Home | About | Donate

The Age of the Demagogues


The Age of the Demagogues

Chris Hedges

The increase in nihilistic violence such as school shootings and Friday’s lethal assault on a Planned Parenthood clinic, the frequent executions of poor people of color by police, and the rise of thuggish demagogues such as Donald Trump are symptoms of the collapse of our political and cultural institutions.


The following cannot be stated often enough:

"The hypermasculine values of the military are embraced across the political spectrum as an antidote to paralysis and decay. Toughness and violence are venerated. The obsequious hero worship, the celebration of American power, the sanctification of the military and military values, inflect all political discourse. Hero worship of the military has unwittingly laid the ideological groundwork for demagogues who promise glory, strength, order and discipline. It justifies the emergence of an authoritarian police state."

The above is my definition for Mars Rules.

However, I find this statement superficial:

"Feminism, for example, became about placing individual women in positions of power—this is Hillary Clinton’s mantra—not about empowering poor, marginalized and oppressed women."

The Capture of what Hedges terms "Liberal institutions" which includes universities and a press that would act as a check upon power explains why Feminism seems to applaud the protocol that would place women into powerful positions.

But the Feminism that I studied in college back in the l970s is not that at all. It was not based on an accommodation to the system that patriarchy--with all its violence, and all its cruelty, and all its privileges allotted to a few--built.

Just as corporations fund groups that serve the Greater Good only to use their power of the purse to influence the agendas of those groups, there has been an accommodation to the power structure. And it's largely due to the financial constraints of these times. Since capital is required to launch a media campaign and arguably educate citizens, those committed to educating the public, working for altruistic aims, and raising consciousness often find that they must attract corporate donors.

In any case, my point is that what's become tainted largely as a result of the existing power system doesn't change the ultimate meaning of words or the values they signify.

Some "feminists" might see in the MIC opening its doors to women, a form of progress. I do not. I can't think of a more horrific way for the masculine-military-industrial-complex to SUBSUME what should act as a counterbalance... and that is what is accomplished when females enter into these patriarchal institutions.

The old word for this is Tokenism. I wonder if Mr. Hedges understands Feminism?


In the same way that I so often explain that there is no equivalence between those who HAVE power--and use it to abuse others--and those who have relatively little power, and are on the receiving end of that abuse (as related to show how this uneven power equation works in relation to the sloppy use of the WE-frame); I think a similar analogy applies to the following:

"The academy, the press, the entertainment industry, the arts and religious institutions have been purged of those who do not sing to the tune of neoliberalism and bow before the glories of corporate capitalism. The destruction of the liberal class, something I explore in my book “Death of the Liberal Class,” has created a closed political system crippled by polarization, political gridlock, crushing austerity, unchecked pillage by financial elites and a carnival of meaningless political theater. It has shut out genuine voices of dissent."

This purging process has included all of the following:

  1. The Red Scare
  2. The McCarthy Hearings on "un-American" activities
  3. The FBI's infiltration of Women's rights groups, Environmental groups, Civil Rights groups
  4. The MURDER of JFK, RFK, Malcolm, Martin Luther King and likely Ted Gunderson, Michael Ruppert, Paul Wellstone and others
  5. The use of corporately-funded think thanks to SET a narrative, and the financial capture of the Press, Mass Media, and academic institutions (through funding... in a manner that works a lot like campaign contributions and their influence over public policy) to make that narrative the "law" of the land
  6. The demonizing of those branded as crazy, heretical, conspiracy theorists, whistle-blowers, and dangerous-to-the establishment truth tellers
  7. The major funding of mega-churches through which to spread authoritarian values
  8. NDAA
  9. Citizens United
  10. Silencing, demonizing, and/or rendering invisible & irrelevant any alternative to the status quo storyline

This is not a full list... however, my point is that the incursions of Deep State Powers into all venues of culture and academe is far less the fault of those conquered by stealth, than that of those doing the conquering.

In so many arenas of our lives what's playing out is the modern version of the old conquistadors using brute force to commandeer lands, persons, and resources.

That impetus is the driving engine of patriarchal capitalism.

It is natural for people to adapt to the systems in which they find themselves. That adaptation called for deals with the devil. Stating what took place is intended to explain the dynamic, not necessarily to excuse it.

So long as there are military powers marching down streets, human beings will concede. Few wish to argue with a gun. The problem then is militarism itself. It is a scourge and it's always in existence to support governing elites who could not govern were it not for the power and complicity of their legions of armed enforcers.

This paradigm must be trashed. And it cannot BE trashed so long as an emphasis on things masculine--which in many ways relies upon each male being initiated into the age-old brotherhoods of warriors who baptize one another in the blood of others--is balanced against the Voice, Power, and Input of women; and I do not mean those women who march in synch with patriarchy due to their own indoctrination.

I mean women like Vandana Shiva who speak for the forces of nature; and women like Bianca Jagger who understand the sacredness of the great forests; and people like Barbara Lee who don't salute the make war state. And many others... who receive no validation from the elites who control the world in ways that make war inevitable.


You always act as an apologist to the status quo. I know you are paid to post here.


The dismantling of pensions has sent a great deal of (what is left of) the middle class into market products, such as 401(k) plans. Effectively, this has instilled in many market worship to preserve the fruits of their labor for retirement. Many with liberal inclinations are caught between their personal security and what they know to be socially justified. The move toward defined contribution retirement plans cannot be ignored as a major forcing function toward corporate control of the Democratic Party, which historically did fight for labor's rights. Only Bernie is presenting a dialogue on point in this matter. Can he overcome the onslaught of marginalization that is constantly foisted on his campaign?


