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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Americans Awash In Spin

By Paul Craig Roberts
Information Clearinghouse
October 28, 2011

I have come to the conclusion that Big Brothers subjects in George Orwell’s 1984 are better informed than Americans.

Americans have no idea why they have been at war in the Middle East, Asia and Africa for a decade. They dont realize that their liberties have been supplanted by a Gestapo Police State. Few understand that hard economic times are here to stay.

On October 27, 2011, the US government announced some routine economic statistics, and the president of the European Council announced a new approach to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. The result of these funny numbers and mere words sent the Standard & Poors 500 Index to its largest monthly rally since 1974, erasing its 2011 yearly loss. The euro rose, putting the European currency again 40% above its initial parity with the US dollar when the euro was introduced.

On National Public Radio a half-wit analyst declared, emphatically, that the latest US government statistics proved that the recovery was in place and that there was no danger whatsoever of a double-dip recession. And half-brain economists predicted a better tomorrow.

Europe is happy because the European private banks, the creditors of the European governments, have agreed to eat 50% of Greece’s sovereign debt and to be recapitalized by public money handed to them by the European Financial Stability Facility rescue fund. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, thinks that Greeces debt is the only sovereign debt to be written down and that the debt of Italy, Spain, and Portugal will somehow be bailed out through other means, including a Chinese contribution to the EFSF rescue fund. Obviously, if all EU sovereign debt has to be cut by 50% as well, the rescue fund would not be up to the job.

For our corrupt financial markets, any news that can be spun as good news can send stocks up. But what are the facts?

For facts one has to turn to serious people, not to the presstitute media. Among those who give us real facts is John Williams of SHADOWSTATS. In his October 27 report, Williams exposes the happy second quarter 2011 economic growth figure of 2.5% as nonsense. Every other economic indicator contradicts the spin.

For example, personal consumption is reported to have increased 1.7%, but this surge in consumption took place despite a 1.7% collapse in consumer disposable income! In other words, if there was an increase in personal consumption, it come from drawing down savings or from incurring higher consumer debt.

A country’s consumers cannot forever draw down savings or go deeper into debt. For an economy to recover, there must be growth in consumer income. That growth is nowhere to be seen in the US. A large percentage of the goods and services sold to Americans by American corporations are now produced abroad by foreign labor. Thus, Americans no longer received incomes from the production of the goods and services that they consume. The American consumer market is on its way out.

The Dow Jones rose 339.51 points on the phony good news, but consumer sentiment is in the basement. John Williams reports that consumer confidence hit the lowest levels ever recorded in 2008 and 2009 and that consumer confidence has now fallen back to that 2008 level. But the stock market boomed. Somehow a population 23% unemployed with debt up to its eyeballs is going to spark an economic recovery.

Recovery can only happen in the delusional world created for us by the concentrated media. No longer permitted to utter one world of truth, the presstitutes proclaim non-existent recoveries and weapons of mass destruction and demonize Washingtons chosen opponents.

The sovereign debt crisis in Europe has distracted Americans from the much worst crisis in their country. After two decades of exporting US manufacturing and middle class jobs, and after a decade of consumer debt growth that has resulted in millions of foreclosed homeowners and massive credit card and student loan debt that cannot be paid, consumers have no income growth or borrowing capacity with which to fuel an economy based on consumer demand.

European banks, already ruined by purchases of Standard & Poor’s and Moodys AAA ratings of junk derivatives, now find themselves threatened by sovereign debt. Greece’s debt crisis, caused with Goldman Sachs help in hiding the true debt of the country as was done for Enron, has brought to light that Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain, in addition to Greece, have more debt than the governments can service.

In the EU, unlike the US and UK which have their own central banks that can create new money to bail out the over-indebted governments, the EU central bank is prohibited by treaty from printing money in order to purchase bonds from member states that cannot be redeemed.

Regardless of the treaty prohibition, the EU central bank has been lending Greece the money to pay its bond holders. The imposed austerity that is part of the deal created political instability in Greece.

