Chris Hedges

What's left of the country?


The global struggle for real democracy has reached a precious moment of truth: In Egypt, the Tahrir Uprising has morphed into an unpopular Presidential election where neither candidate represents the youth who sparked the revolution. In Wisconsin, a vibrant bottom-up insurgency has resulted in a humiliating electoral defeat. Meanwhile in Greece, an openly fascistic party is gaining momentum. And then there is Occupy which has thus far been unable to recapture the magic we created last year.

Who has the vision? Who has the memes? We’re at a fork in the road … a tipping point moment in the global meme war and we on the Left have a lot of soul searching to do.

Here is an inspiring article by Chris Hedges from Adbusters #102 to set the tone for the days ahead:

What was left of electoral politics in the United States gasped and sputtered to its extinction with the 2010 Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United. At that point the game was over. Legalized bribery now defines the political process. The most retrograde elements of corporate capitalism, such as the Koch brothers, are the undisputed king makers. They decide who gets elected by anonymously pouring hundreds of millions into campaigns. They hang with their SuperPACs like vultures over the heads of every federal and state legislator. Any politician who dares to challenge corporate demands and unregulated corporate capitalism knows they will be thrust from political life as well as their highly paid corporate jobs once they leave office. Politicians, including Barack Obama, are corporate employees. And they know it.

Corporate money had corrupted the American political system even before the 2010 Citizens United ruling. We had 35,000 corporate lobbyists in Washington by 2010 writing legislation and funneling corporate donations to compliant politicians. But the ruling snuffed out even tepid and marginal resistance. It transformed us into an oligarchic, corporate state. It marked, in essence, the culmination of the corporate coup d’état that has slowly been established over the past few decades. We can identify our individuality through brands or choices in lifestyle, but political freedom does not exist.

Our highly choreographed campaigns are bizarre spectacles, sterile and empty acts of political theater. The personal narrative of candidates is the central point of debate, not issues, programs or policies. The rhetoric and style is different – in short the brands are different– between Republicans and Democrats, but the substance is the same. It is impossible within the political system in the United States to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil. Political debate is dominated by opinion rather than fact. Lies are true.

The right-wing Heritage Foundation, for example, designed Obama’s healthcare bill. It was first put into practice by then-Governor Mitt Romney in 2006 in Massachusetts. Barack Obama adopted it, after corporate lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries rewrote it to include $447 billion in subsidies. Romneycare is Obamacare. It forces consumers to buy a default corporate product. The insurance companies can raise co-payments and premiums, including for the elderly and those on fixed income. They are exempted from providing coverage to chronically ill children. Once you get sick you can be priced out of the market. Of the one million Americans who go bankrupt every year because they cannot pay their medical bills, 80 percent are insured. This abuse will remain untouched. The healthy will pay. The sick will be pushed aside.

The debate on the airwaves between Republicans and Democrats over the healthcare bill, now before the Supreme Court, is part of the vast dumb show. And this is true for every piece of legislation pushed through Congress. The corporate media exists not to illuminate but to perpetuate the mirage. Coke or Pepsi. Take your pick. As if there is a difference.

The capturing of the legislature, executive and judiciary by corporate power, however, is only the first stage. We have now entered the second. The corporate state, led by Congress and the Supreme Court, is rapidly criminalizing dissent. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was a bipartisan bill signed into law on New Year’s Eve by Obama, permits the US government to employ the military as a domestic police force that can detain citizens accused of supporting terrorist groups or “associated forces” without due process until, in the language of the law, the end of hostilities. Obama has employed the Espionage Act against government officials who have leaked information about war crimes to the press, virtually shutting down investigative reporting. Only the official narrative now prevails. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendment Act (FISA) retroactively made legal what under our Constitution was illegal, the warrantless wiretapping, monitoring and eavesdropping on citizens. And the Supreme Court, utterly inverting the concept of the rule of law, recently ruled that those who are strip-searched by police or corrections officers, even if they are innocent of a crime, couldn’t challenge the measures in a court of law. In short, there is no legal recourse to the abuse of power.

The corporations will disembowel, or in the language of business schools “harvest,” what is left of the country. The security and surveillance apparatus will lock up those who resist. This is the future. The iron circle will be shut tight.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and former international correspondent for The New York Times. His latest book is The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.

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200 comments on the article “Chris Hedges”

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Here's a simple slogan/question to Obama supporters-

The ugliest policies of George Bush have been upheld and expanded upon by, HOW DID "Yes We Can" TURN INTO "No We Can't" GET RID OF GEORGE BUSH POLICIES?!!?

[email protected]

(And sorry, here's my desperate rant: Now Obama supporters around me are resorting to the usual pathetic scare tactic with "if you don't vote for Obama then you will split the vote and Romney will win." Have they already forgotten WHY the landslide of 2008 happened? It was because the voters who were against Bush's policies outnumbered those who did support Bush's policies, AND WE STILL DO, MORE THAN EVER!!!! Now, in 2012, a vote for Obama is very clearly a vote for these very Bush policies that the 2008 landslide was against! So if you want to guarantee a low voter turn-out that Repubs depend on to win, just keep supporting that Bush clone Obama and then Romney really will win...No, we can't afford Romney but we sure as hell can't afford another 4 years of Bush policies which is what we will get if Obama wins)

To Obama supporters-
If it is evil when George Bush does it, then it is also evil when Obama does it!


Dumb. Send all red state conservatives to Texas, let them secede and form their own country: the New America of Kompassionate Khristian Konservatism. They can abolish gubmint and try social Darwinism for real.


You obviously don't understand that American Presidents like Obama have little to no power. Presidents can veto that's about it. Congress and the Senate make the policies. They are not controlled by Obama. Bush was a figurehead as well... but currently the same people have the power. Hence the Occupy movement, the increasing protests, and the people in power are trying to feed divisive hatred to the people who don't understand the protests.

It doesn't matter if Obama is elected, or Romney is elected (besides how foreigner view Americans, and you are better with Obama for that one). What matters more is who you vote in the senate, congress, and whether or not they are people of integrity, who want the best for the people vs. bowing to lobbyists.

Educate yourself, before forming opinions.


I feel bad for the cops. They are so overworked and receive so little money for the work that they do.


I agree. People on this site talk about cops as if their evil stormtroopers sent from hell by Dick Cheney to destroy love. But most of them are just regular working men and women, trying to do some good in the world. Most of them probably don't even know or care what people are protesting. Their just trying to get through their shift, and keep control over the violent protestors. Look at the poor dude in the picture above, it's clear who the aggressor is.


You mean you know what happened moments before the photo was snapped? Please, tell us what you see. Did the cop pepper spray the protester, did the protester throw a rock, or what? Cops are most certainly not like the rest of us, because they are imbued with power none of us has. That power corrupts them, and of the few cops I've known, from beat cops to commanders, they've all two things in common: they are racist, and love to crack skulls.


See what I mean. This is the warped view that followers of this site have of police officers. "They are racist and they love to crack skulls" Racist? Even the black ones? Silly comment, but it perfectly demonstrates the ridiculous attitude that Occupiers have toward people in law enforcement.


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