Chris Hedges speaks truth to power regarding our present situation. Here’s a transcript of the opening section of one of his recent public talks, delivered in Vancouver, Canada. I’ll post the rest as I finish transcribing it. A video of the complete talk is linked below.
The final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government, along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, common good, investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, healthcare, and the protection of the eco-system, would be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host. And this is the stage of late capitalism that Donald Trump represents. Trump and his reactionary capitalists who have seized 34 of 50 governorships and 68 of 99 state legislatures, 49 of which are bicameral, plan to oversee the final campaign of corporate pillaging of America and the rest of the planet.
It will be crass and brazen. As crass and brazen as the fleecing of the desperate people hoping for a miracle in the face of dead-end jobs and ruinous personal debt who patronized Trump’s casinos and the casinos springing up across the United States and Canada, — or who shelled out thousands of dollars for the sham of Trump University.
He is unleashing a kleptocracy. The word comes from the Greek klépto meaning thieves, and kratos meaning rule. So it is literally “rule by thieves,” one that will rival the kleptocracies carried out by Suharto in Indonesia and Marcos in the Philippines. It is not that Trump and his family will use the influence of government to increase their wealth, although this will certainly take place on a massive scale; it is that hundreds of billions of federal dollars will be diverted into the hands of cronies, sleazy bankers, unethical financial firms, and scabrous hedge fund managers. Everything will, to use a business term, be “harvested”; the decaying pillars of the liberal state in America will be obliterated.
At the same time, the militarization of America is being accelerated. The defense budget will be increased by 10%, or 54 billion dollars, although the United States already spends more than the defense budgets of the next seven countries combined.
The paramilitary forces of Immigration and Customs enforcement, which will soon hire 10,000 more agents, and the Border Patrol which will hire 5,000 more agents, along with Homeland Security, have all deputized local and state police to function as their auxiliaries. They will be flooded with cast-off military-issue equipment.
These paramilitary forces will not disband once they have finished terrorizing and deporting some of the 11 million undocumented workers in the United States. They will turn on their next victims: Muslims, African Americans, Asians, dissidents. This militarization of society is designed to carry out the race war that Trump and those around him seek as inevitable at home and abroad.
In poor communities of color, this race war has already begun. Racial profiling. Random police stops. Raids at homes and businesses. People of color pulled from vehicles at checkpoints. Seizures of individuals with no criminal records or who never committed a serious crime. Imprisonment without trial. Expedited deportation hearings and removal proceedings that violate the most basic human rights. The arrest of a beneficiary of the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) Program, Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, who along with the program’s other 750,000 successful applicants, had revealed all personal history to the government in applying for DACA status. Parents separated, perhaps forever, from their children. The hunted going underground. The end of the rule of law. The abandonment of the common good. The obliteration of a social state in which institutions and assistance programs, — from public education to social security and welfare, — make justice, equality, and dignity possible.
White Europeans who are undocumented are not being targeted. The executive orders of Trump are directed against people of color. They begin from the premise that white Americans are the true victims of neo-liberalism, de-industrialization, and falling living standards.
The Trump orders are written not to make America great again, but to make America white. They are an updated version of the Nazis’ Nuremberg Laws, the Jim Crow laws, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Naturalization Act of 1870. They are intended to institutionalize an overt racial hierarchy in the United States, one already far advanced in the miniature police states where people of color live in marginal communities.
In these impoverished enclaves, there is no right to trial or due process. Militarized police kill with impunity, and the courts lock people away, often for life. Rights are treated as privileges that can instantly be revoked. The poor, especially poor people of color, are exempted from moral consideration. They are attacked as impediments to social cohesion. And these impediments must be eliminated. Jews, — their communities centers enduring threats of violence, and their graveyards desecrated, — will also be persecuted. American fascism is rapidly being cemented into place by uniformed and heavily armed paramilitary goons clutching the flag and the cross and citing the Pledge Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer.
Little or no prospect of rescue from individual indolence or impotence can be expected to arrive from a political state that is not, and refuses to be, a social state. The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman wrote, “Without social rights for all, a large and in all probability growing number of people will find their political rights of little use and unworthy of their attention. If political rights are necessary to set social rights in place, social rights are indispensable to make political rights ‘real’ and keep them in operation. The two rights need each other for their survival; that survival can only be their joint achievement.”