Now that European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has announced a 50% write-off by private banks of Greek sovereign debt, can the same treatment be denied Portugal, Italy, and Spain?

The European Central Bank is following the lead of the Federal Reserve and creating new money to bail out debt. The cost will be paid in inflation and flight from the euro and the dollar. As an indication of the future, despite the positive spin on the news and the rise in US stocks, on October 27 the Japanese yen rose to a new high against the US dollar.

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He can be reached at:

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Posted by Elvis on 10/29/11 •
Section Dying America
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Stop Online Piracy Act

Disastrous IP Legislation Is Back And It’s Worse than Ever

By Corynne McSherry
Electronic Frontier Foundation
October 29, 2011

We’ve REPORTED HERE OFTEN on efforts to ram through Congress legislation that would authorize massive interference with the Internet, all in the name of a fruitless quest to stamp out all infringement online.  Today Representative Lamar Smith upped the ante, introducing legislation, called the STOP ONLINE PIRACY ACT, or “SOPA,” that would not only SABOTAGE THE DOMAIN NAME SYSTEM but would also threaten to effectively eliminate the DMCA safe harbors that, while imperfect, have spurred much economic growth and online creativity.

As with its Senate-side evil sister, PROTECT-IP, SOPA would require service providers to “disappear” certain websites, endangering Internet security and sending a troubling message to the world: its okay to interfere with the Internet, even effectively blacklisting entire domains, as long as you do it in the name of IP enforcement. Of course blacklisting entire domains can mean turning off thousands of underlying websites that may have done nothing wrong.  And in what has to be an ironic touch, the very first clause of SOPA states that it shall not be construed to impose a prior restraint on free speech. As if that little recitation could prevent the obvious constitutional problem in what the statute actually does. 

But it gets worse. Under this bill, service providers (including hosting services) would be under new pressure to monitor and police their users’ activities. Websites that simply dont do enough to police infringement (and it is not at all clear what would qualify as enough) are now under threat, even though the DMCA expressly does not require affirmative policing.  It creates new enforcement tools against folks who dare to help users access sites that may have been blacklisted, even without any kind of court hearing. The bill also requires that search engines, payment providers (such as credit card companies and PayPal), and advertising services join in the fun in shutting down entire websites.  In fact, the bill seems mainly aimed at creating an end-run around the DMCA safe harbors. Instead of complying with the DMCA, a copyright owner may now be able to use these new provisions to effectively shut down a site by cutting off access to its domain name, its search engine hits, its ads, and its other financing even if the safe harbors would apply.

And that’s only the beginning: we haven’t even started on the streaming provisions.

We’ll have more details on the bill in the next several days but suffice it to say, this is the worst piece of IP legislation weve seen in the last decade - and thats saying something.  This would be a good time to CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE and tell them to oppose this bill!

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Posted by Elvis on 10/29/11 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Broadband Privacy
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Real Illuminati

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Revealed - The Capitalist Network That Runs The World

By Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie
New Scientist
October 19, 2011

As Protests against financial power SWEEP THE WORLD this week, science may have confirmed the protesters’ worst fears. AN ANALYSIS of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a RELATIVELY SMALL GROUP OF COMPANIES, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study’s assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making GLOBAL CAPITALISM more stable.

The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s OCCUPY WALL STREET movement and protesters elsewhere. But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs).

“Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it’s conspiracy theories or free-market,” says JAMES GLATTFELDER. “Our analysis is reality-based.”

Previous studies have found that a few TNCs own large chunks of the world’s economy, but they included only a limited number of companies and omitted indirect ownerships, so could not say how this affected the global economy - whether it made it more or less stable, for instance.

The Zurich team can. From ORBIS 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms - the “real” economy - representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies - all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity - that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

JOHN DRIFFILL of the University of London, a macroeconomics expert, says the value of the analysis is not just to see if a small number of people controls the global economy, but rather its insights into economic stability.

