Power-packed panel calls for urgent action on climate change — VIDEO

Senator Bernie Sanders, McKibben, Klein, Hedges, Sawant talk climate change for almost 2 hours

“Our strategy and tactics must be different…. We will have to speak the language of … revolution”, asserts Hedges

No 1150 Posted by fw, September 23, 2014

The panel discussion took place on Friday, September 20, 2014

A Time Index to the Video appears below the embedded video

It’s Time to Act on the Climate Crisis broadcast by The Real News, September 21, 2014

On the eve of three historic People’s Climate March, authors Chris Hedges and Naomi Klein, 350.org founder Bill McKibben and Seattle Council person Kshama Sawant discuss the urgency of radical action on climate change, with an opening speech by Senator Bernie Sanders and moderated by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer.

Watch the 1:51:09 video here

 

Video Time Index

  • 00:00:00 to 00:05:18 — Welcoming Remarks
  • 00:05:18 to 00:13:35 — Moderator Brian Lehrer

Keynote by Senator Bernie Sanders

  • 00:13:52 to 00:29:29 — Senator Bernie Sanders

Comments by each of the panelists

  • 00:29:50 to 00:43:47 — Bill McKibben
  • 00:44:00 to 00:56:20 — Naomi Klein
  • 00:56:36 to 01:06:18 — Chris Hedges (for a transcript of Hedge’s remarks go to the SEE ALSO link below)
  • 01:06:25 to 01:22:01 — Kshama Sawant

Panelists respond to moderator’s questions

  • 01:22:36 to 01:26:24 — Bernie Sanders
  • 01:27:26 to 01:30:56 — Bill McKibben
  • 01:31:24 to 01:33:24 — Chris Hedges
  • 01:33:34 to 01:41:37 — Naomi Klein

Audience Q&A

  • 01:42:16 to 01:51:09

SEE ALSO

  • The coming climate revolt by Chris Hedges, Climate Code Red, September 23, 2014 – This article is basically a transcript of Hedge’s remarks on the panel, beginning at about the 00:56:36 minute mark into the discussion.

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Political elites are sacrificing the most vulnerable among us, at home and abroad, for payoffs and political advantage

The ruling class has won. To reclaim power, citizens will have to mobilize, overthrow the corporate state

No 1147 Posted by fw, September 16, 2014

So says Chris Hedges — restated in paraphrase — in his latest piercing critique of the sacrifice of the vulnerable by the ruling elites. His piece starts with the sellout of Palestinians in Gaza, “where all 100 senators trotted out like AIPAC windup dolls to cheer on the Israeli bombing”. He goes on to detail the façade of American politics, and why Americans can no longer consider themselves free when they are constantly being surveilled, making them, in effect, slaves of the state. In his concluding paragraphs, after conceding victory to the ruling classes, he asserts that growing numbers of citizens know “they have been stripped of power.” Although it may take years to erupt, a popular revolt now seems inevitable. But will it be a revolt of the left or right-wing?

To read Hedge’s original article, click on the following linked title. Alternatively, below is a slightly modified reposting with added subheadings and text highlighting to help bring main ideas to the fore.

Sacrificing the Vulnerable, From Gaza to America by Chris Hedges, Information Clearing House, September 15, 2014

Chris Hedges gave this speech Saturday at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wis., before a crowd of about 2,000. The Fighting Bob Fest, the annual event at which he appeared, brings together progressive speakers from around the country and honors Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette (1855-1925), a U.S. senator from Wisconsin who opposed the United States’ entry into World War I. Parts of this talk were drawn from Hedges’ past [Truthdig] columns.

“I have heard from the power elites in Jerusalem and Washington the lies told to justify state terror”

I would like to begin by speaking about the people of Gaza. Their suffering is not an abstraction to me. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I spent seven years in the region. I speak Arabic. And for much of that time I was in Gaza, including when Israeli fighter jets and soldiers were attacking it.

