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Forum Post: The Coming Climate Revolt By Chris Hedges

Posted 3 years ago on Sept. 23, 2014, 10:58 a.m. EST by flip (7101)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

We have undergone a transformation during the last few decades—what John Ralston Saul calls a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. We are no longer a capitalist democracy endowed with a functioning liberal class that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. Liberals in the old Democratic Party such as the senators Gaylord Nelson, Birch Bayh and George McGovern—who worked with Ralph Nader to make the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the OSHA law, who made common cause with labor unions to protect workers, who stood up to the arms industry and a bloated military—no longer exist within the Democratic Party, as Nader has been lamenting for several years. They were pushed out as corporate donors began to transform the political landscape with the election of Ronald Reagan. And this is why the Democrats have not, as Bill Curry points out, enacted any major social or economic reforms since the historic environmental laws of the early ’70s.

We are governed, rather, by a species of corporate totalitarianism, or what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as “inverted totalitarianism.” By this Wolin means a system where corporate power, while it purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the three branches of government and a free press, along with the iconography and language of American patriotism, has in fact seized all the important levers of power to render the citizen impotent.

The old liberal class, the safety valve that addressed grievances and injustices in times of economic or political distress, has been neutered. There are self-identified liberals, including Barack Obama, who continue to speak in the old language of liberalism but serve corporate power. This has been true since the Clinton administration. Bill Clinton found that by doing corporate bidding he could get corporate money—thus NAFTA, the destruction of our welfare system, the explosion of mass incarceration under the [1994] omnibus bill, the deregulation of the FCC, turning the airwaves over to a half dozen corporations, and the revoking of FDR’s 1933 Glass-Steagall reform that had protected our banking system from speculators. Clinton, in exchange for corporate money, transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party. This was diabolically brilliant. It forced the Republican Party to shift so far to the right it became insane.

By the time Clinton was done the rhetoric of self-professed liberals was a public relations game. This is why there is continuity from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Obama’s election did nothing to halt the expanding assault on civil liberties—in fact Obama’s assault has been worse—the Bush bailouts of big banks, the endless imperial wars, the failure to regulate Wall Street, the hiring of corporate lobbyists to write legislation and serve in top government positions, the explosion of drilling and fracking, the security and surveillance state as well as the persecution of government whistle-blowers.

This audience is well aware of the Democratic Party’s squalid record on the environment, laid out in detail in a new Greenpeace report written by Charlie Cray and Peter Montague, titled “The Kingpins of Carbon and Their War on Democracy.” The report chronicles what it calls “a multi-decade war on democracy by the kingpins of carbon—the coal, the oil, and gas industries allied with a handful of self-interested libertarian billionaires.”

The Obama administration, in return for financial support from these kingpins of carbon, has cynically undermined international climate treaties, a fact we discovered only because of the revelations provided by Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks. It uses its intelligence agencies, these revelations revealed, to spy on those carrying out climate negotiations to thwart caps on carbon emissions and push through useless, nonbinding agreements. The Obama administration has overseen a massive expansion of fracking. It is pushing through a series of trade agreements such as the TPP and the TAFTA that will increase fracking along with expanding our exports of coal, oil and gas. It authorized the excavation of tar sands in Utah and Alabama. It approved the southern half of the Keystone pipeline. It has permitted seismic testing for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the East Coast and in parts of Alaska, a process that kills off hundreds of sea mammals. It authorized drilling within four miles of the Florida coastline, violating one of Obama’s 2008 campaign promises. This expansion of offshore drilling reversed 20 years of federal policy.

If we appeal to self-identified liberals in the establishment who have no capacity or desire to carry out the radical reforms, we will pour energy into a black hole. And this is what the corporate state seeks. It seeks to perpetuate the facade of democracy. It seeks to make us believe what is no longer real, that if we work within the system we can reform it. And it has put in place a terrifying superstructure to silence all who step outside the narrow parameters it defines as acceptable.

The Democratic Party speaks to us “rationally.” The party says it seeks to protect civil liberties, regulate Wall Street, is concerned about the plight of the working class and wants to institute reforms to address climate change. But in all these areas, and many more, it has, like its Republican counterpart, repeatedly sold out the citizenry for corporate power and corporate profits—in much the same manner that Big Green environmental groups such as the Climate Group and the Environmental Defense Fund have sold out the environmental movement.

To assume that Obama, or the Democratic Party, because they acknowledge the reality of climate change, while the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party does not, is better equipped to deal with the crisis is incorrect. Republicans appeal to one constituency. The Democrats appeal to another. But both parties will do nothing to halt the ravaging of the planet.

