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Fundamentalism Kills

People embrace and mourn at the massive flower field laid in memory of victims of Friday’s twin attacks in Norway.

By Chris Hedges

Fundamentalism Kills

The gravest threat we face from terrorism, as the killings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik underscore, comes not from the Islamic world but the radical Christian right and the secular fundamentalists who propagate the bigoted, hateful caricatures of observant Muslims and those defined as our internal enemies. The caricature and fear are spread as diligently by the Christian right as they are by atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Our religious and secular fundamentalists all peddle the same racist filth and intolerance that infected Breivik. This filth has poisoned and degraded our civil discourse. The looming economic and environmental collapse will provide sparks and tinder to transform this coarse language of fundamentalist hatred into, I fear, the murderous rampages experienced by Norway. I worry more about the Anders Breiviks than the Mohammed Attas.

The battle under way in America is not between religion and science. It is not between those who embrace the rational and those who believe in biblical myth. It is not between Western civilization and Islam. The blustering televangelists and the New Atheists, the television pundits and our vaunted Middle East specialists and experts, are all part of our vast, simplistic culture of mindless entertainment. They are in show business. They cannot afford complexity. Religion and science, facts and lies, truth and fiction, are the least of their concerns. They trade insults and clichés like cartoon characters. They don masks. One wears the mask of religion. One wears the mask of science. One wears the mask of journalism. One wears the mask of the terrorism expert. They jab back and forth in predictable sound bites. It is a sterile and useless debate between bizarre subsets of American culture. Some use the scientific theory of evolution to explain the behavior and rules for complex social and political systems, and others insist that the six-day creation story in Genesis is a factual account. The danger we face is not in the quarrel between religion advocates and evolution advocates, but in the widespread mental habit of fundamentalism itself.

We live in a fundamentalist culture. Our utopian visions of inevitable human progress, obsession with endless consumption, and fetish for power and unlimited growth are fed by illusions that are as dangerous as fantasies about the Second Coming. These beliefs are the newest expression of the infatuation with the apocalypse, one first articulated to Western culture by the early church. This apocalyptic vision was as central to the murderous beliefs of the French Jacobins, the Russian Bolsheviks and the German fascists as it was to the early Christians. The historian Arnold Toynbee argues that racism in Anglo-American culture was given a special virulence after the publication of the King James Bible. The concept of “the chosen people” was quickly adopted, he wrote, by British and American imperialists. It fed the disease of white supremacy. It gave them the moral sanction to dominate and destroy other races, from the Native Americans to those on the subcontinent.

Our secular and religious fundamentalists come out of this twisted yearning for the apocalypse and belief in the “chosen people.” They advocate, in the language of religion and scientific rationalism, the divine right of our domination, the clash of civilizations. They assure us that we are headed into the broad, uplifting world of universal democracy and a global free market once we sign on for the subjugation and extermination of those who oppose us. They insist—as the fascists and the communists did—that this call for a new world is based on reason, factual evidence and science or divine will. But schemes for universal human advancement, no matter what language is used to justify them, are always mythic. They are designed to satisfy a yearning for meaning and purpose. They give the proponents of these myths the status of soothsayers and prophets. And, when acted upon, they fill the Earth with mass graves, bombed cities, widespread misery and penal colonies. The extent of this fundamentalism is evident in the strident utterances of the Christian right as well as those of the so-called New Atheists.

“What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry?” Sam Harris, in his book “The End of Faith,” asks in a passage that I suspect Breivik would have enjoyed. “If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.”

“We are at war with Islam,” Harris goes on. “It may not serve our immediate foreign policy objectives for our political leaders to openly acknowledge this fact, but it is unambiguously so. It is not merely that we are at war with an otherwise peaceful religion that has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists. We are at war with precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran, and further elaborated in the literature of the hadith, which recounts the sayings and teachings of the Prophet.”

Harris assures us that “the Koran mandates such hatred,” that “the problem is with Islam itself.” He writes that “Islam, more than any other religion human beings have devised, has all the makings of a thoroughgoing cult of death.”

A culture that exalts its own moral certitude and engages in uncritical self-worship at the expense of conscience commits moral and finally physical suicide. Our fundamentalists busy themselves with their pathetic little monuments to Jesus, to reason, to science, to Western civilization and to new imperial glory. They peddle a binary view of the world that divides reality between black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. We are taught in a fundamentalist culture to view other human beings, especially Muslims, not as ends but as means. We abrogate the right to exterminate all who do not conform.