I have stood over the bodies, including the bodies of children, left behind by Israeli airstrikes and assaults. I have watched mothers and fathers cradle their dead and bloodied boys and girls in their arms, convulsed by an indescribable grief, shrieking in pitiful cries to an indifferent universe.

And in this charnel house, this open-air prison where 1.8 million people, nearly half of them children, live trapped in an Israeli ghetto, I have witnessed the crimes of occupation—the food shortage, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. As I have witnessed this mass of human suffering I have heard from the power elites in Jerusalem and Washington the lies told to justify state terror.

What Israeli forces did in Gaza “is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder”

An impoverished, captive people that lack an army, a navy, an air force, mechanized units, drones, artillery and any semblance of command and control do not pose a threat to Israel. And Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.

With the massacre in Gaza, we bear witness to “The abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions”

The abject failure by our political class to acknowledge this fact, a fact that to most of the rest of the world is obvious, exposes the awful banality of our political system, the cynical abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions. Money, after all, has replaced the vote.

To watch all 100 US senators cheer on the slaughter “exposes the surrender of our political class to cash-rich lobbying groups and corporate power”

The refusal to speak out for the people of Gaza is not tangential to our political life. The pathetic, Stalinist-like plebiscite in the [U.S.] Senate, where all 100 senators trotted out like AIPAC windup dolls to cheer on the Israeli bombing of homes, apartment blocks, schools—where hundreds of terrified families were taking shelter—water treatment plants, power stations, hospitals, and of course boys playing soccer on a beach, exposes the surrender of our political class to cash-rich lobbying groups and corporate power. The people of Gaza are expendable. They are poor. They are powerless. And they have no money. Just like the poor people of color in this country whose bodies, locked in cages, enrich the prison-industrial complex.

Obama and the Democratic Party have demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice the vulnerable for political expediency

When you are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable for political expediency it becomes easy, as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have amply illustrated, to sacrifice all who are vulnerable—our own poor, workers, the sick, the elderly, students and our middle class.

When we make a god of a military machine, when we accept state surveillance, we are no longer free, we are slaves of the state

This is a Faustian compact. It ends by selling your soul to Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil. It ends by deifying a military machine, now largely beyond civilian control, that, along with our organs of state security, has established surveillance and a security state that make us the most spied-upon, eavesdropped, monitored and photographed populace in human history. It is impossible to describe yourself as free when you are constantly watched. This is the relationship of a master and a slave.

Politics in America has become a façade, “choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content”

Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared—“democratic despotism.”

Today, mindless nationalism characterizes all public debate, an “officially sanctioned carnival act”

The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, which Bob La Follette denounced and fought, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act.

  • Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office—and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip.
  • Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control.
  • The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery.
  • The insistence that austerity and economic rationality, rather than the welfare of the citizenry, be the primary concerns of the government is not politics. It is the death of civic virtue.
  • The government’s system of wholesale surveillance and the militarization of police forces, along with the psychosis of permanent war and state-orchestrated fear of terrorism, are not politics. They are about eradicating civil liberties and justifying endless war and state violence.
  • The chatter about death panels, abortion, gay rights, guns and undocumented children crossing the border is not politics. It is manipulation by the power elites of emotion, hate and fear to divert us from seeing our own powerlessness.

System change is impossible as long as most citizens “believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism”

As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable.

However, an increasing number of Americans get it — they know they have been stripped of political power.

When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties. They know that nearly half the country lives in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are harder and harder to hide.

Political ferment is not dormant, but opposing ideas remain imperfectly formed

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, has yet to rebuild itself and turn on a feckless liberal class that has sold its soul to a bankrupt Democratic Party.

