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A Movement Too Big to Fail

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Posted on Oct 16, 2011
AP / Ted S. Warren

Protesters in Seattle melt a Bank of America debit card.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 3)

Liberals lack the vision and fortitude to challenge dominant free market ideologies. They have no ideological alternatives even as the Democratic Party openly betrays every principle the liberal class claims to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy to a demand for quality and affordable public education to a return of civil liberties to a demand for jobs and welfare of the working class. The corporate state forced the liberal class to join in the nation’s death march that began with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Liberals such as Bill Clinton, for corporate money, accelerated the dismantling of our manufacturing base, the gutting of our regulatory agencies, the destruction of our social service programs and the empowerment of speculators who have trashed our economy. The liberal class, stripped of power, could only retreat into its atrophied institutions, where it busied itself with the boutique activism of political correctness and embraced positions it had previously condemned.

Russell Jacoby writes: “The left once dismissed the market as exploitative; it now honors the market as rational and humane. The left once disdained mass culture as exploitative; now it celebrates it as rebellious. The left once honored independent intellectuals as courageous; now it sneers at them as elitist. The left once rejected pluralism as superficial; now it worships it as profound. We are witnessing not simply a defeat of the left, but its conversion and perhaps inversion.”

Hope in this age of bankrupt capitalism comes with the return of the language of class conflict and rebellion, language that has been purged from the lexicon of the liberal class, language that defines this new movement. This does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to learn again to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx and Adam Smith did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state. It is part of the same nightmare experienced in postindustrial mill towns of New England and the abandoned steel mills of Ohio. It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, living in terror and mourning their dead, endure daily.

What took place early Friday morning in Zuccotti Park was the first salvo in a long struggle for justice. It signaled a step backward by the corporate state in the face of popular pressure. And it was carried out by ordinary men and women who sleep at night on concrete, get soaked in rainstorms, eat donated food and have nothing as weapons but their dignity, resilience and courage. It is they, and they alone, who hold out the possibility of salvation. And if we join them we might have a chance.

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By Alf, October 17, 2011 at 6:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Those protesters who occupy wall street do so free of charge, out of a moral principle for what is truthful and right for themselves and the vast majority of people throughout the USA. 

The people who work in wall street can only be amoral. They must be temporary blinded by their vanity and self imposed power for what they do.  I find it difficult to understand how a person can work for such organizations who deliberately cause so much chaos and turmoil throughout the world for something as little and worthless as money.

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By lasmog, October 17, 2011 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

How does the US Green Party fit into any of this? The Greens seem to represent a real progressive alternative to our two corporate parties but I never hear it mentioned by Hedges or virtually any other progressive commentator. Could it become a viable political party if we actually treated it like one?

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By OzarkMichael, October 17, 2011 at 5:53 am Link to this comment

“For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man’s nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice.” Hobbes, Leviathon

That is so true. And what else is the Occupation of Wall Street but an accusation of our economic system, and requires less eloquence.

The Occupation is also a condemnation of our political system. Condemnation merely resembles justice. I am glad ardee brought that up, it is so true.

“When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” Jonathan Swift

Be assured that the confederacy of dunces have plenty of accusations at their disposal against a true genius, who is always alone, not part of a mob. One favorite accusation is that the genius is crazy. Did you know that, ardee?

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By ardee, October 17, 2011 at 5:28 am Link to this comment

“America,” Langston Hughes wrote, “never was America to me.”

“When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” Jonathan Swift

I may have inaccurately stated the quote a bit but the essential meaning is certainly there. We here at TD seem to have our very own confederacy who rise, seemingly terrified of this burgeoning movement, so afraid that we will have a nation restored to rule by the people that they must, perforce, denigrate and defame.

Considering the actions of the neoconservatives these defamers support one must stand aghast and bemused by their posturing and prattling.

“For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man’s nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice.” Hobbes, Leviathon

I offer that this movement is yet in its infancy, still taking shape, born to a single ideal, namely; the ending of the creeping fascism that has overtaken our governance , born,perhaps re-born really, in the Reagan years and nurtured thereafter by both Republican and Democrat alike.

Neither I nor anyone else, sitting on our behinds in the comfort of our homes, can state with any accuracy what will evolve from this remarkable gathering. Yet there are always those, perhaps scared shiteless by the ideals of the movement, or threatened by the lose of power of their own loyalties this populist uprising indicates, who will attempt to co-opt or interpret to their own devices the significance and the future course it will take. Do not listen to them, do not fear their impotent forecasts either.

