Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Chomsky, Hedges Call for United Opposition Among the Left to Obama’s Corporate Presidency

More of this please:

A Call for Active Support of Protest to Michael Moore, Norman Solomon, Katrina van den Heuvel, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher Jr., Jesse Jackson Jr., and other high profile progressive supporters of the Obama electoral campaign.

With the Obama administration beginning its third year, it is by now painfully obvious that the predictions of even the most sober Obama supporters were overly optimistic. Rather than an ally, the administration has shown itself to be an implacable enemy of reform. …

We are writing to you because, as well-known writers, bloggers and filmmakers with access to a range of old and new media, you have in your power the capacity to help reignite the movement which brought millions onto the streets in February of 2003 but which has withered ever since. There are many thousands of progressives who follow your work closely and are waiting for a cue from you and others to act. We are asking you to commit yourself to actively supporting the protests of Obama administration policies which are now beginning to materialize.

Written and signed by such progressive notables as Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges, this open letter to “the left establishment” is long overdue, and perhaps another case of too little, too late. But I welcome it as a sign that maybe, just maybe, we are finally beginning to witness the first rumblings of protest among the actual silent majority:  the plurality of reasonable Americans with decidedly leftward-leaning social and political beliefs.

For seemingly inexplicable reasons, progressive values have been almost entirely shunned from political debate in the mainstream media since at least the 1970s. Some argue that “the hippies grew up,” and to a certain extent this might be true. However, the more likely explanation is that the corporate-controlled media simply became more masterful in manipulating public discourse. The complexity of propaganda has grown steadily in the decades since the widespread dissent of the 1960s, and today the corporate media machine – with its multitude of fronts – has become so effective as to preclude the very possibility of discussion of any genuinely leftist ideas.

The narrative relentlessly pounded into our brains – in the news programs, newspapers, magazines, TV shows and movies – is that Americans are social conservatives who believe in hard work, small government, and the unquestionable virtue of capitalism.  While I concede that Americans are generally hardworking people, the issue is that “hardworking,” as tossed around by Republican douchemooks, is generally a coded way of implying that a social safety net of any kind is inherently evil.  The fabled American dream, after all, suggests that prosperity is available to anyone who works hard enough, which insinuates that the have-nots don’t have because they are lazy.

Naturally, the prospect of sharing one’s hard-earned income with such undeserving, indolent slackers is utterly unfathomable.  And since, according to this familiar narrative, government is intractably evil, it is understood that government exists merely to pilfer the wealth we have industriously labored to acquire, and share it with the slothful good-for-nothings (a belief which is often deeply interwoven with overt traces of racism).

I do not believe, however, that this representation of Americans is accurate.  Such a portrayal of the population is beneficial for corporate purposes, as a fear of government – or even a perception that the government is feared by the general population – contributes to a stagnation of progressive values.  Even though most Americans hold leftward leaning beliefs on a wide variety of political and social issues, the screaming hysteria from the mainstream, corporate media drowns out the voice of reason, and leads them to imagine that their liberal views are somehow abnormal.

As a consequence, we have seen no sustained mass movements on the left since the early 1970s, while the fictional “grassroots” movements of the right (i.e. teabaggers) dominate the headlines.  The image of the angry, conservative middle-class American is constantly portrayed, raging against government oppression and liberal subversion.  But such portrayals are a fabrication.  If the majority of Americans realized that their views were not held in isolation but were shared by the bulk of the population, we would likely see public dissent on a scale not observed since the Vietnam era – or, as the letter points out, the surprisingly large protests that sprouted up nationwide in the days preceding the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

We are now fully and irrevocably immersed in the Internet era, which allows us tools for communication that political dissenters could have only dreamed about in earlier generations.  As WikiLeaks has shown us, the Internet offers the potential for previously unthinkable heights of citizen power.  We simply need to find some way to harness that power, and utilize it to organize the splintered, isolated pockets of reasonable, liberal-minded Americans that constitute our core.  And if the most prominent voices of the left unite in this common cause, we will have taken a powerful first step in realizing the dream of an extensive, vibrant grassroots movement on the left.

And now for some links:

The official site:  www.protestobama.org

A summary of goals – worth reading and quite admirable

Sign the petition here

Observe Michael Moore’s prominent reference to the Dec 16 protests

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One response to “Chomsky, Hedges Call for United Opposition Among the Left to Obama’s Corporate Presidency

  1. Pingback: Protest Obama: A Call to Action on the Left « Failed Empire

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