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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 65,209

Journal Archives

Chris Hedges & Sheldon Wolin: Can Capitalism and Democracy Co-exist? (pt 4 of 8)




Published on Oct 28, 2014
Journalist Chris Hedges and political philosopher Sheldon Wolin discuss the concept of "inverted totalitarianism" and its relevance for understanding contemporary politics

Chris Hedges & Sheldon Wolin: Can Capitalism and Democracy Co-exist? (pts 1-3 of 8)









Journalist Chris Hedges interviews political philosopher Sheldon Wolin, who says democracy requires continuous opposition and vigilance by the citizenry



I know, right? They hate Obama no matter what!

I'll be looking for you to be taking issue with all the gratuitous bashing that goes on all over DU.

Rock on!

Julie

And if you can't find a mohel, a pitbull will do.

Chris Hedges: The Imperative of Revolt


from truthdig:


by Chris Hedges


TORONTO—I met with Sheldon S. Wolin in Salem, Ore., and John Ralston Saul in Toronto and asked the two political philosophers the same question. If, as Saul has written, we have undergone a corporate coup d’état and now live under a species of corporate dictatorship that Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” if the internal mechanisms that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible remain ineffective, if corporate power retains its chokehold on our economy and governance, including our legislative bodies, judiciary and systems of information, and if these corporate forces are able to use the security and surveillance apparatus and militarized police forces to criminalize dissent, how will change occur and what will it look like?

Wolin, who wrote the books “Politics and Vision” and “Democracy Incorporated,” and Saul, who wrote “Voltaire’s Bastards” and “The Unconscious Civilization,” see democratic rituals and institutions, especially in the United States, as largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power. Wolin and Saul excoriate academics, intellectuals and journalists, charging they have abrogated their calling to expose abuses of power and give voice to social criticism; they instead function as echo chambers for elites, courtiers and corporate systems managers. Neither believes the current economic system is sustainable. And each calls for mass movements willing to carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience to disrupt and delegitimize corporate power.

“If you continue to go down the wrong road, at a certain point something happens,” Saul said during our meeting Wednesday in Toronto, where he lives. “At a certain point when the financial system is wrong it falls apart. And it did. And it will fall apart again.”

......(snip)......

Inverted totalitarianism does not replicate past totalitarian structures, such as fascism and communism. It is therefore harder to immediately identify and understand. There is no blustering demagogue. There is no triumphant revolutionary party. There are no ideologically drenched and emotional mass political rallies. The old symbols, the old iconography and the old language of democracy are held up as virtuous. The old systems of governance—electoral politics, an independent judiciary, a free press and the Constitution—appear to be venerated. But, similar to what happened during the late Roman Empire, all the institutions that make democracy possible have been hollowed out and rendered impotent and ineffectual.

The corporate state, Wolin told me at his Oregon home, is “legitimated by elections it controls.” It exploits laws that once protected democracy to extinguish democracy; one example is allowing unlimited corporate campaign contributions in the name of our First Amendment right to free speech and our right to petition the government as citizens. “It perpetuates politics all the time,” Wolin said, “but a politics that is not political.” The endless election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics, driven not by substantive issues but manufactured political personalities and opinion polls. There is no national institution in the United States “that can be described as democratic,” he said. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_imperative_of_revolt_20141019



Chris Hedges: The Imperative of Revolt


from truthdig:


by Chris Hedges


TORONTO—I met with Sheldon S. Wolin in Salem, Ore., and John Ralston Saul in Toronto and asked the two political philosophers the same question. If, as Saul has written, we have undergone a corporate coup d’état and now live under a species of corporate dictatorship that Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” if the internal mechanisms that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible remain ineffective, if corporate power retains its chokehold on our economy and governance, including our legislative bodies, judiciary and systems of information, and if these corporate forces are able to use the security and surveillance apparatus and militarized police forces to criminalize dissent, how will change occur and what will it look like?

Wolin, who wrote the books “Politics and Vision” and “Democracy Incorporated,” and Saul, who wrote “Voltaire’s Bastards” and “The Unconscious Civilization,” see democratic rituals and institutions, especially in the United States, as largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power. Wolin and Saul excoriate academics, intellectuals and journalists, charging they have abrogated their calling to expose abuses of power and give voice to social criticism; they instead function as echo chambers for elites, courtiers and corporate systems managers. Neither believes the current economic system is sustainable. And each calls for mass movements willing to carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience to disrupt and delegitimize corporate power.

“If you continue to go down the wrong road, at a certain point something happens,” Saul said during our meeting Wednesday in Toronto, where he lives. “At a certain point when the financial system is wrong it falls apart. And it did. And it will fall apart again.”

......(snip)......

Inverted totalitarianism does not replicate past totalitarian structures, such as fascism and communism. It is therefore harder to immediately identify and understand. There is no blustering demagogue. There is no triumphant revolutionary party. There are no ideologically drenched and emotional mass political rallies. The old symbols, the old iconography and the old language of democracy are held up as virtuous. The old systems of governance—electoral politics, an independent judiciary, a free press and the Constitution—appear to be venerated. But, similar to what happened during the late Roman Empire, all the institutions that make democracy possible have been hollowed out and rendered impotent and ineffectual.

