Progressivism or Populism? Chris Hedges answered by Dick Eastman

Progressivism or Populism?

Chris Hedges Eastman:

Chris Hedges: The U.S. Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear our case concerning Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which permits the military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers without due process, means that this provision will continue to be law. It means the nation has entered a post-constitutional era. It means that extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil by our government is legal. It means that the courts, like the legislative and executive branches of government, exclusively serve corporate powerone of the core definitions of fascism. It means that the internal mechanisms of state are so corrupted and subservient to corporate power that there is no hope of reform or protection for citizens under our most basic constitutional rights. It means that the consent of the governeda poll by showed that this provision had a 98 percent disapproval ratingis a cruel joke. And it means that if we do not rapidly build militant mass movements to overthrow corporate tyranny, including breaking the back of the two-party duopoly that is the mask of corporate power, we will lose our liberty.

Now, a U.S. citizen charged by the government with substantially supporting al-Qaida, the Taliban or those in the nebulous category of associated forcessome of the language of Section 1021(b)(2)is lawfully subject to extraordinary rendition on U.S. soil. And those seized and placed in military jails can be kept there until the end of hostilities.

Judge Forrest, in her 112-page ruling against the section, noted that under this provision of the NDAA whole categories of Americans could be subject to seizure by the military. These might include Muslims, activists, Black Bloc members and any other Americans labeled as domestic terrorists by the state. Forrest wrote that Section 1021(b)(2) echoed the 1944 Supreme Court ruling in Korematsu v. United States, which supported the governments use of the military to detain 110,00 Japanese-Americans in internment camps without due process during World War II.

Of the refusal to hear our lawsuit, Afran said, The Supreme Court has left in place a statute that furthers erodes basic respect for constitutional liberties, that weakens free speech and will chill the willingness of Americans to exercise their 1st Amendment rights, already in severe decline in this country.

Eastman: All that is true. Now what do you say is behind it all and how do we fix it?

Chris Hedges: The goals of corporate capitalism are increasingly indistinguishable from the goals of the state. The political and economic systems are subservient to corporate profit. Debate between conventional liberals and conservatives has been replaced by empty political theater and spectacle. Corporations, no matter which politicians are in office, loot the Treasury, escape taxation, push down wages, break unions, dismantle civil society, gut regulation and legal oversight, control information, prosecute endless war and dismantle public institutions and programs that include schools, welfare and Social Security. And elected officials, enriched through our form of legalized corporate bribery, have no intention of halting the process.

The government, by ignoring the rights and needs of ordinary citizens, is jeopardizing its legitimacy. This is dangerous. When a citizenry no longer feels that it can find justice within the organs of power, when it feels that the organs of power are the enemies of freedom and economic advancement, it makes war on those organs. Those of us who are condemned as radicals, idealists and dreamers call for basic reforms that, if enacted, will make peaceful reform possible. But corporate capitalists, now unchecked by state power and dismissive of the popular will, do not see the fires they are igniting. The Supreme Court ruling on our challenge is one more signpost on the road to dystopia.

Eastman: I thought so. You know that the government has been captured by someone else but you blame the corporations and the profit motive rather than the men who control money.

Chris Hedges: The fusion of corporate and state power means that government is broken. It is little more than a protection racket for Wall Street. And it is our job to wrest government back. This will come only through the building of mass movements.

It is futile to be anti-Fascist while attempting to preserve capitalism, George Orwell wrote. Fascism after all is only a development of capitalism, and the mildest democracy, so-called, is liable to turn into Fascism.

Eastman: You say you are anti-capitalist but you blame profit rather than money from loans tied to debt and claims to collateral and money coming from private loans and speculators who switch us from boom to depression just by lending more or calling in loans. When you blame profits rather than bad money you are a Progressive, not a Populist. The system isn’t wrong because people go after profit. Yes, corporations are bad business and we need to get rid of them. But even if all of our production was by single owners and partners, the same big finance men would end up being the ones doing all the owning because of the money and credit systems they control. Rothschild and Rockefeller operate through trusts which are not counted as corporations. They also rule the world with their non-profit foundations. You are missing the biggest thing that’s got us by the neck. And that figures for a dude like you who is always telling us what to think from Natinal Public Radio and the New York Times.

