Who are we really? Part II

I’m skimming through Empire of Illusions: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges, who wrote the best-seller War Is A Force That Gives Life Meaning. In it he explores the “mechanisms used to divert us from confronting the economic, political and moral collapse around us. “

From Chapter V –  The Illusion of America

I used to live in a country called America. It was not a perfect country . . . but there was always hope that it could be better. It was a country I loved nad honored. It paid its workers wages envied around the world. . . . it offered good public education . . . it held in regard the rule of law including international law, and respect for human rights. It took care of the weakest among us . . it had a system of government that, however flawed, worked to protect the interests of most of its citizens. It offered the possibility of democratic change. It had a diverse and independent press that imparted to us unpleasant truths and challenged the powerful. . . we had much to atone for, but there was so much that was good, decent and honorable in our country. . .

The country I live in today still uses the same civic, patriotic, and historical language to describe itself, the same symbols and  iconography, the same national myths . . . but only the shell remains. The America we celebrate is an illusion.

The country of my birth, of my fathers back to the founding generation, is so diminished as to be unrecognizable.

Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow selfish, political and economic elite – a small and privileged group . . . who in the name of patriotism and democracy, in the name of all the values that were once part of the American system . . . has systematically destroyed the manufacturing sector, looted the treasury, corrupted our democracy, and trashed the financial system.

. . . the government, stripped of any real sovereignty, provides little more than technical expertise for elites and corporations that lack moral restraints and any concept of the common good.

I could go on but I don’t need to. You get it. Bread and circuses forever.

14 responses to “Who are we really? Part II

  1. About a year and a half ago I wrote a post similar to what says.


  2. Sounds about right.

    I wonder if the problem of widespread denial of this, is that national collapse is often mentally pictured as broken buildings and mass death. Thus it has already happened, but the abstracts of “free nation” and “individual freedom” lingers on in many people’s heads.

    And watching the cableshows today – you do get the impression that an institution called “democracy” actually exists – with a capability of fixing an economy fully controlled by private interests. Some pretending, some in true belief.


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  4. This post made my day. I’m glad you found EMPIRE OF ILLUSION.

    America has definitely succumbed to the power of oligarchs and elites, but it need not remain that way forever. It is imperative that citizens educate themselves and speak out.


    • I hope it happens Ahab, but without a press challenging power, I don’t see how. Maybe we can take some lessons from the middle east where these days reporters are putting their lives on the line to speak truth to power.


      • The how question is interesting.
        Let’s say we’ve had campaign reform, and Democratic supermajority in Senate and the House.
        Would bills then be passed – that revived democracy and diminished corporate power?

        One things is very sure though – the top 1% will never cede anything by themselves.


        • Sadly mac, I don’t think it could happen, Dems or not. The rot is systemic. There’s be a movement toward reform from the left – it wouldn’t come from the right – but I doubt it could succeed.


  5. I can’t see it either – but the rot is sort of what’s inside the system, and not the system itself. The branches and two houses and free elections are splendid.

    Problem is private power. That runs society and the country. Government doesn’t run or decide anything anymore. They can’t even remove oil subsidies in times of depression – let alone stop any wars.

    It’s old news, i know… but nothing will change before private power gets a set-back.


    • It’s like what Hedges says above, that the gov’t provides technical expertise to the oligarchy.

      I don’t know how you shake loose of something like this.


  6. Hm… a yale-guy referred to Rousseau’s thoughts on this:

    The social contract, as he presents it in the Second Discourse, is really a kind of swindle. The establishment of government is a kind of swindle that the rich and the powerful use to control the poor and the dispossessed. Again, rather than instituting justice, this compact merely legitimizes past usurpations. Government is a con game that the rich play upon the poor. Political power simply helps to legitimize economic inequalities. Governments, he tells us, may operate by consent but the consent they are granted is based on falsehoods and lies. How else can one explain why the rich live lives that are so much freer, so much easier, so much more open to enjoyment, than the poor?

    I taste this notion once in a while – then shut it out. Can’t walk around accepting this.


    • [I taste this notion once in a while – then shut it out. Can’t walk around accepting this]

      And therein I think lies the difference between the passionate tragic radical and the pragmatists who works to change what he can.

      Very well phrased.


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