Comments: Chris Hedges On "The Idiots Who Run America"

There are examples in history of elites being wiped out and replaced by new elites, such as the French and Russian revolutions, but these are memorable because they are rare. It takes a unique combination of incompetence and bad luck on the part of the elite for this to occur.

In American history, the closest we have come to the sort of turnover of the French Revolution was the American Civil War, if you look at who was in power in 1870 and what they were doing in 1855 and vice versa. And this fits the incompetence/ bad luck pattern, essentially the planter aristocracy threw a temper tantrum when people started asking questions about slavery and destroyed their own position.

Blaming the public for not overthrowing a bad elite is an instance of blaming the victim. Its close to impossibile if the elite doesn't cooperate, even inadvertently, in some way.

Posted by Ed at October 21, 2008 03:20 AM

Of course, "exposing and dethroning" our elites is easier said than done.


No sh-t. The recent liberal embrace of Colin Powell makes it clear that even exposing our elites is too much to hope for. The people prefer to cheer and pretend.

BTW, I suggest a different ending for the "Emperor's New Clothes." The kid blurts out the truth and is punched in the face by a bystander. The king ascends the throne and everyone continues to applaud.

Election years are a lonely time.

Posted by Carl at October 21, 2008 03:20 AM

Yet at least in West Germany, they mostly remained in power

Thanks to the assistance of the elites who, nominally, defeated them. Or, at least, were forced to appear to defeat them.

Posted by Mike at October 21, 2008 03:38 AM

German elites after 1945, however, got out of the habit of starting wars and started looking for ways to provide more Germans with a good standard of living. This suggests that, while elites cannot be easily replaced, it is at least possible for them to learn.


The Russian cases suggest that removing even bad elites won't necessarily produce good results.

Posted by Vagrant at October 21, 2008 05:37 AM

I would think ~25+ million dead natives at the hands of fascist white anglo-saxon & spanish christians was "the greatest genocide ever"...

Oh, what's that i hear? Only white christians and jews count as genocide victims?

Keep drinking the kool-aid, fascists... Half a jewish holocaust worth of asians in Vietnam, Cambodgia an Laos. What do you make of that?
Well, of course Rambo 2!

Did the vietnamese recieve free land near the largest energy resource fileds on the planet?

"Do we get to win THIS TIME, sir?"

Posted by UnkleB00B at October 21, 2008 07:25 AM

I would think ~25+ million dead natives at the hands of fascist white anglo-saxon & spanish christians was "the greatest genocide ever"...

Oh, what's that i hear? Only white christians and jews count as genocide victims?

Keep drinking the kool-aid, fascists... Half a jewish holocaust worth of asians in Vietnam, Cambodgia an Laos. What do you make of that?
Well, of course Rambo 2!

Did the vietnamese recieve free land near the largest energy resource fileds on the planet?

"Do we get to win THIS TIME, sir?"

Posted by UnkleB00B at October 21, 2008 07:26 AM

A few quibbles.
1.If the experts of today are replaced, will the experts of tomorrow be any better?
2. If no experts, who and where are the wise people those in power could choose to manage "their" country?
3. Are you so sure at least the upper and middle class Americans are anything other than "interest-driven?" Those who were, say in 1969, got bloody heads from various state polices and a grade reduction from their profs for late papers.
4. I wouldn't describe Hitler's gang as an "elite." Most were street thugs (SA) or resentment-filled middle class failures (Goebbels). The German elites supported him, but that's another story.
5. Germany today is a far more "conscious" country than the US nation of sheep. (Cover of Saul's second book!)
6. It is true that we hardly know or care to know the difference between "expertise" and knowledge. Blame, in part, our elite colleges.
7. Where we gonna get ourselves a new elite or establishment to run the country? Nobody's screaming for Mao's answer. So, sleepwalk we shall, through more disasters and blunders and greed and incompetence and selfishness.
Have a good one.

