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The Silencing of Dissent

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The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of "fake news."

No dominant class can long retain control when the credibility of the ideas that justify its existence evaporates. It is forced, at that point, to resort to crude forms of coercion, intimidation and censorship. This ideological collapse in the United States has transformed those of us who attack the corporate state into a potent threat, not because we reach large numbers of people, and certainly not because we spread Russian propaganda, but because the elites no longer have a plausible counterargument.

The elites face an unpleasant choice. They could impose harsh controls to protect the status quo or veer leftward toward socialism to ameliorate the mounting economic and political injustices endured by most of the population. But a move leftward, essentially reinstating and expanding the New Deal programs they have destroyed, would impede corporate power and corporate profits. So instead the elites, including the Democratic Party leadership, have decided to quash public debate. The tactic they are using is as old as the nation-state -- smearing critics as traitors who are in the service of a hostile foreign power. Tens of thousands of people of conscience were blacklisted in this way during the Red Scares of the 1920s and the 1950s. The current hyperbolic and relentless focus on Russia, embraced with gusto by "liberal" media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC, has unleashed what some have called a virulent "New McCarthyism."

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The corporate elites do not fear Russia. There is no publicly disclosed evidence that Russia swung the election to Donald Trump. Nor does Russia appear to be intent on a military confrontation with the United States. I am certain Russia tries to meddle in U.S. affairs to its advantage, as we do and did in Russia -- including our clandestine bankrolling of Boris Yeltsin, whose successful 1996 campaign for re-election as president is estimated to have cost up to $2.5 billion, much of that money coming indirectly from the American government. In today's media environment Russia is the foil. The corporate state is unnerved by the media outlets that give a voice to critics of corporate capitalism, the security and surveillance state and imperialism, including the network RT America.

My show on RT America, "On Contact," like my columns at Truthdig, amplifies the voices of these dissidents -- Tariq Ali, Kshama Sawant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Medea Benjamin, Ajamu Baraka, Noam Chomsky, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Rania Khalek, Amira Hass, Miko Peled, Abby Martin, Glen Ford, Max Blumenthal, Pam Africa, Linh Dinh, Ben Norton, Eugene Puryear, Allan Nairn, Jill Stein, Kevin Zeese and others. These dissidents, if we had a functioning public broadcasting system or a commercial press free of corporate control, would be included in the mainstream discourse. They are not bought and paid for. They have integrity, courage and often brilliance. They are honest. For these reasons, in the eyes of the corporate state, they are very dangerous.

The first and deadliest salvo in the war on dissent came in 1971 when Lewis Powell, a corporate attorney and later a Supreme Court justice, wrote and circulated a memo among business leaders called "Attack on American Free Enterprise System." It became the blueprint for the corporate coup d'e'tat. Corporations, as Powell recommended in the document, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the assault, financing pro-business political candidates, mounting campaigns against the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and the press and creating institutions such as the Business Roundtable, The Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Federalist Society and Accuracy in Academia. The memo argued that corporations had to fund sustained campaigns to marginalize or silence those who in "the college campus, the pulpit, the media, and the intellectual and literary journals" were hostile to corporate interests.

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Powell attacked Ralph Nader by name. Lobbyists flooded Washington and state capitals. Regulatory controls were abolished. Massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy were implemented, culminating in a de facto tax boycott. Trade barriers were lifted and the country's manufacturing base was destroyed. Social programs were slashed and funds for infrastructure, from roads and bridges to public libraries and schools, were cut. Protections for workers were gutted. Wages declined or stagnated. The military budget, along with the organs of internal security, became ever more bloated. A de facto blacklist, especially in universities and the press, was used to discredit intellectuals, radicals and activists who decried the idea of the nation prostrating itself before the dictates of the marketplace and condemned the crimes of imperialism, some of the best known being Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Sheldon Wolin, Ward Churchill, Nader, Angela Davis and Edward Said. These critics were permitted to exist only on the margins of society, often outside of institutions, and many had trouble making a living.

The financial meltdown of 2008 not only devastated the global economy, it exposed the lies propagated by those advocating globalization. Among these lies: that salaries of workers would rise, democracy would spread across the globe, the tech industry would replace manufacturing as a source of worker income, the middle class would flourish, and global communities would prosper. After 2008 it became clear that the "free market" is a scam, a zombie ideology by which workers and communities are ravaged by predatory capitalists and assets are funneled upward into the hands of the global 1 percent. The endless wars, fought largely to enrich the arms industry and swell the power of the military, are futile and counterproductive to national interests. Deindustrialization and austerity programs have impoverished the working class and fatally damaged the economy.

The establishment politicians in the two leading parties, each in service to corporate power and responsible for the assault on civil liberties and impoverishment of the country, are no longer able to use identity politics and the culture wars to whip up support, leading in the last presidential election campaign to an insurgency by Bernie Sanders, which the Democratic Party crushed, and the election of Donald Trump.

