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Trump Is the Symptom, Not the Disease


Trump Is the Symptom, Not the Disease

Chris Hedges

Forget the firing of James Comey. Forget the paralysis in Congress. Forget the idiocy of a press that covers our descent into tyranny as if it were a sports contest between corporate Republicans and corporate Democrats or a reality show starring our maniacal president and the idiots that surround him. Forget the noise. The crisis we face is not embodied in the public images of the politicians that run our dysfunctional government.


Another perspicacious article by Mr. Hedges! Trump is the expected sick, result of decades of a dysfunctional, mendacious, militaristic, U.S. government and its corrupt media. Trump is just the latest sign of how pervasive this miasma has become and one has to wonder when the American people will rise up and take their country back with an antidote for this current miasma, that needs to be eradicated before it infects us all!


Thank you, Chris Hedges.

I repeat: The clown leading the circus parade is a distraction.

Both Democrat and Republican ideologies are founded on embrace of imperial militarism, espionage and repression, environmentally damaging and unsustainable economic practices, a capitalist economics that ensures that one’s ability to increase wealth, and to limit the wealth of others, is a function of one’s wealth, and a national and worldwide caste system whereby a some 10 million in the US (some 15 million worldwide) are extremely wealthy (and thus powerful) while nearly half the households in the US have incomes that are barely able to meet their expenses (and nearly half of the worlds population live on less than $2.50 a day). When a Democrat is in office, Republicans push to promote their version of this ideology. Now, Democrats are working to keep people focused on the clown. Democrats too, however, are seeking to promote their version of the ideology that perpetuates wealth concentration, social immobility, environmental destruction, surveillance, repression, oppression, and war.

Our descent into despotism began with the pardoning of Richard Nixon, all of whose impeachable crimes are now legal, and the extrajudicial assault, including targeted assassinations and imprisonment, carried out on dissidents and radicals, especially black radicals. It began with the creation of corporate-funded foundations and organizations that took control of the press, the courts, the universities, scientific research and the two major political parties. It began with empowering militarized police to kill unarmed citizens and the spread of our horrendous system of mass incarceration and the death penalty. It began with the stripping away of our most basic constitutional rights—privacy, due process, habeas corpus, fair elections and dissent. It began when big money was employed by political operatives such as Roger Stone, a close Trump adviser, to create negative political advertisements and false narratives to deceive the public, turning political debate into burlesque. - Chris Hedges

I’d say, our descent into despotism began with Europeans arriving in the Americas with a sense that they were entitled to massacre the indigenous peoples, to take ownership of their lands. It began with these Europeans kidnapping Africans and transporting them to the Americas to work in perpetual slavery. It was entrenched by the ‘Founding Fathers’ enshrining disdain for indigenous peoples and slavery in the ‘Declaration of Independence’ and the Constitution. And it was furthered with the US notion of Manifest Destiny, the notion of Imperial entitlement enshrined in the Monroe Document, the notion of US entitlement to target weapons of mass destruction to massacre hundreds of thousands under FDR and Truman, and the notion of US exceptionalism.

Nevertheless, regardless of when or how we got to this stage, it is clear that structural shifts in approaches to peace, justice, sustainability, and economic justice will be achieved through grassroots community based organizing.


This message was prepared for the Conlawprof email forum.

People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome. – River Tam, Serenity

Reading the persistent jeremiads of distress over the election of Donald Trump with attempts to understand it in terms of a symptom or disease, does not do credit to the members of this forum. You are all out of touch with the people of your country.

Never send to know where is the disease. Look in the mirror.

As elites you may fancy yourselves as better educated than most voters, as having a noblesse oblige to protect them them from their ignorance. That makes you fools. The voters are not ignorant. They know very well what is going wrong, at least in the broad sense, and they are not happy about it.

And no, I did not vote for Trump, but for Gary Johnson.

The people are oppressed by corrupt and predatory enterprises and institutions. Everywhere they look they see predators trying to crush them, to drive them down into poverty. Especially members of the legal profession, but also bureaucrats of all kinds.

I know many who have given up on trying to achieve and maintain a middle class lifestyle. Every time they get ahead there is some lawyer or government agent trying to take it all away from them. I am one of them. I long ago concluded that prosperity as most people understand it is simply not sustainable in this country at this time. The only way to protect oneself from lawyers is to not have anything.

When you hear laments about the decline of the middle class, that is the major cause of it. Not foreign competition, not illegal immigrants, not automation. Not departures from social conservative values. Lawyers.

You are in the business of training lawyers. Are you preparing them to pursue justice even at the expense of their own prosperity? Didn’t think so. Until the legal profession ceases to be about making money, it will be corrupt, and you will have contributed to that.

But, you say, we live in a modern, complex society, and massive corruption is inevitable is such a society. If it reduces almost all of us to poverty ruled by an elite class of plutocrats, that is just the way things are going to be. We are never going to be able to return to some kind of libertarian social virtue. It isn’t going to happen. Just find a hole and hide in it.

But people are not ready to settle for that. Get used to that as well.

Also, forget about undoing the last election. Trump is president. You will not impeach or remove him. He will no doubt be re-elected.

Also, forget this nonsense about tax returns or “ties” with Russia. Tax returns don’t reveal anything important. No, Trump did not induce the Russian government to hack Hilary’s servers. Anyone could have done that. She did that herself, and in doing so committed massive violations of the Espionage Act, for which she deserves to be prosecuted.

When Comey recited a litany of violations of the Espionage Act, he had the obligation to recommend indictment, even if the AG decided not to prosecute. That was on her. He was not the prosecutor. All that nonsense about “no prosecutor” would prosecute was a lie. The offenses are strict liability. There is no mens rea defense. His duty at that point was to resign on the spot. He demonstrated a lack of integrity that disqualifies him to serve as FBI Director, and demonstrated the need to elect Trump.

