Monday, May 15, 2017

A Long Time Coming

Donald Trump, Chris Hedges writes, is the culmination of a forty year decline:

Our descent into despotism began with the pardoning of Richard Nixon, all of whose impeachable crimes are now legal, and the extrajudicial assault, including targeted assassinations and imprisonment, carried out on dissidents and radicals, especially black radicals. It began with the creation of corporate-funded foundations and organizations that took control of the press, the courts, the universities, scientific research and the two major political parties. It began with empowering militarized police to kill unarmed citizens and the spread of our horrendous system of mass incarceration and the death penalty. It began with the stripping away of our most basic constitutional rights—privacy, due process, habeas corpus, fair elections and dissent. It began when big money was employed by political operatives such as Roger Stone, a close Trump adviser, to create negative political advertisements and false narratives to deceive the public, turning political debate into burlesque. On all these fronts we have lost. We are trapped like rats in a cage. A narcissist and imbecile may be turning the electric shocks on and off, but the problem is the corporate state, and unless we dismantle that, we are doomed. 

Today we find ourselves confused, not understanding  how we got here and what we should focus on. Hedges writes that we must not be distracted:

Forget the firing of James Comey. Forget the paralysis in Congress. Forget the idiocy of a press that covers our descent into tyranny as if it were a sports contest between corporate Republicans and corporate Democrats or a reality show starring our maniacal president and the idiots that surround him. Forget the noise.

This crisis has spawned a corrupt electoral system of legalized bribery and empowered those public figures that master the arts of entertainment and artifice. And if we do not overthrow the neoliberal, corporate forces that have destroyed our democracy we will continue to vomit up more monstrosities as dangerous as Donald Trump. Trump is the symptom, not the disease.

The problem goes much deeper than Donald Trump. He is the incarnation of the problem. But solving it will not be easy. It has been a long time coming -- and, presumably, it will take a long time to banish it from our politics.


Anonymous said...

The disease of conceit- that whole "love of money is the root of all evil" and
"poverty is the greatest violence" thing...that's what I take Hedges to mean, Owen.

Owen Gray said...

That's exactly what Hedges the journalist -- and ordained minister -- means, lovingit.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think Hedges may be overreaching, Owen. Nixon's role is clouded by other events of the era, notably Viet Nam the blame for most of which must lie at Lyndon Johnson's feet. The social upheaval that generated largely faded through Ford and Carter.

My take is that what we're dealing with today is terminal-stage neoliberalism the seeds of which were initially planted by Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney. Certainly most of the Tea Party discontent traces to the impacts of globalization - outsourcing jobs, the collapse of America's middle class, etc.

Who can forget Mulroney praising the advent of the "new economy," the "information economy" that would replace our manufacturing jobs with even more and better paid jobs in the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) economy that ultimately failed to produce these wonder jobs but ushered in a cyclical bubble economy - the Savings & Loans scandal; Enron/Worldcom; the Dot Com scandal; the massively devastating real estate bubble, all of them serving to bleed wealth out of the working classes, blue and white collar, and into the hands of a very small elite.

Along the way we witnessed the milestones of the neoliberal disease: legislative capture (America's "bought and paid for Congress"), the rise of rampant inequality, regulatory capture, the decline in liberal democracy, the installation of a decidedly corporatist US Supreme Court, the ascendancy of the permanent warfare state in which wars would be fought indefinitely and neither won nor lost, ALEC (the brazen American Legislative Exchange Council) and, today, the decline of the historic free press and its replacement by a corporate media cartel peddling messaging instead of information, the capture of the executive branch concluding the triumph (perhaps temporary) of oligarchy.

Yes Trump is a symptom of this malignancy but he's one of a progression of symptoms that stretch back more than 30-years to a president more recent than Nixon and that president's subordinates.

Steve said...

The elephant in the room is that there is no black model of governance success anywhere in the world. Maybe Black people all want to be number one, I dont know. But the fact is there is no example of a black person leading a nation to number one. Barrak Obama was a self identified
black. He was in truth whiter than GWB. The asians are number one, whites seconds and blacks third and thats the truth.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Owen, political governing in the US has been replaced by economic governing. In the last 50 yrs. the neoliberal establishment has done an excellent job at infiltrating major institutions like education, labour, defense, security, corporate media, etc. Lobby groups dictate to bought and paid for congressman and senators what legislation should be written and passed and what industries should be further deregulated.

America's mode of domination is primarily neoliberal in nature by dominating a sovereign nation covertly, including regime change, then having this new leader, chosen by the US, allow his/her countries wealth, particularly their resources privatized and thus this sovereign nations wealth is then controlled by corporate America and this control is sustained by the US military might.

Whether Washington is continuing with their perpetual war by invading a new sovereign nation , or bailing our their corporate, financial elite, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of tax payers money, the American public remains silent.

In order to overthrow the neoliberal, corporate power base, Americans have to know that the corporate/military complex is really the ones who are in charge.I don't think they do know. I don't think American's realize the magnitude of their governments corruption and deceit.
The MSM propaganda and lies is primarily for American consumption and for the most part it is working.

If this is a battle for ideas and I think it is, then the neoliberals are winning. Neoliberalism, one of the most anti-intellectual, authoritarian, economic system that now controls the US government and its citizens, has won the day!

The neoliberal dogma can only be challenged with reasoned, genuine liberal ideas. We rarely hear these ideas being advocated, because for the most part they don't exist in the cultural arena of American thought. The very conceptual foundation of knowledge, which is instrumental to learning has been all but destroyed by the US neoliberal education system.

Chris Hedges is right that the fundamental cause, the corporate state must be dismantled, in order to rebuild democracy, but a society can only do this if they understand cause and effect.

America is intellectually bankrupt and is headed down a road where dogma and force are the main tools used in their relationship with the rest of the world and now with its own people.

America is self-destructing, the question is in that self destruction will they take the rest of us with them.

Owen Gray said...

I find that Hedges these days is pretty dark, Mound. The more I read his stuff, the more I get the impression that the choice is between tyranny and volcanic violence. I keep hoping that democratic institutions can cure themselves of the neo-liberal disease. But, so far, I don't see that happening.

Owen Gray said...

You're treading on dangerous ground when you link competence to race, Steve.

Toby said...

Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. It doesn't have to be a good idea.

Owen Gray said...

Quite true, Toby.

Owen Gray said...

Neo-liberalism has been winning the battle of ideas for a long time, Pam. What is needed is better ideas. They're around. But they aren't getting much traction.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Steve, there was one black leader that comes to mind. That is Lumamba of the Congo. He wanted his countries wealth to be for it's people, not for the mainly western corporations.In other words he did not want the neoliberal elites controlling his countries wealth. He was assassinated.

Not much has changed in Africa since Lumamba, including who really controls Africa's wealth.