Fundamentalists have no interest in history, culture or social or linguistic differences. They are a remarkably uncurious, self-satisfied group. Anything outside their own narrow bourgeois life, petty concerns and physical comforts bores them. They are provincials. They do not investigate or seek to understand the endemic flaws in human nature. The only thing that matters is the coming salvation of humanity, or at least that segment of humanity they deem worthy of salvation. They peddle a route to assured collective deliverance. And they sanction violence and the physical extermination of other human beings to get there.

All fundamentalists worship the same gods—themselves. They worship the future prospect of their own empowerment. They view this empowerment as a necessity for the advancement and protection of civilization or the Christian state. They sanctify the nation. They hold up the ability the industrial state has handed to them as a group and as individuals to shape the world according to their vision as evidence of their own superiority. Fundamentalists express the frustrations of a myopic and morally stunted middle class. They cling, under their religious or scientific veneer, to the worst values of the petite bourgeois. They are suburban mutations, products of an American landscape that has been perverted by a destruction of community and a long and successful war against complex thought. The self-absorbed worldview of these fundamentalists brings smiles of indulgence from the corporatists who profit, at our expense, from the obliteration of moral and intellectual inquiry.

Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s “Ulysses” acidly condemned all schemes to purify the world and serve human progress through violence. He said that “history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Dedalus in the same passage responded to the schoolmaster Deasy’s claim that “the ways of the Creator are not our ways,” and that “all history moves towards one great goal, the manifestation of God.” A soccer goal is jubilantly scored by boys in the yard outside the school window as Deasy expounds on divine will. God, Dedalus tells Deasy as the players yell in glee over the goal, is no more than the screams from the schoolyard —“a shout in the street.” Joyce, like Samuel Beckett, excoriated the Western belief in historical teleology—the notion that history has a purpose or is moving toward a goal. The absurdity of this belief, they wrote, always feeds fanatics and undermines the possibility of human community. These writers warned us about all those—religious and secular—who call for salvation through history.

There are tens of millions of Americans who in their desperation and insecurity yearn for the assurance and empowerment offered by a clearly defined war against an external evil. They are taught in our fundamentalist culture that this evil is the root of their misery. They embrace a war against this evil as a solution to the drift in their lives, their economic deprivation and the moral and economic morass of the nation. They see in this conflict with these dark forces a way to overcome their own alienation. They find in it certitude, meaning and structure. They believe that once this evil is vanquished, an evil that extends from Muslims to undocumented workers, liberals, intellectuals, homosexuals and feminists, they can transform America into a land of plenty and virtue. But this fundamentalism, which cloaks itself in the jargon of scientific rationality, Christian piety and nativism, is a recipe for fanaticism. All those who embrace other ways of being and believing are viewed, as Breivik apparently viewed his victims, as contaminates that must be eliminated.

This fundamentalist ideology, because it is contradictory and filled with myth, is immune to critiques based on reason, fact and logic. This is part of its appeal. It obliterates doubt, nuance, intellectual and scientific rigor and moral conscience. All has been predicted or decided. Life is reduced to following a simple black-and-white road map. The contradictions in these belief systems—for example the championing of the “rights of the unborn” while calling for wider use of the death penalty or the damning of Muslim terrorists while promoting pre-emptive war, which delivers more death and misery in the Middle East than any jihadist organization—inoculate followers from rational discourse. Life becomes a crusade.

All fundamentalists, religious and secular, are ignoramuses. They follow the lines of least resistance. They already know what is true and what is untrue. They do not need to challenge their own beliefs or investigate the beliefs of others. They do not need to bother with the hard and laborious work of religious, linguistic, historical and cultural understanding. They do not need to engage in self-criticism or self-reflection. It spoils the game. It ruins the entertainment. They see all people, and especially themselves, as clearly and starkly defined. The world is divided into those who embrace or reject their belief systems. Those who support these belief systems are good and forces for human progress. Those who oppose these belief systems are stupid, at best, and usually evil. Fundamentalists have no interest in real debate, real dialogue, real intellectual thought. Fundamentalism, at its core, is about self-worship. It is about feeling holier, smarter and more powerful than everyone else. And this comes directly out of the sickness of our advertising age and its exaltation of the cult of the self. It is a product of our deep and unreflective cultural narcissism.

