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Chris Hedges on Americans’ Yearning for Fascism

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Hedges: Is America Yearning for Fascism? | News & Politics | AlterNet.

This article first appeared on TruthDig.

The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.

“We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.

The unraveling of America mirrors the unraveling of Yugoslavia. The Balkan war was not caused by ancient ethnic hatreds. It was caused by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. The petty criminals and goons who took power harnessed the anger and despair of the unemployed and the desperate. They singled out convenient scapegoats from ethnic Croats to Muslims to Albanians to Gypsies. They set in motion movements that unleashed a feeding frenzy leading to war and self-immolation. There is little difference between the ludicrous would-be poet Radovan Karadzic, who was a figure of ridicule in Sarajevo before the war, and the moronic Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. There is little difference between the Oath Keepers and the Serbian militias. We can laugh at these people, but they are not the fools. We are.

The longer we appeal to the Democrats, who are servants of corporate interests, the more stupid and ineffectual we become. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe the country is in decline, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and they are right. Only 25 percent of those polled said the government can be trusted to protect the interests of the American people. If we do not embrace this outrage and distrust as our own it will be expressed through a terrifying right-wing backlash.

“It is time for us to stop talking about right and left,” McKinney told me. “The old political paradigm that serves the interests of the people who put us in this predicament will not be the paradigm that gets us out of this. I am a child of the South. Janet Napolitano tells me I need to be afraid of people who are labeled white supremacists but I was raised around white supremacists. I am not afraid of white supremacists. I am concerned about my own government. The Patriot Act did not come from the white supremacists, it came from the White House and Congress. Citizens United did not come from white supremacists, it came from the Supreme Court. Our problem is a problem of governance. I am willing to reach across traditional barriers that have been skillfully constructed by people who benefit from the way the system is organized.”

We are bound to a party that has betrayed every principle we claim to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy, to a demand for quality and affordable public education, to a concern for the jobs of the working class. And the hatred expressed within right-wing movements for the college-educated elite, who created or at least did nothing to halt the financial debacle, is not misplaced. Our educated elite, wallowing in self-righteousness, wasted its time in the boutique activism of political correctness as tens of millions of workers lost their jobs. The shouting of racist and bigoted words at black and gay members of Congress, the spitting on a black member of the House, the tossing of bricks through the windows of legislators’ offices, are part of the language of rebellion. It is as much a revolt against the educated elite as it is against the government. The blame lies with us. We created the monster.

When someone like Palin posts a map with cross hairs on the districts of Democrats, when she says “Don’t Retreat, Instead — RELOAD!” there are desperate people cleaning their weapons who listen. When Christian fascists stand in the pulpits of megachurches and denounce Barack Obama as the Antichrist, there are messianic believers who listen. When a Republican lawmaker shouts “baby killer” at Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, there are violent extremists who see the mission of saving the unborn as a sacred duty. They have little left to lose. We made sure of that. And the violence they inflict is an expression of the violence they endure.

These movements are not yet full-blown fascist movements. They do not openly call for the extermination of ethnic or religious groups. They do not openly advocate violence. But, as I was told by Fritz Stern, a scholar of fascism who has written about the origins of Nazism, “In Germany there was a yearning for fascism before fascism was invented.” It is the yearning that we now see, and it is dangerous. If we do not immediately reincorporate the unemployed and the poor back into the economy, giving them jobs and relief from crippling debt, then the nascent racism and violence that are leaping up around the edges of American society will become a full-blown conflagration.

Left unchecked, the hatred for radical Islam will transform itself into a hatred for Muslims. The hatred for undocumented workers will become a hatred for Mexicans and Central Americans. The hatred for those not defined by this largely white movement as American patriots will become a hatred for African-Americans. The hatred for liberals will morph into a hatred for all democratic institutions, from universities to government agencies to the press. Our continued impotence and cowardice, our refusal to articulate this anger and stand up in open defiance to the Democrats and the Republicans, will see us swept aside for an age of terror and blood.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, is a senior fellow at the Nation Institute. He writes a regular column for TruthDig every Monday. His latest book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

© 2010 Truthdig All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/146226/

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BOYCOTT THE SUPERBOWL & READ A FREAKIN’ BOOK!

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In Theory of the Leisure Class, the prescient and brilliant analysis of American society, Thorstein Veblen devotes a chapter to “Devout Observances.” He’s not referring to Lent, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, communion, sacred processions or reading the Bible. He’s referring to this nation’s obsession with sports, which at the turn of the LAST century was already proving to be a “secular religion.” The book was published ca. 1900.

Sports as a diversion from reality….
Here’s an interview with a contemporary social critic with a similar message.

Mark Dice’s The Resistance Manifesto

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Rep. Ron Paul on Elections, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights

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Written by chinarose

February 4, 2010 at 5:14 am

Submedia’s PreLube to the Olympic Resistance

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Celebrate The Ides of April: Steal Something from Work Day

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Since we are now donating 25% of our paychecks to provide Goldman-Sach’s CEO’s with fur-lined limousines, sold golid toothpicks and cocaine subscriptions, why not celebrate Tax Day (The Ides of April) by STEALING! It worked for the bankers… so let’s follow their example — with THEFT. Just think of yourself as a future Treasure Secretary as you sneak those office supplies – or equipment – out of the building. Embezzlement isn’t embezzlement anymore, it’s not even creative accounting. It’s success, man!

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Turning King’s Dream into a Nightmare (Garnishing the Sepulchers of the Righteous)

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from Truthdig

Turning King’s Dream Into a Nightmare

Posted on Jan 17, 2010

By Chris Hedges

Martin Luther King Day has become a yearly ritual to turn a black radical into a red-white-and-blue icon. It has become a day to celebrate ourselves for “overcoming” racism and “fulfilling” King’s dream. It is a day filled with old sound bites about little black children and little white children that, given the state of America, would enrage King. Most of our great social reformers, once they are dead, are kidnapped by the power elite and turned into harmless props of American glory. King, after all, was not only a socialist but fiercely opposed to American militarism and acutely aware, especially at the end of his life, that racial justice without economic justice was a farce.

“King’s words have been appropriated by the people who rejected him in the 1960s,” said Professor James Cone, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York and who wrote the book “Martin & Malcolm & America.” “So by making his birthday a national holiday, everybody claims him, even though they opposed him while he was alive. They have frozen King in 1963 with his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. That is the one that can best be manipulated and misinterpreted. King also said, shortly after the Selma march and the riots in Watts, ‘They have turned my dream into a nightmare.’ ”

“Mainstream culture appeals to King’s accent on love, as if it can be separated from justice,” Cone said. “For King, justice defines love. It can’t be separated. They are intricately locked together. This is why he talked about agape love and not some sentimental love. For King, love was militant. He saw direct action and civil disobedience in the face of injustice as a political expression of love because it was healing the society. It exposed its wounds and its hurt. This accent on justice for the poor is what mainstream society wants to separate from King’s understanding of love. But for King, justice and love belong together.”

Malcolm X, whose refusal to appeal to the white ruling class makes it impossible to turn him into an establishment icon, converged with King in the last months of his life.  But it would be wrong to look at this convergence as a domestication of Malcolm X.  Malcolm influenced King as deeply as King influenced Malcolm. These men each grasped at the end of their lives that the face of racism comes in many forms and that the issue was not simply sitting at a lunch counter with whites—blacks in the North could in theory do this—but being able to afford the lunch. King and Malcolm were deeply informed by their faith. They adhered to a belief system, one Christian and the other Muslim, which demanded strict moral imperatives and justice. And because neither man sold out or compromised with the power elite, they were killed. Should King and Malcolm have lived, they would have become pariahs.

King, when he began his calls for integration, argued that hard work and perseverance could make the American dream available for rich and poor, white and black. King grew up in the black middle class, was well educated and culturally refined.  He admitted that until his early 20s, life had been wrapped up for him like “a Christmas present.” He naively thought that integration was the answer. He trusted, ultimately, in the white power structure to recognize the need for justice for all of its citizens. He shared, as most in his college-educated black class did, the same value system and preoccupation with success as the whites with whom he sought to integrate.

But this was not Malcolm’s America. Malcolm grew up in urban poverty, dropped out of school in eighth grade, was shuttled between foster homes, abused, hustled on city streets and ended up in prison. There was no evidence in his hard life of a political order that acknowledged his humanity or dignity. The white people he knew did not exhibit a conscience or compassion. And in the ghetto, where survival was a daily battle, nonviolence was not a credible option.

“No, I’m not an American,” Malcolm said. “I’m one of 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the … victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy. So I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver—no, not I! I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare!”

King, especially after he confronted the insidious racism in Chicago, came to appreciate Malcolm’s insights. He soon began telling Christians that “any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that cripple them, is a spiritually moribund religion in need of new blood.”

“King began to see that Malcolm was right in what he was saying about white people,” Cone told me. “Malcolm saw that white people did not have a conscience that could be appealed to to bring justice for African-Americans. King realized that near the end of his life. He began to call most whites ‘unconscious racists.’ ”

The crude racist rhetoric of the past is now considered impolite. We pretend there is equality and equal opportunity while ignoring the institutional and economic racism that infects our inner cities and fills our prisons, where a staggering one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are incarcerated. There are more African-American men behind bars than in college. “The cell block has replaced the auction block,” the poet Yusef Komunyakaa writes.

The fact that prison and urban ghettos are populated primarily with people of color is not an accident. It is a calculated decision by those who wield economic and political control. For the bottom third of African-Americans, many of whom live in these segregated enclaves of misery and deprivation, little has changed over the past few decades; indeed, life has often gotten worse.

In the last months of his life, King began to appropriate Malcolm’s language, reminding listeners that the ghetto was a “system of internal colonialism.” “The purpose of the slum,” King said in a speech at the Chicago Freedom Festival, “is to confine those who have no power and perpetuate their powerlessness. … The slum is little more than a domestic colony which leaves its inhabitants dominated politically, exploited economically, segregated and humiliated at every turn.” The chief problem is economic, King concluded, and the solution is to restructure the whole society.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were, as King and Malcolm knew, meaningless slogans if there was no possibility of a decent education, a safe neighborhood, a job or a living wage. King and Malcolm were also acutely aware that the permanent war economy was directly linked to the perpetuation of racism and poverty at home and often abroad.

In a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam” he gave at Riverside Church a year before his assassination, King called America the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” a quote that won’t make it into many Martin Luther King Day celebrations. King’s strident denunciation of the Vietnam War and economic injustice at the end of his life saw many white liberals, members of his own staff, as well as allies within the political power structure, turn against him. King and Malcolm, in the final days of their lives, were lonely men.

“There are many ways in which Malcolm’s message is more relevant today,” said Cone, who also wrote “A Black Theology of Liberation.” “King’s message is almost entirely dependent on white people responding to his appeals for nonviolence, love and integration. He depends on a positive response. Malcolm spoke to black people empowering themselves. He said to black people, ‘You may not be responsible for getting yourself into the situation you are in, but if want to get out you will have to get yourself out. The people who put you in there are not going to get you out.’ King was appealing to whites to help get black people out. But King gradually began to realize that African-Americans could not depend on whites as much as he had thought.

“King did not speak to black self-hate and Malcolm did,” Cone said. “King was a political revolutionary. He transformed the social and political life of America. You would not have Barack Obama today if it had not been for King. Malcolm was a cultural revolutionary. He did not change the social or political structures, but he changed how black people thought about themselves. He transformed black thinking. He made blacks love themselves at a time when they hated themselves. The movement from being Negro and colored to being black, that’s Malcolm. Black studies in the universities and black caucuses, that’s Malcolm. King never would have done black studies. He taught a course at Morehouse on social and political philosophers and did not include a black person. He didn’t have W. E. B. Du Bois or Frederick Douglass. None of them. He had all the white figures like Plato and Aristotle. Malcolm helped black people to love themselves.”

King and Malcolm would have excoriated a nation that spends $3 trillion waging imperial wars in the Middle East and trillions more to fill the accounts of Wall Street banks while abandoning its poor. They would have denounced the liberals who mouth platitudes about justice for the poor while supporting a party that slavishly serves the interests of the moneyed elite. These American prophets spoke on behalf of people who had nothing left with which to compromise. And for this reason they did not compromise.

“You can’t drive a knife into a man’s back nine inches, pull it out six inches, and call it progress,” Malcolm said.

“I’ve decided what I’m going to do,” King preached at one of his last sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church. “I ain’t going to kill nobody in Mississippi … [and] in Vietnam. I ain’t going to study war no more. And you know what? I don’t care who doesn’t like what I say about it. I don’t care who criticizes me in an editorial. I don’t care what white person or Negro criticizes me. I’m going to stick with the best. On some positions, cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when a true follower of Jesus Christ must take a stand that’s neither safe nor politic nor popular but he must take that stand because it is right. Every now and then we sing about it, ‘If you are right, God will fight your battle.’ I’m going to stick by the best during these evil times.”

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A Call for an Earth Insurgency: Start Today

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EARTH MEANDERS: Ecological Overshoot: Climate, Inequity and Corruption

By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth’s Newsdesk

We must hold onto our humanity as we collapse and renew ourselvesA call for reluctant Earth revolutionaries to unite and slay the economic growth machine consuming ecological being.
A disease is ravaging Earth as ever more people, consume ever more, destroying natural ecosystems that are our shared habitat. In a few short centuries the violent, expansionist and deeply ecologically unsustainable Western mindset has become virtually universally accepted. The meaning of life is more, ever more of everything, at the expense of a finite biosphere. The emptiness of such a vacuous worldview is revealed through changing climate, devastating human inequities and an irredeemably corrupt economic system.

More than just a climate crisis, humanity is facing profound over-population and injustice that are spurring dozens of inter-related ecological and social crises. Billions suffer as their basic human needs go unmet, while billions more gorge themselves. Forests, prairies, streams, rivers, estuaries, wetlands, lakes, soil, oceans, air and all the rest are all life’s flesh and blood. Humanity, Earth and kindred species have entered the late stage condition of ecological overshoot — whereby our cumulative demands upon ecosystems exceed their life-giving capacity and cause them to collapse.

We are eating creation. Hardly anyone is thinking or acting at the necessary scale to avert global ecological Armageddon. Market based solutions are pervasive with corruption and inequity. Nothing we do is going to maintain an affluent life, as it is now for some. Widespread economic decline will certainly accompany abrupt climate change and global ecosystem collapse; indeed, it has begun. If existing political systems are unable to deal with the inevitable collapse of the growth machine, at the same time as pursuing rigorous environmental policy-making, then new political structures will be necessary.

A stewardship revolution that maintains life of some worthy, habitable sort is possible. Surely in a free country whose liberty came from such means, we can talk about revolutionary violence, as Thomas Jefferson said would continue to be necessary. “The blood of tyrants and patriots must flow to renew the soil.” What could be more glorious than fighting, and perhaps dying, for the Earth, and maybe even succeeding in saving her (and us)?

It is time for a credible revolutionary threat to protect the biosphere. What is needed is a steady ratcheting up of pressure – protests, sit-ins, sabotage, assassinations — giving opponents every opportunity to respond to reasoned arguments – and culminating in guerrilla warfare and whatever else is necessary to save the Earth. If a few thousand insurrectionists can tie up the American military in Iraq, think what dedicated, highly decentralized and autonomous groups of tens of thousands of Earth insurgents could do to bring down industrial capitalism and the Earth eating growth machine.

People power protest culminating in an Earth Revolution needs to be done urgently yet thoughtfully. Not speaking of mob rule or rioting — that is what is coming from the status quo. We are speaking of highly disciplined, targeted protests including the possible use of violence to bring down the equipment and individuals responsible for destroying global ecosystems, and herald in a new ecologically sustainable, just and equitable way of living with the land, water and sky. Living must become a matter of what you can give to ecosystems, and others with whom you share being, rather than only being concerned with what you can take.

Economic growth cannot continue forever if greenhouse gases are to be curbed, and the myriad of other eco-crises solved. Efforts to cap and trade, certify, sustainably manage and otherwise reform our way out of the situation are orders of magnitude inadequate and failing. Free markets appear to inherently be unable to price carbon and other externalities. It is becoming increasingly unlikely (if not impossible) that current political and business growth systems can reform in time to maintain the ecosystems necessary for life.

The looming death of Gaia and most or all being is no one’s fault, or rather, it is all our faults. As many species have done previously, we have collectively overgrazed our habitat. We simply must immediately allow traditional ecological disturbance, regeneration and succession patterns to again operate. The industrial growth machine must be powered off and we must herald in an era of ecological stewardship and restoration. Even while we organize and pursue revolutionary action; each of us must plant, tend and restore our Earth’s natural ecosystems and permaculture gardens, and help others to do so.

Only dramatic and immediate revolutionary action to destroy the growth machine offers any hope of maintaining a livable Earth. We must commit to stopping burning and cutting — antiquated means to make a living — indeed killing those that refuse to stop. Rich people are setting themselves up to be fine in geo-engineered comfort while sacrificing the poor who no longer have free ecosystem services to sustain them. There can be no engineering of a biosphere; indeed, thinking we can has brought us to this moment. We must return to nature.

We must hold onto our humanity as we collapse and renew ourselves. Earth Revolution is as much about helping those that want to reconnect to Earth as it is sabotaging equipment and killing people directly responsible for ecocide. This means sharing food and water, shelter and clothing. But bring those responsible for ecocide to justice, utterly destroying them, their institutions and their equipment. There must be no indiscriminate terror, but if our warnings go unheeded, targeted violence against known ecological criminals is justified and warranted.

Given the momentum of nearly seven billion seeking to be super-consumers, do not see any other way to stop the forces of destruction other than a revolution. There is absolutely no way current energy and other resource use– much less expected growth in population and per capita consumption — can be produced either from agrofuels or more drilling. Humans have hit the biogeochemical limits of a finite planet, and each of us must seek what is enough, rather than always more.

It is well past time to be men and women of fortitude, set aside our computers and amusements, and commit our minds and bodies to stopping the destruction of being. We must demand more courage and less corruption from ourselves and our leaders. The Arctic has already been changed forever. Soon your neighborhood, ecosystem and bioregion will be too (if you really look, almost certainly it is already). Please, as I do, take the end of human being through needless habitat destruction personally.

Part of the solution is allowing people to get back to Earth on their own plot of land. How we live in the future will be by necessity less urban. We will be called upon to make do with what is in our bioregion. Let me make some further suggestions to you. Acquire land and seeds. Make or restore an Earth friendly shelter and plant trees and permaculture forest gardens. Prepare to live in your changing bioregion. Go back to the land. Ecologically farm and restore as you connect with like minded Earth revolutionaries to clandestinely carry out escalating protest, sabotage and guerrilla war.

I urge you to really think about what is necessary — both personally and in terms of social change — to sustain being, and committing to it. Token managerial reforms of the antiquated ecologically damaging activities of burning and cutting are not enough. Technology is not going to save us. Market campaigns using glamorous celebrities are not enough. Petitioning our leaders is not going to save us. Personal efforts will only get you and Gaia so far. Only escalating protest action targeting the destroyers, their equipment and their Earth eating worldview can still avert biosphere disintegration.

Set aside your best efforts at ecological denial, acknowledge the task before us, and join with others in becoming a reluctant revolutionary. An Earth insurgency could topple the growth machine in a day, though it may take years. The sooner the better, as more ecological remnants will exist to serve as the basis of ecological restoration. Even as we pursue revolutionary strategies and tactics to maintain a habitable Earth, commit to remaining free and humane. The answer is neither tyranny of the left nor right. Above all else we must achieve global ecological sustainability through just and equitable means.

Protect and restore natural ecosystems including old forests right now. Work with others to destroy coal, tar sands, fishing trawlers, oil palm, industrial agriculture, pipelines and ancient forest loggers. Start today. Now continued human existence depends upon your courage, ecological wisdom and taking direct lethal action in defense of our shared ecological heritage. Each of us and together will transition to a state of ecological grace, quickly, and through action against the Earth destroyers, or we will all die a horrific and barbaric death together as being ends.

If we choose to fight for Earth there is hope, otherwise there is none. Share the anguish of not knowing if revolutionary violence is the answer or not. But it has to be considered comprehensively, thoroughly and quickly. Prove me wrong and demonstrate how to ecologically sufficiently address converging eco-crises in a couple years time within current economic and political systems. Revolution is almost certainly the only possible way to sustain and restore healthy ecosystems as the basis of human civilization and all life. Be strong, slay the growth machine, for Gaia.