Endgame Strategy

Why the Revolution Must Start in America

The unrest in the Middle East, the convulsions in Ivory Coast, the hunger sweeping across failed states such as Somalia, the freak weather patterns and the systematic unraveling of the American empire do not signal a lurch toward freedom and democracy but the catastrophic breakdown of globalization. The world as we know it is coming to an end. And what will follow will not be pleasant or easy.

The bankrupt corporate power elite, who continue to serve the dead ideas of unfettered corporate capitalism, globalization, profligate consumption and an economy dependent on fossil fuels, as well as endless war, have proven incapable of radically shifting course or responding to our altered reality. They react to the great unraveling by pretending it is not happening. They are desperately trying to maintain a doomed system of corporate capitalism. And the worse it gets the more they embrace, and seek to make us embrace, magical thinking. Dozens of members of Congress in the United States have announced that climate change does not exist and evolution is a hoax. They chant the mantra that the marketplace should determine human behavior, even as the unfettered and unregulated marketplace threw the global economy into a seizure and evaporated some $40 trillion in worldwide wealth. The corporate media retreats as swiftly from reality into endless mini-dramas revolving around celebrities or long discussions about the inane comments of a Donald Trump or a Sarah Palin. The real world – the one imploding in our faces – is ignored.

The deadly convergence of environmental and economic catastrophe is not coincidental. Corporations turn everything, from human beings to the natural world, into commodities they ruthlessly exploit until exhaustion or death. The race of doom is now between environmental collapse and global economic collapse. Which will get us first? Or will they get us at the same time?

Carbon emissions continue to soar upward, polar ice sheets continue to melt at an alarming rate, hundreds of species are vanishing, fish stocks are being dramatically depleted, droughts and floods are destroying cropland and human habitat across the globe, water sources are being poisoned, and the great human migration from coastlines and deserts has begun. As temperatures continue to rise huge parts of the globe will become uninhabitable. The continued release of large quantities of methane, some scientists have warned, could actually asphyxiate the human species. And accompanying the assault on the ecosystem that sustains human life is the cruelty and stupidity of unchecked corporate capitalism that is creating a global economy of masters and serfs and a world where millions will be unable to survive.

We continue to talk about personalities – Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama or Stephen Harper – although the heads of state and elected officials have become largely irrelevant. Corporate lobbyists write the bills. Lobbyists get them passed. Lobbyists make sure you get the money to be elected. And lobbyists employ you when you get out of office. Those who hold actual power are the tiny elite who manage the corporations. The share of national income of the top 0.1 percent of Americans since 1974 has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 percent. One in six American workers may be without a job. Some 40 million Americans may live in poverty, with tens of millions more living in a category called “near poverty.” Six million people may be forced from their homes in the United States because of foreclosures and bank repossessions. But while the masses suffer, Goldman Sachs, one of the financial firms most responsible for the evaporation of $17 trillion in wages, savings and wealth of small investors and shareholders in the United States, is giddily handing out $17.5 billion in compensation to its managers, including $12.6 million to its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein.

The massive redistribution of wealth happened because lawmakers and public officials were, in essence, hired to permit it to happen. It was not a conspiracy. The process was transparent. It did not require the formation of a new political party or movement. It was the result of inertia by our political and intellectual class, which in the face of expanding corporate power found it personally profitable to facilitate it or look the other way. The armies of lobbyists, who write the legislation, bankroll political campaigns and disseminate propaganda, have been able to short-circuit the electorate.

Our political vocabulary continues to sustain the illusion of participatory democracy. The Democrats and the Liberal Party in Canada offer minor palliatives and a feel-your-pain language to mask the cruelty and goals of the corporate state. Neofeudalism will be cemented into place whether it is delivered by Democrats and the Liberals, who are pushing us there at 60 miles an hour, or by Republicans and the Conservatives, who are barreling toward it at 100 miles an hour.

“By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes that it can make their interests a priority,” Sheldon Wolin writes, “the Democratic Party pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition party in an inverted totalitarian system.” The Democrats and the Liberals are always able to offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or nothing to thwart the march toward corporate collectivism.

It is not that the public in the United States does not want a good healthcare system, programs that provide employment, quality public education or an end to Wall Street’s looting of the U.S. Treasury. Most polls suggest Americans do. But it has become impossible for most citizens in these corporate states to find out what is happening in the centers of power. Television news celebrities dutifully present two opposing sides to every issue, although each side is usually lying. The viewer can believe whatever he or she wants to believe. Nothing is actually elucidated or explained. The sound bites by Republicans or Democrats, the Liberals or the Conservatives, are accepted at face value. And once the television lights are turned off, the politicians go back to the business of serving business.