Our faith in the inevitability of human progress constitutes an inability to grasp the tragic nature of history. Human history is one of constant conflict between the will to power and the will to nurture and protect life. Our greatest achievements are always intertwined with our greatest failures. Our most exalted accomplishments are always coupled with our most egregious barbarities. Science and industry serve as instruments of progress as well as instruments of destruction. The Industrial Age has provided feats of engineering and technology, yet it has also destroyed community, spread the plague of urbanization, uprooted us all, turned human beings into cogs and made possible the total war and wholesale industrial killing that has marked the last century. These technologies, even as we see them as our salvation, are rapidly destroying the ecosystem on which we depend for life.

There is no linear movement in history. Morality and ethics are static. Human nature does not change. Barbarism is part of the human condition and we can all succumb to its basest dimensions. This is the tragedy of history. Human will is morally ambiguous. The freedom to act as often results in the construction of new prisons and systems of repression as it does the safeguarding of universal human rights. The competing forces of love and of power define us, what Sigmund Freud termed Eros and Thanatos. Societies have, throughout history, ignored calls for altruism and mutuality in times of social upheaval and turmoil. They have wasted their freedom in the self-destructive urges that currently envelope us. These urges are very human and very dangerous. They are fired by utopian visions of inevitable human progress. When this progress stalls or is reversed, when the dreams of advancement and financial stability are thwarted, when a people confronts its own inevitable downward spiral, dark forces of vengeance and retribution are unleashed. Fundamentalists serve an evil that is unseen and unexamined. And the longer this evil is ignored the more dangerous and deadly it becomes. Those who seek through violence the Garden of Eden usher in the apocalypse.

Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”

Copyright © 2011 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

 

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Yang over Yin? Multi-dimensional Thinking

By Jon Bourn

Memory forms character, it cannot be made into stigma.

As with the void of politics which holds character in place as the illusion of prominence only to stigmatize a meditative media as propaganda. Instead of learning from these characters, they are used to prevent awakening to them and the horrible results they have offered the working people. Middle class begins when you realize these illusions. Those who adapt their belief to them, travel into the void as far as they conceive now reigning in their stigma in monetary form.

In the book, “In Search of the Miraculous,” P. D. Ouspensky writes about G. I. Gurdjieff who explains how stigma and our instincts are understood. His example was to drop change out of his pocket as he walked while you walked behind him, and of a particular group, at least one would immediately pick it up to alert Gurdjieff that he has dropped something. In essence, this shows how what he referred to as Astrology has embedded our neurons.

In relation to Astrology, the stigmas of a political party are formed on this basis where memory consumes stigma at the behest of acceptable behavior promulgated as a fury to be held high. The mirror is plain to see for those who see through it, for what is considered elite in today’s standards is visibly involved, such as revolt occurring in Wisconsin and the Koch Industries who have a fascist influence which can be best described as monetary dominance. “If we cannot keep our power in place, then others must be punished by our power.”

What is strongly in power on the right is also working to allude on the left as when the Vanity Fair is promulgated on the Jon Stewart show downplaying truth for all to see. It seems that the implication of gambling is being painted on the working people as cover.

Character does not belong but as an art. Main-streamy media propagates art as stigma to hide character. It is greedy extremists and psychopaths that help to create the chaos that has resulted. It is the overwhelming urge for character where none truly exists. Glenn Beck is a perfect example. Character encompasses a macro-ethos of all our learnings stemming out of the cataclysms on earth which are hidden from us with overlaying blackboard stigmas.

This monstrous ideology of control is now stigmatized beyond anything reasonable for society to exist, and to implement unity in a perceived commerce. It’s basic functions do not operate and we are left with the pony show. It is only referred to as Noam Chomsky places the context in a cold code word stability when it is the ideology of gods painted in the sky perpetuating pathocracy and pathological disorder.

Upon realizing the relation to social mathematics, we may see both the disease, and the cure, while knowing of its nature. The truth is that we are all in the same sinking ship as David DeGraw writes in relation to the instituted divide and conquer strategy in place and the extremists effects that pervade official culture.

To avoid the final delusion of ideology, we must see its power for what it truly is. It is comparable to condition a priori to environment and the mythos generation, to make the stigma amber as a doctrine. No condition can exist without memory, the vast character of history that represents the wave of time from cataclysm to the next. A medicine man sees condition as environment, not a priori to form character, but to see where change truly exists.