Concentration of power is not good or bad in itself, says the Zurich team, but the core’s tight interconnections could be. As the world learned in 2008, SUCH NETWORKS ARE UNSTABLE. “If one [company] suffers distress,” says Glattfelder, “this propagates.”

“It’s disconcerting to see how connected things really are,” agrees George Sugihara of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, a complex systems expert who has advised Deutsche Bank.

Yaneer Bar-Yam, head of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), warns that the analysis assumes ownership equates to control, which is not always true. Most company shares are held by fund managers who may or may not control what the companies they part-own actually do. The impact of this on the system’s behaviour, he says, requires more analysis.

Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power, the analysis could help make it more stable. By finding the vulnerable aspects of the system, economists can suggest measures to prevent future collapses spreading through the entire economy. Glattfelder says we may need global anti-trust rules, which now exist only at national level, to limit over-connection among TNCs. Bar-Yam says the analysis suggests one possible solution: firms should be taxed for excess interconnectivity to discourage this risk.

One thing won’t chime with some of the protesters’ claims: the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. “Such structures are common in nature,” says Sugihara.

Newcomers to any network connect preferentially to highly connected members. TNCs buy shares in each other for business reasons, not for world domination. If connectedness clusters, so does wealth, says Dan Braha of NECSI: in similar models, money flows towards the most highly connected members. The Zurich study, says Sugihara, “is strong evidence that simple rules governing TNCs give rise spontaneously to highly connected groups”. Or as Braha puts it: “The Occupy Wall Street claim that 1 per cent of people have most of the wealth reflects a logical phase of the self-organising economy.”

So, the super-entity may not result from conspiracy. The real question, says the Zurich team, is whether it can exert concerted political power. Driffill feels 147 is too many to sustain collusion. Braha suspects they will compete in the market but act together on common interests. Resisting changes to the network structure may be one such common interest.

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Credit: Eduardo Felix

Posted by Elvis on 10/22/11 •
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Silence Of The Elites

By Katrina vanden Heuvel
Washington Post
October 18, 2011

Nero’s fiddling while Rome burned may be nothing compared to the folly of Washington and Wall Street’s inaction while the world economy teeters on the verge of global depression. No wonder the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have spread across the world. By raising a din, they might wake folks up.

Last week, yet another filibuster by Republican senators blocked even a debate on President Obama’s jobs bill, which is already modest in the extreme. More than half of the bill would simply avoid making things worse - extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, and trying to limit layoffs of teachers and police officers next year. Without the extensions, the cuts in government spending and hikes in taxes would reduce an estimated 2 percent of GDP from growth next year - at a time when the economy is already near a standstill.

A good portion of the bill would provide tax breaks for businesses. And a far-too-small part would provide money for building schools, roads, sewers and other infrastructure projects that will put some people to work.

Feeling some heat, Republican senators released their version of a jobs act, which offers up sacrifices to the business gods. It would repeal financial and health-care reform, suspend regulations across the board, and advance a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. And Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) promises, with some Kentucky magic, that it would produce 5 million jobs.

Worse, the bipartisan gang of 12 legislators in Congresss’ supercommittee continues to meet in closed sessions to decide how to cut another $1.2 trillion from deficits over 10 years. If the members fail to agree, deep cuts in defense and domestic spending begin in fiscal year 2013.

Newt Gingrich got this right for once: “It’s like saying we’re going to shoot you in the head or cut off your leg, which do you prefer? And with the committee tasked to report before Thanksgiving, we are virtually guaranteed to spend the winter arguing about how to mutilate the economy, not about how to get it going.”

Europe is already feeling the effects of premature austerity. Britain’s conservative coalition seems intent on driving the country into recession. Germany’s economy is stagnant and slowing. Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy are on a forced march to decline.

No wonder people are in the streets. We need bold and sustained action to restart this economy, with all of the G-20, the world’s major economies, cooperating.

