In the Belly of the Beast: 3/28/11: The Collapse of Globalization

INDEX

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Monday, Day 121

“This is Economic Treason”: 500,000 March in London Protesting Public Spending Cuts and Corporate Tax Dodgers

Remembering Angelo Herndon

from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs

Headlines for March 28, 2011

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Monday, Day 121

“This is Economic Treason”: 500,000 March in London Protesting Public Spending Cuts and Corporate Tax Dodgers

Play_uk_uncutAs many as 500,000 protesters marched in London on Saturday to protest Britain’s deepest cuts to public spending since World War II. The protests come after U.K. officials estimated corporate taxes would be reduced even as it tackles a $235-billion deficit and plans to cut more than 300,000 public sector jobs. Meanwhile in the United States, protesters gathered in 40 cities on Saturday to oppose tax cuts for the wealthy amid budget cuts to public services. We broadcast a video report from the streets of London and speak to British journalist Johann Hari and Allison Kilkenny of Citizen Radio in New York.

Green Party celebrates success and prepare to run coalition in German state

This is quite a big jump for the Greens who won less than half of the votes in the previous election. Angela Merkel’s center-right party still polled well but lost enough votes to fall out of control of the prosperous state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Merkel’s CDU had controlled the state since 1953. The nuclear issue was a contributing factor but voter fatigue with Merkel’s policies was also an issue. The Guardian:

The chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union party, or CDU, had ruled the region’s state legislature for almost 58 years, but found itself on the wrong side of the nuclear debate following Fukushima. Even before the Japanese earthquake, the party was unpopular locally for sanctioning a multibillion euro project to build a railway station in Stuttgart.

Support for the CDU slumped from 44.2% in the 2006 state election to 39%, according to official results.

The state parliament’s new leader would be Winfried Kretschmann, 62, a spiky-haired former science teacher. He is likely to become the Green party’s first regional “minister president” after his party gained 25% of the vote; enough, when combined with the 23.1% for the centre-left Social Democratic party, to form a coalition. Minister presidents are powerful on a national as well as a regional level, because they have a vote in Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, and can veto legislation.

American Thought Police

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Recently William Cronon, a historian who teaches at the University of Wisconsin, decided to weigh in on his state’s political turmoil. He started a blog, “Scholar as Citizen,” devoting his first post to the role of the shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council in pushing hard-line conservative legislation at the state level. Then he published an opinion piece in The Times, suggesting that Wisconsin’s Republican governor has turned his back on the state’s long tradition of “neighborliness, decency and mutual respect.”

So what was the G.O.P.’s response? A demand for copies of all e-mails sent to or from Mr. Cronon’s university mail account containing any of a wide range of terms, including the word “Republican” and the names of a number of Republican politicians.

If this action strikes you as no big deal, you’re missing the point. The hard right — which these days is more or less synonymous with the Republican Party — has a modus operandi when it comes to scholars expressing views it dislikes: never mind the substance, go for the smear. And that demand for copies of e-mails is obviously motivated by no more than a hope that it will provide something, anything, that can be used to subject Mr. Cronon to the usual treatment.

The Cronon affair, then, is one more indicator of just how reflexively vindictive, how un-American, one of our two great political parties has become.

The demand for Mr. Cronon’s correspondence has obvious parallels with the ongoing smear campaign against climate science and climate scientists, which has lately relied heavily on supposedly damaging quotations found in e-mail records.

Back in 2009 climate skeptics got hold of more than a thousand e-mails between researchers at the Climate Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia. Nothing in the correspondence suggested any kind of scientific impropriety; at most, we learned — I know this will shock you — that scientists are human beings, who occasionally say snide things about people they dislike.

But that didn’t stop the usual suspects from proclaiming that they had uncovered “Climategate,” a scientific scandal that somehow invalidates the vast array of evidence for man-made climate change. And this fake scandal gives an indication of what the Wisconsin G.O.P. presumably hopes to do to Mr. Cronon.

After all, if you go through a large number of messages looking for lines that can be made to sound bad, you’re bound to find a few. In fact, it’s surprising how few such lines the critics managed to find in the “Climategate” trove: much of the smear has focused on just one e-mail, in which a researcher talks about using a “trick” to “hide the decline” in a particular series. In context, it’s clear that he’s talking about making an effective graphical presentation, not about suppressing evidence. But the right wants a scandal, and won’t take no for an answer.