Just as Gilad Atzmon reveals the naked condition by calling a spade a spade, monetary force alludes the essence of the religious Faust where reaction dwells upon the painted bunting.

It is up to us to see the dropping of change for what it is. A character where none exists. The essence of the psychopaths. The gods of war.

The Positivity of Objectivity and the Time of Transition

By Bernhard Guenther

The Positivity of Objectivity and the Time of Transition

“Some people seem to mistake objectivity for negativity and wishful thinking for positivity. Most of what people see as negative or positive are their subjective projections and opinions that don’t really reflect the world as it is. Without Truth and Objectivity there won’t be a change for the “better”, nor a raise in consciousness, within and without.”

Every once in a while I get a message or comment on facebook from someone asking me why I have such a “negative” view of the world, referring to some of the posts and articles I put up on my wall. He or she then goes on telling me that I should “lighten” up, be more “positive”, focus on “love” and the good things life has to offer, because we create what we “see”. I usually respond back by asking, what is so negative about posting information that exposes the lies we’re being fed and told, be it about 9/11, Zionism, the genocide in Gaza, or the fact that many people in places of high power (political, corporate, religious or even in science and media) are psychopaths with no conscience who couldn’t care less about your or the earth’s well-being?

This is not being negative, but simply showing the situation as it is. Anyone who is willing to do a bit of reading and research without being attached to a conditioned world view can see this. Moreover, these topics and how they affect us and the world at large won’t go away by ignoring them or by focusing on more “pleasant” aspects of our reality. Actually by ignoring them, one is doing more harm to the world and feeding entropy as one is putting oneself in a subjective tunnel vision of wishful thinking instead of becoming more objectively aware and seeing the world as it IS, not as we like it or assume it to be. As I wrote in another article: a “shift in consciousness” and “awakening” implies a higher state of awareness, which means to become more aware of it all, which implies again to see the world and oneself more objectively, without blinders on. This doesn’t happen by itself, but requires sincere effort and work to separate truth from lies, within and without.

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The Seduction of the Knowledge-Based Society

January 8, 2011 1 comment

By Jeff Gates

The Seduction of the Knowledge-Based Society

The most promising trend in geopolitics is the transition from hydrocarbon-based economies to knowledge-based societies. Leadership for that change is emerging from Arab nations.

The appeal of the Knowledge Society is apparent. Who could object to nations preparing their citizens for the 21st century? Yet unless knowledge is changed, the result could worsen an already dangerous situation.

The sharing of values and knowledge has long been the best way to bridge cultures and promote peace. That strategy is now essential to counter the success of those promoting The Clash of Civilizations.

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are breaking new ground with education models that build on state-of-the-art information and communication technologies.

This is the inevitable path for the Middle East and North Africa. Yet despite the best of intentions, if knowledge itself is not changed, the impact on Arab societies could aggravate trends that undermine progress.

Just consider the costs when knowledge is corrupted….

How Zionists Corrupt Knowledge

Those who induced the U.S. to war in the Middle East deployed knowledge like a weapon. With lengthy pre-staging, a narrative emerged that made it appear plausible — even desirable — to invade Iraq in response to the provocation of 911.

In retrospect, we now know that the knowledge on which the U.S. relied was false. All of it.

Iraqi WMD. Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda. Iraqi meetings in Prague with Al Qaeda. Iraqi yellow cake uranium from Niger. Iraqi mobile biological laboratories. All false, all traceable to pro-Israelis and all portrayed as true by media outlets dominated by pro-Israelis.

The Knowledge Society holds great potential to connect the Arab world globally. And to build with the West cross-border understanding and empathy. That is the Knowledge Society at its best. At its worse, knowledge can be exploited to manipulate behavior.

The ongoing manipulation of thought and emotion in the U.S. typifies the danger. When Arab nations grasp the common source of the false knowledge that brought war to the region, both the perils and the promise of the Knowledge Society will become apparent.

Yet even the risk of being seduced to war understates the threat. In the modern era, psychological operations (“psy-ops”) are routinely deployed to create consensus opinions and generally accepted truths — akin to the truth of Iraqi WMD.

Mindset Manipulation

The modern-day battlefield is the shared field of consciousness. Where else could consensus opinions reside? Or generally accepted truths. There too are found “field-based” phenomena such as credibility and celebrity that are also deployed to exploit thought and emotion.