Chris Hedges: Our corporate masters will not of their own volition curb their appetite for profits. Human misery and the deadly assault on the ecosystem are good for business. These masters have set in place laws that, when we rise upand they expect us to rise upwill permit the state to herd us like sheep into military detention camps. Section 1021(b)(2) is but one piece of the legal tyranny now in place to ensure total corporate control. The corporate state also oversees the most pervasive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. It can order the assassination of U.S. citizens. It has abolished habeas corpus. It uses secret evidence to imprison dissidents, such as the Palestinian academic Mazen Al-Najjar. It employs the Espionage Act to criminalize those who expose abuses of power. A ruling elite that accrues for itself this kind of total power, history has shown, eventually uses it.

Eastman: The people destroying the ecosystem are not doing it because that simply happens to be what earns the most profit. They are using their control over the ecosystem to weaken and destroy their enemies who are all the rest of the people walking sharing the earth. They are looking for power, for total domination, for lordship over the human race — not just money profit. They can make as much money as they want when they want. What they want is everything and they want only as much of us hanging around as they need to do things that computers and robots can’t do for them and those things are becoming fewer and fewer. What you say above is that they are after profit and in getting profit that happened to get some power and that sooner or later that power will tempt them to use it. That ain’t the way it works.

Chris Hedges: 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, ideas often embodied in a utopian revolutionary myth. The articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny is, for me, paramount.

Eastman: You’ve got that wrong. All of what you call radical change has been the work of bankers pulling the strings — from the French Revolution when Louis XIV tried to repudiate the French debt to the Russian and Chinese communist revolutions to the Progressive Movement, the New Deal and the Great Society. You push socialism as the answer and like Marx you blame profit rather than money and banking. Don’t you know that the Soviet Union was deep in debt to international finance when it collapsed in 1989? Marx believed in a gold standard. He never spoke against Rothschild, but always, like you, against the profit motive. And in everything you say you show that you are not opposed to the money system but to the profit system.

Chris Hedges: Corporations, freed from all laws, government regulations and internal constraints, are stealing as much as they can, as fast as they can, on the way down. The managers of corporations no longer care about the effects of their pillage. Many expect the systems they are looting to fall apart. They are blinded by personal greed and hubris. They believe their obscene wealth can buy them security and protection.

Eastman: Every corporation was floated by an investment bank. The corporation is merely the structure in which the bankers place their stolen goods. Corporations are made from the body parts of true entrepreneurial business undertaking that were bankupted by the money lenders. The banks simply pick CEOs like Blankfein to run their operations. What you are doing is blaming the slave plantation foremen rather than the slavery system itself. And today the whole country is the slave plantation and it is debt slavery that’s got us, not the profit motive of businessmen. Your ignorance is on display when you recommend socialism – because socialism is merely the turning of the entire country into a corporation where the corporation gives people what the corporation thinks people need and takes from them the labor and taxes they decide people are able to put out. The socialist revolutions in Russia and in China merely turned the populations of those countries into assets of states doing business with the bankers. The bankers and their hired brains play the game, the corporations are their chess pieces. Exacting interest is far different than earning a profit fro producing what people want to own and pay for. And the bankers are in a position to charge us interest even for the paper money tokens we use to make our transactions easier — they charge interest for giving us a money supply that they can expand and contract to suit their plans for picking our pockets and you don’t see any of that. All you see is what you call greed and the profit motive. Yet you call for a revolution and you praise the occupy movmement — when neither you nor the occupy movement has ever gotten right what is wrong with our system.

