Thursday, December 16, 2010

Liberals – The Pillars and Passions 105

As an ivy league divinity student who lived overseas, Chris Hedges has written profoundly and wisely about the despair and fanaticism of the Christian Right. His book American Fascism is a summary of his arguments against the modern right wing evangelists.

It is interesting that his arguments are not as strong as those presented by Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy. Phillips is simply more fair-minded and less doctrinaire in his presentation.

Hedges presentations, on the other hand, have an edge to them, there is an element of advocacy rather than of fair-mindedness. Recent events, including the mid-term elections and the Obama administration's capitulation on maintaining the George W. Bush tax cuts for another two years, seem to have angered and greatly upset Chris Hedges. He wrote a column for the December 13, 2010, TruthDig report in which he talks about the history of protest and the long road to progressive success.

The article is available on line at:

Hedges says two critical things in this article. First, he tells us where liberals have concentrated their power and influence:

All energy directed toward reforming political and state structures is useless. All efforts to push through a “progressive” agenda within the corridors of power are naïve. Trust in the reformation of our corporate state reflects a failure to recognize that those who govern, including Barack Obama, are as deaf to public demands and suffering as those in the old Communist regimes. We cannot rely on any systems of power, including the pillars of the liberal establishment—the press, liberal religious institutions, universities, labor, culture and the Democratic Party. They have been weakened to the point of anemia or work directly for the corporations that dominate our existence. We can rely now on only ourselves, on each other.”

There they are, the pillars:
The press
liberal religious institutions
the Democratic Party 

Hedges is saying that these pillars and the Obama administration itself cannot be trusted to be “progressive” enough to reform corporatism, itself an evil force which blocks redistribution. Therefore the only effective course of action is to work outside the framework for change, break the law if necessary, and pursue the ideology on the streets:

"...We too have undergone a coup d’état carried out not by the stone-faced leaders of a monolithic Communist Party, but by the corporate state. We too have our designated pariahs, whether Ralph Nader or Noam Chomksy, and huge black holes of state-sponsored historical amnesia to make us ignore the militant movements, rebels and radical ideas that advanced our democracy. We opened up our society to ordinary people not because we deified the wisdom of the Founding Fathers or the sanctity of the Constitution. We opened it up because of communist, socialist and anarchist leaders like Big Bill Haywood and his militant unionists in the Industrial Workers of the World.”

Hedges is saying here that the “wisdom of the Founding Fathers” and their constitution did not “open up our society to ordinary people,” in spite of due process and the ability of the law to be amended by both further common law judicial action and legislation. It's not enough, it's not fast enough, the motivations of the participants in such a system are not progressive enough in their ideology. What “opened it up” was street fighting and the threat of anarchy. That's how things get better. That is precisely the pugnacious side of the argument in Vienna in 1927.

Hedges is wrong because there is no substitute for due process. And a people who possess due process are right to trust their government to adjudicate and legislate in their interests. Hedges is wrong, additionally, because continental Europe has never honored due process properly; thus the conflict between legitimate descent within the system or street fighting that took place in Austria in 1927 does not apply in those nations where due process is in place (in other words, the “Anglosphere” of the UK, Canada, the US, New Zealand and Australia).

Instead, Hedges appeals to the assumed superior agent of change, chaos, to “open up” “our society” rather than use common law and legislation to improve equal protection of the law. This is entirely different than the approach of libertarians or Christian conservatives. Hedges is saying that chaos, empowered by passion, is the primary force for good.


  1. but there is no more Federal common law in the US, and, there is more due process, except insofar as it currently necessary for the gubmen' to keep it "mostly intact".

    To wit: Gitmo and censorship of wikileaks as well as the Patriot Act, which ironically, evangelical christian AG Ashcroft was against.

    Now members of congress and congressmen-elect are calling for the punishment and censorship of the the media contacts that helped wikileaks, in the IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY CHARGE OR INDICTMENT FOR CRIME.

    What is it Shakespeare said about Denmark?

  2. The Federal system is SUPPOSED to be rid of common law, but it creeps in as case law. As a state example, the Alaska Senate race is being decided by similar cases in Alaska -- de facto common law impacting a US Senate seat.

    As for the rotting of Federal law, indefinite detention, Patriot Act and the Wiki-extortion, stay tuned to this blog.

    Betcha don't know that US liberals have imported European philosophy, including legal philosophy. And not reliable imports. "More to come. Don't touch that dial."

  3. i do know. and i also know they imported crappy European art that was a result of the devastation of WWI, almost completely irrelevant to the American experience. Which is why it remains the venue of pretentious pseudo-intellectuals and virtually no one else.

    Liberals love to say "Well in Europe...blah blah blah, so why can't we do it also in America?"

    I believe the whole idea of America is NOT to do things like they do in Europe, otherwise George Washington would've been King. We did not suffer under Napoleon, we did not experience an explosion of revolutions in 1848, We did not have religious wars among catholics, protestants and eastern orthodox, we weren't under constant threat from the turks, and we did not have an incompetent prime minister declare "peace in our time".

    Likewise, the Europeans don't have continental sized nations (except Russia), they didn't fight the Indians, they didn't live under lawlessness on a seemingly endless frontier, and so and so on and so on.

    Frontier in europe--a place to stop
    Frontier in america--a place to begin

    that alone shows the irrelevancy of european thought in america, unless perhaps by accident or in very special situations.