Is there any doubt that Wisconsin Republicans are hoping for a similar “success” against Mr. Cronon?

Now, in this case they’ll probably come up dry. Mr. Cronon writes on his blog that he has been careful never to use his university e-mail for personal business, exhibiting a scrupulousness that’s neither common nor expected in the academic world. (Full disclosure: I have, at times, used my university e-mail to remind my wife to feed the cats, confirm dinner plans with friends, etc.)

Beyond that, Mr. Cronon — the president-elect of the American Historical Association — has a secure reputation as a towering figure in his field. His magnificent “Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West” is the best work of economic and business history I’ve ever read — and I read a lot of that kind of thing.

So we don’t need to worry about Mr. Cronon — but we should worry a lot about the wider effect of attacks like the one he’s facing.

Legally, Republicans may be within their rights: Wisconsin’s open records law provides public access to e-mails of government employees, although the law was clearly intended to apply to state officials, not university professors. But there’s a clear chilling effect when scholars know that they may face witch hunts whenever they say things the G.O.P. doesn’t like.

Someone like Mr. Cronon can stand up to the pressure. But less eminent and established researchers won’t just become reluctant to act as concerned citizens, weighing in on current debates; they’ll be deterred from even doing research on topics that might get them in trouble.

What’s at stake here, in other words, is whether we’re going to have an open national discourse in which scholars feel free to go wherever the evidence takes them, and to contribute to public understanding. Republicans, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, are trying to shut that kind of discourse down. It’s up to the rest of us to see that they don’t succeed.

GOP now demonizing high-speed rail same way they demonized health care reform

Yes, let’s ensure that our country doesn’t enter the 21st century until the 22nd century. God forbid our technology advanced a little and caught up with Europe and Japan. France had high speed rail in the early 80s. Will the US ever get it? Not if Republicans have their way. They’re now demonizing high speed rail projects simply because the President wants them. It’s disturbing behavior to say the least. I can see them having a true intellectual disagreement about a policy issue (though, their objections to health care reform were never real – they made most of it up). But trying to stop the country from finally improving its antiquated rail system?

It’s a dangerous move from the GOP, it hurts our country, and it’s sadly what they always do. Republicans want to win at all costs, not because they think they’re right on an issue, but rather because they think it will hurt Democrats to lose. So even if an issue is a good thing, the GOP will try to block it, will lie about it (think death panels and global warming), simply because it benefits them politically, even if it hurts the country.

Republicans like to think they’re the patriotic party. They’re the America-firsters. They’re destroying this country, as the rest of the world passes us by.

PS It might have been nice for The Hill to put a little balance in their story, rather than simply parroting every GOP lie and then quoting no one rebutting them. Yes, the Hill quotes some sources lamenting the controversy. How about actually telling us whether the GOP accusations are true or false? How about quoting someone actually rebutting the accusations with facts?

sexual harassment in…the West

“In an online study by stopstreetharassment.com, 95% of respondents said they had been the victims of leering, honking or whistling and a large proportion have been groped or grabbed in public.” (thanks Nasir)
THE ECONOMY

Paul Krugman - New York Times Blog

March 28, 2011, 9:27 AM

The President Is A Lousy Negotiator

Steve Benen and Ezra Klein both point out that by negotiating with himself, Obama seems to have ensured that the eventual budget “compromise” will give Republicans more than they ever imagined in the way of harsh cuts.

Maybe this is just political realism. But the way I see it, Obama adopted Republican framing of the budget debate — including the rhetoric about how families are tightening their belts so the government should too — as early as the 2010 State of the Union, back when Democrats had 59 Senate seats and control of the House. If that genuflection to the right was supposed to help Dems in the midterms, well, it didn’t; and it has meant that there is no effective counter-argument to the cut cut cut people.

So, can we now count on Obama, at least, not to preemptively surrender to the right by proposing Social Security cuts — cuts that we know will be a starting point, not an end to the discussion?

No, we can’t.