Chris Hedges: Class struggle defines most of human history. Marx got this right. The sooner we realize that we are locked in deadly warfare with our ruling, corporate elite, the sooner we will realize that these elites must be overthrown. The corporate oligarchs have now seized all institutional systems of power in the United States. Electoral politics, internal security, the judiciary, our universities, the arts and finance, along with nearly all forms of communication, are in corporate hands. Our democracy, with faux debates between two corporate parties, is meaningless political theater. There is no way within the system to defy the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry or war profiteers. The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt.

Eastman: You say that we need to overthrow the elites because we realize they are at war with us. But you have no idea of what weapons they are using. You have no idea of what part of the system has to be replaced with what new arrangement. What are you going to do? Eliminate the profit motive from the economy? Of course that is your solution. You say you are calling for socialism. That is what socialism is. Meanwhile the populist is drowned out by your big mouth as you lead the people just where Lenin and Trotsky led the Russians, to the overthrow of the profit motive — while they kept the financial system and the indeptedness of the state paid off by the labor of the proletarian they said they had freed from their chains.

Chris Hedges: The Founding Fathers, largely wealthy slaveholders, feared direct democracy. They rigged our political process to thwart popular rule and protect the property rights of the native aristocracy. The masses were to be kept at bay. The Electoral College, the original power of the states to appoint senators, the disenfranchisement of women, Native Americans, African-Americans and men without property locked most people out of the democratic process at the beginning of the republic. We had to fight for our voice. Hundreds of workers were killed and thousands were wounded in our labor wars. The violence dwarfed the labor battles in any other industrialized nation.

Eastman: That’s all wrong too. Jefferson and Madison wanted the Electorial College so that a group of wise people could meet together in the electoral college to decide who in the country would make the best president. The system was subverted by the invention of political parties which were simply a way to force chosen electors to be committed before the electoral college convened. The electoral college now does nothing to find the best man for the people, they just count up the committed votes they bring to the college and that is the end of it. Direct election of presidents is a disaster because all the Money Power has to do is buy mass media and use its monopoly of news media to get a majority of voters to like one man on one day when the only other choice is another man that they too have picked specifically for the honor of being spun as the greater evil that scares people to vote for the one the bankers wanted in the first place. You are an elitist because, as Aristotle said — you like to quote Aristotle — pure democracy always ends in oligarchy. All progressives like you are against the electoral college. We populists are for it. You are also in favor of the direct election of Senators which we have had since 1913. Direct election of Senators was part of a package sought by J P Morgan and Paul Warburg and others for control of this country to permit entry into World War One. By 1917 enough Senators had been elected by Morgan who had bought up the newspapers so that the US would change its long held Washinton-Jefferson policy of staying out of European politics and wars. Along Direct Election of Senators came the income tax and the Federal Reserve Act –without which either of those the long banker celebration called World War One would not have been possible — that war which took the oil lands from the Ottoman Empire, destroyed Russia and set up British control of Palestine and a British promise to support the creation of a Jewish state. As a progressive you wound admit to none of that. But all of it is true. You progressives in all of your pretentions and ivy league calling for a revolution so you can eliminate the profit motive and abolish the electoral college and turn over the business sector to the state while leaving your bond wealth untouched and if anything more secure because you favor government doing all this with deficit financing.– not explicity stated sometimes but always implied by all that you neglect to talk about when finding things wrong with profit.

Chris Hedges: The consent of the governed is a cruel joke. Barack Obama cannot defy corporate power any more than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton could. Unlike his two immediate predecessors, Bush, who is intellectually and probably emotionally impaired, did not understand the totalitarian process abetted by the presidency. Because Clinton and Obama, and their Democratic Party, understand the destructive roles they played and are playing, they must be seen as far more cynical and far more complicit in the ruination of the country. Democratic politicians speak in the familiar I-feel-your-pain language of the liberal class while allowing corporations to strip us of personal wealth and power. They are effective masks for corporate power.