“And there is a lust in Man no charm can tame, of loudly publishing our neighbors shame; On eagles wings immortal scandals fly, while virtuous actions are but born and die.”
Juvenal

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By bpawk, October 17, 2011 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

(corrected from previous posting) You are not going to effect change by sitting in a park or occupying a museum - you need to go to the source which is Washington - without doing that, it’s just complaining - laws are made in Washington that govern you, me and Wall Street. I think that as a lot of protesters voted for Obama, and having realized he betrayed them on most issues, they don’t want to admit now they were hoodwinked and criticizing Obama is criticizing themselves for voting for him - a hard pill to swallow. Remember the adage: Fool me once, shame on you - Fool me twice, shame on me. So what are you protesters going to do about that!

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By bpawk, October 17, 2011 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

You are not going to effect change by sitting in a park or occupying a museum - you need to go to the source which is Washington - without doing that, it’s just complaining - laws are made in Washington that govern you, me and Wall Street. I think that as a long of protesters voted for Obama, and having realized they betrayed him on most issues, they don’t want to admit now they were hoodwinked and criticizing Obama is criticizing themselves for voting for him - a hard pill to swallow. Remember the adage: Fool me once, shame on you - Fool me twice, shame on me. So what are you protesters going to do about that!

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By bpawk, October 17, 2011 at 5:10 am Link to this comment

What I see in a lot of these postings is a want for change but going to Wall Street or a museum isn’t going to effect change. Change happens at the federal, state and local authorities level - why not be radical and march on Washington to the White House or Congress with a list of demands to change laws that make American a more equitable country.  I think a lot of people who are protesting voted for Obama and now, having realized he betrayed them on most issues, don’t want to admit they were hoodwinked - criticizing Obama means you have to criticize yourself for voting for him - and that’s a hard pill to swallow. But complaining about wall street greed isn’t going to change anything without changes laws that govern them.

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By KeepLeft, October 17, 2011 at 5:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a shame, that C.H. chooses to quote Karl Marx and slander him in the same sentence. Hedges clearly has a very limited understanding of Marxism and consequently will always succumb to the “liberalism” that he is so much against. Too bad.

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By thecrow, October 17, 2011 at 4:53 am Link to this comment

“On September 11 2002, one year Anniversary of the death of our son, we were informed that the Recovery team at Ground Zero have found the ATM Bank card of Waleed and that it will be mailed to us in Northridge. When we received it, we found it in good condition. How could a plastic card survive the fire of the terrorist attack of the Black Tuesday on the USA? I consider it as a sign from Waleed to his parents on the first Anniversary of his loss.”

http://www.iskandar.com/waleed911/atmcard.html

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/ghosts-in-the-machine/

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By OzarkMichael, October 17, 2011 at 4:42 am Link to this comment

There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn.

Ah, ‘there is no danger’... that is the sort of grand proclamation which ensures when the danger happens, you wont know it. The DCCC has already included OWS in its fundraising and has been wildly successful.

But ‘there is no danger’ that the OWS protesters will be co-opted!

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By balkas, October 17, 2011 at 4:39 am Link to this comment

we can change the structure of governance and society via education. that is the
option i favor. however, how is one going to wrest the education from our brutal
leaders—both secular and priestly?

perhaps, only by violent means! there is no way today’s clero-noble class wld give up
willingly [and a smile on its face] its addiction to wealth and power over their serfs.

so i wld not a priori discard use of violence as the only method of weaning off some
people of this horrible addiction of owning people.
it is these addicts that cause all ills that befall us on interpersonal, interethnic, and
inter-religious levels.

i haven’t read marx; so i cannot say that he did ask us to violently stop these addicts
from using us as meat for war, hard/dangerous work, etc., while they send their kids
to colleges, universities and train them how to keep the rest of us in eternal
servitude.
hedges may underestimate what an addict won’t do to maintain herhis habit! tnx

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By balkas, October 17, 2011 at 4:12 am Link to this comment

as i see it, hedges is wrong in saying “that once those in power become redundant
and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally
discarded”.

the history proves [and not shows] that the more things change, the more they
stay the same. and most of our ‘dear leaders’ die peacefully in sleep [?and with a
smile on their faces or sense of great accomlishments]
i am not counting how many of them were discarded but do suggest very few do
get discarded.

true, ‘nobles’ do not rule europeans and most other earthlings any longer [in arab
world they still do, tho] but they have been replaced by same-thinking/doing
people in nearly all lands.