If Wolin is right, and I believe he is, then when we begin to build mass movements that carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience, as I think everyone on this panel believes we must do, the corporate state, including the Democratic Party, will react the way all calcified states react. It will use the security and surveillance apparatus, militarized police forces—and, under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, the military itself—to shut down all dissent with force. The legal and organizational mechanisms are now in place to, with the flip of a switch, put the nation effectively under martial law. When acts of mass civil disobedience begin on Monday morning with Flood Wall Street and later with Occupy the U.N., the face of the corporate state will, as it did during the Occupy movement, reveal itself.

If the response of the corporate state is repression rather than reform then our strategy and our tactics must be different. We will have to cease our appealing to the system. We will have to view the state, including the Democratic Party, as antagonistic to genuine reform. We will have to speak in the language of … revolution. We will have to carry out acts of civil disobedience that seek to cripple the mechanisms of corporate power. The corporate elites, blinded by their lust for profit and foolish enough to believe they can protect themselves from climate change, will not veer from our path towards ecocide unless they are forced from power. And this means the beginning of a titanic clash between our corporate masters and ourselves.

25 Comments

25 Comments


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[-] 4 points by factsrfun (8851) from Phoenix, AZ 3 years ago

I wonder where Chris Hedges was when Al Gore was running for President, puffing up his ego somewhere I expect, he sure as hell wasn't finding any difference between W Bush and Al Gore on climate change, a fellow that couldn't find a difference between Al Gore and W Bush on climate change well I wouldn't think to be much of an expert in the field.

[-] -2 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

as the pear said "oh god" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN5PoW7_kdA

[-] 4 points by factsrfun (8851) from Phoenix, AZ 3 years ago

Wow it's as if the drilling in Alaska never happened how can anyone be as clueless as you flip?

[-] -2 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

oh god - Obama’s Oil Boom – Global Warming Be Damned

By Michael Klare | Thu, 04 September 2014

Considering all the talk about global warming, peak oil, carbon divestment, and renewable energy, you’d think that oil consumption in the United States would be on a downward path. By now, we should certainly be witnessing real progress toward a post-petroleum economy. As it happens, the opposite is occurring. U.S. oil consumption is on an upward trajectory, climbing by 400,000 barrels per day in 2013 alone -- and, if current trends persist, it should rise again both this year and next.

In other words, oil is back. Big time. Signs of its resurgence abound. Despite what you may think, Americans, on average, are driving more miles every day, not fewer, filling ever more fuel tanks with ever more gasoline, and evidently feeling ever less bad about it. The stigma of buying new gas-guzzling SUVs, for instance, seems to have vanished; according to CNN Money, nearly one out of three vehicles sold today is an SUV. As a result of all this, America’s demand for oil grew more than China’s in 2013, the first time that’s happened since 1999.

Accompanying all this is a little noticed but crucial shift in White House rhetoric. While President Obama once spoke of the necessity of eliminating our reliance on petroleum as a major source of energy, he now brags about rising U.S. oil output and touts his efforts to further boost production.

[-] 3 points by factsrfun (8851) from Phoenix, AZ 3 years ago

So your position is that Romney would have been better? or do you live in that world where someone polling 5% wins?

Because that world doesn't exist and because of that, your work elects Republicans.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

no that is not my position as i have told you too many times. my position is that the democrats are better on many issues but only marginally. on some issues they are actually much worse - like the wars of today. if w was in the white house right now there would be protests all over the country and the world. since we have a dem there too many remain silent. i voted for your president (to my shame) in 2012 - i do not think romney could be much worse. we will never know will we? what i do know is that we need radical change in our "systems" - political, energy, wealth and more and the democrats will not be the ones to give it to us. sadly i am pretty confident of that statement. having said that i hope lizzie warren runs and i will vote for her!

[-] 2 points by factsrfun (8851) from Phoenix, AZ 3 years ago

Your position is to tear down the Dems which helps elect the GOP, you established that.

You act like a child that didn't get his way and now you are going to complain and pout.

Saying the GOP is better on war is portraying your ignorance.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

you do realize that others can read and they can see that you lie. you asked my position and i told you. instead of trying to explain why my position might be off base you misrepresent what i said. that is why the adults here dislike you

[-] -2 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Anyone serious about pollution wouldnt be part of an administration that shipped all the factory jobs to zero regulation countries.

How dumb are you?

[-] 4 points by factsrfun (8851) from Phoenix, AZ 3 years ago

Serious people deep in and find differences no matter how hard the work, posiers stand in front of mirrors and talk about how smart they are.

[-] 2 points by MattHolck0 (3867) 3 years ago

including redundant variables is obfuscation

[-] 2 points by MattHolck0 (3867) 3 years ago

figured out how I lost $1

accidentally bought organic strawberries

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

very dumb - like a religious fundamentalist - probably had an elite education!