In Washington, only the Congressional Progressive Caucus seems to have a clue. After touring the country this summer listening to citizens talk about jobs, its members put forth a big jobs agenda including not only major investment in infrastructure but, among other things, direct public employment, making the government the employer of last resort for everyone under 25.

(About the worst thing we could do is have the millennial generation idled at the beginning of their work lives.) Last week, the caucus’s leaders called on the supercommittee to make Wall Street and the rich pay their fair share, and to cut the defense budget to invest at home. Their Peoples Budget offers a serious jobs agenda in the short run, while getting our books in order in the longer term without dismantling Medicare or savaging Medicaid and Social Security.

But the caucus is a lone voice of sanity in a cacophony of nonsense. The Republican position is that the poverty lobby, not Wall Street, blew up the economy. That the recovery plan that stanched the free-fall of the economy did nothing. That business lacks confidence, not customers. That cutting spending and hiking taxes won’t hurt if we promise regulatory reform. More probably, the GOP assumes the economy will limp along, Obama will be blamed, and it will reap the benefits in the 2012 elections. The president, meanwhile, is rightly talking about jobs, getting out of Washington to mobilize people and deploying anger at Wall Street to build public pressure to pass his jobs agenda. Yet the modesty of his program suggests that he, too, thinks the economy needs just a little jolt to get going.

But if the economy slows - and there is no reason to think it won’t - banks will be in more trouble, the housing crisis will worsen and unemployment will rise, not just here but across Europe and the world. The chances of a descent into depression are growing, yet most of Washington remains clueless, and the silence of the financial elites is deafening. Wall Street traders, weגre told, can clean up whether the economy rises or whether it craters. Perhaps they are too busy hedging their bets to raise the alarm. Isnt it a stark indicator of our times that those raising the alarm are the men and women either on the left of Congress or encamping in occupations across our country?

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Posted by Elvis on 10/19/11 •
Section American Solidarity
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Monday, October 17, 2011

A Movement Too Big to Fail

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By Chris hedges
Truth Dig
September 17, 2011

There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking. So do Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi. So do the array of liberal groups and institutions, including the press, that have worked to funnel discontented voters back into the swamp of electoral politics and mocked those who called for profound structural reform.

Resistance, real resistance, to the corporate state was displayed when a couple of thousand protesters, clutching mops and brooms, early Friday morning forced the owners of Zuccotti Park and the New York City police to back down from a proposed attempt to expel them in order to clean the premises. These protesters in that one glorious moment did what the traditional liberal establishment has steadily refused to do - fight back. And it was deeply moving to watch the corporate rats scamper back to their holes on Wall Street. It lent a whole new meaning to the phrase - too big to fail.”

Tinkering with the corporate state will not work. We will either be plunged into neo-feudalism and environmental catastrophe or we will wrest power from corporate hands. This radical message, one that demands a reversal of the corporate coup, is one the power elite, including the liberal class, is desperately trying to thwart. But the liberal class has no credibility left. It collaborated with corporate lobbyists to neglect the rights of tens of millions of Americans, as well as the innocents in our imperial wars. The best that liberals can do is sheepishly pretend this is what they wanted all along. Groups such as MoveOn and organized labor will find themselves without a constituency unless they at least pay lip service to the protests. The Teamsters arrival Friday morning to help defend the park signaled an infusion of this new radicalism into moribund unions rather than a co-opting of the protest movement by the traditional liberal establishment. The union bosses, in short, had no choice.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, like all radical movements, has obliterated the narrow political parameters. It proposes something new. It will not make concessions with corrupt systems of corporate power. It holds fast to moral imperatives regardless of the cost. It confronts authority out of a sense of responsibility. It is not interested in formal positions of power. It is not seeking office. It is not trying to get people to vote. It has no resources. It cant carry suitcases of money to congressional offices or run millions of dollars of advertisements. All it can do is ask us to use our bodies and voices, often at personal risk, to fight back. It has no other way of defying the corporate state. This rebellion creates a real community instead of a managed or virtual one. It affirms our dignity. It permits us to become free and independent human beings.