Freeloading banks trying to weaken Dodd-Frank even more

As if it wasn’t already a neutered piece of legislation. Enough is never really enough for the bankers. Sure the American public saved them and is now suffering because of their shameful behavior. But hey, that was then and today is a new day. CNBC:

But now financial companies are trying to get around the law by manipulating a carve-out for “qualified residential mortgages.” Lawmakers punted on the definition of a qualified residential mortgage when the law was written, charging regulators with deciding what mortgages are safe enough to avoid the risk-retention rules. Obviously, many financial firms would like to see an expansive definition that would reduce their need to retain risk.

On Tuesday, the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will hold a open meeting to discuss the rule and the carve-out.

The very first companies to begin agitating for an exemption from risk-retention were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Lobbyists argued that mortgages that mortgages backed by either Fannie or Freddie should automatically be included as qualified mortgages.

Sports Stadium bonds in trouble?

from Calculated Risk by CalculatedRisk

Small and large …

From Michelle McNiel at the Wenatchee World The debt dilemma (ht Ken)

Ask any public official and they’ll say default is simply not an option when it comes to the Town Toyota Center’s $42 million debt.

But the “D” word is creeping into conversations around the community, fueled by uncertainty over just how the massive debt is going to be paid on the 4,300-seat events center.

And from Darrell Preston and Aaron Kuriloff at Bloomberg: Texans’ NFL Stadium Bonds Fall Amid Default Talk (ht Brian)

Harris County-Houston Sports Authority bonds that financed venues for the Houston Texans and two other sports teams have fallen as much as 34 percent amid speculation the agency may default on payments.

The authority financed the building of Minute Maid Park, home to the Houston Astros Major League Baseball team; Reliant Stadium, for the Texans; and Toyota Center, for the Houston Rockets National Basketball Association team.

the authority sold $509.7 million in bonds between 1998 and 2000 [for Reliant Stadium], along with $461.6 million the following year.


NUCLEAR POWER


Plutonium leaking from Fukushima reactor: officials

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

Plutonium has been found in soil at various points in and around Japan’s stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) admitted March 28. TEPCO vice president Sakae Muto told journalists at the company’s latest briefing that test results showing the plutonium came from samples taken last week—while of course insisting that the contamination poses no threat to the public. The plutonium presumably comes from partially-melted MOX fuel from reactor Number 3. (ReutersDC Bureau, March 28)

read more

Japan corrects ’10m’ radiation level to 100,000

It’s better than 10 million times over normal radiation, but it’s hardly a comforting thought either at 100,000. Meanwhile yet another robust earthquake hit Japan though so far, no reports of injury or problems. BBC:

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) had said radiation levels were 10m times higher than normal before correcting the figure to 100,000 times.

Workers are battling to stop radiation leaks at the Fukushima plant, hit by a quake and tsunami over two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Japan has lifted a tsunami warning that was issued after another earthquake off its northern coast.

The 6.5-magnitude quake struck at 0723 local time on Monday (2223 GMT Sunday), 109km (67 miles) east of the badly-damaged port city of Sendai.

Radioactive iodine from Japan found in Massachusetts rainwater

I got a “BREAKING NEWS” alert yesterday from Boston.com informing me Low-level radiation from Japan had been found in rainwater in Massachusetts. It’s not dangerous, but it’s fascinating:

Low levels of radioactive iodine linked to the nuclear disaster in Japan were detected in a sample of rainwater in Massachusetts, state health officials announced yesterday.

The concentration of radioiodine-131 found in the sample is very low and did not affect the health of the state’s drinking-water supplies, said John Auerbach, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

The rain sample was taken during the past week in Boston as part of regular monitoring by the US Environmental Protection Agency. No detectable increases in radiation were discovered in the air that was tested in the same location where the rainwater was collected, Auerbach said at a press conference yesterday at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain.

Small world, after all.

Again, public health officials keep stressing that these levels of radioactivity aren’t dangerous. And, radioactive iodine has a half-life of eight days.

According to Gallup’s latest polling on the environment, Americans do have serious, legitimate concerns about water:

At least three in four Americans surveyed in Gallup’s 2011 Environment poll say they worry a great deal or a fair amount about contamination of soil and water by toxic waste, pollution of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, pollution of drinking water, and the maintenance of the nation’s supply of fresh water for household needs.

Corporate Japan passes on tax cuts to help national recovery

Interesting. Can you imagine the selfish ones in the US ever dreaming of helping the country like this? Think about how the bankers had their entire lifestyle rescued and maintained and how they investing heavily in blocking all reform of their irresponsible activities. The Chamber of Commerce would rather be dead than help America like this.

