Can We Talk?
By Jack Fairweather
Another professor has written another book. So, what? Well, in this book Sheldon S. Wolin, a retired professor of political philosophy at the University of California and Princeton has written what award winning journalist Chris Hedges calls “one of the most important and prescient critiques to date of the American political system”. In “Democracy Incorporated” Wolin coins the phrase “inverted totalitarianism” to describe our system of power.
Unlike classical totalitarianism which usually revolves around a demagogue or charismatic leader, inverted totalitarianism is anonymous, hiding within the smoke and mirrors of the corporate state. It claims to cherish democracy, patriotism and the Constitution. All the time it is cynically manipulating structures and individuals to subvert and block democratic institutions. Example, the people choose between and elect political candidates. However, those candidates must raise staggering amounts of money…corporate funds to compete. This means they owe…and owe big time….they are beholden to an army of corporate lobbyists in Washington and state capitals who write the legislation. A corporate media controls nearly everything we read, watch or hear. There is little objective analysis, investigative reporters have a small market for their efforts and daily news consists of material that is controlled by the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality of broadcast news rooms. A large percentage of “news” is simply mind candy or the ranting of the talking heads on Fox News. In classical totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism , economics took second place behind politics.
“Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true”, Wolin writes. “Economics dominates politics-and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.”
Wolin was interviewed by Chris Hedges about his new book. He told Hedges that while at one time publications like the New York Review of Books often published his work it is now very difficult for “people like me” to get a public hearing. He said there is now a lack of interest on the part of publishers for work that critiques American capitalism and warns of the subversion of democratic institutions as the corporate state becomes dominant.
When asked about the administration of President Barrack Obama Wolin indicated he holds out little hope for the President.
He said the basic systems are going to stayin place; they are too powerful to be challenged. He used the financial bailouts as an example. “It (the bailout) does not bother with the structure at all. I don’t think Obama can take on the kind of military establishment we have developed.” He went on to say he believes Obama“the most intelligent President we’ve had in decades, he is well meaning, but he has inherited a system of constraints that make it very difficult to take on the existing major power configurations.”
In his book he points out that the corporate structure is not going to be challenged and that there has not been one word or even hint of any change min the number of America’s imperialistic projects. That, coupled with the economic collapse,the passivity of the American people and the seeming inability of a floundering progressive movement will likely result in strong inverted totalitarianism andatrue corporate state.the response to mounting discontent and social unrest will probably lead to greater state control and repression…a huge expansion of government power.
Wolin holds little hope for any meaningful resurgence of opposition to such a corporate state….a new interest in true democracy and movement toward a nation that holds promise for the social and economic equality of all its citizens. In America, of course, such voices are heard only on the left. Wolin says, “I despair over the left. Left parties may be small in Europe but they are a coherent organization that keeps going.” And sometimes they do bring about benefits for the common good. “Here,” Wolin notes, “with the exception of Nader’s efforts, we don’t have that. We have a few voices here, a magazine there, and that’s about it. It goes nowhere.”