[-] -1 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Typical politicians.. Ship all the jobs out of here, devastate the economy, and increase world pollution 10 fold.

Then claim you support jobs and a green economy.

I hate hypocrites. Granted we all are in some ways, but these politicians are just too freakin much.

[-] 2 points by trashyharry (3082) from Waterville, NY 3 years ago

Flipper-I also live in NY state.You are correct in pointing out that in our recent Primary we had not only 1 but 2 EXCELLENT alternatives to the gubernatorial incumbent,RONIN,(Republican Only Not In Name) Andrew Cuomo.I would respond by saying that the politics in our state are uniquely fucked up by the skewing effect of having the interests of New York City almost always in conflict with the rest of the state.Another problem is that the supporters of the State of Israel have an extraordinary amount of Clout in the Internal politics of the state as well as the national politics of the US.Maintaining an unbreakable grip on the executive and legislative branches of NY State government is key to the power of the State of Israel and its supporters in the entire US.They will smear,blackmail or murder ANYONE who threatens the interests of Israel or its Wealthy dual citizens here in NY State.Many people are not aware that NY State has a policy of investing in Israel-funds adding up to 100 billion+ which are owned by NY State taxpayers are invested not here in the US,but in Israel,to help THEM out.Also many of the Billionaire Dual Citizens live in NY State.So-No BDS-No Wall Street Transaction Tax-No Raising Taxes on Millionaires or Billionaires.Our Hapless Sailor gets to choose between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea.Either ZT or Credico would be a better choice for New Yorkers-but the organizing that needs to happen is not now underway.A powerful movement is possible in this state if the underserved citizens on the left and right could unite.Opportunity is knocking-I can't be the only one who is hearing it.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

and yet zt got 35%or something like that right - i would have never heard of her had we not listened to capital report on npr out of albany - what a good show. we live in nj but recently bought a house in my hometown in western ny. driving back to nj sundays we try to listen to that show. i like it. we need to get organized - door to door like the old days!

[-] 2 points by trashyharry (3082) from Waterville, NY 3 years ago

ZT and Randy Credico were both given a very decent slice of time on Democracy Now.Randy Credico ran for Mayor of New York City last time.The MSM did as much as they could to stop voters from finding out about ZT.And yet she did amazingly well.When you get back to NY,you may want to consider the idea of trying to get organizers out there in our state.Western NY is a CRUCIAL component of any attempt to organize voters in NY-I have a contact in Occupy Albany-it's a start.We could take this state,without a doubt.Another great show is Capital Connection with Dr.Alan Charock,on WABC.I also love Susan Arbetter.She is still somehow associated with PBS,I think but seems to have a program on the Time Warner cable news outlet.The well known scholar and Libertarian Socialist dissident Webster Tarpley is a huge supporter of Credico's political aspirations.ZT has a bright future,IMHO.She totally needs Shades-LOL

[-] -1 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

thanks for the info. will try to catch those shows. we will not be in wny too often through the winter but i do know people up there and we need to make a change in albany - it is possible. imagine if zt had some msm airtime - or had a couple of debates with the gov. jesse ventura come to mind - you know how he got elected i imagine.

[-] 5 points by trashyharry (3082) from Waterville, NY 3 years ago

Another World is Possible.Let's keep that in mind as our Premise.Take care of yourself&the ones you love!

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

yes it is possible - what you are doing sounds very interesting - i hope we move forward towards a better world - this one sucks for too many people

[-] 3 points by trashyharry (3082) from Waterville, NY 3 years ago

"Who endures,conquers."

[-] 2 points by MattHolck0 (3867) 3 years ago

don't spend too much time at a door that don't answer

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

Just shows the dissatisfaction that is out there and what is possible

[-] 2 points by trashyharry (3082) from Waterville, NY 3 years ago

The GOP=The Source of Gigantic Bull Elephant Shit Avalanches which are used by the 1% to immobilize and suffocate Democracy in any place it exists to even the least degree in The United States of America.The Democratic Party=The Graveyard of any and all Movements of the 99% that promote even the least degree of Justice,Liberty,Solidarity,Egalitarianism, or Reform.The People are doubly afflicted by this Gruesome Twosome-like a hapless sailor thrown overboard by Pirates with TWO anchors chained around his neck.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 3 years ago

as you know i agree - i would only add one slight change. i would say it is more like we jump overboard with those two anchors. we could easily vote these sad sacks out - look at the primary vote in ny state. we could have thrown out the republican cuomo who runs on the democratic party ticket. too many of us are duped too easily - even here on ows - no?