"Who are these men of lust, greed, and glory? Rip of the mask and let's see." Supertramp - Crime of the Century
The truth about the looming catastrophe of climate change and the growing threat of nuclear annihilation is evident to anyone with most modest comprehension skills. Sadly, this seems beyond many Americans. Consider, for example, that in the United States an understanding of, and concern for, the realities of the climate crisis are a grave concern to only 45 percent of the public, even though 68 percent now believe global warming is caused by humans and 71 percent say global warming is actually occurring. As expected, these numbers fall well short of the global consensus. More disturbing still is the mad level of denial in the U.S. congress (bordering on criminal) where climate skepticism is central to the identity of conservatives and Republicans.
The GOP's cognitive dissonance on climate change is explained, in part, by ideology and religion, which fit neatly within the larger phenomenon Chris Hedges calls "the permanent lie."
"The permanent lie is not circumscribed by reality. It is perpetuated even in the face of the overwhelming evidence that discredits it. It is irrational. Those who speak the language of truth and fact are attacked as liars, traitors and purveyors of 'fake news.' ... The permanent lie is the apotheosis of totalitarianism. It no longer matters what is true. It matters only what is 'correct.' "
Hedges contends that the threat from the permanent lie "comes from the marginalization and destruction of institutions, including the courts, academia, legislative bodies, cultural organizations and the press," which "once ensured that civil discourse was rooted in reality and fact," and "helped us distinguish lies from truth, and facilitated justice." As he warns: "Donald Trump and today’s Republican Party represent the last stage in the emergence of corporate totalitarianism. Pillage and oppression are justified by the permanent lie."
The corporate elites, who even in the best of times stacked the deck against people of color, the poor and the working class, no longer play by any rules. Their lobbyists, bought-and-paid-for politicians, pliant academics, corrupt judges and television news celebrities run a kleptocratic state defined by legalized bribery and unchecked exploitation.
Hedges cites the words of Pascal to inform our preparation for the actions we must soon undertake: “Thus, all our dignity consist in thought. It is on thought that we must depend for our recovery, not on space and time, which we could never fill. Let us then strive to think well; that is the basic principle of morality.”
If such a recovery is at all possible, if it can lead to a higher morality, it must be now, since America's corporate totalitarianism has become deeply enmeshed in the fabric of national life. Paul Street - an oft-reprised writer at TheIndispensableNation - asks in a recent piece if the despicable Donald Trump (aka, Orange Thing) is actually responsible for the current state of America's decline, or if he simply inherited it:
Did Orange Thing distribute 90 percent of the United States’ wealth into the hands of the top tenth of the American One Percent?
Did OT smash unions in the U.S.?
Did OT create a racist mass incarceration and felony-branding system in the U.S.?
Did OT turn the U.S. political system into an open corporate and financial oligarchy?
Does OT make tens of millions of U.S. children live below the notoriously inadequate U.S. federal poverty level?
Does OT set the U.S. poverty level absurdly low?
Did OT slash the U.S. social welfare safety net?
Does OT cause endemic and widespread wage and hour theft across U.S. workplaces?
Does OT force U.S. policymakers to refuse making quality healthcare a basic human right for all Americans regardless of their economic status?
Does OT make U.S. politicians attack women’s right to control their own bodies and lives?
Did OT turn the Democratic Party into a tool of the neoliberal corporate and financial “elite” and make it into the “graveyard of social movements”?
Did OT create the U.S. opioid crisis and the related increase in white working-class mortality in the country?
Did OT create the concentrated poverty and insecurity that stalks the nation’s ghettoes, barrios, reservations, and trailer parks?
Did OT create the U.S. police and surveillance state? How about the Pentagon System that eats more than half of federal U.S. discretionary spending while functioning as a great system of corporate welfare for the rich?
Does OT bear responsibility for the racist, right-wing, and partisan gerrymandering of U.S. federal and state electoral districts?
Did OT cause the woefully inadequate and unequal funding of U.S. public education?
Does OT turn U.S. professors, pundits, preachers, nonprofit “leaders,” politicians, and journalists into agents of U.S. capitalist, nationalist, religious and imperial doctrine and propaganda?
Did OT turn the American workplace into an authoritarian nightmare for millions of employees, who know that they can lose not just their jobs but also their health insurance if they say or do anything that bothers their bosses?
The answer to all these questions is no. But OT is working to reinforce these conditions, if not make them demonstrably worse. More accurately, he has knowingly set others loose to do so. Busy ideological hands in Congress, in the cabinet, and in various federal agencies have eagerly embraced this rare opportunity to relieve the American people of every protection that industry associations and well-connected plutocrats believe them unworthy to possess. As OT bends further toward autocracy, the list of banned words will grow, as will the list of government officials to be purged. The permanent lie will be told again and again, unless and until it is finally eradicated.
The emergence of a corporate totalitarianism - with its ominous feel of a Death Star settling into position - is the culmination of many years of consistent ideological focus by several key U.S. institutions. As Paul Street suggests, Orange Thing did not create the hothouse conditions out of which this peril arose. But he has shown himself to be uniquely gifted in his ability to repeat Hedges' permanent lie. The Donald is the carnival frontman, the barker enticing the crowd, while "busy ideological hands" ply their trade behind the curtain; together, these are the co-conspirators who have unleashed upon America and the world a renewed danger - a now openly authoritarian America, led by a now openly autocratic president, brazenly catering to its plutocrat class, and actively enabled by the world's most lethal military and police-state apparatus.
All pretence was finally abandoned - this perfect fascist storm came fully into view - as the first year of Orange Thing's presidency drew to a close. Two documents emerged from behind the curtain that proudly herald the United States' true character under Trump. The first portends an open class war in the U.S. Homeland, while the second reconfirms the danger America presents to the larger world. These are the Republican package of tax cuts, and the 2017 National Security Strategy, and each is fully in accord with the permanent lie. Both documents merit - and will receive - extensive review and commentary in the coming months on this site. The rise of a now openly authoritarian and autocratic America heightens the dangers already arrayed against us.
As we expand this section of the site, new pages will expose the now-willing co-conspirators to our plight - these include the moneyed class, the press, Congress, higher education, the arts, labour unions, the military, U.S. allies and international institutions, and the courts. We begin with three subpages focused on the "leaders of the free world" in the 21st century - Bush, Obama, and Trump.