When the league of anti-Sanders posters show up to knock down the ONE candidate who is speaking to most of these issues, do they truly take in what it will mean if a right wing demagogue manages to assume the Oval Office? Or are they so insulated in their purist Ivory Towers as to not recognize the boiling inferno presented by this, as so aptly described by Mr. Hedges:

"Liberals and secularists, along with groups such as feminists, African-Americans and homosexuals that were supposedly championed in the quest for cultural diversity, are viewed not as political competitors but as contaminants. This is giving rise to a homegrown fascism—a subject I examined in “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America”—buttressed by the gun culture, a resurgence of racism and sexism and the fusion of the symbols of the Christian cross and the American flag. This American fascism will expand unless there is a radical restructuring to reintegrate dispossessed Americans into the economy. The failure to reverse the corporate assault, the continued expansion of poverty and despair, will accelerate the country’s breakdown."

Living in the Deep South, I can feel the racism and I wonder if the sheriffs I occasionally have cause to deal with attend secret KKK meetings, ones that could set me up as a target.

The U.S. is being converted into a Fourth Reich as MINI-TRUE so often explains. Apart from the financial advantages posed by elites picking the body of this dead bird and then moving off to other nations to plunder, there is also the more sinister imperative to reduce the population. If THEY make things desperate enough here, in this armed, dangerous and in many places deluded land... they could be stoking a bloodbath that will make the Civil War look like child's play.


It always amazes me how easy it is for white males to dismiss these things. How many white males did a thing to advance women's rights or Civil Rights? Identity politics is a superficial adage that hardly explains the very real plights faced by persons who are not white males. Granted white males of means have always had the Great Edge. Nonetheless, apart from the labors of the white male, he has not had to face racism or sexism. And these prejudices--and what they translate to in ways that go way beyond mere economics--are quite substantial.


I think that this it true, however, I also think that, because the society we live in teaches that only those things with economic or monetary price tags can be considered to have value, many white men cannot see or recognize those other privileges that he benefits from. He is faced with the monetarily defined failure and it is against this that he lashes out against those he now perceives as gaining at his expense. I have seen and heard this expressed from otherwise thoughtful white men I have known. The blinders are many and that is to a large extent not accidental.


You bristle when "we" is used in any comment on any subject while lumping all males into one pile of violent,selfish, martians, and, by the way, "boiling inferno" is another of your mixed metaphors.


I agree with your comment. And the unexamined assumptions are often termed a "normalcy bias." That's why I often come off as "difficult" in challenging these passive assumptions. They are damning, dangerous, and anti-Democratic.

In fact, I was just watching Democracynow. where some group proved that most terrorist events are executed by "whites." The truth is, it's white MALES, but again, the gender distinction is purposely kept invisible.

There is such a fear of deconstructing Patriarchy and its dominant constructs that important information that would arguably be used to discredit it is kept invisible.

This monetization of things is nowhere more tragic than in the mindset that has commoditized the natural world and turned living systems that took millennia to form into so much dust, waste, and destruction. The price is beyond what can be measured for this calamitous loss of any understanding of The Sacred.


Please post your evidence in support of your allegation against andrewboston.



Bristle is an interesting and charged word.

What I object to--and will continue to challenge and object to--is when policies taken up, enforced, and engineered by males (patriarchal elites) are disingenuously conflated with ALL persons, as in "we."

Most violence is done by males, and a great deal of institutional violence--much of it orchestrated by the M.I.C. and its various and sundry white male leaders--is also the exclusive product of white male aggression.

I am tired of THAT particular masculine demographic covering up its deeds by attributing them to all... the vast oceanic WE.

Your comment is on a par with the angry right wing white guys who can't own their own violence, so turn women, Blacks, and Latinos into targets.


I would think that since you both work for the same entity, you'd be in a better position to publish that than I would. But, of course, you already know that.


The rise of domestic, nihilistic violence in America. Why? And why do demagogues like Trump, have so many brownshirt acolytes? Why are the thugs wearing police uniforms allowed to murder innocent black males? Why do so many churches condone military violence in foreign lands and the murders and cold blooded slaughter of innocent men, women and children? I agree these are symptoms of the collapse of American political and cultural institutions, but what caused this collapse?

Mr. Hedges is right on target when he states: " the capturing of major institutions by corporate power and the moral bankruptcy of our elites especially members of our self-identified liberal class".


So it is standard operating procedure for you to allege things without any evidence?
Got any evidence about this mysterious "Entity" that andrewboston and I work for?
You are in good company with Don Rumsfeld, W, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice et al.



There you go, bristling again. You're last sentence makes no sense and sounds a bit angry, maybe even right wingish. Hilary will receive support from many because of her sex. Will reason ever eclipse bigotry? Alas.


I think it important here to repeat a point I made in another article in response to this excellent article by Mr hedges.

I would ask anyone to read the various Socialist manifestos of Political parties in Canada, the United States and Europe from when those movements founded. You will find they spoke to all the issues Mr hedges addresses including the power of the Corporate State, Militarism and Sexism and submitted platforms intended to address them all. All of these policies came from party membership and the working class.

Part of the process by which these movements were marginalized and manipulated into becoming little more than the neo- liberalism was the "Purists" of the movement towards Socialism being marginalized and squeezed out of those parties by claims they were "perfectionists" and could never "win an election" unless their voices and initiatives muted and the party became more "realistic" in the demands it made. Through these tactics those voices were excised from the discussion and those milque-toast liberals were then accepted as the voice of the Socialists.

In order to have a healthy left there must BE a left to voice those opinions and those opinions must be heard and welcomed.


But most males are peaceful. The distinction seems to elude you.



Would matriarchal capitalism be any better?



Please go to West Virginia and explain to the white coal miners that even though they might die in a mine collapse, they are lucky that they do not face racism or sexism.