Japan’s top business lobby gave the government the green light to scrap a planned cut in the corporate tax rate and urged firms to look at shifting production to western Japan as the nation grapples with its worst crisis since World War Two.

Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, said the influential lobby would not fight the government if it decided to shelve a plan to lower the corporate tax rate, which at around 40 percent is among the highest in the industrialized world.

Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano suggested last week the government should reconsider the planned tax cut of 5 percentage points from April to prioritize spending on reconstruction and prevent the country’s already massive debt pile from growing.

HISTORY, ANALYSIS, THEORY
Capitalism was born amidst massive bloodshed and the destruction of societies and cultures. Examples include the pillaging of the Americas from 1492 onwards, along with the accompanying genocides, as well as the destruction of the English “yeoman” independent peasant class in the 1500’s & 1600’s via the enclosure laws. The 20th century added multiple genocides to this record, as well as the increasing destruction of the natural infrastructure, most visible in global warming, the extinction of fish in the ocean, massive clear-cutting of forests, etc.
Intimations that our civilization might be facing collapse are percolating into mass consciousness: “peak oil”, the extinction of humanity, the collapse of US hegemony as “the world’s only super power”, are just a few examples. Chris Hedges wrote an article about the collapse of the “liberal classes”, which argued that there was no prospect for a renewed FDR-style New Deal to reform the current economic crisis. The article below continues in this vein.
Meanwhile the CPUSA continues to argue for the “peaceful transition to Socialism” as the most realistic possibility for the US. I think that’s a great idea, I’m all for it! But as to whether it’s a “realistic” idea, well that’s another matter. The collapse of social orders is not a deterministic process, though I would argue there are laws that govern them. Certainly calling for armed struggle, or “urban guerrilla warfare” against the most powerfully armed ruling class the world has ever known is a recipe for disaster, especially when emitted by 20-somethings with somewhat limited life experience.
On the other hand, asserting that the coming collapse will necessarily be resolved in a non-violent way displays an overconfidence in one’s analysis. The truth is, we simply do not know what will happen as our society collapses. There is every possibility that our rulers will resort to dictatorship and violence to preserve their rule. But maybe there will be a split between the “rational” and insane sectors of the ruling class. In any case, the state of the peoples movements in the US is such that speculation about this is way premature.
Meanwhile, here’s Chris Hedges’ cheerful take on things. I like to read him because someone needs to say the unthinkable, unacceptable ideas.

The Collapse of Globalization

The last people who should be in charge of our food supply or our social and political life, not to mention the welfare of sick children, are corporate capitalists and Wall Street speculators.

The uprisings in the Middle East, the unrest that is tearing apart nations such as the Ivory Coast, the bubbling discontent in Greece, Ireland and Britain and the labor disputes in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio presage the collapse of globalization. They presage a world where vital resources, including food and water, jobs and security, are becoming scarcer and harder to obtain. They presage growing misery for hundreds of millions of people who find themselves trapped in failed states, suffering escalating violence and crippling poverty. They presage increasingly draconian controls and force—take a look at what is being done to Pfc. Bradley Manning—used to protect the corporate elite who are orchestrating our demise.

We must embrace, and embrace rapidly, a radical new ethic of simplicity and rigorous protection of our ecosystem—especially the climate—or we will all be holding on to life by our fingertips. We must rebuild radical socialist movements that demand that the resources of the state and the nation provide for the welfare of all citizens and the heavy hand of state power be employed to prohibit the plunder by the corporate power elite. We must view the corporate capitalists who have seized control of our money, our food, our energy, our education, our press, our health care system and our governance as mortal enemies to be vanquished.

Adequate food, clean water and basic security are already beyond the reach of perhaps half the world’s population. 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 and the Ivory Coast, price increases of this magnitude bring with them malnutrition and starvation. Food prices in the United States have risen over the past three months at an annualized rate of 5 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 inevitable. But it will not necessarily mean more democracy.

