In a rare instance of real, hard-hitting reporting on NPR, Chris Hedges tells it like it is, once again demonstrating his superior intellect and succinct understanding of the root causes of the social and political dysfunction in the U.S.
During a Talk of The Nation interview with Neal Conan, "Looking Ahead: Chris Hedges On Poverty, Politics, U.S. Culture," Hedges cuts to the chase by identifying the source of the lunacy that passes for political discussion in this country:
I think we have powerful proto-fascist movements in this country, and I look at the Tea Party, the militia, the Christian right, where they celebrate the language of violence, they celebrate the gun culture. And they channel what I would describe as a very legitimate rage and a legitimate sense of betrayal towards the vulnerable, towards Muslims, towards undocumented workers, towards homosexuals, intellectuals, feminists, liberals. They have a long list of people they don't like. And I think that is a very - remains a very frightening and powerful undercurrent within American society.
He makes a very apt observation when he describes how people who adhere to the right wing belief system deal with what he terms as the "unraveling of the economy."
And what you get when you enter that kind of ideological belief system is you no longer deal with reality. You believe that - you believe in magic. You believe that Jesus will intervene to protect you and promote you, and then it becomes impossible to have a kind of rational discussion, for instance with people who believe that, you know, everything - the Earth was created 6,000 years ago, and there were dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden.
This is very important; it goes to the heart of the matter when it comes to the reason you see powerful corporatist cartels and the Christian right doing everything they can to feed the right wing paranoia, and the hate, and the scapegoating of certain "target" groups.
And in a way, it makes sense. What these corporatist cartels are doing by manipulating these right wing loonies is diverting attention from what they're doing to society, namely, pillage and plundering.
I think it's important that, you know - and Sheldon Wolin writes about this in "Democracy Incorporated" - that we have the facade of the democratic state, and yet what we've undergone is a kind of corporate coup d'etat in slow-motion...
From that reality--about having undergone a corporate coup d'etat--it follows that we cannot longer count on "the formal mechanisms of power."
All of us know on some level that it's a kind of suicidal trajectory, and we are - to steal a line from Neil Postman - amusing ourselves to death. And I think that it's clear that the formal mechanisms of power are not going to save us, either from the rise of the security and surveillance state, the degradation of the ecosystem and the kind of fraying and destruction of what is left of our democracy.
Again, it's very refreshing to see this type of truth-telling on NPR, especially since as it continues its transition to being just another mouthpiece for the Corporate State, it is likely to conduct less of these interviews and more pablum, just like the rest of them.
On that note, you can almost "see" Neal Conan's (the host) uncomfortable expression as he conducts the interview, as if saying "Okay, a few more minutes and we'll be done with this..." I highly recommend you listen to the interview.
What is my take out of all this... Anybody who reads my writing will notice a recurrent theme: Our institutions are broken; we are on our own. And as such, it is up to us to take the steps necessary to save not only ourselves from the predation of the Corporatist Oligarchy, but the planet itself.
And how do you go about "saving ourselves?" By first understanding the true nature of what we face, and then organizing to combat it.
Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.
- Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell
Note: I use this quote often to emphasize the importance of organization and strategic thinking, even thought it actually represents the organizing theme
of the fascistic "business activist movement" that helped bring about the current situation.
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