Citizen Action Monitor

How America’s ruling elites destroyed democracy, robbed the Treasury, and left half the country in poverty

When the elites close the escape routes for the oppressed, the language of force becomes their only remaining, desperate form of communication.

No 2629 Posted by fw, June 2, 2020 —

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Chris Hedges

re is my synopsis of Chris Hedges’ insightful exposé entitled “The Treason of the Ruling Class,” published today.

Ruling elites have destroyed America’s capitalist democracy, transforming it “into an instrument of naked pillage and repression on behalf of a global corporate oligarchy.” They – the ruling class — are using violence to protect their exclusive interests. By blocking all paths to reform, state violence risks giving rise to counter-violence of opposing forces. However, people’s ‘nonviolence’ only works if your opponent has a conscience. As the situation deteriorates, the more threatened elites become, the more repressive their ruling regime becomes. If this ‘mafia’ state of the ruling elites is not overthrown, America risks becoming a militarized police state.

Current street uprisings represent a frantic fight of the underclass to regain power over their own lives. The people’s struggle goes far beyond contesting police brutality to addressing escalating wealth inequalities. Half the country lives in poverty or a category called “near-poverty.”

Joe Biden is the man the Democrats think they can foist on America simply because he is not Trump. But Biden’s  political track record reveals that, as one of the most important architects behind the wars in the Middle East, Biden is personally responsible for far more suffering and death at home and abroad than Donald Trump. If America had a functioning judicial and legislative system, Biden would be put on trial.

Belief is dwindling that the 2020 election offers a meaningful choice for voters, or that Americans are still living in a democracy. Consider, for example, what America’s thieving elites have been busy doing during the pandemic crisis. Faced with the evidence, for how much longer can vulnerable people be expected to put up with this theft of multi-billions of their tax dollars?

When everything around you conspires to crush you, self-affirmation spills out in the form of destructive violence, violence that often engulfs yourself. When the elites close the escape routes for the oppressed, the language of force becomes their only remaining, desperate form of communication. Trump’s threats only heightens the people’s anger and frustration. Meanwhile, the ruling elites fearfully seek scapegoats to absolve themselves of any culpability for robbing the Treasury. To save themselves, the elites will follow Trump’s lead and stoke the distracting fires of racialized violence. Will the elites ever address the root causes of these protests? Of course not. And so the roots of unrest spread.

These are dark times. They are about to get darker.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. Until this month, he wrote a weekly column for the online magazine Truthdig. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

Below is my slightly abridged repost of Hedges’ article, featuring my added subheadings, text highlighting, bulletted reformatting of some paragraphs, and added hyperlinks. To read the original piece on SheerPost’s website, click on the following linked tittle.

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The Treason of the Ruling Class by Chris Hedges, ScheerPost, June 2, 2020

They have destroyed our capitalist democracy and replaced it with a mafia state.

Ruling elites have destroyed our capitalist democracy, transforming it “into an instrument of naked pillage and repression on behalf of a global corporate oligarchy.”

The ruling elites no longer have legitimacy. They have destroyed our capitalist democracy and replaced it with a mafia state. What the Roman philosopher Cicero called a commonwealth, a res publica, a “public thing” or the “property of a people,” has been transformed into an instrument of naked pillage and repression on behalf of a global corporate oligarchy.

We are ‘serfs’ —

  • ruled by obscenely rich,
  • omnipotent masters who loot the U.S. Treasury,
  • pay little or no taxes and
  • have perverted the judiciary, the media and the legislative branches of government to
  • strip us of civil liberties and
  • give them the freedom to commit financial fraud and theft.

Ruling elites can no longer claim the right to have a monopoly on violence

The loss of control over our system of rulership, the misuse of all democratic institutions, the electoral process and laws to funnel money upwards into to a handful of oligarchs while stripping us of power, ominously means that the ruling elites can no longer claim the right to have a monopoly on violence.

Ruling elites are using violence to protect their exclusive interests

Violence employed by police and security agencies such as the FBI, which have devolved into occupying forces, to protect the exclusive interests of a tiny, ruling criminal class exposes the fiction of the rule of law and the treason of the ruling elites.

