“Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?” the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay “The Idea Is the Thing.” “If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.”
Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.
I think ‘civil war’ is more likely than ‘revolution’ with, in general, rural America against urban America. And the conflict is not just about values, it’s also about resources. While I think Hedges is right that many are awakening to the unmarked categories that frame our lives, a more pressing issue is the clash of cultures, values, and resources we see all around us today. It feels like we have crossed-the-Rubicon in American political discourse, irretrievably leaving behind notions of a common good and shared responsibility. On both the left and right, absolutism reigns and this is dangerous.