Death by Oligarchy

By Chris Hedges

November 11, 2019 "Information Clearing House" -  Oligarchs are blinded by hubris, wealth and power. Their cloying sense of entitlement sees them outraged by even the most tepid reforms or mildest of criticisms. They lack empathy and compassion, along with remorse or guilt, for what is done to those outside of their tiny, elitist circles. Privilege does strange and unpleasant things to human beings. I saw these distortions among my rich classmates as a scholarship student at prep school and at Harvard University, an institution designed, like all elite schools, to perpetuate the plutocracy. Living in privilege spawns callousness, even cruelty, to those less fortunate and feeds a bottomless greed.

The repugnant characteristics of the rich are skillfully masked by armies of lawyers and publicists, a servile and intimidated press, good manners and the fig leaf of philanthropy. Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon, Bill Gates, Jimmy Wales, Peter Thiel, John Mackey and the late Steve Jobs and David Koch—whatever their carefully packaged public image—champion or championed economic and social models that are designed to create a new form of serfdom for the working class and further consolidate the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of the oligarchs. When a society falls into the death grip of an oligarchic class, the result is always catastrophic.

Oligarchs, because they live insulated lives surrounded by obsequious courtiers that cater to their bottomless narcissism and hedonism, wield power based on fantasy. They propagate ruling ideologies, such as neoliberalism and the intellectually and morally bankrupt writings of Ayn Rand, which are not economically rational but justify their privilege. Their mantra, first uttered by a notorious serial killer and enthusiastically embraced by Rand, is: “What Is Good for Me Is Right.” All our institutions—the press, the courts, legislative bodies, the executive branch and academia—have been perverted to serve the oligarch’s narrow, selfish interests while an oppressed citizenry, struggling to survive, is seething with mounting rage and frustration. The corporate coup orchestrated by the ruling oligarchs over the past few decades gave us Donald Trump. If this coup is not reversed, far worse will follow.

The oligarchs are the last to understand the consequences of their moral depravity. The political reformers, such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, who could save the system from self-destruction are demonized in the same way the Russian oligarchs demonized Alexander Kerensky, the socialist revolutionaries and Mensheviks, paving the way for the tyrannical Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin. When the end comes, and the end will come, most probably in our case with a tyranny imposed by Christian fascists, the oligarchs will be blissfully unaware, gorging themselves at their palatial estates or on their mega yachts like the clueless French or Russian aristocrats on the eve of their revolutions.


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