People’s ‘nonviolence’ only works if your opponent has a conscience

In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience,” Stokely Carmichael warned.

When all paths to reform are blocked, state violence risks giving rise to counter-violence of opposing forces

And if your opponent is bereft of a conscience, then state violence is inevitably met with counter-violence. Tyranny takes the place of reform. The danger of widespread sectarian violence in America is now very real.

As the situation deteriorates, the more threatened elites feel, the more repressive the ruling regime becomes

There are three options: reform, which, given the decay in the American body politic, is impossible; revolution; or tyranny. The more things deteriorate, the more the elites feel threatened, the more brutal the police, the National Guard and the organs of state security will become. The longer the ‘serfs’ defy their masters the more the populations in the jails and prisons, which are already the largest in the world, will swell.

If the ‘mafia’ state of the ruling elites is not overthrown, America will become a militarized police state

If the mafia state is not overthrown, then America will become a naked police state where any opposition, however tepid, will be met with draconian censorship or force. Police in cities around the country have already thwarted the reporting by dozens of journalists covering the protests through physical force, arrests, tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray.  The huge social divides, largely built around race, will be used by the neo-fascists in power to divert a legitimate rage by a betrayed working class to set neighbor against neighbor. Neo-fascist “patriots” will be unleashed like attack dogs against people of color, Muslims, feminists, intellectuals, artists, the media and liberals. Dissent, even nonviolent dissent, will become treason.

*****

Current street uprisings represent frantic fight of Americans to regain power over their own lives

The uprisings in the streets of American cities are not only about the wanton murder by police of yet another person of color, but a frantic fight to wrest back power over our own lives. They go far behind police brutality, a daily reality for those trapped in our internal colonies where 1,100 citizens are murdered by police every year, almost all unarmed.

The people’s struggle goes beyond police brutality to escalating wealth inequalities

The uprisings are fueled as well by the seizure of the institutional and structural mechanisms that once made some form of equality, always imperfect and always colored by an animus towards the poor and people of color, possible.

“Half the country lives in poverty or a category called near poverty”

Half the country lives in poverty or a category called near poverty.

  • The working class and the working poor are priced out of the health care system.
  • The schools do not educate their children,
  • who live without adequate food and often clean water, a
  • re repeatedly evicted from their homes,
  • have their utilities shut off,
  • cannot find jobs,
  • are crippled by punishing debt peonage
  • and with the pandemic are dying at disproportionately higher rates.

They get the message the oligarchs are sending.

  • They, and their children, are expendable.
  • They don’t count.
  • Their lives are of no consequence, unless they are locked in a cage where their bodies can generate as much as $60,000 a year for the multitude of corporations, including
    • the for-profit medical services,
    • food services,
    • money transfer services,
    • commissary services,
    • phone services,
    • private prisons and prison contractors,
    • not to mention the large corporations and state governments that exploit the cheap and bonded labor of 1 million of our 2.3 million prisoners.
    • The prison system is a multi-billion dollar a year industry with lobbyists in state capitals and Washington making sure these bodies remain in cages or are put back into cages soon after they are released.

The neo-slavery in our prisons is the corporate model envisioned for all of America.

*****

Joe Biden, the man the Dems think they can foist on America simply because he is not Trump — Check out his political track record

The two ruling parties are equally complicit in this assault. The Democratic Party, in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, is trying to sell us a presidential nominee, Joe Biden,

  • who was one of the principal architects of de-industrialization and
  • responsible for the loss of hundreds of thousands of good, union jobs.
  • Biden and Bill Clinton also destroyed our welfare program, where 70 percent of the recipients were children,
  • and orchestrated the doubling of our prison population
  • and the tripling and quadrupling of sentences.
  • Biden, as Naomi Murakawa points out in “The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America,” was a driving force behind
  • He sponsored legislation to dramatically curtail the ability of those in prison to appeal
  • Biden was also at the forefront of the re-segregation of our public school system and has repeatedly called for cuts to Social Security.
  • He was instrumental in the disastrous trade deals such as the North American free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and austerity programs
  • as well as establishing the most pervasive system of mass government surveillance in human history.
  • Biden, one of the most important architects behind the wars in the Middle East, where we have squandered upwards of $7 trillion and destroyed or extinguished the lives of millions of people, is personally responsible for far more suffering and death at home and abroad than Donald Trump.