Barack Obama rode a wave of bipartisan resentment into office in 2008, then spent eight years betraying the public. Obama's assault on civil liberties, including his use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush. He accelerated the war on public education by privatizing schools, expanded the wars in the Middle East, including the use of militarized drone attacks, provided little meaningful environmental reform, ignored the plight of the working class, deported more undocumented people than any other president, imposed a corporate-sponsored health care program that was the brainchild of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, and prohibited the Justice Department from prosecuting the bankers and financial firms that carried out derivatives scams and inflated the housing and real estate market, a condition that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. He epitomized, like Bill Clinton, the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party. Clinton, outdoing Obama's later actions, gave us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the dismantling of the welfare system, the deregulation of the financial services industry and the huge expansion of mass incarceration. Clinton also oversaw deregulation of the Federal Communications Commission, a change that allowed a handful of corporations to buy up the airwaves.

The corporate state was in crisis at the end of the Obama presidency. It was widely hated. It became vulnerable to attacks by the critics it had pushed to the fringes. Most vulnerable was the Democratic Party establishment, which claims to defend the rights of working men and women and protect civil liberties. This is why the Democratic Party is so zealous in its efforts to discredit its critics as stooges for Moscow and to charge that Russian interference caused its election defeat.

In January 2017 there was a report on Russia by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The report devoted seven of its 25 pages to RT America and its influence on the presidential election. It claimed "Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton." This might seem true if you did not watch my RT broadcasts, which relentlessly attacked Trump as well as Clinton, or watch Ed Schultz, who now has a program on RT after having been the host of an MSNBC commentary program. The report also attempted to present RT America as having a vast media footprint and influence it does not possess.

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"In an effort to highlight the alleged 'lack of democracy' in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates," the report read, correctly summing up themes on my show. "The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a 'sham.'"

It went on:

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Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

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4 people are discussing this page, with 6 comments


Rich Buckley

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Chris, Thanks for speaking truth to power in this article. Welcome to my world. Several thousand of us, each for our own reasons have joined together to bypass the Deep State and deal directly with peaceful agents of change by nurturing into existence Dr Steven Greer's CE-5 CSETI protocols. The most accelated agent of change we sense, will be the introduction of Zero Point Energy devises. I have come to concur with Dr. Greer's peaceful solutions for planetary change developed not only because he is well informed but primarily because of Dr. Greer's neutralizing deep spirituality (as compared to polarizing religiosity) and his commitment to a peaceful bypass and workaround to the always resistant Deep State. Our best path for peaceful global prosperity and freedom is to implement spirit guided CE-5 CSETI protocols, and bypass the Deep State that only prepares for war and mimics the ancient dark Prophecies to trick followers and horde power: click here Be the change.

Submitted on Monday, Sep 18, 2017 at 2:42:32 PM

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Richard McGinnis

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We must stand up for the Working poor and expose Greed..!

Submitted on Monday, Sep 18, 2017 at 3:55:04 PM

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Rich Buckley

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Intuition suggests zero point energy is most apt to take root appearing as a cottage industry first and will quickly absorbed by Elon Musk's creative manufacturing mind to give the industry an imprimatur of establishment.

Elon Musk seems to be best placed with his five major manufacturing plants to quickly adapt peaceful uses into society.... and seems to have the gravitas to try it. Frankly, Elon seems to know things we mortals do not.

Submitted on Monday, Sep 18, 2017 at 5:20:35 PM

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Chris, I see you are still articulating who is responsible for all this mess. In your example about the elite, I found each and every point you made to be found in my own life with people I know around me. Ideology is not just a high social class thing, it is found within all of our people and situations. Your narrow focus in your articulations has prevented you from generalizing and seeing the bigger picture. I hate it when people say be more specific, you loose so many things when you do. If you can say it more general where most people can identify with then you are getting at the root causes. I look forward to when you "get it" because you have a lot of passion for this world. Remember people did not look at all the pictures you took of war for a reason, they don't want to see what they have done, and this is ideology backwards, taking away benefits from their neighbors and family if their silence happens to stop.


I been without electricity for a week now, and it is really hot inside my home. But my comfort comes second to being a good person, and taking the time to read your article under these conditions and answer in an appropriate way is my duty to my community. Artists who are stuck on a topic is what makes me excited because you would not be so stuck if you did not care so much.

Submitted on Monday, Sep 18, 2017 at 7:16:05 PM

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My website (www.Greensuit.org) used to come right up on the first page when I searched for it by name. After this "fake news" update, Yahoo did not list it in the first seven pages of returns.

A blind sleuth can see
Alphabet is now our
"Ministry of Truth".

Submitted on Monday, Sep 18, 2017 at 9:27:55 PM

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Joseph Mitchener

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This kind of crack down on dissent is usually done just before an imperial state attacks another country. I suspect that the USA will soon be attacking Iran.

Submitted on Monday, Sep 18, 2017 at 9:30:58 PM

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