Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

The case of the errant sentinel

Rightly Chris Hedges observes that the liberal guardians of the U.S.’ ruling elite have abandoned their posts. They have a known role in sustaining oligarchies: to make possible the illusion that real advances in the condition of our society and the whole of its members can be engineered from above with a series of measures of reform rather than being compelled from below by social struggle. This is essential to modern capitalist “democracies”; absent this illusion, mild and harmless reforms that leave the oligarchic structure intact are soon replaced by profound systemic reconstruction.

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, qui custodet custodes.
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But no one said oligarchs are morally intelligent. They know little, and care less, about the broader consequences of their actions; if it isn't going to make money soon, they don't want any part of it. So they have now methodically bribed their own guards, turning them into such obsequious flunkies that they are now despised as hypocrites when they begin to mouth the grand duckspeak of social reform.

The immediate consequences — and this will apply for an indefinite period, ending not according to any schedule but only when we withdraw our consent to be governed — will be grim. Tens of millions, perhaps eventually a hundred million or more, of non-elite Americans will suffer catastrophically while the top 0.1 percent revels in unprecedented riches. The upward transfer of wealth, the aggregation of public property in private hands, will continue and accelerate. Too late, we will learn that economies are ultimately founded upon, and all wealth constrained by, a finite range of essential resources; and as more of those resources are held by fewer people, more of the remaining people must necessarily want for them.

The demise of restraining forces within the power structure means also the relaxation and reversal of many of the reforms that they had maintained. Labor laws (including child labor laws) will become ever more binding upon the worker and less upon the employer; benefits, vacations, the 40-hour week and overtime pay will become relics; fewer people will do more work for less money, while those who don’t (or can’t) work will find themselves punished as never before, and Massey Energy Company’s collapsing coal mines will set the standard for workplace safety. Environmental protection laws reduce profit margins in the short term: Therefore, expect more “visible air” days when you wonder why the sky overhead is blue while the horizon is orange-brown; more smoke and exhaust; more industrial, agricultural and pharmaceutical wastes in drinking water. Housing and health care, as commodities in markets dominated by insatiable elites, will become increasingly unaffordable, and what of both is available to most Americans will fail to meet minimal standards of quality. Education will continue to implode, under pressure from those who would deny to “lesser beings” such an avenue of potential emancipation, until it is impossible for the children outside the elite to receive more instruction than is necessary to pass tests proving that they are thoroughly indoctrinated in the values of the elite and prepared to perform menial labor for its benefit.

But as to the eventual consequence: As Hedges has remarked, people will not willingly be enslaved; and as soon as they realize that there is no one in the power structure to fight for them, to defend their fundamental and inalienable rights, they will fight for themselves. The defection from their posts of the liberal guardians can only hasten this day.

Originally published as a review of a National Public Radio article on the co-option of the U.S.’ liberal elite.

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