“It is certain that a popular revolt is coming”

The tinder of revolt is piling up. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows when the eruption will take place. No one knows what form it will take. But it is certain that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, the continued pillaging of the nation and the ecosystem, remind us that, as Karl Marx pointed out, unregulated, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force. It commodifies everything. Human beings and the natural world become commodities that are exploited until exhaustion or collapse. This is why the economic crisis is intimately twined with the environmental crisis. The corporate state—a system described by the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin as “inverted totalitarianism”—is incapable of a rational response to the crisis. A rational response, especially after your uprising in Madison and the Occupy movement, would at a minimum include a moratorium on all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a forgiveness of student debt, universal health care for all and a massive jobs program, especially targeted at those under the age of 25.

Obama is mounting a coordinated federal response, speaking the only language he knows — the language of force

But the corporate state, by mounting a coordinated federal effort led by Barack Obama to shut down the Occupy encampments, illustrated that the only language it will speak is the language of force.

A viable socialism is a possible alternative to the existing corporate tyranny

Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected. This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed only after it has largely been completed. Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites and construct alternative ideas for society, which [today] means the articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny.

“A slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution” that can take years, will likely lead to a “quick, militant, and violent” revolution

By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas—in our case free market capitalism and globalization—that sustain the structures of the ruling elites. And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, “the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent,” as Alexander Berkman wrote. “Evolution becomes revolution.”

“Revolt is the only option left”

This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left.

Will the revolution be nonviolent or violent? And will it be left-wing or right-wing?

Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police—to get them, in essence, to defect—nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. And our backlash, if we on the left do not regain the militancy of the old anarchists and socialists, could be a right-wing backlash, a species of Christian fascism.

The people in Gaza deserve to be free. So do we. But do not look to our political mandarins for help, or expect anything but vaudevillian smoke and mirrors from the billions poured into our campaign circus.

Look within.

If we want to wrest power back, we will have to mobilize, carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow the corporate state

We too are powerless. We have undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. It is over. They have won. If we want to wrest power back, to make the consent of the governed more than an empty cliché, we will have to mobilize, to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow—let me repeat that word for the members of Homeland Security who may be visiting us this afternoon—overthrow the corporate state.

And maybe, once we have freed ourselves, we can free the people of Gaza.

Hedges previously spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

SEE ALSO

  • Death of the liberal class? (37:25 minutes) Uploaded by TVO, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, October 25, 2010 — Is Chris Hedges right? Have the pillars which protect a liberal democracy – the press, liberal religious institutions, labour unions, universities and the Democratic Party in the U.S. – sold out to corporate interests? Have they failed to moderate dissent and to act in the public interest?

 

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Chris Hedges’ scathing indictment of a venal, morally bankrupt oligarchic ruling class

“…they are creating systems…of exploitation…that, if left unchecked, will ensure the extinction of the human species”

No 924 Posted by fw, December 07, 2013

“I think they know it’s going to be toast. And I think they think that they’re going to retreat into their, you know, gated compounds and survive it. And they may survive it longer than the rest of us, but in the end, climate change alone is going to get us….they are creating systems in terms of exploitation not only of us but of the ecosystem that, if left unchecked, will ensure the extinction of the human species. It may already be too late, of course. But, you know, allowing the fossil fuel industry or these corporations to determine our relationship to the environment is a form of collective insanity at this point.”Chris Hedges

This is the latest in a series of Hedges’ reality checks about what is going on out there in fantasy land. As usual, he pulls no punches. And again he warns us that we can’t change the evil system from within. We, the people, have to step outside the system and create popular mechanisms, mass movements that will begin to put pressure in a cruder way on the centers of power. That is the only hope we have left.” The question is, what will it take to wake us from our stupor? Keep in mind that what happens in America has global repercussions. None of us is insulated from their insanity.

To watch a 23-minute interview of Hedges’ at his best, and access a full transcript of the event, click on the following linked title. Alternatively, watch the embedded video below followed by an abridged transcript featuring my added subheadings.

