Late December 2015 tunes

Time for a few more tunes in these late night hours.

Beginning with Mumford and Sons’ “Awake My Soul”:

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

Lend me your hand and we’ll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I’ll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
You were made to meet your maker


Next up, Aerosmith’s “Dream On”:

Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn
Isn’t that the way
Everybody’s got the dues in life to pay

I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know it’s everybody sin
You got to lose to know how to win

Half my life
Is books, written pages
Live and learn from fools and
From sages
You know it’s true, oh
All these feelings come back to you

Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

Been listening to that one a lot recently in my car, as well as the next.

A rendition of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” performed here by Tom Petty, Prince, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others:

I don’t know why nobody told you
How to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
Every mistake, we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you

Love so many versions of that song. Timeless, classic, and tirelessly and intensely beautiful.

A top favorite I never tire of, Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away”:

Yes sir…

Day after day, I’m more confused
Yet I look for the light through the pourin’ rain
You know that’s a game that I hate to lose
And I’m feelin’ the strain, ain’t it a shame

Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away

Beginnin’ to think that I’m wastin’ time
I don’t understand the things I do
The world outside looks so unkind
Now I’m countin’ on you to carry me through

And when my mind is free
You know a melody can move me
And when I’m feelin’ blue
The guitar’s comin’ through to soothe me

Thanks for the joy that you’ve given me
I want you to know I believe in your song
And rhythm and rhyme and harmony
You help me along makin’ me strong

One of the most moving songs on earth so far as I’m concerned.

Another gorgeous song I truly never tire of, “Sittin’ On the Dock (Of the Bay)” (which always does remind me of my Papa, in any rendition, though we listened to Percy Sledge’s version) by Otis Redding here provided by a group known as Playing For Change:

Stumbled across that version of the song a couple years or more ago and appreciate it.

Switching gears slightly, Led Zeppelin’s “Gallows Pole”:

My former companion said that one gained meaning for him over this last summer after our implosion, and he bought me that CD for my birthday in September so I’ve been listening to it and other Zeppelin tunes more since.

One of my own all-time favorite Zeppelin tunes, “When the Levee Breaks”:

Don’t it make you feel bad
When you’re tryin’ to find your way home
You don’t know which way to go?
If you’re goin’ down South
They got no work to do

Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good… no
Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move

All last night sat on the levee and moaned
All last night sat on the levee and moaned
Thinkin’ about my baby and my happy home

Going down.. going down now.. going down…


One more for good measure, Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”:

Oh all I see turns to brown as the sun burns the ground
And my eyes fill with sand as I scan this wasted land
Trying to find, trying to find where I been

Well, when I want
When I’m on my way, yeah
When I see
When I see the way, you stay, yeah

Ooh, yeah yeah, ooh, yeah yeah, well I’m down, yes
Ooh, yeah yeah, ooh, yeah yeah, well I’m down, so down
Ooh, my baby, ooh, my baby, let me take you there

Oh oh, come on, come on
Oh, let me take you there
Let me take you there

On homosexuality, religion, and the mental health field — excerpts from the book “The Manufacture of Madness”

More from Dr. Thomas Szasz’s book The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1970). Picking back up in chapter 10, page 160:

The change from a religious and moral to a social and medical conceptualization and control of personal conduct affects the entire discipline of psychiatry and allied fields. Perhaps nowhere is this transformation more evident than in the modern perspective on so-called sexual deviation, and especially on homosexuality. We shall therefore compare the concept of homosexuality as heresy, prevalent in the days of the witch-hunts, with the concept of homosexuality as mental illness, prevalent today.