The refusal by all of our liberal institutions, including the press, universities, labor and the Democratic Party, to challenge the utopian assumptions that the marketplace should determine human behavior permits corporations and investment firms to continue their assault, including speculating on commodities to drive up food prices. It permits coal, oil and natural gas corporations to stymie alternative energy and emit deadly levels of greenhouse gases. It permits agribusinesses to divert corn and soybeans to ethanol production and crush systems of local, sustainable agriculture. It permits the war industry to drain half of all state expenditures, generate trillions in deficits, and profit from conflicts in the Middle East we have no chance of winning. It permits corporations to evade the most basic controls and regulations to cement into place a global neo-feudalism. The last people who should be in charge of our food supply or our social and political life, not to mention the welfare of sick children, are corporate capitalists and Wall Street speculators. But none of this is going to change until we turn our backs on the Democratic Party, 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. The corporate state has nothing to offer the left or the right but fear. It uses fear—fear of secular humanism or fear of Christian fascists—to turn the population into passive accomplices. As long as we remain afraid nothing will change.

Friedrich von Hayekand Milton Friedman, two of the major architects for unregulated capitalism, should never have been taken seriously. But the wonders of corporate propaganda and corporate funding turned these fringe figures into revered prophets in our universities, think tanks, the press, legislative bodies, courts and corporate boardrooms. We still endure the cant of their discredited economic theories even as Wall Street sucks the U.S. Treasury dry and engages once again in the speculation that has to date evaporated some $40 trillion in global wealth. We are taught by all systems of information to chant the mantra that the market knows best.

It does not matter, as writers such as John Ralston Saulhave pointed out, that every one of globalism’s promises has turned out to be a lie. It does not matter that economic inequality has gotten worse and that most of the world’s wealth has became 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 to avoid paying any taxes. It does not matter that corporations are exploiting and killing the ecosystem on which the human species depends for life. 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—from Ralph Nader to Noam Chomsky—are banished as heretics.

The aim of the corporate state is not to feed, clothe or house the masses, but to shift all economic, social and political power and wealth into the hands of the tiny corporate elite. It is to create a world where the heads of corporations make $900,000 an hour and four-job families struggle to survive. The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions. Charter schools, mercenary armies, a for-profit health insurance industry and outsourcing every facet of government work, from clerical tasks to intelligence, 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.

The ideological proponents of globalism—Thomas Friedman, Daniel Yergin, Ben Bernanke and Anthony Giddens—are stunted products of the self-satisfied, materialistic power elite. They use the utopian ideology of globalism as a moral justification for their own comfort, self-absorption and privilege. They do not question the imperial projects of the nation, the widening disparities in wealth and security between themselves as members of the world’s industrialized elite and the rest of the planet. They embrace globalism because it, like most philosophical and theological ideologies, justifies their privilege and power. They believe that globalism is not an ideology but an expression of an incontrovertible truth. And because the truth has been uncovered, all competing economic and political visions are dismissed from public debate before they are even heard.

The defense of globalism marks a disturbing rupture in American intellectual life. The collapse of the global economy in 1929 discredited the proponents of deregulated markets. It permitted alternative visions, many of them products of the socialist, anarchist and communist movements that once existed in the United States, to be heard. We adjusted to economic and political reality. The capacity to be critical of political and economic assumptions resulted in the New Deal, the dismantling of corporate monopolies and heavy government regulation of banks and corporations. But this time around, because corporations control the organs of mass communication, and because thousands of economists, business school professors, financial analysts, journalists and corporate managers have staked their credibility on the utopianism of globalism, we speak to each other in gibberish. We continue to heed the advice of Alan Greenspan, who believed the third-rate novelist Ayn Rand was an economic prophet, or Larry Summers, whose deregulation of our banks as treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton helped snuff out some $17 trillion in wages, retirement benefits and personal savings. We are assured by presidential candidates like Mitt Romney that more tax breaks for corporations would entice them to move their overseas profits back to the United States to create new jobs. This idea comes from a former hedge fund manager whose personal fortune was amassed largely by firing workers, and only illustrates how rational political discourse has descended into mindless sound bites.

We are seduced by this childish happy talk. Who wants to hear that we are advancing not toward a paradise of happy consumption and personal prosperity but a disaster? Who wants to confront a future in which the rapacious and greedy appetites of our global elite, who have failed to protect the planet, threaten to produce widespread anarchy, famine, environmental catastrophe, nuclear terrorism and wars for diminishing resources? Who wants to shatter the myth that the human race is evolving morally, that it can continue its giddy plundering of non-renewable resources and its profligate levels of consumption, that capitalist expansion is eternal and will never cease?