and the structure of governance and society, say, in u.s, india [i use india/u.s
because they best exemplify that basicly nothing ever changes] has not changed
an iota from the time some 8k yrs ago when the first such structure had been
established by priests in mesopotamia and which later or much later ‘nobles’ and
priests emulated on three of five continents. tax

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By balkas, October 17, 2011 at 3:33 am Link to this comment

“what kind of nation”, says hedges wld do this or that! but can one sort u.s as a
nation, an empire, or a region?
a region, i’d say and with 300 or so ethnic groups all led by most avaricious,
selfish people among us.

i do not deem u.s a nation nor its inhabitants as americans. as i have said many
times years ago there are no longer americans in the multinat’l region called
“america”.
and one cld also say that some of its inhabitants were not americans from day
one after euros ‘discovered’ it. tnx

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By balkas, October 17, 2011 at 3:13 am Link to this comment

MLK spoke for “better distribution of wealth”. better is, i think, “better ownership
of wealth”, which wld also include the governance; i.e.,, schooling, information
distribution, transport, etc.

hope protesters are thinking like this. tax

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skimohawk's avatar

By skimohawk, October 17, 2011 at 2:56 am Link to this comment

Well done, Mr. Hedges.
You made me glad I stayed up late.

re:
“The liberal class… has become a useless and despised appendage of corporate power.”

True. Unfortunately not apparent yet to many.

re:
“An ineffectual liberal class means there is no hope of a correction or a reversal through the formal mechanisms of power.”

Also true. Unfortunately that correction or reversal requires that in which most are not willing to become involved.

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By Maxwell Berins, October 17, 2011 at 2:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve been reading Chris Hedges’ writings for some time now and I’ve noticed a tendency on his part to make sweeping statements without backing them up with examples.  For instance, when he says, “[The liberal class] collaborated with corporate lobbyists to neglect the rights of tens of millions of Americans, as well as the innocents in our imperial wars,” it would be helpful if he exemplified how so.

This is but one of many instances in this article alone where Mr. Hedges makes grand allegations against “the liberal class” without backing up his statements with facts.  It’s time he stops assuming everyone knows what he’s talking about and start substantiating his claims.  It will make him a better writer.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, October 17, 2011 at 1:53 am Link to this comment

A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA

And now for a message from the Looney Left:

CH: There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class,

As much as many of us would like to do so, given the present structure of the electoral system, a third party – a Progressive Party – hasn’t a chance in hell of electing a PotUS.

Hedges should know better, but he is so embittered by his own prejudices that he is blind to the facts if he insists on getting around the established two-party system.

Which is why a better tactic is to reform the present system by proposing A Progressive Agenda that any politician ( from the Right or the Left or Center) can abide with. Such an Agenda, if a politician accepts it, is a litmus-test of their candidacy as a progressive in favor of a generalized reformation of the American economic political systems.

Remember, a key objective of a Progressive Agenda would be to change the present electoral system. Till then,however, we must work within it to achieve a Social Democrat party faction. (There, I said it. That evil word “social”.)

Most progressive politicians will be found in the Left and Left of center. Many others will refuse to accept the Agenda because they feel Americans “are not ready for it”. They could be right, but I figure they are wrong and the present demonstrations show clearly the outrage and indignation of a vast number of our fellow citizens.

The challenge is to inform and teach America that Now is the moment! … or never. That is, otherwise we must just get along with the status quo and bow our heads like the sheeple we are.

POST SCRIPTUM

Hedges, like most of us, wants to see revolutionary not evolutionary change. He hopes it can be done peacefully, but it must be done quickly. Next November.

We did not get into the Present Mess, both economically and politically, overnight. It took decades to do it. Most of our suffering today is due to Ronald Reagan who brought down tax-rates precipitously throughout his administration in the 1980s.

But Income Inequality, research shows, has been with America at least since the advent of the Industrial Age (which exacerbated it) but quite possibly since the inception of our nation.

THERE IS NO QUICK-FIX. American must be taught the virtues of Progressive Politics, which takes their generalized well-being as a predominant priority. But that takes time ...

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, October 17, 2011 at 1:36 am Link to this comment

Does this movement have legs? I would say yes, simply because they are into the 5th week and the demonstrations grow with each passing day. It may become just a weekend surge but I expect to see more and more people come out and push for change. With the core of young and old occupying locations around the country I expect that will form the nucleus for this to keep growing. It will take time but this is real and expanding. Thank you each and every one of who has taken up this important task. Let the revolution begin!

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