Chris Hedges has his finger on the pulse of what ails America today. We’ve been manipulated in to a state of fear, convinced that any sort of protest or dissent is anti-American. Go to many places in the Midwest or the South and start talking about organizing the farmers and factory workers and transit workers to take part in a mass strike to disrupt the establishment and you’re likely to be labeled a “commie” or a terrorist and run out of town on a rail. The fact is those things, protests and strikes are precisely what America is built on. It’s precisely why we have that document called the Constitution, to protect us and allow us to demonstrate and protest.
The problem is that, not only have we been somehow mind-fucked into believing that anything but compliance is un-American, our country’s history of protests by the working class has been covered up as much as possible. Check out this list of protests in the twentieth century alone. Nearly every year in the US there were massive worker strikes, often violent, with workers fighting for their rights. It’s what led to the strong working class that helped pull the country out of depression and create a strong, healthy middle-class that thrived up to and through WWII. About 20 years later it would begin to get systematically dismantled leading to what we have today, 3/4 of American living paycheck to paycheck, often working two jobs just to get by.
Now, pre-World War I, Mother Jones was a hero to the miners, like John Lewis and all of these radical figures. Now it’s Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.
Why is that? It’s because there’s been a divorce of radical movements from the working class and radical ideologies from the working class. And the way that divorce came about is that those who had these kind of broad social visions which challenged the primacy of corporate capitalism got pushed out of the system. They’re not there anymore. And so now at a moment of crisis–and we are certainly in a moment of crisis–we lack the movements which can give expression to the suffering of our underclass, and our liberal elites which once responded to those movements have been eviscerated and essentially are corporate stooges.
People fall on hard times. People have troubles and it’s our job as a society to be there to help them when that happens. To make sure that there aren’t children going hungry. But so many of us have been indoctrinated with hate for whatever reason that any mention of “welfare” or “food stamps” often results in a torrent of vitriolic hate against the “lazy, good-for-nothing so and sos taking money out of MY pocket!” Meanwhile the same people so offended by making sure people aren’t going hungry stand idly by while corporations take billions upon billions of dollars in “welfare” from the government. Many times even trying to justify the corporations actions by saying that it’s good for the economy because they provide jobs. A theory which, economically speaking, is utter nonsense and has been disproved over and over.
The forces arrayed against us, the security and surveillance state knows the moment anything is going to be organized. They’ve essentially shut down all public space for any kind of serious dissent because they don’t want to see a resurrection of the Occupy movement. We are the most surveilled, monitored, eavesdropped, controlled, watched population in human history, and I speak as somebody who covered the Stasi state in East Germany. We are kept in a state of perpetual fear that we could lose our jobs [incompr.] so many people in this country now are living at subsistence level. To lose their job is catastrophic. We are seeing the corporate state dismantle programs that once provided benefits like unemployment payments or social programs to the poor, to the elderly, to students, to make us even more frightened and more easily manipulated. I mean, there’s a kind of awful logic to what they’re doing. And, you know, it is–those forms of repression are quite effective. We have shifted, I think, from a democratic state to a species of corporate totalitarianism.
Watch the full video of Hedges’ interview after the jump or click here for the full transcript (scroll down).