Human history, rather than being a chronicle of freedom and democracy, is characterized by ruthless domination. Our elites have done what all elites do. They have found sophisticated mechanisms to thwart popular aspirations, disenfranchise the working and increasingly the middle class, keep us passive and make us serve their interests. The brief democratic opening in our society in the early 20th century, made possible by radical movements, unions and a vigorous press, has again been shut tight. We were mesmerized by political charades, cheap consumerism, spectacle and magical thinking as we were ruthlessly stripped of power.

Adequate food, clean water and basic security are now beyond the reach of half the world’s population. Food prices have risen 61 percent globally since December 2008, according to the International Monetary Fund. The price of wheat has exploded, more than doubling in the last eight months to $8.56 a bushel. When half of your income is spent on food, as it is in countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Somalia and Ivory Coast, price increases of this magnitude bring with them widespread malnutrition and starvation. Food prices in the United States have risen over the past three months at an annualized rate of five percent. There are some 40 million poor in the United States who devote 35 percent of their after-tax incomes to pay for food. As the cost of fossil fuel climbs, as climate change continues to disrupt agricultural production and as populations and unemployment swell, we will find ourselves convulsed in more global and domestic unrest. Food riots and political protests will be frequent, as will malnutrition and starvation. Desperate people employ desperate measures to survive. And the elites will use the surveillance and security state to attempt to crush all forms of popular dissent.

The last people who should be in charge of our food supply or our social and political life, not to mention the welfare of sick children, are corporate capitalists and Wall Street speculators. But none of this is going to change until we turn our backs on the wider society, denounce the orthodoxies peddled in our universities and in the press by corporate apologists and construct our opposition to the corporate state from the ground up. It will not be easy. It will take time. And it will require us to accept the status of social and political pariahs, especially as the lunatic fringe of our political establishment steadily gains power as the crisis mounts. The corporate state has nothing to offer the left or the right but fear. It uses fear to turn the population into passive accomplices. And as long as we remain afraid, or believe that the formal mechanisms of power can actually bring us real reform, nothing will change.

It does not matter, as writers such as John Ralston Saul have pointed out, that every one of globalism’s promises has turned out to be a lie. It does not matter that economic inequality has gotten worse and that most of the world’s wealth has become concentrated in a few hands. It does not matter that the middle class – the beating heart of any democracy – is disappearing and that the rights and wages of the working class have fallen into precipitous decline as labor regulations, protection of our manufacturing base and labor unions have been demolished. It does not matter that corporations have used the destruction of trade barriers as a mechanism for massive tax evasion, a technique that allows conglomerates such as General Electric or Bank of America to avoid paying any taxes. It does not matter that corporations are exploiting and killing the ecosystem for profit. The steady barrage of illusions disseminated by corporate systems of propaganda, in which words are often replaced with music and images, are impervious to truth. Faith in the marketplace replaces for many faith in an omnipresent God. And those who dissent are banished as heretics.

The aim of the corporate state is not to feed, clothe or house the masses but to shift all economic, social and political power and wealth into the hands of the tiny corporate elite. It is to create a world where the heads of corporations make $900,000 an hour and four-job families struggle to survive. The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions. Charter schools, mercenary armies, a for-profit health insurance industry and outsourcing every facet of government work, from clerical tasks to intelligence, feed the corporate beast at our expense. The decimation of labor unions, the twisting of education into mindless vocational training and the slashing of social services leave us ever more enslaved to the whims of corporations. The intrusion of corporations into the public sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively by naked self-interest.

Many of us are seduced by childish happy talk. Who wants to hear that we are advancing not toward a paradise of happy consumption and personal prosperity but toward disaster? Who wants to confront a future in which the rapacious and greedy appetites of our global elite, who have failed to protect the planet, threaten to produce widespread anarchy, famine, environmental catastrophe, nuclear terrorism and wars for diminishing resources? Who wants to shatter the myth that the human race is evolving morally, that it can continue its giddy plundering of nonrenewable resources and its hedonistic levels of consumption, that capitalist expansion is eternal and will never cease?