 Homosexual behavior—like heterosexual and autoerotic behavior—occurs among higher apes and among human beings living in a wide variety of cultural conditions. Judging by artistic, historical, and literary records, it also occurred in past ages and societies. Today it is part of the dogma of American psychiatrically enlightened opinion that homosexuality is an illness—a form of mental illness. This is a relatively recent view. In the past, men held quite different views on homosexuality, from accepting it as a perfectly natural activity to prohibiting it as the most heinous of crimes. […]

 The Bible prohibits almost every form of sexual activity other than heterosexual, genital intercourse. Homosexuality is prohibited first in Genesis, in the story of Lot. One evening, two angels come to Sodom, disguised as men. Lot meets them at the gates and invites them into his house. First, the angels refuse Lot’s hospitality, offering instead to spend the night in the street; but at Lot’s urgings, the Old Testament tells us, “they entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot. ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.’ “

 The men of Sodom wanted to use the travelers as sexual objects. Among the ancient Israelites, however, he who gave shelter to strangers was obligated to protect them from harm. Because of this, Lot offered his daughters as substitute objects: “Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ “

 As this suggests, homosexuality was considered a serious offense. This story also makes clear the abysmal devaluation of women as human beings in the ethics of ancient Judaism. Lot values the dignity of his male guests more highly than that of his female children. The Christian ethic did not raise the worth of female life much above the Jewish; nor did the clinical ethic raise it much above the clerical. This is why most of those identified as witches by male inquisitors were women; and why most of those diagnosed as hysterics by male psychiatrists were also women.


 It is important to note that only male homosexuality is forbidden: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman . . .” God addresses males only. He does not command woman not to lie with a female as with a man. Here by omission and implication, and elsewhere by more explicit phrasing, woman is treated as a kind of human animal, not as a full human being. The most up-to-date legal statutes of Western nations dealing with homosexuality continue to maintain this posture toward women: Though homosexual intercourse between consenting adults continues to be prohibited in many countries, nowhere does this apply to women. The inference about the less-than-human status of women is inevitable. No wonder than in his morning prayer, the Orthodox Jew says, “Blessed be God . . . that He did not make me a woman,” while the woman says, “Blessed be the Lord, who created me according to His will.”

 Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality had of course a profound influence on the medieval equation of this practice with heresy; on our contemporary criminal laws and social attitudes, with regard to homosexuality as a hybrid of crime and disease; and on the language we still use to describe many so-called sexually deviant acts. Sodomy is an example.

 Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Third Edition) defines sodomy as “The homosexual proclivities of the men of the city as narrated in Gen. 19: 1-11; carnal copulation with a member of the same sex or with an animal or unnatural carnal copulation with a member of the opposite sex; specif.: the penetration of the male organ into the mouth or anus of another.” This definition is pragmatically correct. In both psychiatric and literary works, the term “sodomy” is used to describe sexual activity involving contact between penis and mouth or anus, regardless of whether the “passive” partner is male or female. Fellatio is thus a type of sodomy. Because human beings frequently engage in these and other nongenital sexual acts, Kinsey correctly emphasized that there are few Americans who, in their everyday sexual lives, do not violate both the religious prohibitions of their faith and the criminal laws of their country.

 In short, the Church opposed homosexuality not only, or even primarily, because it was “abnormal” or “unnatural,” but rather because it satisfied carnal lust and yielded bodily pleasure. This condemnation of homosexuality, says Rattray Taylor, “was merely an aspect of the general condemnation of sexual pleasure and indeed of sexual activity not directly necessary to ensure the continuation of the race. Even within marriage, sexual activity was severely restricted, and virginity was declared a more blessed state than matrimony.” It is no accident, then, that carnal lust, leading to nonprocreative sexual practices and pleasure of all kinds, was a characteristic passion of witches. They were supposed to satisfy their cravings by copulating with the Devil, a male figure of super-human masculinity, equipped with a “forked penis,” enabling him to penetrate the woman at once vaginally and anally.

Moving on to page 168:

Psychiatric preoccupation with the disease concept of homosexuality—as with the disease concept of all so-called mental illnesses, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or suicide—conceals the fact that homosexuals are a group of medically stigmatized and socially persecuted individuals. The noise generated by their persecution and their anguished cries of protest are drowned out by the rhetoric of therapy—just as the rhetoric of salvation drowned out the noise generated by the persecution of heretics and their anguished cries of protest. It is heartless hypocrisy to pretend that physicians, psychiatrists, or “normal” laymen for that matter, really care about the welfare of the mentally ill in general, or the homosexual in particular. If they did, they would stop torturing him while claiming to help him. But this is just what reformers—whether theological or medical—refuse to do.