The Pathology of the Rich – Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself pt1 Chris Hedges interview, The Real News, December 5, 2013

ABRIDGED TRANSCRIPT

[Unless otherwise noted, all the following transcribed passages were spoken by Chris Hedges in response to questions and comments by Paul Jay. The subheadings in bold italics and the hyperlinks are mine].

In conversation with Paul Jay, Chris Hedges discusses the psychology of the super-rich, their sense of entitlement, the dehumanization of workers, and mistaken belief that their wealth will insulate them from the coming storms.

[Introduction by Paul Jay] — So last time we talked a lot about something you had said in 2008 and you’ve written more recently about: one of the greatest weaknesses of the left was not creating a viable vision of what an alternative politics and economy looks like, a viable vision of a socialism. But you’ve written more recently about some other weaknesses, you could say, of the people’s movement, and here’s one. And I’ll read it back. This is a piece you wrote called Let’s Get This Class War Started. The quote is: “The inability to grasp the pathology* of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults.” What are you talking about? [*pathology def: in this context, deviation from a healthy, normal, or efficient condition]

We don’t grasp how venal and morally bankrupt an oligarchic class is

Chris Hedges — Because we don’t understand the pathology of the rich. We’ve been saturated with cultural images and a kind of cultural deification of wealth and those who have wealth. We are being–you know, they present people of immense wealth as somehow leaders–oracles, even. And we don’t grasp internally what it is an oligarchic class is finally about or how venal and morally bankrupt they are.

“The issue is not education. The issue is greed”

We need to recover the language of class warfare and grasp what is happening to us, and we need to shatter this self-delusion that somehow if, as Obama says, we work hard enough and study hard enough, we can be one of them. The fact is, the people who created the economic mess that we’re in were the best-educated people in the country–Larry Summers, a former president of Harvard, and others. The issue is not education. The issue is greed.

“If you’re poor, you only get one chance. If you’re wealthy, you get chance after chance after chance after chance”

The fact is, if you’re poor, you only get one chance. If you’re wealthy like Bush, you get chance after chance after chance after chance. So you’re a C student at Andover, and you go to Yale, and you go to Harvard Business School, and you’re AWOL from your National Guard unit, and you’re a cokehead, and it doesn’t really matter. You don’t even really have a job till you’re 40 and you become president of the United States.

“Elite oligarchic circles perpetuated themselves and promoted mediocrity at the expense of the rest of us”

So that was what was particularly insidious, how those small, tight elite oligarchic circles perpetuated themselves and promoted mediocrity (because many of these people like Bush are very mediocre human beings) at the expense of the rest of us, and how with money they game the system. And, of course, now we live in an oligarchic state where we’ve been rendered utterly powerless, and the judiciary, the legislative, the executive branches all subservient to an oligarchic corporate elite. And the press is owned by an oligarchic corporate elite, which makes sure that any critique of them is never broadcast over the airwaves.

“When the rich take power, citizens become disposable”

The rich are different, because when you have that much money, then human beings become disposable. Even friends and family become disposable and are replaced. And when the rich take absolute power, then the citizens become disposable, which is in essence what’s happened. There is a very callous indifference.

Being utterly cut off from working class people, the ruling class becomes very dangerous politically

I mean, these people–and C. Wrights Mills wrote about this in The Power Elite–they’re utterly cut off. I mean, the only people they ever meet who are members of the working class are people who work for them–they’re gardeners or they’re chauffeurs. They live in self-encased bubbles. They have no real contact with reality. I mean, they don’t even fly on commercial airlines. And yet they have absolute power.

Now, that becomes very dangerous politically because they’re so out of touch and they are able to retreat into their enclaves in the same way that you saw in France under Louis XVI, people retreating to Versailles, or the end of the Chinese dynasty when everybody went to the Forbidden City.

…they have no self-imposed limits, without understanding the economic, political, and social consequences of what they’re doing.

