Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chris Hedges' Disturbing Dystopian Vision Of The Present

by Lefty Coaster     Tue Dec 28, 2010     Original Article

I found Chris Hedges' dystopian vision of the present to be disturbingly close to the mark. I had to share it with everyone here even though I don't take quite as dim a view as Hedges does of our present predicament.

2011: A Brave New Dystopia

We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from "Brave New World" to "1984." The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy.

Hedges talks about inverted totalitarianism which he describes like this:

In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states, are effectively masked by the glitter, noise and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. The corporation state, hiding behind the smokescreen of the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and the tawdry materialism of a consumer society, devours us from the inside out. It owes no allegiance to us or the nation. It feasts upon our carcass.

Our systems of mass communication, as Wolin writes, "block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue, anything that might weaken or complicate the holistic force of their creation, to its total impression."

The result is a monochromatic system of information. Celebrity courtiers, masquerading as journalists, experts and specialists, identify our problems and patiently explain the parameters. All those who argue outside the imposed parameters are dismissed as irrelevant cranks, extremists or members of a radical left. Prescient social critics, from Ralph Nader to Noam Chomsky, are banished. Acceptable opinions have a range of A to B. The culture, under the tutelage of these corporate courtiers, becomes, as Huxley noted, a world of cheerful conformity, as well as an endless and finally fatal optimism. We busy ourselves buying products that promise to change our lives, make us more beautiful, confident or successful as we are steadily stripped of rights, money and influence.

Our manufacturing base has been dismantled. Speculators and swindlers have looted the U.S. Treasury and stolen billions from small shareholders who had set aside money for retirement or college. Civil liberties, including habeas corpus and protection from warrantless wiretapping, have been taken away. Basic services, including public education and health care, have been handed over to the corporations to exploit for profit. The few who raise voices of dissent, who refuse to engage in the corporate happy talk, are derided by the corporate establishment as freaks.

As a protester at the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle I well remember being type cast in the MSM as anarchist rioters when 99% of the protesters taking part were non-violent. This year the MSM still erroneously refers to the WTO protests as riots. In fact the vast majority of the violence involved came from the Seattle Police when they attacked mostly nonviolent protesters.

Hedges goes on to argue that our Orwellian Dystopia of subtle manipulation is transforming into a Dystopia relying on brutal oppression more like that found in 1984.

Hedges whole unsettling essay is well worth reading.

2011: A Brave New Dystopia