Martin Luther King was repeatedly betrayed by liberal supporters, especially when he began to challenge economic forms of discrimination, which demanded that liberals, rather than simply white Southern racists, begin to make sacrifices. King too was a radical. He would not compromise on nonviolence, racism or justice. He understood that movements - such as the Liberty Party, which fought slavery, the suffragists, who fought for womens rights, the labor movement and the civil rights movement - have always been the true correctives in American democracy. None of those movements achieved formal political power. But by holding fast to moral imperatives they made the powerful fear them. King knew that racial equality was impossible without economic justice and an end to militarism. And he had no intention of ceding to the demands of the liberal establishment that called on him to be calm and patience. “For years, I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions in the South, a little change here, a little change there,” King said shortly before he was assassinated. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire system, a revolution of values.

King was killed in 1968 when he was in Memphis to support a strike by sanitation workers. By then he had begun to say that his dream, the one that the corporate state has frozen into a few safe cliches from his 1963 speech in Washington, had turned into a nightmare. King called at the end of his life for massive federal funds to rebuild inner cities, what he called a radical redistribution of economic and political power,ӓ a complete restructuring of the architecture of American society.ԓ He grasped that the inequities of capitalism had become the instrument by which the poor would always remain poor. Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism,ԓ King said, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of Godԓs children. On the eve of KingҔs murder he was preparing to organize a poor peoples march on Washington, D.C., designed to cause Ғmajor, massive dislocations, a nonviolent demand by the poor, including the white underclass, for a system of economic equality. It would be 43 years before his vision was realized by an eclectic group of protesters who gathered before the gates of Wall Street.

The truth of America is understood only when you listen to voices in our impoverished rural enclaves, prisons and the urban slums, when you hear the words of our unemployed, those who have lost their homes or cannot pay their medical bills, our elderly and our children, especially the quarter of the nationӔs children who depend on food stamps to eat, and all who are marginalized. There is more reality expressed about the American experience by the debt-burdened young men and women protesting in the parks than by all the chatter of the well-paid pundits and experts that pollutes the airwaves.

What kind of nation is it that spends far more to kill enemy combatants and Afghan and Iraqi civilians than it does to help its own citizens who live below the poverty line? What kind of nation is it that permits corporations to hold sick children hostage while their parents frantically bankrupt themselves to save their sons and daughters? What kind of nation is it that tosses its mentally ill onto urban heating grates? What kind of nation is it that abandons its unemployed while it loots its treasury on behalf of speculators? What kind of nation is it that ignores due process to torture and assassinate its own citizens? What kind of nation is it that refuses to halt the destruction of the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, dooming our children and our childrens children?

ҒAmerica, Langston Hughes wrote, Ӕnever was America to me.

ӔThe black vote mean [nothing], the rapper Nas intones. ӔWho you gunna elect/ Satan or Satan? In the hood nothing is changing,/ We aint got no choices.

Or listen to hip-hop artist Talib Kweli: ӔBack in the 60s, there was a big push for black Ӓ politicians, and now we have more than we ever had before, but our communities are so much worse. A lot of people died for us to vote, Im aware of that history, but these politicians are not in touch with people at all. Politics is not the truth to me, itŒs an illusion.

The liberal class functions in a traditional, capitalist democracy as a safety valve. It lets off enough steam to keep the system intact. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. This is what happened during the Great Depression and the New Deal. Franklin Delano RooseveltҔs greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism. Liberals in a functioning capitalist democracy are at the same time tasked with discrediting radicals, whether it is King, especially after he denounced the war in Vietnam, or later Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader.