The corporate state, Wolin told me at his Oregon home, is “legitimated by elections it controls.” It exploits laws that once protected democracy to extinguish democracy; one example is allowing unlimited corporate campaign contributions in the name of our First Amendment right to free speech and our right to petition the government as citizens. “It perpetuates politics all the time,” Wolin said, “but a politics that is not political.” The endless election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics, driven not by substantive issues but manufactured political personalities and opinion polls. There is no national institution in the United States “that can be described as democratic,” he said. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_imperative_of_revolt_20141019



Chris Hedges Honors Humanists Combating the ‘Culture of War’





Posted on Oct 19, 2014

Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges channeled his solemn, sermonic style at Stony Point, N.Y., on Saturday at a dinner inaugurating the Anne Barstow and Tom Driver Award for Excellence in Nonviolent Direct Action in Retirement.

The couple—she an author and retired professor of history at State University of New York; he an emeritus professor of theology and culture at Union Theological Seminary and a minister in the United Methodist Church—created the Colombia Accompaniment Program, a volunteer operation aimed at supporting “communities of Colombians who have been displaced by the violence of the forty-year war in their country,” according to the program’s website.


http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/chris_hedges_honors_humanists_combating_the_culture_of_war_20141019


Investing in Junk Armies: Why American Efforts to Create Foreign Armies Fail


from TomDispatch:


Investing in Junk Armies
Why American Efforts to Create Foreign Armies Fail

By William J. Astore


In June, tens of thousands of Iraqi Security Forces in Nineveh province north of Baghdad collapsed in the face of attacks from the militants of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), abandoning four major cities to that extremist movement. The collapse drew much notice in our media, but not much in the way of sustained analysis of the American role in it. To put it bluntly, when confronting IS and its band of lightly armed irregulars, a reputedly professional military, American-trained and -armed, discarded its weapons and equipment, cast its uniforms aside, and melted back into the populace. What this behavior couldn’t have made clearer was that U.S. efforts to create a new Iraqi army, much-touted and funded to the tune of $25 billion over the 10 years of the American occupation ($60 billion if you include other reconstruction costs), had failed miserably.

Though reasonable analyses of the factors behind that collapse exist, an investigation of why U.S. efforts to create a viable Iraqi army (and, by extension, viable security forces in Afghanistan) cratered so badly are lacking. To understand what really happened, a little history lesson is in order. You’d need to start in May 2003 with the decision of L. Paul Bremer III, America’s proconsul in occupied Iraq and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), to disband the battle-hardened Iraqi military. The Bush administration considered it far too tainted by Saddam Hussein and his Baathist Party to be a trustworthy force.

Instead, Bremer and his team vowed to create a new Iraqi military from scratch. According to Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks in his bestselling book Fiasco, that force was initially conceived as a small constabulary of 30,000-40,000 men (with no air force at all, or rather with the U.S. Air Force for backing in a country U.S. officials expected to garrison for decades). Its main job would be to secure the country’s borders without posing a threat to Iraq’s neighbors or, it should be added, to U.S. interests.

Bremer’s decision essentially threw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military. More than a few of them later found their way into the ranks of ISIS, including at the highest levels of leadership. (The most notorious of these is Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former general in Saddam’s army who was featured as the King of Clubs in the Bush administration’s deck of cards of Iraq’s most wanted figures. Al-Douri is now reportedly helping to coordinate IS attacks.) ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175907/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_america%27s_hollow_foreign_legions/



Eugene Robinson: At this point, the war against the Islamic State can only be seen as failing


from truthdig:



by Eugene Robinson


It’s not too soon to state the obvious: At this point, the war against the Islamic State can only be seen as failing.

U.S.-led air power has barely been able to keep the jihadist militants from capturing the Syrian town of Kobane, near the Turkish border—and the besieged city may yet fall. Far to the southeast, Islamic State fighters have come within a few miles of Baghdad and threaten to consolidate their control of the vast Anbar Province, the Sunni heartland of Iraq. The self-proclaimed “caliphate” remains intact and its forces are advancing.

Intervention by the world’s mightiest military force has produced no shock and no awe. To be sure, U.S. and coalition airstrikes are inflicting some damage on Islamic State troops and equipment. But the bombing has done virtually nothing to alter the strategic balance of power—or to boost the fortunes of our ostensible allies on the ground, the “moderate” Syrian rebels and the hapless Iraqi military.

Why, then, are we fighting this war? ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/no_shock_and_no_awe_20141015



The Real World of Reality TV: Worker Exploitation


(In These Times) On September 10, 16 editors on the Bravo reality show Shahs of Sunset walked off the job in Hollywood after informing their employer, Ryan Seacrest Productions, of their intentions to unionize. The next day, Bravo announced they would delay the premiere of the fourth season.

“We thought it was about time, in the fourth season of a popular show, to get health care and pension benefits,” says Vanessa Hughes, one of the editors seeking representation through the Motion Picture Editors Guild, a division of the International Association of Stage and Theatrical Employees (IATSE). “We thought it’d take a day or so of picketing.”

But on September 26, Bravo announced they would take over production of the show, and the striking editors would be fired—leading workers to believe that Bravo would complete the season with scabs.

None of the fired editors ever spoke directly with their bosses or the network, hearing about their termination through a press release. “We appreciate the passion, commitment and contributions these editors made to the fourth season of Shahs of Sunset,” Ryan Seacrest Productions wrote in a statement. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17254/reality_tv_production_workers_win_collective_bargaining



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