Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How America's Liberals Betrayed Their Country

Chris Hedges has written a telling piece on how America's enlightened liberals are complicit in their country's downward spiral. From AlterNet:

...The roots of mass apathy are found in the profound divide between liberals, who are mostly white and well educated, and our disenfranchised working class, whose sons and daughters, because they cannot get decent jobs with benefits, have few options besides the military. Liberals, whose children are more often to be found in elite colleges than the Marine Corps, did not fight the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and the dismantling of our manufacturing base. They did nothing when the Democrats gutted welfare two years later and stood by as our banks were turned over to Wall Street speculators. They signed on, by supporting the Clinton and Obama Democrats, for the corporate rape carried out in the name of globalization and endless war, and they ignored the plight of the poor. And for this reason the poor have little interest in the moral protestations of liberals. We have lost all credibility. We are justly hated for our tacit complicity in the corporate assault on workers and their families.

Our passivity has resulted, however, in much more than imperial adventurism and a permanent underclass. A slow-motion coup by a corporate state has cemented into place a neofeudalism in which there are only masters and serfs. And the process is one that cannot be reversed through the traditional mechanisms of electoral politics.

...Corporations have effectively taken over our internal security and intelligence apparatus. They run our economy and manage our systems of communication. They own the two major political parties. They have built a private military. They loot the U.S. Treasury at will. And they have become unassailable. Those who decry the corporate coup are locked out of the national debate and become as marginalized as Kucinich.

Hedges quotes activist David Swanson: “We have a corporate media cartel that overlaps with the war industry. It has no interest in democracy. The Congress is bought and paid for. It is absolutely corrupted by money. We kick ourselves for not being active enough and imposing our demands, but the bar is set very high for us. ...Hypocritical Congress members talk about money all the time, how we have to be careful about money, except when it comes to war. It is hypocritical, but who is going to call them on that? Not their colleagues, not their funders, not the media, only us.

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill condemned the privatization of not just the nation's military but its government also: "...There are 18 U.S. intelligence agencies on the military and civilian side and 70 percent of their combined budget is outsourced to for-profit corporations who simultaneously work the United States government as well as multinational corporations and foreign governments. We have radically outsourced the intelligence operations in this country because we have radically outsourced everything. Sixty-nine percent of the Pentagon’s entire work force, and I am not talking only about the battlefield, is now privatized. In Afghanistan we have the most staggering statistics. The Obama administration is infinitely worse in Afghanistan in terms of its employment of mercenaries and other private contractors than the Bush administration. Right now in Afghanistan there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors alongside 68,000 U.S. troops."

The point I take from Hedges' piece is that Liberals have to stand up and fight the drift to the right because, when it comes right down to it, no one else can restore balance, no one else can hold the centre. That's as true in Canada as it is south of the border. We need to reject out of hand any leader who tries to steer the party to the right - and that means Michael Ignatieff. The party is already too far right and voters are unwilling to support the party where it stands. We have to stop being afraid of holding the centre which includes the progressive, centre left.


laura k said...

Mound, thanks for highlighting this. I also recomment Kevin Baker's piece in the recent issue of Harper's, "The Vanishing Liberal: how the left learned to be helpless. It's subscription only (here) but it's pprobably online somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a deeper point than what you summarize. It's not that the liberals have not stood up to the drift to the right, its that the effects of the shift to the right have not affected liberals. In other words, liberals need to redefine liberals to be inclusive of poor blacks, as one example, rather than pretend to be the defenders of poor blacks - because they have not been. Once liberalism includes such people then it will be affected by many of the consequences from the drift to the right. And until it does include them liberals will stand by and let the shift to the right occur, perhaps even support it.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon you've made some good points. Thanks. And, L-Girl, thanks for pointing out the Harper's article. It's one of the few magazines I subscribe to and,for my money, one of the very best. I suppose it'd be fair to call it the voice of American liberal thought.

Christian Prophet said...

More than complicit. Enabling. See the article: "Liberal Progressive Muggers."

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry Christo-Facist, you're full of crap. Let me guess, you're one of those freaks who clings to fantasies like biblical inerrancy. Sorry, the voodoo room is much further down the hall. Nothing to see here, keep moving.

Okie said...

I clipped this from the end of the article L-girl pointed to.

"Perversely, our ruling elite today is one of unparalleled diversity, and includes unprecedented numbers of women, minorities, and individuals who have worked their way up to power on brains and determination alone, usually without having inherited connections or wealth. It is a meritocracy much like the one long envisioned by many liberal reformers—and it has decided to capitulate, reap its considerable rewards, and draw the ladder up after it."

I thought that part particularly interesting.

Seeing the reference to feudalism in your selection Mound, gave me an odd sense of support as I have been refering to our system in that way for some years now. I call it refined Feudalism.

Coming from a small market area may have given me the opportunity to recognize the beast earlier than many others. As we have only a handful of corporate giants. The strength of some of them has grown to the point that they no longer care if they are recognized for what they are.

Plus it is hard to deny whose blade is being extracted from your back, when they control even the two main political entities and regularly use that power to accomplish their goals.

It says a great deal when a company which claims to employ 12% of the population has it's way with government and often the publics assets as well.

When a single entity can appropriate up to 1 million to a fund to drive out fledgling weekly newspapers, and owns virtually every newspaper in the province and continues to go unchallenged, there is a clear and definable problem.

The Mound of Sound said...

"meritocracy", now that's arguable. Ever since Reagan the dice have been so loaded that merit, while it had some place in any event, became legislatively engineered.

Corporatism, the driving force behind the enormous gap between rich and poor, has had little to do with merit and far more to do with lobbying.

The wealthy class that has emerged in America particularly has burgeoned with the shift to a rentier class - those who make their wealth through finance rather than actually producing anything useful. America's inevitable decline set in when the lion's share of its economy was rooted in the FIRE (finance/insurance/ real estate) industries as its manufacturing base eroded and atrophied. That's 'meritocracy'? Perhaps, if you're a fund manager or a Baron of Wall Street with a 'bought and paid for' Congress at your beck and call. Meritocracy, from the outside, looks much different. Buying Congress hardly seems to have little to do with merit.