Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 10, 2009


Chris Hedges, Truth Dig - The American empire has not altered under Barack Obama. It kills as brutally and indiscriminately in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did under George W. Bush. It steals from the U.S. treasury to enrich the corporate elite as rapaciously. It will not give us universal health care, abolish the Bush secrecy laws, end torture or “extraordinary rendition,” restore habeas corpus or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of citizens. It will not push through significant environmental reform, regulate Wall Street or end our relationship with private contractors that provide mercenary armies to fight our imperial wars and produce useless and costly weapons systems.

The sad reality is that all the well-meaning groups and individuals who challenge our permanent war economy and the doctrine of pre-emptive war, who care about sustainable energy, fight for civil liberties and want corporate malfeasance to end, were once again suckered by the Democratic Party. . . . Our last hope is to step outside of the two-party system and build movements that defy the Democrats and the Republicans. If we fail to do this we will continue to undergo a corporate coup d’etat in slow motion that will end in feudalism.

We owe Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and the Green Party an apology. They were right. If a few million of us had had the temerity to stand behind our ideals rather than our illusions and the empty slogans peddled by the Obama campaign we would have a platform. We forgot that social reform never comes from accommodating the power structure but from frightening it. The Liberty Party, which fought slavery, the suffragists who battled for women’s rights, the labor movement, and the civil rights movement knew that the question was not how do we get good people to rule-those attracted to power tend to be venal mediocrities-but how do we limit the damage the powerful do to us. These mass movements were the engines for social reform, the correctives to our democracy and the true protectors of the rights of citizens. We have surrendered this power. It is vital to reclaim it. Where is the foreclosure movement? Where is the robust universal health care or anti-war movement? Where is the militant movement for sustainable energy?

“Something is broken,” Nader said when I reached him at his family home in Connecticut. “We are not at the Bangladesh level in terms of passivity, but we are getting there. No one sees anything changing. There is no new political party to give people a choice. The progressive forces have no hammer. When they abandoned our campaign they told the Democrats we have nowhere to go and will take whatever you give us. The Democrats are under no heat in the electoral arena from the left.

“There comes a point when the public imbibes the ultimatum of the plutocracy,” Nader said when asked about public apathy. “They have bought into the belief that if it protests it will be brutalized by the police. If they have Muslim names they will be subjected to Patriot Act treatment. This has scared the hell out of the underclass. They will be called terrorists.

“This is the third television generation,” Nader said. “They have grown up watching screens. They have not gone to rallies. Those are history now. They hear their parents and grandparents talk about marches and rallies. They have little toys and gizmos that they hold in their hands. They have no idea of any public protest or activity. It is a tapestry of passivity.

“They have been broken,” Nader said of the working class. “How many times have their employers threatened them with going abroad? How many times have they threatened the workers with outsourcing? The polls on job insecurity are record-high by those who have employment. And the liberal intelligentsia have failed them. They [the intellectuals] have bought into carping and making lecture fees as the senior fellow at the institute of so-and-so. Look at the top 50 intelligentsia-not one of them supported our campaign, not one of them has urged for street action and marches.”


Anonymous robbie said...

He has always told it like it is. It's no wonder I voted for him in the last 3 elections.

August 10, 2009 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same here. And I'll got toe to toe with any Democrat who wants to push the issue and 'thank' me for Bush. I'm sick of being lectured for having principals and actually sticking to them.

August 10, 2009 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 2004 the Democrats spent far more time and energy attacking and trying to limit third party candidates than they did opposing the Republican platform.

August 10, 2009 9:50 PM  
Anonymous greens are a corporate cover for corporate dems said...

As did the so-called Greens.

August 10, 2009 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

How many here would be willing to spend 6-8 years working a "second job" of grassroots organising?

I'm just looking for an honest show of hands, not a contract or anything substantive. I'm just trying to see how bad the apathy level is among people who write angrily online.

So: how many?

August 11, 2009 6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I voted for Ralph in 96 and 2000. While his career has done more good than harm he has succumbed to vanity in his recent efforts. We cannot jumpstart a third party with celebrity candidates. Obama is and was the lesser evil. Now it is up to us to exploit the new space for discussion of the real survival issues that both of the major parties seek to avoid.

August 11, 2009 6:39 AM  
Anonymous question for national poll said...

