Crawl Across the Ocean

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Not a real post this week, but in lieu of that, I thought I'd pass along some comments from Chris Hedges that I came across the other day:
"Well, you know, the great political philosopher Sheldon Wolin in his book "Democracy Incorporated" calls the American system of government at this point inverted totalitarianism. And I think that’s a very prescient term. He argues that inverted totalitarianism unlike classical forms of totalitarianism doesn’t revolve around a demagog or a leader but finds it’s expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. So that under inverted totalitarianism you have corporate interests that purport to pay fealty to the constitution, to electoral politics, to democratic institutions while massively subverting or controlling the levers of power to annul the rights and desires of the citizenry so that in classical totalitarianism systems, both communism and fascism, politics always trumps economics. But in an inverted totalitarianism economics trumps politics." (emphasis added)

Hedges is echoing my own previous comments regarding how much of the corruption we seeing our time is not from guardians introducing on the economic sector, but rather the other way around, with economic actors bending the state to their own self-interest.

In another interview, Hedges touches on another aspect of the commercial syndrome which can run amuck when it is outside it's appropriate sphere:
"Corporate systems are, in theological terms, and I'm a seminary graduate and can't escape it, are systems of death. They turn everything into a commodity. Human beings become commodities, the natural world becomes a commodity, that they exploit. Until exhaustion or collapse. In that sense, Karl Marx was right. It is a revolutionary force. The revolution has happened. They’ve won.

To appeal to the systems of power, or the illusory systems of power that they place before us, is to essentially become complicitous in the radical reconfiguration that the corporate state intends. They know no limits. The only word corporations understand is MORE. They will push and push and push until human capital is destroyed, until the ecosystem itself is destroyed." (emphasis added)

I don't really have anything to add, my point in quoting Hedges is simply to note another example of someone whose arguments unknowingly align with Jane Jacobs work in 'Systems of Survival' with Hedges criticizing the corruption of commercial actors intruding on the guardian sphere with respect to governance and for taking a 'no limits' approach toward human and natural systems which do (in Hedges' view) have limits. Note how Hedges, with his anti-commercial guardian mindset, comes from a background of being a seminary graduate (i.e. from the primarily guardian-minded world of organized religion).

Note: Post updated to add this link, just to make the abstract point about commercial ethics overrunning their appropriate boundaries a little more concrete.

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