A comparative look into the history of the mental health field — excerpts from Dr. Thomas Szasz’s book “The Manufacture of Madness”

Following are transcribed tidbits from a book by Dr. Thomas Szasz titled The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1970), beginning with pages 13-15:

With the decline of the power of the Church and of the religious world view, in the seventeenth century, the inquisitor-witch complex disappeared and in its place there arose the alienist-madman complex.

In the new—secular and “scientific”—cultural climate, as in any other, there were still the disadvantaged, the disaffected, and the men who thought and criticized too much. Conformity was still demanded. The nonconformist, the objector, in short, all who denied or refused to affirm society’s dominant values, were still the enemies of society. To be sure, the proper ordering of this new society was no longer conceptualized in terms of Divine Grace; instead, it was viewed in terms of Public Health. Its internal enemies were thus seen as mad, and Institutional Psychiatry came into being, as had the Inquisition earlier, to protect the group from this threat.

The origins of the mental health hospital system bear out these generalizations. “The great confinement of the insane,” as Michel Foucault aptly calls it, began in the seventeenth century: “A date can serve as a landmark: 1656, the decree that founded, in Paris, the Hôpital Général.” The decree founding this establishment, and others throughout France, was issued by the king, Louis XIII: “We choose to be guardian and protector of said Hôpital Général as being of royal founding . . . which is to be totally exempt from the direction, visitation, and jurisdiction of the officers of the General Reform . . . and from all others to whom we forbid all knowledge and jurisdiction in any fashion or manner whatsoever.”

The original, seventeenth-century definition of madness—as the condition justifying confinement in the asylum—conformed to the requirements for which it was fashioned. To be considered mad, it was enough to be abandoned, destitute, poor, unwanted by parents or society. The regulations governing admission to the Bicêtre and the Salpêtrière—the two Parisian mental hospitals destined to become world famous—put into effect on April 20, 1680, provided that “children of artisans and other poor inhabitants of Paris up to the age of twenty-five, who used their parents badly or who refused to work through laziness, or, in the case of girls, who were debauched or in evident danger of being debauched, should be shut up, the boys in the Bicêtre, the girls in the Salpêtrière. This action was to be taken on the complaint of the parents, or, if these were dead, of near relatives, or the parish priest. The wayward children were to be kept as long as the directors deemed wise and were to be released only on written order by four directors.” In addition to these persons “prostitutes and women who ran bawdy houses” were to be incarcerated in a special section of the Salpêtrière.

The consequences of these “medical” practices are described by a French observer after the Salpêtrière had been in operation for a century:

In 1778, the Salpêtrière is the largest hospital in Paris and possibly in Europe: this hospital is both a house for women and a prison. It receives pregnant women and girls, wet nurses and their nurselings; male children from the age of seven or eight months to four or five years of age; young girls of all ages; aged married men and women; raving lunatics, imbeciles, epileptics, paralytics, blind persons, cripples, people suffering from ringworm, incurables of all sorts, children afflicted with scrofula, and so on and so forth. At the center of this hospital is a house of detention for women, comprising four different prisons: le commun, for the most dissolute girls; la correction, for those who are not considered hopelessly depraved; la prison, reserved for persons held by order of the king; and la grande force, for women branded by order of the courts.

Surveying this scene, George Rosen bluntly states that “the individual was committed not primarily to receive medical care but rather to protect society and to prevent the disintegration of its institutions.”

As recently as 1860, it was not necessary to be mentally ill to be incarcerated in an American mental institution; it was enough to be a married woman. When the celebrated Mrs. Packard was hospitalized in the Jacksonville State Insane Asylum for disagreeing with her minister-husband, the commitment laws of the state of Illinois explicitly proclaimed that “Married women . . . may be entered or detained in the hospital at the request of the husband of the woman or the guardian . . . without the evidence of insanity required in other cases.”

