Thursday, March 3, 2016

Chris Hedges and Gas-Pump Reality

It has become clear, as the important American journalist and polemicist Chris Hedges has long argued, that elections can’t fix what’s wrong with this country.  

Elections are the milksop for deluded Americans of the middle and lower classes.  They’re shows, orchestrated fictions designed to make us feel like we”re participating in a democratic process.  

Hedges quotes Sheldon Wolin in “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.”

“One cannot point to any national institution[s] that can accurately be described as democratic, surely not in the highly managed, money-saturated elections, the lobby-infested Congress, the imperial presidency, the class-based judicial and penal system, or, least of all, the media.

In the United States today, Hedges writes,Corporate power is unassailable, and it rolls forward like a stream of lava.” It is in his view a system that ultimately must implode.

Even as he excoriates the American left for its vacuous cowardice, Hedges has repeatedly called for a new American revolution.  Now he fears that “the revolt may be right-wing. It may have heavy overtones of fascism. It may cement into place a frightening police state. But that a revolt is coming is incontrovertible. The absurdity of the election proves it.”

As I pumped gas the other day, a guy at the next pump remarked on the upcoming “Super Tuesday” primaries.  He was a non-union worker driving a battered pick-up. (He had to be non-union, because union workers are as rare as penguins here in southern New Mexico.)  “I’m for Bernie,” he said.  “Hillary’s a f——-g bitch.” He and all his fellow workers are lifelong Democrats, he said, but if the party nominated Clinton “we’ll all go over to Trump.” 

He reminded me of what Hedges had written that very day:

“There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites, rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal policies and political correctness imposed on them by college-educated elites from both political parties: Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism.

“These Americans want a kind of freedom—a freedom to hate. They want the freedom to use words like “nigger,” “kike,” “spic,” “chink,” “raghead” and “fag.” They want the freedom to idealize violence and the gun culture. They want the freedom to have enemies, to physically assault Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, homosexuals and anyone who dares criticize their cryptofascism. They want the freedom to celebrate historical movements and figures that the college-educated elites condemn, including the Ku Klux Klan and the Confederacy. They want the freedom to ridicule and dismiss intellectuals, ideas, science and culture. They want the freedom to silence those who have been telling them how to behave. And they want the freedom to revel in hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These are the core sentiments of fascism.

I suggested to my gas-pump neighbor that instead of switching over to Trump, he and his friends might want to consider the Green Party candidacy of Jill Stein. He didn’t know who Jill Stein was and didn’t care.

“We got rights,” he said.  “But people like Hillary don’t give a shit about us.  We’re gonna go with somebody who cares about us.”

I finished filling my tank and moved to drive off.  “Have a nice day,” he said, waving to me.

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