by Chris Hedges
16 June 2011
Tyler Hicks / Redux
The New York Times
The unrest in the Middle East, the convulsions in Ivory Coast, the hunger sweeping across failed states such as Somalia, the freak weather patterns and the systematic unraveling of the American empire do not signal a lurch toward freedom and democracy but the catastrophic breakdown of globalization.
The world as we know it is coming to an end. And
what will follow will not be pleasant or easy.
...have proven incapable of radically shifting course or responding to our altered reality.
They react to the great unraveling by pretending it is not happening. They are desperately trying to maintain a doomed system of corporate capitalism. And the worse it gets the more they embrace, and seek to make us embrace, magical thinking.
Dozens of members of Congress in the United States have announced that climate change does not exist and evolution is a hoax.
They chant the mantra that the marketplace should determine human behavior, even as the unfettered and unregulated marketplace threw the global economy into a seizure and evaporated some $40 trillion in worldwide wealth.
The corporate media retreats as swiftly from reality into endless mini-dramas revolving around celebrities or long discussions about the inane comments of a Donald Trump or a Sarah Palin.
The real world - the one imploding in our faces
- is ignored.
The race of doom is now between,
Which will get us first? Or will they get us at
the same time?
As temperatures continue to rise huge parts of the globe will become uninhabitable. The continued release of large quantities of methane, some scientists have warned, could actually asphyxiate the human species.
And accompanying the assault on the ecosystem
that sustains human life is the cruelty and stupidity of unchecked
corporate capitalism that is creating a global economy of masters and
serfs and a world where millions will be unable to survive.
Those who hold actual power are the tiny elite who manage the corporations.
The share of national income of the top 0.1 percent of Americans since 1974 has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 percent. One in six American workers may be without a job. Some 40 million Americans may live in poverty, with tens of millions more living in a category called “near poverty.”
Six million people may be forced from their homes in the United States because of foreclosures and bank repossessions.
But while the masses suffer, Goldman Sachs, one
of the financial firms most responsible for the evaporation of $17 trillion
in wages, savings and wealth of small investors and shareholders in the
United States, is giddily handing out $17.5 billion in compensation to its
managers, including $12.6 million to its CEO,
It was not a conspiracy. The process was transparent. It did not require the formation of a new political party or movement. It was the result of inertia by our political and intellectual class, which in the face of expanding corporate power found it personally profitable to facilitate it or look the other way.
The armies of lobbyists, who write the
legislation, bankroll political campaigns and disseminate propaganda, have
been able to short-circuit the electorate.
Neofeudalism will be cemented into place whether it is delivered by Democrats and the Liberals, who are pushing us there at 60 miles an hour, or by Republicans and the Conservatives, who are barreling toward it at 100 miles an hour.
The Democrats and the Liberals are always able
to offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or
nothing to thwart the march toward corporate collectivism.
Television news celebrities dutifully present two opposing sides to every issue, although each side is usually lying.
The viewer can believe whatever he or she wants
to believe. Nothing is actually elucidated or explained. The sound bites by
Republicans or Democrats, the Liberals or the Conservatives, are accepted at
face value. And once the television lights are turned off, the politicians
go back to the business of serving business.
Our elites have done what all elites do. They have found sophisticated mechanisms to thwart popular aspirations, disenfranchise the working and increasingly the middle class, keep us passive and make us serve their interests.
The brief democratic opening in our society in
the early 20th century, made possible by radical movements,
unions and a vigorous press, has again been shut tight. We were mesmerized
by political charades, cheap consumerism, spectacle and magical thinking as
we were ruthlessly stripped of power.
Food prices have risen 61 percent globally since December 2008, according to the International Monetary Fund. The price of wheat has exploded, more than doubling in the last eight months to $8.56 a bushel. When half of your income is spent on food, as it is in countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Somalia and Ivory Coast, price increases of this magnitude bring with them widespread malnutrition and starvation.
Food prices in the United States have risen over the past three months at an annualized rate of five percent.
There are some 40 million poor in the United States who devote 35 percent of their after-tax incomes to pay for food. As the cost of fossil fuel climbs, as climate change continues to disrupt agricultural production and as populations and unemployment swell, we will find ourselves convulsed in more global and domestic unrest.
Food riots and political protests will be
frequent, as will malnutrition and starvation. Desperate people employ
desperate measures to survive. And the elites will use the surveillance and
security state to attempt to crush all forms of popular dissent.
But none of this is going to change until we turn our backs on the wider society, denounce the orthodoxies peddled in our universities and in the press by corporate apologists and construct our opposition to the corporate state from the ground up. It will not be easy. It will take time. And it will require us to accept the status of social and political pariahs, especially as the lunatic fringe of our political establishment steadily gains power as the crisis mounts.
The corporate state has nothing to offer
the left or the right but fear. It uses fear to turn the population
into passive accomplices. And as long as we remain afraid, or believe that
the formal mechanisms of power can actually bring us real reform, nothing
It does not matter that economic inequality has gotten worse and that most of the world’s wealth has become concentrated in a few hands. It does not matter that the middle class - the beating heart of any democracy - is disappearing and that the rights and wages of the working class have fallen into precipitous decline as labor regulations, protection of our manufacturing base and labor unions have been demolished.
It does not matter that corporations have used the destruction of trade barriers as a mechanism for massive tax evasion, a technique that allows conglomerates such as General Electric or Bank of America to avoid paying any taxes. It does not matter that corporations are exploiting and killing the ecosystem for profit.
The steady barrage of illusions disseminated by corporate systems of propaganda, in which words are often replaced with music and images, are impervious to truth.
Faith in the marketplace replaces for many faith
in an omnipresent God. And those who dissent are banished as
The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions.
...feed the corporate beast at our expense.
The decimation of labor unions, the twisting of education into mindless vocational training and the slashing of social services leave us ever more enslaved to the whims of corporations.
The intrusion of corporations into the public
sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between
public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively
by naked self-interest.
Dying civilizations often prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth.
It makes life easier to bear. It lets them turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science or the market will be their salvation.
This is why these apologists for globalism continue to find a following. And their systems of propaganda have built a vast, global Potemkin village to entertain us. The tens of millions of impoverished Americans, whose lives and struggles rarely make it onto television, are invisible. So are most of the world’s billions of poor, crowded into fetid slums.
We do not see those who die from drinking
contaminated water or being unable to afford medical care. We do not see
those being foreclosed from their homes. We do not see the children who go
to bed hungry. We busy ourselves with the absurd.
The corporate state will continue its inexorable advance until two-thirds of the nation and the planet is locked into a desperate, permanent underclass. Most of us will struggle to make a living while the Blankfeins and our political elites wallow in the decadence and greed of the Forbidden City and Versailles.
These elites do not have a vision. They know only one word: more.
They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes.
Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel. We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and cultural values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out.
It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice.
But at least we still have one.