The corporate state seeks to maintain the fiction of our personal agency in the political and economic process. As long as we believe we are participants, a lie sustained through massive propaganda campaigns, endless and absurd election cycles and the pageantry of empty political theater, our corporate oligarchs rest easy in their private jets, boardrooms, penthouses and mansions. As the bankruptcy of corporate capitalism and globalization is exposed, the ruling elite are increasingly nervous. They know that if the ideas that justify their power die, they are finished. This is why voices of dissentas well as spontaneous uprisings such as the Occupy movementare ruthlessly crushed by the corporate state.

Eastman: You haven’t exposed anything about corporate capitalism. All you have done is regurgitate the Marxist lie that it is business and not finance that is the root of the problem. That profit is exploitation rather than a debt money system and bankers who can speculate on an economy shorting and investing as they alternately boom and bust the economy through the monopoly of credit. You are a big articulate baffoon who pretends to be for the people when in fact you are for the bankers and every dime you make and all of your assets are positioned for the continuence of that system. That last thing Chris Hedges is going to do is bite the hand that feeds him.

Chris Hedges: The squalor and suffering inflicted on workers by the oligarchic class in the 19th century is mirrored in the present, now that we have been stripped of protection. Dissent is once again a criminal act. The Mellons, Rockefellers and Carnegies at the turn of the last century sought to create a nation of masters and serfs. The modern corporate incarnation of this 19th century oligarchic elite has created a worldwide neofeudalism, where workers across the planet toil in misery while corporate oligarchs amass hundreds of millions in personal wealth.

Eastman: Here is an example of what I’m talking about. Who does Hedges pick as his bad guys? Rockefeller of course, but who else? The Two Andrews — Carnegie and Mellon. But these were men of foresight who built great industries — starting in timber and coal and only afterwards joining his father’s bank. Mellon did a lot for America, not as a monopolist. And then he gave up money making to become Secretary of the Treasury promoting the national economy under Harding, Coolidge and Hoover. Carnegie was a hard dealer but he built a Steel corporation. But if you want to pick bad guys why not mention the powers of finance and the railroads, why not mention J.P. Morgan, Schiff. Because you believe that businessmen are the bad guys and the bankers are the good guys. When you blame the “corporate oligarchs” you are blaming corporation monopoly power — but not the power that makes monopolies, not the much greater and more fundamental money creating power and credit power of international financiers. The monopoly power to gain monopoly profits of the oligarch’s corporations is big but nowhere near as big as their other power, their power to exact interest from the money supply they get to supply us and the gains they get from fixed game speculation when they can open and shut the flood gates of credit. Yet it is phony people like Hedges that progressive Democrats vote for every time.

Chris Hedges: The corporations that profit from permanent war need us to be afraid. Fear stops us from objecting to government spending on a bloated military. Fear means we will not ask unpleasant questions of those in power. Fear permits the government to operate in secret. Fear means we are willing to give up our rights and liberties for promises of security. The imposition of fear ensures that the corporations that wrecked the country cannot be challenged. Fear keeps us penned in like livestock.

Eastman: Afraid of what? Didn’t the banks make just as much money financing Stalin’s socialist state in World War Two as they did funding Britain? Why should any international banker fear an American progressive. You present no threat. You don’t understand their game and your whole world as an American talking-head intellectual redirects the peope’s attention to the wrong tree for barking up.

Chris Hedges: 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.

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.

Eastman: Pop: So what are you saying. That the kids should go tot he banks instead of the government for college loans? And it is clear you have no idea what QE is. The holders of bad mortgage debt that has been securitized are swapping that debt for money. You know nothing about the real mechanism of theft in play here. You look at is as the Fed giving out money at zero interest. Anyone who publishes your articles is contributing to our national destruction not being prevented because fools have been given the floor to spew harmful misinformation about what is really happening.

Chris Hedges: 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. 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 policeto get them, in essence, to defectnonviolent 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.