The problem is not new. It goes back to the time of Hammurabi. But it has gotten much, much worse in recent times.


Trump is the symptom, not the disease which is capitalism.

So the 1960’s had “an excess of democracy”. I didn’t know that back then when in my twenties I successfully avoided being drafted for Vietnam and didn’t have to flee to Canada. Too old to flee now but I’m old enough to be dead soon so I’ll just keep spitting in the face of the U.S. Empire, the bloodiest empire in history and a terrorist nation throughout its vile white supremacy past. Of course capitalists have always wanted to limit democracy to the markets and themselves, “tyranny in the workplace, freedom in the marketplace”. If you’re not an owner of this country than you are either a slave, a whore, a thief or an exploited, persecuted, loser which you will be told is your fault alone.

The triumph of the U.S. Empire destroyed culture with consumerism and spread the doctrine of white supremacy throughout the world. It’s secret drone warfare kills lots of non-whites daily as it continues to rob their countries of everything not destroyed in trying to subjugate them. What has changed in the last decades was the rise of global capitalists as co-owners of the U.S. Empire; it’ s permanent war now to defend their freedom to exploit.

As far as democracy goes the U.S. was not founded as a democracy and has never been one. Before globalization there were economic periods that provided lots of jobs and when the labor movement was strong a large middle class existed. But people should not confuse economic prosperity with democracy. Although the U.S. past was less monstrous in its prison industrial complex if you were poor or non white you were still persecuted and exploited… In the U.S. plutocracy one gets all the personal freedom and justice one can afford. Legal aid means plea bargaining, guilty or not.

The fastest growing segment of the population are impoverished whites. In recent years one can observe how poor people have been increasingly demonized. One can deduce that they will soon be suffering the fate of the racial minorities that many of them are prejudiced against. But as Hedges points out we are all no longer citizens but subjects of the empire and can be indefinitely detained or murdered on suspicion of terrorism or supporting it in some way. All hail the Patriot and the NDAA acts. Wonder who’s on Trump’s murder list that the NDAA act entitles him to have and use.

Well I guess we subjects have always been looked upon as suspects even when we had some rights under the law. But times have never been that great for anyone but the wealthy in the U.S. plutocracy. As an empire, since the Spanish American war of 1898, it has helped to impoverish many countries from which immigrants desperately come, even illegally. With it’s middle east warfare it has created a refugee problem unheard of since WWII. The only way to end terrorism is to end the empire as the U.S. Empire is the world’s biggest terrorist nation. War and terror have always been the price of empire.

Hedges still seems to promote fixing the capitalist system rather than overthrowing it even though he considers himself a socialist. There is, of course, nothing wrong with fighting injustice and trying to spare people misery. I just wish he would spread the socialist message a little more. Nowhere in his column does the word socialist appear. But as usual it is a fine probing column.

Trump is the symptom, not the disease which is capitalism. There is an urgency now to end capitalism before it ends the human race.


Have to disagree on that. He consistently talks about overthrowing and/or replacing capitalism nonviolently. Whether you agree or disagree with his nonviolence, his line is consistent and he walks his talk. Everything else you say is spot on.


Some may find this interesting:


And this:



“Tax returns don’t reveal anything important.”

I beg to differ:



Also interesting:



I agree that we are a plutocracy and much of what you say, but I am not so sure that capitalism is the disease. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was not above things like this. Their police were violent, too. Perhaps the problem is in power, and as Lord Acton proclaimed, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the time of Jim Crow, whites did not want to share what little power they had width those “niggers.”


Chris, you say the people have been complacent, that we must overthrow, dismantle. You harken back, “It isn’t until the ’60s that you see this deep, rich emergence of people fighting for rights that were enshrined in the Constitution".
I was there and it was peace, love, LSD, until the SDS(Students for a Democratic Society) armed themselves. Was that due to infiltration, or bad apples or bad acid. Maybe Charlie Manson’s helter skelter was the end of love.
Maybe it’s time to electrify the drinking water. Find a chemist!


Different diseases can have the same or similar symptoms.

Your quote of Lord Acton is spot on.



One of Hedge’s best articles and some interesting replies.

The capitalism vs socialism dynamic is steadily resolving itself in the more direct democratic States. There these coexist along with other political philosophies, as a healthy diversity requires.

The “all or nothing” mindset fails in the Information Age.



The indigenous, Native Americans were called the pejorative: " merciless Indian savages" because they were the real owners of America, at that time, and stood in the way of American greed. Much like what is going on today in Standing Rock, North Dakota with the DAPL. In the vernacular of today they would be called terrorists.


Both good articles.


Trump finally put a face on these people. It’s a better face than Barack who did the same thing. Now people care that we have a crook in the white house.


Yeah, a very ugly face that has been surreptitiously hidden for far too long!



A well-measured and cogent response. Although, with the global, creeping pervasiveness of capitalism, I now contend any non-violent grass-roots efforts to ‘overthrow’ the corrupt system are doomed to fail. Moreover, when or if such attempts occur, most states now have the internal structures and means in place to mount overwhelming force to contain it, as we all know.

Logically, then, the non-violent movements will be, inevitably, maneuvered into the constant need of violent self-defense; and thereby ‘revealed’ and denounced as extremist organizations. Is it any wonder that paramilitary forces are on the rise in USA; so also the growth in ‘sovereign citizens’?

Worst case is another open civil war at some future time, if despotic repression continues and worsens. And, not only in USA.

Hmmm, I guess Karl Marx is correct after all…