When waging field-based warfare, the power of association ranks near the top as effective weaponry. For example, with global public opinion the target, Zionists arranged for U.N. testimony in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin Powell who vouched for intelligence showing that Iraq had mobile biological weapons laboratories.

When the U.N. Security Council and a global television audience watched the testimony of this former four-star general, what they saw was his reputation for honesty. By the power of association, his credibility “bled over” to grant legitimacy to phony intelligence.

General Powell was only a celebrity prop in an elaborately staged play meant to enhance the plausibility of a global war on terrorism. That war began six weeks later.

Where other than in plain sight could such duplicity succeed? You can be watching field-based warfare and still not see it.

Even now, Powell may not yet grasp how two field-based properties (credibility and celebrity) were key to the psy-ops that seduced the U.S. to war for an Israeli agenda.

Freedom from Deceit

Mental and emotional exploitation lie at the heart of how knowledge is corrupted to catalyze conflicts, manipulate behavior and influence affairs from afar.

With a solid grasp of the methodology of deceit, the Knowledge Society can expose and, by design, displace those complicit in this cunning form of combat.

In preparing for the 21st Century, Arab nations have an opportunity to free their citizens from the exploitation of those who for centuries have abused knowledge for their selfish ends.

Much of that abuse now proceeds through the unfettered freedom allowed finance. Educated over decades in a “consensus” mindset, lawmakers worldwide now believe in financial freedom as a proxy for personal freedom — regardless of the real-world results.

For the Knowledge Society to realize its potential, modern-day information and communication technologies must make these various forms of duplicity apparent and the perpetrators transparent.

Only with widespread knowledge of how facts can be displaced with false beliefs can the Knowledge Society be protected from such treachery.

Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk, and The Ownership Solution. Read other articles by Jeff, or visit Jeff’s website.

A Recipe For Fascism

November 8, 2010 1 comment

Chimera

© unknown

By Chris Hedges

A Recipe For Fascism

American politics, as the midterm elections demonstrated, have descended into the irrational. On one side stands a corrupt liberal class, bereft of ideas and unable to respond coherently to the collapse of the global economy, the dismantling of our manufacturing sector and the deadly assault on the ecosystem. On the other side stands a mass of increasingly bitter people whose alienation, desperation and rage fuel emotionally driven and incoherent political agendas. It is a recipe for fascism.

More than half of those identified in a poll by the Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports as “mainstream Americans” now view the tea party favorably. The other half, still grounded in a reality-based world, is passive and apathetic. The liberal class wastes its energy imploring Barack Obama and the Democrats to promote sane measures including job creation programs, regulation as well as criminal proceedings against the financial industry, and an end to our permanent war economy. Those who view the tea party favorably want to tear the governmental edifice down, with the odd exception of the military and the security state, accelerating our plunge into a nation of masters and serfs. The corporate state, unchallenged, continues to turn everything, including human beings and the natural world, into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse.

All sides of the political equation are lackeys for Wall Street. They sanction, through continued deregulation, massive corporate profits and the obscene compensation and bonuses for corporate managers. Most of that money—hundreds of billions of dollars—is funneled upward from the U.S. Treasury. The Sarah Palins and the Glenn Becks use hatred as a mobilizing passion to get the masses, fearful and angry, to call for their own enslavement as well as to deny uncomfortable truths, including global warming. Our dispossessed working class and beleaguered middle class are vulnerable to this manipulation because they can no longer bear the chaos and uncertainty that come with impoverishment, hopelessness and loss of control. They have retreated into a world of illusion, one peddled by right-wing demagogues, which offers a reassuring emotional consistency. This consistency appears to protect them from the turmoil in which they have been forced to live. The propaganda of a Palin or a Beck may insult common sense, but, for a growing number of Americans, common sense has lost its validity.

The liberal class, which remains rooted in a world of fact, rationalizes placating corporate power as the only practical response. It understands the systems of corporate power. It knows the limitations and parameters. And it works within them. The result, however, is the same. The entire spectrum of the political landscape collaborates in the strangulation of our disenfranchised working class, the eroding of state power, the criminal activity of the financial class and the paralysis of our political process.

Commerce cannot be the sole guide of human behavior. This utopian fantasy, embraced by the tea party as well as the liberal elite, defies 3,000 years of economic history. It is a chimera. This ideology has been used to justify the disempowerment of the working class, destroy our manufacturing capacity, and ruthlessly gut social programs that once protected and educated the working and middle class. It has obliterated the traditional liberal notion that societies should be configured around the common good. All social and cultural values are now sacrificed before the altar of the marketplace.