In short, it is only a relatively recent rationalization in the history of psychiatry that a person must “suffer” from a “mental disease”—like schizophrenia or senile psychosis—to justify his commitment. Being an unemployed young man, a prostitute, or a destitute old person used to suffice. “We must not forget,” remarks Foucault, “that a few years after its foundation [in 1656], the hôpital général of Paris alone contained six thousand persons, or around one percent of the population.” As a means of social control and of the ritualized affirmation of the dominant social ethic, Institutional Psychiatry immediately showed itself to be a worthy successor to the Inquisition. Its subsequent record, as we shall see, has been equally distinguished.

The French hôpital général, the German Irrenhaus, and the English insane asylum thus become the abodes of persons called mad. Are they considered mad, and therefore confined in these institutions? Or are they confined because they are poor, physically ill, or dangerous, and therefore considered mad? For three hundred years, psychiatrists have labored to obscure rather than clarify this simple problem. Perhaps it could not have been otherwise. As happens also in other professions—especially in those pertaining to the regulation of social affairs—psychiatrists have been largely responsible for creating the problems they have ostensibly tried to solve. But then, like other men, psychiatrists cannot be expected to act systematically against their own economic and professional self-interests.

Picking back up on pages 51-53:

We would like our hospitals . . . to be looked upon as treatment centers for sick people, and we want to be, of course, considered as doctors and not jailers. . . . It is well known that there are legal safeguards against what is commonly called railroading people into mental hospitals, and we contend that people are well protected in all of the States. I have never in 30 years of constant living with this problem seen anyone whom I thought was being railroaded. . . . The opposite is true, however. People are railroaded out of mental hospitals before they should be, because these institutions are so crowded . . .

. . . I wish to point out that the basic purpose [of commitment] is to make sure that sick human beings get the care that is appropriate to their needs . . .

We, as doctors, want our psychiatric hospitals . . . to be looked upon as treatment centers for sick people in the same sense that general hospitals are so viewed.

If psychiatrists really wanted these things, all they would have to do is to unlock the doors of mental hospitals, abolish commitment, and treat only those persons who, like in nonpsychiatric hospitals, want to be treated. This is exactly what I have been advocating for the past fifteen years.

Lea describes the social function of the Inquisition thus: “The object of the Inquisition is the destruction of heresy. Heresy cannot be destroyed unless heretics are destroyed. . . . [T]his is effected in two ways, viz., when they are converted to the true Catholic faith, or when, on being abandoned to the secular arm, they are corporally burned.” This statement is readily converted into a description of the social function of the Mental Health Movement: “The object of Psychiatry is the eradication of mental illness. Mental illness cannot be eradicated unless the mentally ill are eradicated. . . . [T]his is effected in two ways, viz., when they are restored to mental health, or when, on being confined in state mental hospitals, they prove incurably sick and are therefore removed from contact with healthy society.”

Perhaps more than anything else, the claim of a helping role by the prosecutors and the judge made the witch trial a vicious affair. “The accused was,” Lea tells us, “prejudged. He was assumed to be guilty, or he would not have been put on trial, and virtually his only mode of escape was by confessing the charges made against him, abjuring heresy, and accepting whatever punishment might be imposed on him in the shape of penance. Persistent denial of guilt and assertion of orthodoxy . . . rendered him an impenitent, obstinate heretic, to be abandoned to the secular arm and consigned to the stake.”

The assumption of a therapeutic posture by the institutional psychiatrist leads to the same heartless consequences. Like the accused heretic, the accused mental patient commits the most deadly sin when he denies his illness and insists that his deviant state is healthy. Accordingly, the most denigrating diagnostic labels of psychiatry are reserved for those individuals who, although declared insane by the experts, and confined in madhouses, stubbornly persist in claiming to be sane. They are said to be “completely lacking in insight,” or described as “having broken with reality,” and are usually diagnosed as “paranoid” or “schizophrenic.” The Spanish inquisitors also had a demeaning name for such persons: they called them “negativos.” “The negativo,” Lea explains, “who persistently denied his guilt, in the face of competent testimony, was universally held to be a pertinacious impenitent heretic, for whom there was no alternative save burning alive, although . . . he might protest a thousand times that he was a Catholic and wished to live and die in the faith. This was the inevitable logic of the situation. . . .”