Posted by donescobar at October 21, 2008 10:08 AM

Actually, the true ending of "The Emperor's New Clothes" is more like this:

"But he hasn't got anything on!"

The child was immediately surrounded by security, who gave him a few kidney punches to subdue him while they put on the plastic cuffs. Then he was taken in for interrogation, but he refused to reveal the names of his co-conspirators. The Emperor appeared on TV to reassure the nation that he would never give in to terrorists. He prepared to invade a far-off county which he held responsible for sending this child to try to destroy civilization. Liberal advisors agreed that there was no choice but to hold this troublemaker indefinitely; whatever their previous reservations about the Emperor, they had to stand behind him in this time of danger. One TV pundit agreed, asking, "Where do I sign up for his service?"

Posted by Duncan at October 21, 2008 10:11 AM

The problem isn't the "elites" - it's the citizens who enable and support them. I regularly encounter normal, average people who are completely unable to understand (or act in) their own economic and social self-interest.

I had a discussion the other day with a coworker who was angrily opposed to taxes on capital gains and the estate tax (neither of which he was ever likely to pay). Arguments about the purpose, need and reasonableness of these taxes were dismissed out of hand. I was finally left with the only logic that seemed to flummox him, which was essentially this: what interest is it to me if someone else has to pay a tax which I don't and which ultimately benefits me? What are my interests in arguing for such a tax to be repealed?

His sputtering response was that "you liberals just don't care about fairness".

Posted by Jimbo at October 21, 2008 11:26 AM

Well, sure. The "average people" want to protect the interests of the rich because one day they too might be rich and then...There is no other "American Dream."
Ronnie got it right: a country where every man can become a rich man. People drink it in, this Kool Aid of their lives, because they can't think of anything else. There is no far-reaching or powerful voice for another dream, and even if there were, to what aspirations or convictions alive in many could it appeal?
Only a few pockets in this nation have equivalents of a small city in, for example, Southwest Germany--livable, cultural life, available services--where a glass of Riesling and a conversation at the Weinstube after work, followed by return to a small but pleasant apartment might be considered a fairly satisfying life. No dream of riches, of having it all gnawing away at you all the time.

Posted by donescobar at October 21, 2008 12:04 PM

The problem is not so much that power corrupts, although undoubtedly it does, but that the kind of people who gravitate towards it, are, even before they have any, the ones we need to keep an eye on. I think Frank Herbert once said something to that effect, probably better than I just did.

Posted by tiffa hancock at October 21, 2008 01:55 PM

Power & money is just like shit, the bigger the pile the more flies gather.

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 21, 2008 02:14 PM

You witness the effects of a strongly centralized government.

How did they trick us into tossing self rule, and accepting that we have people 'governing' us from on high? We need mighty titans of intellect to "manage" our economy. We don't elect public servants, we elect 'leaders'. Our 'Change' can only come from a messiah. Everyone wants a kwisatz haderach, but forget the consequences of it.

How many of you participate in your local governments?

'Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.' Frank Herbert - Chapterhouse Dune.

Coincidence of coincidences, I just finished the Dune series this morning. I doubt I will ever read anything more densely packed with wisdom about government and society than those books. They are full of quotes that almost shock me with their wisdom and insight into humanity. I think I consider Herbert a prophet now.

Posted by tim at October 21, 2008 03:33 PM

tim: I do.

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 21, 2008 04:26 PM

tim: HOW ABOUT U? Ever call Nan @1-202-225-0100?

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 21, 2008 04:42 PM

if i participated in my local government, it would implode.

Posted by hapa at October 21, 2008 06:03 PM

hapa: Maybe things would get better. Wyoming sure has.

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 21, 2008 06:24 PM

tim: Each to his own. I try to just promote my message as I look at Pelosi as Speaker of The House and not my girlfriend.

Posted by Mike Meyer at October 22, 2008 02:03 PM

Mike: girlfriend? I never have to try to make them cry. That just sort of flows naturally when they realize what they've done.

Posted by tim at October 22, 2008 04:53 PM