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#745#746#747#748 Episode #749 - On The Rise and Fall of US Corporatocracy
(Fascism, The Corruption of Democracy & The Family)

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Sat 21 July 2018  Smedley Butler, Chris Hedges, Richard Wolff
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2 We examine the rise of fascism in the USA in the last century. Chris Hedges and Richard Wolff detail how US corporations conspired with the US deep state in an effort to destroy the family and liberal democratic government, even while championing "family values" and "democracy". We also hear about the 1934 US Business Plot, a failed fascist coup which FDR helped to cover up after reaching a compromise with the Wall St. plotters.
Our main piece this week, an antidote to simplistic anti-Trump rhetoric, is a rousing denunciation of "the moral rot unleashed by unfettered capitalism". Unwelcome Guests regular, war reporter turned social critic, Chris Hedges, sees Trump as a symptom of a deep and more grave development - the corporate takeover of the USA. He highlights capitalist subversion of the key US democratic institutions since the 1970s, undermining their ideals while preserving their form to cloak the totalitarianism. His overview of life in the US in 2017 is as extensive as it is disturbing.

Hedges parallels the fall of the US democratic ideal with the collapse of the empire of Ancient Rome, and -- drawing on his experience in Eastern Europe in 1989 -- with the collapse of the Soviet empire. He details the injustice faced by inmates within the US corporate prison business, and emphasises the need for compassion with fellow human beings who are caged and tortured, ultimately, because doing so makes money for the corporations that run US society. He challenges the enemy images such as those we have detailed in the last few episodes of this show. He calls for "personal commitment to refuse to cooperate in large and small ways with the machinery of corporate power" and a determined refusal to be cowed by the violence of the US War Machine.

We begin with a review of the 1934 fascist coup d'etat (last mentioned in episode 229) which was foiled by the integrity of US 5 star general Smedley Butler, who testified before a US congressional committee that US business leaders had him approached to lead an army of 500,000 to seize power from Franklin Roosevelt in Washington D.C. Why is this attempted coup d'etat not widely known? FDR himself apparently reached a deal with the coup plotters that he would avoid prosecutions and hide their names from the historical record if they help him bring in his New Deal reforms. Our first hour concludes with the first half of Chris Hedges' 2017 speech in Portland at KBOO's "Stop Fascism" event.

We begin our second hour with a 2018 recording of Marxist economist Richard Wolff, whose alternative post-WW2 economic history gives center stage to the behaviour of US corporations since the mid 1970s. He argues that "in short, the problems of capitalist enterprises, starting the 1970s, were solved by ripping off two other institiutions in our society:- the first one was the [US] state... [and] the family." The political genius of the Republican party, he states, was to denounce the democrats (and scapegoats such as homosexuals) as destroyers of the family, even as they set about its systematic dismantlement. Wolff's economic analysis is congruent with Hedges' wider observations about corporate power in US - to which we return 20 minutes in to our second hour.

Hedges puts the corporate plunder of the last 40 years in a broad perspective, arguing that we need a deep seated rethinking of our values if we are to survive the challenges facing us in the 21st century:- "Europeans and Americans have spent five centuries conquering, plundering and polluting the earth in the name of civilization and human progress. They used their technological superiority to create the most efficient killing machines on the planet, directed against anyone or anything, especially indigenous cultures, that stood in their way. They stole and hoarded the planet's wealth and resources. They believed this orgy of blood and gold would never end. They do not understand that the dark ethic of ceaseless capitalism and imperialist expansion is over, and that it is dooming the exploiters as well as the exploited. But even as we stand on the cusp of extinction, we lack the ability to free ourselves from the myth of human progress". Hedges emphasises the role of compassion as an antithesis to the amorality of capitalism, a positive value to which we can hold fast as the wreck of capitalism crashes around us.
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