Dying civilizations often prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth. It makes life easier to bear. It lets them turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science or the market will be their salvation. This is why these apologists for globalism continue to find a following. And their systems of propaganda have built a vast, global Potemkin village to entertain us. The tens of millions of impoverished Americans, whose lives and struggles rarely make it onto television, are invisible. So are most of the world’s billions of poor, crowded into fetid slums. We do not see those who die from drinking contaminated water or being unable to afford medical care. We do not see those being foreclosed from their homes. We do not see the children who go to bed hungry. We busy ourselves with the absurd.

The game is over. We lost. The corporate state will continue its inexorable advance until two-thirds of the nation and the planet is locked into a desperate, permanent underclass. Most of us will struggle to make a living while the Blankfeins and our political elites wallow in the decadence and greed of the Forbidden City and Versailles. These elites do not have a vision. They know only one word: more. They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes. Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel. We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and cultural values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.


Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and former international correspondent for the New York Times. His latest book is The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.



17 thoughts on “Endgame Strategy

  1. despite all the bad news, we should always tell our selves that we are living in pretty interesting times, in times where we have the great opportunity to reinvent a whole culture!
    We know that its not about “growth” but about “thriving”, its not about money but happiness and the simple things in life.
    we don’t have to rush through our short lives, but sleep longer, save energy and enjoy the moment, live longer and slower.
    we don’t have to study boring business crap anymore, because we know it’s bullshit. we do it ourselves and together, because what we can buy is poisonous or defunct/useless from the beginning, and in most cases harming or killing other people in the first place.
    All the modern myths evaporated and got exposed as the childish science-fiction dreams of some silicon valley whiz-kid-billionaire/ or the devilish plans of some illuminated asshole elite (choose you flavor).
    let them dream on about living on the moon or the mars if they like so, we go on build permaculture farms, resilient and permanent communities .
    Our mission is clear, prevent them turning this planet into their dream destination: mars, and bring it back to the state it was given to us in the beginning: paradise.

    And our best bet in succeeding is to begin to stop, stop working for them, stop producing their produce, stop using their produce, stop using their money, their banks, their cars etc. etc.
    and start creating solutions which work for us and not for them.

  2. Granted that all you say is true, please don’t stop there. There is hope! Work toward positive change instead of being such a downer!!

  3. I have been reading this thread for many years. It always concerns me when people write lengthy articles such as these. If I wanted to read this kind of information all one must do is turn on CNN or whatever other mass media organization you can think of (that’s if I owned a TV).

    We need positive change from positive people! Please if you are going to write an article about all that is bad in the world at least mention briefly what is good or how change may arise. I regret the displeasure, but I am simply tired of reading articles such as this one over and over again.

    The only positive statement I could find was: “We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves.”

  4. I think it’s vitally important to read articles like this here & elsewhere, we need to face our reality, while we go about building our new world, with great haste!

  5. An excellent summation of the way things are, living (if that is an appropriate use of the word) under a global corporate state.

    Please don’t think that national borders are any longer of any value, because they are not. Please don’t think that national governments any longer retain power for change or indeed have any relevance, because they do not.

    In the past, when a civilisation has collapsed (as all eventually must), there has always been another emerging civilisation from some other part of the globe to take its place. With an already crumbling global society, when it falls (whether that decline is relatively abrupt or takes place over a protracted period), where is the next in line to come from? Consider this: There will not be one.

    There will not be one because there is no area of the globe that is not affected by and included in the current globalised society.

    At least there will not be one in the lifetime of any who manage somehow to survive the collapse or those of many generations afterwards. Perhaps we (those who make it) will eventually rebuild some form of society some time after having to start again from scratch in small isolated groups. Perhaps we do not deserve to be given the opportunity for even such an informal restart.

  6. I wish that I had taken the time to read all the comments on this article before submitting my earlier comment. Why? Well because each of them displays an effusively optimistic viewpoint and a critique of the article as being somewhat distortedly downbeat. A summation that would also presumably apply to my previous comment.

    Let me say this, there is nothing wrong with a little optimism. Without an attitude that leans toward the positive, we would find it difficult to operate in the world today.

    However, there comes a situation where to have an overly optimistic, positively oriented view of things, without regard to the facts on what is shaping up to be a future reality, is just as harmful (in the sense of emulating Ostrich head-in-sand behaviour) as skeptical nay-saying or complete denial of the possibility of such a future.

    If people who are trying to explain the situation to others who may not yet have grasped the full implications of possible future events appear to only reflect and emphasize one side, the dismal side of the picture, it is because of their deep concern for those others and in order to fight the negativism and impassive resistence of those who deny the existence of the problem.