From caving to AIPAC, kissing bloodsucking health insurance lobbyist ass, threatening the admittedly annoying free speech of tea baggers, reneging on peace, wrecking the US and world economies at the behest of his imperial buddies, being the most pathetic laughable prostitute on endless nauseating tv appearances (we should call him president rerun) continuing indefinite detention and extrajudicial torture and execution, and now proclaiming he has the power to circumvent the legislature via signing statements, is there a more deserving candidate for worst president in history?

August 11, 2009 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Keesha said...

"Now it is up to us to exploit the new space for discussion of the real survival issues that both of the major parties seek to avoid." LOL.
What new spaces? What a naive thing to claim and we heard it from the Kool Aid Drinkers all during 2008. They should all be ashamed.
I voted for Ralph because he wasn't a War Hawk. Only those who lied to themselves believed Barack would bring peace or end the Iraq War. How's that going? 130,000 troops on the ground. Where's that 'open space'?
Foolish idiots get the leaders they supported and then want to whine those who were honest and voted their convictions weren't realistic?
Sell it somewhere else.

August 11, 2009 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Chris Hedges, for writing down what I've known all along but have tried to ignore. The Obama farce has wakened me from a lifetime of passivity. I've been "apolitical." Not anymore. I'm looking for places to march and rallies to attend. Fear-mongering propaganda isn't going to stop me. The corporate steam roller has got to be stopped NOW. Our planet is literally being destroyed.

August 11, 2009 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

But what makes you think marches and rallies will have any positive effect?

August 12, 2009 5:21 AM  
Anonymous pay justice said...

march and rally = continue endlessly to beg wealthpower giants for your rights.

strike the root and be done with it once and for all: help murder the insane and suicidal idea to allow unlimited personal fortunes, or you'll be repeating your history of begging for your rights from illegitimate wealthpower giants forever.

August 12, 2009 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

You've captured the long and the short of it for sure, PJ.

As "Grandpa Munster" told us: the Number ONE thing we have to do is agree with one another that the elites shouldn't get to keep the wealth and power they have.

Once we agree that, then the idea of begging them to treat us better will seem like one of those crazy fever dreams that appear logical while we're sick but make no sense at all once we sober up.

August 12, 2009 12:26 PM  
Anonymous PJ said...

Thanks, Mairead. Love Grandpa, yes, and I'm saving your last paragraph; you've nailed it, too.

Activists get angry when I suggest that protesting actually can send the wrong message to other people: that it sends the message that it's right and good and necessary to beg the wealthpower giants for our rights, and we must always beg wealthpower giants for our rights.

No wonder we stay stuck with the status quo after so much effort and time spent clamouring for our rights!

I keep saying it and saying it: it's what's in everybody's heads that's driving everything that's going on, so it's an IDEA that is the enemy and the problem...and that idea is the world's worst idea ever; the suicidal idea to allow unlimited person fortunes. Withdrawing unlimited personal fortunes from the finite pool of wealth is unjust because individual contribution is limited by nature. That idea to disconnect personal amount withdrawn from personal amount created is what has to be murdered, has to be swept from the general human consciousness. Our only hope is that enough people will realize all the legal theft going on, and see the danger of inequality of wealthpower, and focus on that root cause of our unecessary but dire problems and hurry up about it!

I do my utmost every day to see that this happens...this awakening from our stupor. We are truly in a race between education and catastrophe, alas, with the future approaching at the rate of one second per second and us uninformed and stuck in inertia.

Honestly, I don't think it will help or makes sense to do anything but keep repeating the simple rational sanity - keep explaining how money actually works and exposing the countless legal thefts and the inherent flaw in capitalism that automatically transfers wealth from earners to non-earners, and hoping people will see clearly the injustice and that the ceaseless struggle to get justice drives all the violence pollution...and our species will finally develop the elemental good sense to stop frantically shoveling all the wealth and power to a fraction few wealthpower giants who can't even see the ants they step on...

There may be no use in my campaign for pay justice, but i KNOW there's no use in shutting up. Fatalism is a self-fulfilling prophesy, and besides - I'm living proof that average people certainly can understand about pay justice. It was taught to me and I easily saw that it perfectly agreed with my own good sense.

When each learns it and teaches two, we're there: we'll have the only revolution worth having: the peaceful, lasting revolution where what gets murdered is a very bad idea that is killing us all and this planet.

August 13, 2009 9:16 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home