Ethics of disclosure require that I tell you up front that I don’t have the answer to the question which serves as the title of this post. I
invite debate on the topic here in the Comment section.
Personally, I would like to think that there is still hope for the current system. But I have a friend, Mark,who tells me, in the same sad and quiet tone that a parent uses with a child when the goldfish has died, “Dee, it’s too late.” He and others who label themselves ‘critical thinkers’ believe that the two-party system has failed, that the global corporate oligarchy is omnipotent, and that efforts at resistance are useless. (Of course, “resistance is futile” is what the Borg told Jean Luc Picard. But I digress.)
Certainly the stats show us that we’ve moved in an unhealthy direction in the last 30 years. The deregulation of banks in the 80′s opened the door for the Savings and Loan crisis and the Subprime Loan Crisis. The rich have gotten richer, the poor poorer. The middle class is under siege. Corporations continue to accrue power. We’ve seen the rapid institution of Super Pacs following the passage of Citizens United and the SpeechNow.org decisions in 2010 by the Supreme Court and how all that corporate money controls politics and media. Things really have gone quite badly.
Chris Hedges is only slightly more optimistic than my critically thinking friend. Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist specializing in politics and society. He spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times. He has published 10 books in as many years. His latest book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012), illustrated by Joe Sacco, focuses on specific sacrifice zones in the United States where human beings and natural resources are used and then discarded by corporations. The book’s goal is to show us the personal impacts of unfettered capitalism in communities such as Pine Pine Ridge, S.D.; Camden, N.J.; Welch, W.Va.; and Immokalee, Fla. There is a short 3 minute video clip attached to the book review of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt on the Amazon site. In that clip, Hedges specifically references the chapter that deals with impacts of mountaintop removal on communities in West Virginia.
“West Virginia’s sort of the perfect example of what happens when corporate capitalism runs amok. ….The streams are poisoned, the air is poisoned. We went into towns where almost everyone had their gall bladders removed. Cancer is an epidemic. Children, little children in elementary schools are all using inhalers. They have big impoundment dams filled with toxic sludge and waste material which every once in a while break, flooding a community, often taking lives. Trees are gone, soil is gone.”
Our state political system has allowed this to happen to our own. We have allowed this to happen to our own through our complacency. Now many of our state political leaders are excited about the economic development associated with natural gas industry, even though the evidence exists for negative public health impacts. The Hydraulic Fracturing law that was passed in December 2011 was a much watered down version of the bill that was developed by a Special Committee of legislators. Granted, it was progress. But much law is still needed to protect our land, our waters, our people.
As I said above, Chris Hedges is slightly more optimistic. He is a supporter of Occupy Wall Street. Hedges believes that revolt by the middle class and poor may be the only path to sweeping political reform. Hedges acknowledges the strength of corporate power, the corruption of our media and our politicians, the cult of Self and the embracing of consumption as ‘a kind of inner compulsion’. Yet he still sees hope for change, although not through any mechanisms available in the current political power structure.
So, what do you think?
A) The current two-party system works.
B) The current two-party system has failed. Popular revolt is required to reverse the corporate culture of consumption and return America to the ideals of thrift and self-effacement.
C) No hope. Too late. Corporations are simply too powerful now to try to fight. (Look what happened to the OWS encampments.)
D) Other. (Explain)
Other links of interest: Truthout Interviews Chris Hedges About Why Revolt is All We Have Left,
Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco Chronicle Mining Catastrophes in West Virginia,
Drive for Profit Wreaks ‘Days of Destruction’, NPR