party modernized “Vichy” sham of faux-democratic government——just as the occupying Nazi Empire hid behind its far simpler single-party “Vichy” regime.

This is why the only successful campaign strategy for the essential third ‘peoples party’ to create a new America is to focus all efforts on exposing the fact that our country has been captured by a disguised ‘Empire’—- just as surely as France was captured by the Nazi Empire.

Americans of both left and right will only rally and fight “Against EMPIRE”

No political pawns, or “Trolls”, of the Empire from either of the totally ‘bought and owned’ Republican or Democratic Parties will ever dare to even whisper about Empire, nor can any political whore candidate, R or D, respond to the challenge that our former country is now fully controlled by a disguised global Empire!

During the sell-out, Slick Willy Clinton’s campaign, the claim was, “It’s the economy, stupid”, but the reality that no Democrat or Republic candidate for president in 2012 can ever respond to when the American people raise the shout of a second American Revolution is, “It’s the Empire, stupid!”.

‘Globalization’ is simply the branded and polite marketing term for global EMPIRE!

This disguised global empire is the causal cancerous tumor that creates all ‘symptom problems’ like wars, economic oppression, massive inequality, environmental destruction, and all other ‘issues’ that are used to divide and distract resistance from attacking the core of the Empire.

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Liberty & democracy
over
violent
empire

New America People’s Party 2012—- our last chance “Against Empire” [Michael Parenti]

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By Chris lacy, August 29, 2011 at 6:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Trolls? You’re being too kind, sir. They are whores, plain and simple.

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By frecklefever, August 29, 2011 at 5:17 am Link to this comment

GOOD ARTICLE…ONE LAST SENTENCE WAS NEEDED THAT THE WHOLE
ARTICLE WAS HEADED TOWARDS…AND THAT IS TO NOT BECOME
COMPLICIT IN AMERICAS DEMISE BY VOTING…VOTING PERPETUATES
CRIMINAL POLITICS….

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By John Poole, August 29, 2011 at 4:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Decouple from our totalitarian capitalistic empire like the now monstrous and
“Romanized” Christians did from the Roman Empire. An alternative will evolve
slowly. It doesn’t have to be a grim effort.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, August 29, 2011 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges said:

For those, usually liberals, still rooted in a reality-based world, one that believes in evolutionary science, the corporate trolls offer a more refined, fear-based message of impending doom. If you abandon the Democrats we will be governed by Bible-thumping idiots who will make us chant the Pledge of Allegiance in mass rallies and teach the account of Genesis as historical and biological fact in our nation’s schools.

And underneath it all runs the mantra chanted in unison by all the trolls—terror, terror, terror.

Mr Hedges, I am a little puzzled by this article:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/fundamentalism_kills_20110726/

“terror terror terror” indeed.

Chris ‘the Troll’ Hedges strikes again.

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By RGO, August 29, 2011 at 4:44 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges put the right handle on our environment when he said: “the language they use is a cover for the relentless march toward a totalitarian capitalism”.

Totalitarian capitalism was well under way and then further accelerated when the Supreme Court gave corporations the same rights as people.

If you don’t think totalitarian capitalism is here then post Chris’s article “The Election March of the Trolls” on Facebook.
 
People block the most harmless of critical posts on Facebook.  They are afraid the wrong people (work place backstabbers, bosses, or future bosses) might see they have ‘radical’ friends and this could damage their career or worse end it.  Once you lose your job in this economy you’re in big trouble.

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By Mr. Garibaldi, August 29, 2011 at 4:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges must be the sort of person who spends the first 15 minutes after waking up with a gun stuck in his mouth, trying to decide if he can face yet another day.

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By Cyberspeak, August 29, 2011 at 3:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think Hedges is referring not to the supernatural,
bridge-haunting creatures of lore but “troll” in the
new sense popularized by the internet: someone who
takes a kind of nihilistic glee in deceiving others,
especially by manipulating their emotions.

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By christian96, August 29, 2011 at 3:44 am Link to this comment

Inerji—-Thanks for the information. I am learning
of the idiosyncrasies on the site.

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By Iyerji, August 29, 2011 at 2:36 am Link to this comment

Dear Christian96, it is nice to know you’re learning. Troll also means (especially in the USA) “a person who lives or sleeps in a park or under a viaduct or bridge, as a bag lady or derelict”, derived from old Norse “demon” and I have a feeling Chris is referring to this. Here’s more from the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Troll: In early Scandinavian folklore, a giant, monstrous being. Hostile to men, trolls lived in castles and haunted the surrounding districts after dark. If exposed to sunlight they burst or turned to stone. In later tales trolls often are man-sized or smaller beings similar to dwarfs and elves. They live in mountains, sometimes steal human maidens, and can transform themselves and prophesy. In the Shetland and Orkney islands, Celtic areas once settled by Scandinavians, trolls are called trows and appear as small malign creatures who dwell in mounds or near the sea. In the plays of the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, especially Peer Gynt (1867) and The Master Builder (1892), trolls are used as symbols of destructive instincts. Trolls in modern tales for children often live under bridges, menacing travelers and exacting tasks or tolls.

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By ardee, August 29, 2011 at 2:26 am Link to this comment

The liberal trolls, as they do in every election cycle, are beating their little chests about the perfidiousness of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. It is a gesture performed not to effect change but to burnish their credentials as moralists. They know, as do we, that they will trot obediently into the voting booth in 2012 to do as they are told.

Just maybe they take a timeout this time out and stay at home. Certainly Obama has lost the youth vote that put him over the top in ‘08. I do not advocate this, as many of my posts have declared, only predict it.

As to your advocacy for increasing demonstrations and public expressions of outrage , as well as advocating for a better lifestyle, one less harmful to the planet and all its inhabitants, who could argue? I do believe you stopped short of understanding the need for organization, especially where protests are involved. Or do you think that “flash mobs” will appear and disappear as this form of expression becomes politicized?

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, August 29, 2011 at 2:09 am Link to this comment

Thank you for coming back Chris! Finally an antidote to the crap Dionne and Robinson post here every week.

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By Josh, August 29, 2011 at 1:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow. One can’t blame Chris. I get this weird feeling hes going to leave US soon. I feel the same way, however I’m poor, in debt. Without work. My game of relinquishing my own deep rotting dependence on corporations will be difficult, but its obvious none of us has a choice.

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By christian96, August 29, 2011 at 1:18 am Link to this comment

Now Chris Hedges is using the word “trolls.”
Previously, I had only encountered “trolls” when
attempting to communicate with “cpb.”  Perhaps,
Chris was “cpb” in disguise.  According to my
Websters Dictionary a troll is, “a supernatural
being, as a giant or dwarf, living in a cave.”
I didn’t know Chris believed in the supernatural.
Oh, well, I’m still learning even at 71.  According
to Chris, ALL trolls chant “terror, terror, terror.”
Since I don’t chant “terror” I can assume I’m not
a troll.  That’s a relief.

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