The failure to question the utopian assumptions of globalization has left us in an intellectual vacuum. Regulations, which we have dismantled, were the bulwarks that prevented unobstructed brutality and pillaging by the powerful and protected democracy. It was a heavily regulated economy, as well as labor unions and robust liberal institutions, which made the American working class the envy of the industrialized world. And it was the loss of those unions, along with a failure to protect our manufacturing, which transformed this working class into a permanent underclass clinging to part-time or poorly paid jobs without protection or benefits.

The “inevitability” of globalization has permitted huge pockets of the country to be abandoned economically. It has left tens of millions of Americans in economic ruin. Private charity is now supposed to feed and house the newly minted poor, a job that once, the old liberal class argued, belonged to the government. As John Ralston Saul in “The Collapse of Globalization” points out, “the role of charity should be to fill the cracks of society, the imaginative edges, to go where the public good hasn’t yet focused or can’t. Dealing with poverty is the basic responsibility of the state.” But the state no longer has the interest or the resources to protect us. And the next target slated for elimination is Social Security.

That human society has an ethical foundation that must be maintained by citizens and the state is an anathema to utopian ideologues of all shades. They always demand that we sacrifice human beings for a distant goal. The propagandists of globalization—from Lawrence Summers to Francis Fukuyama to Thomas Friedman—do for globalization and the free market what Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky did for Marxism. They sell us a dream. These elite interpreters of globalism are the vanguard, the elect, the prophets, who alone grasp a great absolute truth and have the right to impose this truth on a captive people no matter what the cost. Human suffering is dismissed as the price to be paid for the coming paradise. The response of these propagandists to the death rattles around them is to continue to speak in globalization’s empty rhetoric and use state resources to service a dead system. They lack the vision to offer any alternative. They can function only as systems managers. They will hollow out the state to sustain a casino capitalism that is doomed to fail. And what they offer as a solution is as irrational as the visions of a Christian America harbored by many within the tea party.

We are ruled by huge corporate monopolies that replicate the political and economic power, on a vastly expanded scale, of the old trading companies of the 17th and 18th centuries. Wal-Mart’s gross annual revenues of $250 billion are greater than those of most small nation-states. The political theater funded by the corporate state is composed of hypocritical and impotent liberals, the traditional moneyed elite, and a disenfranchised and angry underclass that is being encouraged to lash out at the bankrupt liberal institutions and the government that once protected them. The tea party rabble, to placate their anger, will also be encouraged by their puppet masters to attack helpless minorities, from immigrants to Muslims to homosexuals. All these political courtiers, however, serve the interests of the corporate state and the utopian ideology of globalism. Our social and political ethic can be summed up in the mantra let the market decide. Greed is good.

The old left—the Wobblies, the Congress of Industrial Workers (CIO), the Socialist and Communist parties, the fiercely independent publications such as Appeal to Reason and The Masses—would have known what to do with the rage of our dispossessed. It used anger at injustice, corporate greed and state repression to mobilize Americans to terrify the power elite on the eve of World War I. This was the time when socialism was not a dirty word in America but a promise embraced by millions who hoped to create a world where everyone would have a chance. The steady destruction of the movements of the left was carefully orchestrated. They fell victim to a mixture of sophisticated forms of government and corporate propaganda, especially during the witch hunts for communists, and overt repression. Their disappearance means we lack the vocabulary of class warfare and the militant organizations, including an independent press, with which to fight back.

We believe, like the Spaniards in the 16th century who pillaged Latin America for gold and silver, that money, usually the product of making and trading goods, is real. The Spanish empire, once the money ran out and it no longer produced anything worth buying, went up in smoke. Today’s use in the United States of some $12 trillion in government funds to refinance our class of speculators is a similar form of self-deception. Money markets are still treated, despite the collapse of the global economy, as a legitimate source of trade and wealth creation. The destructive power of financial bubbles, as well as the danger of an unchecked elite, was discovered in ancient Athens and detailed more than a century ago in Emile Zola’s novel “Money.” But we seem determined to find out this self-destructive force for ourselves. And when the second collapse comes, as come it must, we will revisit wrenching economic and political tragedies forgotten in the mists of history.

Chris Hedges, who writes a weekly column for Truthdig, is the author of “Death of the Liberal Class.”

Related:

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946

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