The stupidity of the corporate state is that it thought it could dispense with the liberal class. It thought it could shut off that safety valve in order to loot and pillage with no impediments. Corporate power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy to the power elite. And the reduction of the liberal class to silly courtiers, who have nothing to offer but empty rhetoric, meant that the growing discontent found other mechanisms and outlets. Liberals were reduced to stick figures, part of an elaborate pantomime, as they acted in preordained roles to give legitimacy to meaningless and useless political theater. But that game is over.

Human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded. The liberal class, which insists on clinging to its positions of privilege while at the same time refusing to play its traditional role within the democratic state, has become a useless and despised appendage of corporate power. And as the engines of corporate power pollute and poison the ecosystem and propel us into a world where there will be only masters and serfs, the liberal class, which serves no purpose in the new configuration, is being abandoned and discarded by both the corporate state and radical dissidents. The best it can do is attach itself meekly to the new political configuration rising up to replace it.

An ineffectual liberal class means there is no hope of a correction or a reversal through the formal mechanisms of power. It ensures that the frustration and anger among the working and the middle class will find expression now in these protests that lie outside the confines of democratic institutions and the civilities of a liberal democracy. By emasculating the liberal class, which once ensured that restive citizens could institute moderate reforms, the corporate state has created a closed system defined by polarization, gridlock and political charades. It has removed the veneer of virtue and goodness that the liberal class offered to the power elite.

Liberal institutions, including the church, the press, the university, the Democratic Party, the arts and labor unions, set the parameters for limited self-criticism in a functioning democracy as well as small, incremental reforms. The liberal class is permitted to decry the worst excesses of power and champion basic human rights while at the same time endowing systems of power with a morality and virtue it does not possess. Liberals posit themselves as the conscience of the nation. They permit us, through their appeal to public virtues and the public good, to see ourselves and our state as fundamentally good.

But the liberal class, by having refused to question the utopian promises of unfettered capitalism and globalization and by condemning those who did, severed itself from the roots of creative and bold thought, the only forces that could have prevented the liberal class from merging completely with the power elite. The liberal class, which at once was betrayed and betrayed itself, has no role left to play in the battle between us and corporate dominance. All hope lies now with those in the street.

Liberals lack the vision and fortitude to challenge dominant free market ideologies. They have no ideological alternatives even as the Democratic Party openly betrays every principle the liberal class claims to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy to a demand for quality and affordable public education to a return of civil liberties to a demand for jobs and welfare of the working class. The corporate state forced the liberal class to join in the nations death march that began with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Liberals such as Bill Clinton, for corporate money, accelerated the dismantling of our manufacturing base, the gutting of our regulatory agencies, the destruction of our social service programs and the empowerment of speculators who have trashed our economy. The liberal class, stripped of power, could only retreat into its atrophied institutions, where it busied itself with the boutique activism of political correctness and embraced positions it had previously condemned.

Russell Jacoby writes: ҒThe left once dismissed the market as exploitative; it now honors the market as rational and humane. The left once disdained mass culture as exploitative; now it celebrates it as rebellious. The left once honored independent intellectuals as courageous; now it sneers at them as elitist. The left once rejected pluralism as superficial; now it worships it as profound. We are witnessing not simply a defeat of the left, but its conversion and perhaps inversion.

Hope in this age of bankrupt capitalism comes with the return of the language of class conflict and rebellion, language that has been purged from the lexicon of the liberal class, language that defines this new movement. This does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to learn again to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx and Adam Smith did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state. It is part of the same nightmare experienced in postindustrial mill towns of New England and the abandoned steel mills of Ohio. It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, living in terror and mourning their dead, endure daily.

What took place early Friday morning in Zuccotti Park was the first salvo in a long struggle for justice. It signaled a step backward by the corporate state in the face of popular pressure. And it was carried out by ordinary men and women who sleep at night on concrete, get soaked in rainstorms, eat donated food and have nothing as weapons but their dignity, resilience and courage. It is they, and they alone, who hold out the possibility of salvation. And if we join them we might have a chance.

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times.

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Posted by Elvis on 10/17/11 •
Section American Solidarity
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