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. We invest our emotional life in reality shows that celebrate excess, hedonism and wealth. We are tempted by the opulent life enjoyed by the American oligarchy, 1 percent of whom control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

The celebrities and reality television stars whose foibles we know intimately live indolent, self-centered lives in sprawling mansions or exclusive Manhattan apartments. They parade their sculpted and surgically enhanced bodies before us in designer clothes. They devote their lives to self-promotion and personal advancement, consumption, parties and the making of money. They celebrate the cult of the self. And when they have meltdowns we watch with gruesome fascination. This empty existence is the one we are taught to admire and emulate. This is the life, we are told, we can all have. The perversion of values has created a landscape where corporate management by sleazy figures like Donald Trump is confused with leadership and where the ability to accumulate vast sums of money is confused with intelligence. And when we do glimpse the poor or working class on our screens, they are ridiculed and taunted. They are objects of contempt, whether on “The Jerry Springer Show” or “Jersey Shore.”

The incessant chasing after status, personal advancement and wealth has plunged most of the country into unmanageable debt. Families, whose real wages have dropped over the past three decades, live in oversized houses financed by mortgages they often cannot repay. They seek identity through products. They occupy their leisure time in malls buying things they do not need. Those of working age spend their weekdays in little cubicles, if they still have steady jobs, under the heels of corporations that have disempowered American workers and taken control of the state and can lay them off on a whim. It is a desperate scramble. No one wants to be left behind.

The propagandists for globalism are the natural outgrowth of this image-based and culturally illiterate world. They speak about economic and political theory in empty clichés. They cater to our subliminal and irrational desires. They select a few facts and isolated data and use them to dismiss historical, economic, political and cultural realities. They tell us what we want to believe about ourselves. They assure us that we are exceptional as individuals and as a nation. They champion our ignorance as knowledge. They tell us that there is no reason to investigate other ways of organizing and governing our society. Our way of life is the best. Capitalism has made us great. They peddle the self-delusional dream of inevitable human progress. They assure us we will be saved by science, technology and rationality and that humanity is moving inexorably forward.

None of this is true. It is a message that defies human nature and human history. But it is what many desperately want to believe. And until we awake from our collective self-delusion, until we carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the corporate state and sever ourselves from the liberal institutions that serve the corporate juggernaut—especially the Democratic Party—we will continue to be rocketed toward a global catastrophe.

Chris Hedges’ column appears every Monday at Truthdig. Hedges, a fellow at The Nation Institute and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is the author of “Death of the Liberal Class.”

AP / Jacques Brinon

Demonstrators carry an effigy of Ronald McDonald.

Related Entries

Remembering Angelo Herndon

from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs

Original source: First Amendment Center

Imagine, for example, the bravery of a young black man who traveled to the South to enlist members for the Communist Party in the early 1930s. The Chicago Defender called him a “young Communist martyr.”

At age 19, Angelo Herndon moved from Kentucky to Atlanta in 1932 to help recruit for the Communist Party. He was charged under a Reconstruction-era state law prohibiting attempts to incite an insurrection. Herndon had helped organize a hunger-relief protest that consisted of 600 whites and 400 blacks. State officials said he had distributed Communist Party leaflets and had helped organize meetings to increase party membership.

Officials arrested and beat Herndon as he went to his post office box to retrieve his mail. In jail, Herndon suffered immensely. In his autobiography, Let Me Live (1937), he wrote: “For three months, I rotted in the degenerate atmosphere of the jail. There were times when I was afraid for my sanity.”

In January 1933, the state of Georgia sought the death penalty against Herndon. The prosecutors played on the jury’s fears of Communists. They said that the defendant would “lead a red army into this country and destroy our civilization.” Herndon countered that the capitalists used “racial prejudice as a means of exploiting workmen — white and black.” Later that month, a Fulton County Superior Court jury sentenced him to 18-20 years in prison.

Read more here…

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This entry was posted in Background & Analysis, Collapse, Corporations, Corruption, Counterinsurgency, Decline, Events, Finance Capital, Human Rights, Imperialism, Military, Nuclear Power, UltraRight. Bookmark the permalink.

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