Eastman: The only thing that kills an idea is a better idea. You don’t have one. You are one of those radical chic Harvard progressives calling for a revolution — with nothing to put in place of what you want to tear down — while blameing the profit motive and the electoral college and “greed” (an explanatory fiction that really explains nothing) — while missing the real source of power of the organized crime that is making war with the people — the power to issue money and regulate its circulation and charge interest for the use of it so that all the wealth of the people goes to the banks leaving the people debt slaves and tax slaves and rent slaves. It’s time for the people to find people to listen to from someplace other than the eastern establishment.

Chris Hedges: I think anyone who reads climate science reports is – must – you know, if you read them, you must be terrified. And the World Bank put out a report a few months ago that, of all institutions, was pretty stark – turning up the heat, I mean, talking about essentially reaching a point where human life, as we know it, is not sustainable. And yet, you know, how is the corporate state responding?

Eastman: Your climate science is as dishonest as your economics and politics. First off you don’t acknowledge that the technology to direct and intensify weather to catostrphic ends has been with us since the 1990s. That global warming is a false threat. That it covers up the use of weather warfare that is part of international bankers geopolitical control, agricultural commodities speculation and disaster capitalism. That cap and trade to cut greenhouse gases is simply the bankers cutting out billions of people from participation in construction. And it is all based on false science that you are pushing every time you open your mouth to discuss the weather.

Chris Hedges: Forty percent of the summer Arctic sea ice melts, and it’s a business opportunity to drop half-billion-dollar drill bits, mine the last vestiges of fish and natural – it’s insane. I mean, it makes Herman Melville’s novel “Moby-Dick” the most prescient study of American character. We’re all in the Pequod, which, of course, is named for an extinct Indian tribe. Ahab’s in charge.

Eastman: A scientific explanation is what is needed, not literaty analogy,even though it favorably displays your liberal arts ivy league education. The weather changes are under control as when the jet stream is moved lower redirecting arctic cold to lower latitudes, like the US lower 48 states and Russia. This is war. This is private bankers and thier hired intellectuals running the world with technologies developed in secret by corporations and scientists who were compartmentalized to such an extent that most of them have no idea of the technology of weaponized weather direction that they helped create.

What I found particularly insidious was 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.

I mean, the kind of disdain for the working class and also the middle class–I mean, in some way the way that they would speak about the middle class. And, you know, in essence, coming out of the middle class, this was something that struck home to me. Yeah, 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.

Chris Hedges: “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.

“I mean, these people — and C. Wright 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 — their gardeners or their 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.”

Eastman: You blame being rich, but being rich is not the same as being a robber. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Andrew Mellon got rich by what they gave. Mellon, in fact, is the only example of a big name banker I know who actually ran his banks as banks should be run. The Morgans (sr. and Jr.) and Rockefellers (the clan) were out to get him and they got him — with the 1929 crash and with trumped up charges to blame him for the crash.

Your ignorance is displayed cleary in your last statements above. Don’t you know that the banking elites were the ones after Louis XVI? The Rothschilds and other money lenders. The Revolution never would have happened without their money and their backing. And don’t you know that the Chinese Dynasty fell because of their failure to beat the opium traders who were in fact the City and the British Empire directed by the city. And that later the Communist revolution in China was entirely a City of Londong and Wall Street backed event — because the bankers did not want a middle class China based on monetarism and borrowing from American Jeffersonian (populist) ideals.

You progressives are no good to anybody but the bankers themselves. You are a buffer between the people and the (populist) truth and you always will be.

All comments attributed to Hedges have been taken from his recent interviews, most of which are available from Truthout.

Dick Eastman (“Pop”)
Yakima, Washington


About oldickeastman

Born 1949 Oakland High School 1967 Lake Forest College B.A. Western Michigan M.A. Texas A & M University M.S. and two years completed in the doctoral program in economics, passing prelims in Macroeconomics I am living in Yakima, Washington and spend much of my retirement writing on public issues.
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