The Occupy movement was a popular uprising against the evident insanity they witnessed around them

So we have a popular uprising through the Occupy movement where people pour into public spaces to express legitimate grievances–student debt, the next bubble to go down, $1 trillion in debt, which we now saw, courtesy of our Congress, debt rates, you know, interest rates will actually go up in a couple of years, I mean, more than if they’d just taken it from a bank. It’s insane. And meanwhile the Federal Reserve is buying $85 billion a month worth of junk bonds and giving money at virtually zero percent interest to Goldman Sachs. I mean, it’s insane. The failure to address the mortgage and foreclosure crisis, the failure to address the chronic unemployment, underemployment, which–I mean, half of the country now lives in poverty, including the working poor, or near poverty.

Out of sheer ignorance, an unplugged oligarchic elite is pushing us relentlessly towards the cliff

And what is the response? The response is to physically shut down the encampments, suspend unemployment benefits, cut food stamps, close things like Head Start. It’s crazy. And that’s what happens when you have an elite that is that unplugged, and which our elite is. So they will push and push and push myopically out of ignorance until something erupts. And that’s exactly where we’re headed.

They inhabit another world, and they have very sophisticated mechanisms of public relations and well-publicized acts of philanthropy to hide their private faces. But how they act when the doors close and how they act in public is very different.

The oligarchic elite’s brand of capitalism is “a very thin rationale for unmitigated greed”, which has been exposed

The whole notion of the free market–laissez-faire capitalism, globalization–is a very thin rationale for unmitigated greed by a tiny oligarchic elite. And they have made sure that that ideology is taught in universities across the country. And people, especially economists, who deviate from that ideology have been pushed aside, have become pariahs. And yet the driving ethos of that ideology is really to justify the hoarding of immense amounts of wealth by a very tiny percentage of, you know, the upper ruling class. That’s what it is. I mean, the whole lie of globalization, perpetuated by people who popularize it, like Tom Friedman, has already been exposed. I mean, the idea that it’s going to lift all of us up and create middle-class and, you know, well-compensated working-class families in the Third World, I mean, all of it’s been exposed.

Even the intellectual class, while not rich, ends up serving the system; it’s either that or be underemployed

The ideology serves the system, the intellectual class serves the system. Those economists whose voices are heard, who get tenure, serve the system; and those who don’t serve the system don’t have a job. And that’s what Marx was getting at. And I think that’s extremely true.

“Corporations have become predators on government and taxpayer money”

I mean, we don’t live in a free-market society. We live in a society where corporations at will loot the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve and are bailed out by the taxpayer. And yet that fact of kind of corporate socialism for corporations is ignored. And yet it is–and that’s dangerous, because there is an utter disconnect from the language that we use to describe our economic system and the reality of our economic system, which is essentially a system where corporations have become predators on government and taxpayer money.

“We’re all going to pay” for the excesses, the abuses in the financial markets, and it’s going to blow up in our face

And we’re all going to pay for it, because most of this stuff, these bonds that they’re buying up, is garbage. You know, it is things like foreclosed homes that on the books are worth $600,000 but in reality, because the electricity has been turned off, the basements flooded, you’d have to spend money to raise it to put up anything of any kind of value. And that is going to blow right up in our face.

The liberal class in America has been silenced

Well, I write death of the liberal class is really that story, how all of these people were silenced, pushed to the margins, stripped of employment, including, like, even high school teachers. I mean, Ellen Schrecker, the historian, has done a good job on this.

Paul Jay — Just quickly, for people who don’t know what we’re talking about, we’re talking about the House Un-American Activities, McCarthyism, and a real campaign to try to move anyone with a kind of progressive socialist idea out of anything.

Chris Hedges — Right. And they were effective, I mean, in a way, far more effective than in Europe. I mean, in Europe, you’ll still have a residue. We’ve been robbed of language by which we can express the reality of what we’re undergoing. And that’s because, you know, our radical populist dissident movements, those who offered a critique of the power elite, have been banished or silenced.