If America had a functioning judicial and legislative system, Biden would be put on trial

If we had a functioning judicial and legislative system, Biden, along with the other architects of our disastrous imperial wars, plundering of the country and betrayal of the American working class, would be put on trial, not offered up as a solution to our political and economic debacle. The myopia of the ruling elites is that they think they can foist Biden on us because he is not Trump. But the game is up. The façade of democracy no longer works.  

*****

Belief is dwindling that the 2020 election offers a meaningful choice or that Americans live in a democracy

It is only the dwindling and largely white middle and professional classes who still believe the fiction that this election offers a choice or that we live in a democracy. The working class and the working poor know better. Their lives were, as Barbara Ehrenreich wrote, one long emergency before the pandemic. Now they face the prospect of bankruptcy this summer when

  • unemployment and stimulus checks run out,
  • the moratorium is lifted on evictions to double or triple the unhoused population of 11 million people
  • and unemployment skyrockets to 25 percent.
  • Forty-eight percent of front line workers remain ineligible for sick pay,
  • and some 43 million Americans have just lost their employee-sponsored health insurance.
  • Food banks are already overrun with tens of thousands of desperate families.

And look at what America’s thieving elites were doing during the pandemic crisis

And in the midst of this crisis, what did our kleptocratic rulers do?

How long can you expect vulnerable people to put up with this theft of their tax dollars?

  • How long can you expect people to watch their children go hungry?
  • How long can you expect people to watch their loved ones suffer and die because they can’t get medical care?
  • How long can you expect people to be abused by lawless police and a court system designed to railroad the poor into jails and prisons?
  • How long can you watch the rich profit from your misery?

*****

When everything around you conspires to crush you, self-affirmation spills out in the form of destructive violence that often engulfs yourself

I would prefer that our revolution eschew the poison of violence, which I know too intimately from my two decades as a war correspondent. But I also know that when everything around you conspires to crush you, the only way left to affirm yourself is to destroy, not only the structures and institutions that have oppressed you, but often yourself. I saw this when I lived in the impoverished neighborhood of Roxbury in Boston and when I worked as a reporter in Gaza. This understanding was something Malcom X, who came out of poverty, always understood and Martin Luther King, a product of the black bourgeoisie, learned later.

When the elites close the escape routes for the oppressed, the language of force becomes the only form of communication

It is ultimately the ruling elites who will determine the mechanics of resistance. When they close every escape route, when they speak exclusively in the language of force, then the language of force becomes the only form of communication.

Trump’s threats only heightens the anger and frustration

Trump’s demand that states use the National Guard to crush the protests and threat to deploy the U.S. military in the streets of American cities only heightens the anger and frustration that led to the uprisings.

And the ruling elites desperately seek scapegoats to absolve themselves of any blame

The ruling elites are, at the same time, desperately seeking scapegoats. The idea that Antifa, which on the spectrum of terrorist groups would rank alongside the Boy Scouts, is behind these clashes is as ridiculous as the idea that Russia is responsible for the election of Trump. This desperate search for explanations that absolve the ruling elites saw Susan Rice, who was Obama’s national-security adviser, blame the violence on “foreign actors,” adding that “this is right out of the Russian playbook.” This trope is always trotted by despotic rulers to discredit dissidents who are branded as the enemy of the people.

Will the elites ever address the root causes of these protests? Of course not. So the unrest spreads

The longer the ruling elites refuse to address the root causes behind these protests, the more they loot the treasury to enrich themselves and their fellow oligarchs, the more they engage in futile and absurd efforts to deflect blame, the more unrest will spread.

To save themselves, the elites will follow Trump’s lead and stoke the fires of racialized violence

The last desperate resort by the oligarchs to save themselves will be to stoke the fires of racialized violence between disenfranchised whites and disenfranchised people of color. This, I fear, is the next chapter in this saga. I saw this tactic used to deadly effect in the former Yugoslavia.

These are dark times. They are about to get darker.

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