One of the important differences between a person accused of crime and one accused of mental illness is that the former is often allowed bail, whereas the latter never is.

Moving along to page 58:

The conduct of a society’s business, as that of an individual’s, may be likened to playing a game. The religions, laws, and mores of society constitute the rules by which people must play—or else they will be penalized, one way or another. Obviously, the simpler the games and the fewer in number, the easier it is to play them. This is why open societies and the freedoms they offer represent an onerous burden to many people. As individuals find it difficult and taxing to play more than a single game, or at most a few, at any one time, so societies find it difficult and taxing to tolerate the existence of a plurality of games, each competing for the attention and loyalty of the citizens. Every group—and this includes societies—is organized and held together by a few ideas, values, and practices which cannot be questioned or challenged without causing its disruption, or at least a fear of its disruption. This is why independent thought often undermines group solidarity, and group solidarity often inhibits independent thought. “We belong to a group,” says Karl Mannheim, “not only because we are born into it, not merely because we profess to belong to it, nor finally because we give it our loyalty and allegiance, but primarily because we see the world and certain things in the world the way it does . . .” To see the world differently than our group does thus threatens us with ostracism. Hypocrisy, then, is the homage intellect pays to custom.

[Italicized emphasis his — bold emphasis mine]

Dr. Thomas Szasz really helped me flesh out my understanding on the subject of mental health, along with the writings of psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. Both I highly recommend others to check out. Because these are extremely important dots needing to be connected in the minds of people today who naively assume the field of psychiatry, along with the biopharmacology industry, to be looking out for people’s best interests. No, they are agents of something outside of us, namely 1.) the State and 2.) the economy. Even when well-intending people join its professional ranks, this does little to undermine its overarching agenda to press for a new kind of conformity among the masses.

Independent thought is indeed being pushed to the fringes, particularly if it demonstrates no economic value or seeks to undermine the status quo on any level.

Chris Hedges’ book “Empire of Illusions: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle”

Having read a number of Chris Hedges’ books, including American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Losing Moses on the Freeway, I Don’t Believe in Atheists, his 2010 book titled Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle is another I’d like to offer up to others, though I wouldn’t recommend beginning with reading this one, this book being more of a summary and broad treatment of a collection of problems facing society. Hedges hits several major points, from our tantalization with Jerry Springer-esque forms of entertainment to the personal and societal destructiveness of hardcore pornography; from the dangers of corporatism and the realities and consequences we face today, as a nation and a people, politically, socially, and economically, to the power of love. This man does a great job of telling it like it is!

I’ll include some excerpts below, beginning on pages 14-15:

In The Republic, Plato imagines human beings chained for the duration of their lives in an underground cave, knowing nothing but darkness. Their gaze is confined to the cave wall, upon which shadows of the world above are thrown. They believe these flickering shadows are reality. If, Plato writes, one of these prisoners is freed and brought into the sunlight, he will suffer great pain. Blinded by the glare, he is unable to see anything and longs for the familiar darkness. But eventually his eyes adjust to the light. The illusion of the tiny shadows is obliterated. He confronts the immensity, chaos, and confusion of reality. The world is no longer drawn in simple silhouettes. But he is despised when he returns to the cave. He is unable to see in the dark as he used to. Those who never left the cave ridicule him and swear never to go into the light lest they be blinded as well.

Plato feared the power of entertainment, the power of the sense to overthrow the mind, the power of emotion to obliterate reason. No admirer of popular democracy, Plato said that the enlightened or elite had a duty to educate those bewitched by the shadows on the cave wall, a position that led Socrates to quip: “As for the man who tried to free them and lead them upward, if they could somehow lay their hands on him and kill him, they would do so.”

We are chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the staples of news, celebrity gossip, New Age mysticism, and pop psychology.

On porn and profits, page 58:

There are some 13,000 porn films made every year in the United States, most in the San Fernando Valley in California. According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues, including in-room movies at hotels, sex clubs, and the ever-expanding e-sex world, topped $97 billion in 2006. That is more than the revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, and Earthlink combined. Annual sales in the United States are estimated at $10 billion or higher. There is no precise monitoring of the porn industry. And porn is very lucrative to some of the nation’s largest corporations. General Motors owns DIRECTV, which distributes more than 40 million streams of porn into American homes every month. AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable are currently the biggest American companies accommodating porn users with the Hot Network, Adult Pay Per View, and similarly themed services. AT&T and GM rake in approximately 80 percent of all porn dollars spent by consumers.

[Bold emphasis mine.]

Broaching the topic of the fall of the United States of America on page 142:

The country I live in today uses the same civic, patriotic, and historical language to describe itself, the same symbols and iconography, the same national myths, but only the shell remains. The America we celebrate is an illusion. America, the country of my birth, the country that formed and shaped me, the country of my father, my father’s father, and his father’s father, stretching back to the generations of my family that were here for the country’s founding, is so diminished as to be unrecognizable. I do not know if this America will return, even as I pray and work and strive for its return.

The words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase. Our textbooks on political science and economics are obsolete. Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow, selfish, political, and economic elite, a small privileged group that governs, and often steals, on behalf of moneyed interests. This elite, in the name of patriotism and democracy, in the name of all the values that were once part of the American system and defined the Protestant work ethic, has systematically destroyed our manufacturing sector, looted the treasury, corrupted our democracy, and trashed the financial system. During this plundering we remained passive, mesmerized by the enticing shadows on the wall, assured our tickets to success, prosperity, and happiness were waiting around the corner.

Chris Hedges includes substantiating literature on the topics discussed, listed in the bibliography, with a few titles and authors specifically mentioned on page 146:

There were some who saw it coming. The political philosophers Sheldon S. Wolin, John Ralston Saul, and Andrew Bacevich, writers such as Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, David Korten, and Naomi Klein, and activists such as Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, and Ralph Nader warned us about our march of folly. In the immediate years after the Second World War, a previous generation of social critics recognized the destructive potential of the rising corporate state. Books such as David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd, C. Wright Mills’s The Power Elite, William H. White’s The Organization Man, Seymour Mellman’s The Permanent War Economy: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, and Reinhold Niebuhr’s The Irony of American History have proved to be prophetic. This generation of writers remembered what had been lost. They saw the intrinsic values that were being dismantled. The culture they sought to protect has largely been obliterated. During the descent, our media and universities, extensions of corporate and mass culture, proved intellectually and morally useless. They did not thwart the decay. We failed to heed the wisdom of these critics, embracing instead the idea that all change was a form of progress.

In his book Democracy Incorporated, Wolin, who taught political philosophy at Berkeley and at Princeton, uses the phrase inverted totalitarianism to describe our system of power. Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, and the Constitution while manipulating internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens, but candidates must raise staggering amounts of corporate funds to compete. They are beholden to armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington or state capitals who author the legislation and get the legislators to pass it. Corporate media control nearly everything we read, watch, or hear. It imposes a bland uniformity of opinion. It diverts us with trivia and celebrity gossip. In classical totalitarianism regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. “Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true,” Wolin writes. “Economics dominates politics—and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.”

[Italicized emphasis his. Bold emphasis mine.]

Excerpts don’t do this book justice. I agree so much with this author. The man makes a great deal of sense, especially when I read this book in conjunction with other books like Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Chris Hedges’ American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Richard L. Rubenstein’s The Cunning of History: Mass Death and the American Future, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, as well as Ron Paul’s End the Fed (not that I personally share Ron Paul’s exuberance for returning to a gold standard).

Here is a review of Empire of Illusion in The Cleveland Leader. I don’t share the reviewer’s disappointment with the ending, lamenting that “Hedges didn’t conclude his work with some small glimmers of hope.” Au contraire. Mr. Hedges ended on the most hopeful message one can offer: that we learn to love one another and make the necessary sacrifices to pull through. Love is no small matter. It may be all we really have…all that will ever set things right.

Below is an interview of Chris Hedges on GRITtv (July 2009):