There’s a massive campaign not even to use the words “class warfare”. In fact, if you talk class, people accuse you of being essentially anti-American.

Capitalism is about exploitation of the working class, and we Americans are “the most illusioned society on the planet”

I don’t think you can understand the nature of capitalism if you don’t understand the nature of class warfare. You know, if I was running a Wall Street firm, I’d only hire Marxian economists, because they understand that capitalism is about exploitation. Marx got that right.

We are awash in lies. The ruling elites have masked what they are doing to us

And that gets back to the nature of the ruling elite. I mean, we are the most illusioned society on the planet. The airwaves are awash in lies. You know, they very skillfully know how to humanize figures, I mean, even idiots like Donald Trump, to mask what it is they’re actually doing to the rest of us. And I think we have to begin to puncture the very effective mirages that have been created–and corporations, of course, spend billions of dollars to create these mirages–to understand our reality. I mean, look at BP. You’d think BP was Greenpeace, given the amount of commercials that they’re running about how much they care about the Gulf, when in fact they turned the waters of the Gulf into a dead zone and poisoned the shrimp and all the other which they’re selling us to eat. And yet we don’t have mechanisms by which–or certainly within the mainstream. What major network is going to go do a serious documentary on BP? You’re not going to confront those interests, because at this point, these interests, you know, they own or control the systems of information, as well as the systems of education.

The only option left to us is massive civil resistance and revolt – “Incremental and piecemeal reform don’t work”

Well, because the mechanisms of incremental and piecemeal reform don’t work. The New Deal was the classic example of that kind of safety valve. And as Roosevelt said, I mean, his greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism.

When the corporate oligarchic elite destroyed the liberal class they destroyed the safety valve that might have ameliorated the suffering of the underclass

And in the stupidity of the corporate oligarchic elite, they destroyed the liberal class. I mean, we still have a self-identified liberal class, but they no longer do anything to defend the interests of those they claim to represent, whether that’s the working class, the middle class, labor, or anyone else. And by destroying that safety valve, by destroying that liberal class, those mechanisms that made piecemeal and incremental reform possible, you no longer can adjust the system. So you can’t ameliorate the suffering or the grievances of the underclass. And now we’re talking about half the country.

The only hope we have left is to step outside the corrupt system

Now, that means that if you want to resist, if you want to create change, you can’t do it through political parties, you can’t do it through the courts, you can’t do it through a corporatized media. You have to step outside the system and create popular mechanisms, mass movements that will begin to put pressure in a cruder way on the centers of power. That is the only hope we have left.

The Wall Street gangsters are stealing money as fast as they can, in the full knowledge that the system is going to collapse

The people who are running Wall Street don’t give a damn about–they know it’s going to collapse. And what they’re doing is stealing as fast, as much as they can on the way out the door. There’s a very deep cynicism.

The goal is so self-centered. You have–I think the head of United Healthcare made $1 billion–I mean, it’s insane—last year. I think I have that right. But certainly hundreds of millions of dollars. And it’s all about amassing little monuments to themselves, little empires to themselves. You know, I have relatives who work on Wall Street, and their critique is not any different from mine. The difference is they’re just grabbing is much as they can on the way out the door. And I think that is always symptomatic of a kind of dying civilization.

In the end, climate change alone is going to get us all

I think they know it’s going to be toast. And I think they think that they’re going to retreat into their, you know, gated compounds and survive it. And they may survive it longer than the rest of us, but in the end, climate change alone is going to get us.

They are creating systems in terms of exploitation not only of us but of the ecosystem that, if left unchecked, will ensure the extinction of the human species. It may already be too late, of course. But, you know, allowing the fossil fuel industry or these corporations to determine our relationship to the environment is a form of collective insanity at this point.

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, is a journalist and Senior Fellow At The Nation Institute. He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009) and the best-selling American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2008). His book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I claim no ownership of such materials. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing.