I have promised Madame to finish out my comments on this epically important book by August, so in a special installment set, today will be followed by another posting tomorrow, which will be followed by a Tuesday installment.
Let’s begin. The thoroughly corrupt financial near meltdown of 2007-2009 was one indication. The Bush administration’s lies overall and its USING the not unwilling press to promote going to war with Iraq on false pretenses was another. But both times the elite and the corporate media were ONE. And there’s never any accountability, never a retraction or big apology.
The press, the government, the top corporations, and the plutocracy have become nearly inseparable, all serving the same ends. Even so called “liberal leaning” places like the New York Times often aren’t. While the corporate media does not much parrot the Corporate-Lite prattle of the Dems, it does the Corporate-Heavy prattle of the Repubs.
If we have little press that is looking out for the truth—or the relevant—another bulwark our Framers put in place to preserve our republic falls away. The steady rise of corporate power, which has surged relatively unchecked for a long while—indeed has been fostered actively for the last 30-40 years—changes the very character of who and what we are as a nation. We put “freedom” and “democracy” and “economic opportunity” as our supposed values, but our system makes a lie of them. The Constitution becomes not just a speed bump for those running over us, but is twisted and used by the power elite, and we the people, in our ignorance of our own foundation document, are twisted into whatever emotional furor the plutocratic elite wants.
Those who hold faith in Democrats to change things are deluded. Democrats are near-meaningless as a check on abusive power of the plutocracy. Democrats may sometimes drag their feet against the ways of the plutocracy, but it is at most an occasional rear-guard temporary holding action before further retreat. In essence, they are merely a slower route to complete plutocratic dominance than their party counterparts. So Money dominates the Dems too, and in their defense, we the people have given them few options for it not to.
FISA, as Hedges points out, was passed by a Democratic Congress. It not only gives licenses to invasion of privacy, not only excuses all those who have stomped on our civil liberties, but actually criminalizes anyone who does the right thing and tells the public what is happening. (175-176) And the cycle of control is complete because those patriots who look out for the right to privacy are labeled “leaking traitors,” with the people joining in on the condemnation. It is an indignity and injustice even worse than the dark days of the woman’s suffrage movement, where marching women would be pelted and called “whores” by the very women they were marching to secure rights for.
Massive deregulation and elimination of anti-trust protection mean than we have little influence anymore. Corporations have often swelled into massive entities of colossal power, and with few to no meaningful regulations on them, they do what they want. Hedges quotes FDR, whose warning we heeded partially for a period, then forgot (a dooming trait of humanity, and Americans in particular): “’The liberty of democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of the Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.’ It is also ‘not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way to sustain an acceptable standard of living.’” (as quoted in Hedges 177)
Economic power and political power are linked. We have a country and government (local, state, federal) “run by and on behalf of corporations.” (177) These institutions are wily enough to prepare for the probable: As “despair and impoverishment reach into larger and larger segments of the populace, the mechanisms of corporate and government control are being bolstered to prevent civil unrest and instability.” (177)
The atrophy and brittleness of the few tools of the people not completely rusted through and broken to pieces means a hard road. Debt—of both citizens and their governments, along with many small and medium sized businesses—is ubiquitous and paralyzing. And so we get no movement in a forward direction. “There is no coherent and realistic plan, one built around our severe limitations, to sta(u)nch the bleeding or ameliorate the mounting deprivations we will suffer as citizens. Contrast this with the national security state’s preparations to crush potential civil unrest and you get a glimpse of the future.” (178) The Occupy movement, which was a gnat, got quite the overreaction from authorities, most especially when it got anywhere near—or demonstrated the potential—to being effective.
Americans have no idea of, or regard for, the implications of terrorism-hysteria, and general security hysteria, all fanned by the elite. Such hysteria has allowed the Constitution to be trampled and subverted. The government, by the legislation authorized by the people’s supposed representatives, and okayed by you the people in fear, has the power to seize ANY of you, hold you without charge, without legal representation, and “without access to the outside world.” (179) In our general fear, we acquiesce to this perversion, even welcome it. This has been a pattern in us, dating all the way back to the founding generation, but it has gotten worse.
The “news” has a tendency to label any who resist the above as part of a ‘criminal element,” much like the Nazis did to cement their power. Remember history well: The Nazis did that WITH THE WILLING ACQUIESCENCE OF THE MAJORITY OF GERMANY’S PEOPLE. A people who either went along or were actually glad all those “troublemakers” were being gotten out of the way.
Money has become power. Power has won. It will remain winning until you the American public become knowledgeable, until you drop your illusions and--until you correct the catastrophic course you and your society are on--most of your diversions most of the time. Only then can you coalesce into a movement, and movements are what can bring change.
The world is waiting on you. The world has progressed. You have stagnated or gone backward. You still have a little time to set the world to right without experiencing deeply painful catastrophic failure first. But the sand is deep in the hourglass.