  7. In ‘The Evolving Self,’ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi convincingly states that each human behavior in the biosphere supports either entropy (hiss! boo!) or complexity (Yay!).

    We add complexity to combat entropy (Mollison says our designs should increase biodiversity in the landscape). Or we continue to support entropy, domination culture’s default setting.

    What Hedges is talking about is entropy – social, volitional, spiritual, emotional, physical, and emotional entropy: the life system’s energy moving toward unusability, where the life system loses its ability to support complexity, and, finally, to hold its form.

    This is vintage Howard Odum, to whose work permaculture owes a special debt (David Holmgren wrote, in “Permaculture”). Energy flow powers the function of permaculture, or our designs become workhouses constantly needing inputs of human energy.

    Permaculture designs add complexity to the landscape, if we did them right.
    Sufficient complexity supports all the life in a certain landscape so that the ecosystem of the mature design functions on its own, needing only sun and rain.

    Domination by a parasitic elite has been reality in western culture for at least 10,000 years, dating from when agriculture began to produce surplus. This surplus attracted human parasites who did noting useful but demanded top dollar for the symbolism obscuring their parasitism.

    Does that make sense? How far would that take a permaculture design? It’s entropy. The order of life breaks down like dead soil.

    Negative/positive is a logical straw man, at best. Entropy/complexity is the operational “binary opposition,” the name Jacques Derrida gave to the arbitrary elements of western culture’s metaphysics.

    We deal with that profound level of reality in Zone Zero, the zone between our ears. We add complexity, Csikszentmihalyi says, through evolutionary action. We join the process of evolution, become consciously evolving life forms. Our every action adds complexity, avoiding entropy for a while more.

    Paulo Freire, in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” suggests a process of praxis – take an action, reflect on that action, and take another action, and keep doing it until liberation occurs.

    After liberation from domination by parasites, consciously evolving human populations produce ecological cultures.

    David Holmgren said, it seems to me, that ecological culture is required for permaculture to ultimately succeed in restoring the order of life on this planet.

    Csikszentmihalyi said that evolutionary action requires us to resolve our cultural conditioniing, which has us headed toward extinction in the Sixth Great Extinction, the entropy orgy now in progress.

    Gandhi said to be the change you want to see in the world.

    Complexity, or more entropy?

    It’s your choice, the choice lying obscured beneath the mind numbing number of pseudo choices presented by the parasites’ 24/7 propaganda.

    What the parasitic class (and financial capitalism is parasitic) can’t have is for us, the masses of humanity, to make this choice in favor of adding complexity.

    After awareness, the work is simple, but very difficult. Communities of those who wish to add complexity are probably required, for us to get all the way through the sludge constantly being deposited on our souls by domination culture.

    I think this is what the poet Gary Snider called “the real work.” Chris Hedges, a preacher by training (Harvard Divinity School), does the real work, and then he tells the truth, says what his soul knows.

    Tommy Tolson

  8. You are all absolutely right. Everything said here is right. But in order to sustain yourself and your family or whatever you have to have a good garden going. Already going. You have to have a great production system already in place. Fruit trees take 5 years to start having fruit, 7 years to get fairly good. It takes 5 years to make good soil.

    I suggest you get your land and get started. I can send you some seeds if you need them.

  9. lukas_omg

    If there was ever a day i saw your name in any political party head seat, i’d vote for the first time.
    Much respect to you, your words are true in so many ways.
    im for one happy with this planet, and am trying to look for ways of contributing to community
    with out the old system and it keeps coming back to permaculture.
    Its perfect

  10. Ditto lukas. We should be getting out of their destructive and deceptive trap system as is alluded to in the verses below as well as many others.

    I agree with most of the article, but if we are evolving we have no hope. The process of evolving destruction is sealed. But I don’t believe this. Permaculture principles at work are one of the proofs that this world exists with the miracle of creation, when given into the hands of caring men to repair it. I don’t care that a hope in being saved by the God that created all makes me appear insane. Whatever the end is, Truth will have the ‘last laugh’.

    Rev 11:18 And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time…that you should … destroy them which destroy the earth.

    Rev 14:7 … Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
    Rev 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
    Rev 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
    Rev 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

    Rev 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come here; I will show you the judgment of the great whore (Babylon) that sits upon many waters:
    Rev 17:2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

  11. “Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism – born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it.”
    — Benito Mussolini

    As I said to someone else on another forum recently, Capitalism is not the dominant economic system, because it generates the most effective, positive, or socially beneficial outcome. It has in fact become the dominant paradigm simply because its’ advocates murder and destroy all alternatives.

    This, then, is the primary challenge which the permaculturist faces, in the current time; simply to avoid being murdered. It is not so much to repair the environment even, but simply to live long enough that we may have some vague hope of being able to do so.

    The reality is that we are at war. I was completely aware of this during the time in which I took my own PDC. As permaculturists, it is not a war that we have chosen, nor one that we have instigated; but rather, the fascists and Capitalists themselves, and in the end, the two are barely distinguishable from each other. What we have here, however, are groups of individuals who not only disagree with Holmgren’s stated principles, but they do so knowingly, consciously, and with full lucidity of their actions and opinions.

    The fascist ultimately only craves war because, as Mussolini stated above, he fairly simply believes that he has nothing else conceivable to do; no other meaningful goal with which he can associate himself. The Capitalist wants war and exploitation because that is how Capitalistic production occurs, and how profit is generated according to that process; Capitalism rightfully uses the metaphor of the furnace.

    If we want to solve our current dilemma peacefully, and if we want any hope of survival, then the only answer that I can see, is offering the fascists and Capitalists an alternative to their belief, that their activities are the only viable manner in which the evolutionary imperative can express itself. That, in truth, is what actually motivates them; I have been among fascists on 4chan.org, and the sick irony is that, from their own perspective, they could actually be considered altruistic, in a perverted manner.

    Because the fascist is not only collectively, but also individually oriented, he will tend to want to convert others around him, not only because he wants more footsoldiers for the army, but also because he genuinely believes in many cases, that his own ideology will benefit the individual who he is trying to convert. If we can identify the fact that, despite the horrific ideological distortion that Capitalism and fascism have caused, the natural human imperative of mutually reinforcing compassion has still managed to survive in this manner, and connect with it, then we may have some faint chance of winning over even those who are currently causing the most damage and harm.

    We must convince those who are currently causing so much harm, that war and exploitation are not the only forms of meaningful activity that humanity can engage in, and that in fact, they not only lack meaning, but being as destructive as they are, they are entirely unsustainable.

    That is our fundamental challenge; to demonstrate the manner in which sustainable creativity, within a context of peace, can be an equally compelling developmental and evolutionary crucible, as can exploitation and environmental destruction, within a context of war.

  12. Since the problem is the solution, check out Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication for your (our) Zone One(s). Another wonderful addition to the toolbox.

  13. “I think this is what the poet Gary Snider called “the real work.” Chris Hedges, a preacher by training (Harvard Divinity School), does the real work.”

    Snyder built his house by hand, homesteads in the Sierras, and has the ethnobotanical & bioregional knowledge to survive by hunting, gathering, and horticulture. He does the real work.

    I would be surprised if Hedges could name half-a-dozen wild plants in his yard. Hedges is all theory.

    Furthermore Snyder recognized that Hedge’s precious Socialism is inherently flawed. Both Marxism and Capitalism stem from the same Euro-centric root.

    While Hedges was studying Theology, which taught him that mankind in inherently flawed (“Human history, rather than being a chronicle of freedom and democracy, is characterized by ruthless domination.”) Snyder was studying Anthropology which disproves the “Nasty, Brutish, & Short” maxim that Hedges perpetuates.

    Hedges will continue to rail against Capitalism (and the corporate state) but he intentionally ignores the fact that Marxism has failed, too.

    Snyder saw that the problem predates the birth of Adam Smith or Karl Marx. Indigenous, native, and land-based cultures existed sustainably in their various bioregions for 99% of human history. And therein lies the key.

  14. As Hedges suggests, most people don’t want to know the truth. Well, what he writes about the corporate and political elite consolidation of power and wealth is certainly true. It’s all there plain for anybody to see. He sees his role is that of opening our eyes to much of what has happened within these circles, and he’s damn good at it. Except some people don’t want to see.

    Comments like not being able to recognise plants in his own garden are as ridiculous as expecting the writer to have much knowledge in other areas outside his expertise. We can’t all be doing the same thing! Some of us have to excel in other fields than permaculture.

    Nor does Hedges have to produce the solutions. He’s an investigative journalist, he’s pointing out the flaws and they’re big ones, perhaps some of us can step in and help with the solutions.

    Nor is Hedges promoting Marxism, Socialism or any other ism. In fact what he seems to be promoting these days is clear to see in his final paragraph: “We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and cultural values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.”

    It’s worth reading more of Hedges writing, very worth it indeed!

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