With Trump, you get “the naked fist of a very frightening police state come down upon us,” warns Chris Hedges.
Sharmini Peries: What is your reaction to having Trump as a president?
Chris Hedges: Depression, that Trump won, followed by anger at the left for failing, after the passage of NAFTA in 1994, to step outside and build a viable political structure that could speak to the frustrations, legitimate rage and despair of the working class. This has been a battle that those of us who have been within third party movements – and I worked with Ralph Nader, I was a speechwriter, and then supported the Green Party in the last two elections – and yet we’re not only shut out of the mainstream, but we’re shut out by progressive sites and news organizations for attempting to build an alternative and not have this anger directed into the hands of proto-fascists. Which is now what has happened.
The markets have rallied. The stocks of the military contractors like Raytheon have gone up. The prison contractors, the private prisons stocks have gone up, because these people all know what a Trump presidency means. The Trump administration has no intention, and certainly no ability to bring back the jobs to the rust belt. To restore America to these deindustrialized sites to any kind of economic viability.
And once that unrest begins, once Trump’s base realizes that once again they’ve been betrayed, we will see the naked fist of a very frightening police state come down upon us, led by figures like Rudy Giuliani as the attorney general, which means he oversees the FBI. And that’s what’s coming. And it’s going to be very unpleasant and very ugly. And I have to pin part of the blame on liberals and the left who kept surrendering election cycle after election cycle to candidates who pushed forward this destructive policy of neoliberalism, which has now resulted in a dysfunctional democracy and a proto-fascist government.
…the root cause of what’s happened… has to do with the impoverishment of half the country and the deindustrialization of the country and programs like austerity – that’s what’s caused this.
Peries: So what now?
Hedges: Fear is a very potent political weapon, and was used very effectively by the two mainstream candidates, Trump and Clinton. Fear engenders political paralysis. The Bernie Sanders supporters were politically paralyzed. Sanders, after the nomination of Hillary Clinton, became a destructive force in that he attempted to channel that energy back into the embrace of the Democratic Party, and a candidate who has long championed the interests of Wall Street and the war industry.
There’s a bankruptcy on the part of the left. There’s a bankruptcy on the part of the liberal class. I think much of that is fear-driven. I think it’s also a failure to have a sophisticated critique of corporate capitalism and how it works; a failure to understand that political personalities of the candidates are not particularly relevant.
We have undergone a corporate coup d’état. The real centers of power are the military industrial complex, Wall Street, the security and surveillance state and corporate power. That leaves very little room to move for a chief executive. That’s why most of the – well all of the major structural issues in the Obama administration have complete continuity with the Bush administration, with the caveat that Obama’s assault on civil liberties has been worse.
And now, what we’ve handed into the hands of an imbecilic, narcissistic figure – well, we can’t even call him a political figure because he doesn’t come out of the political establishment – we’ve handed him mechanisms whereby at the flip of a switch this is a state that is ruled under martial law. Wholesale surveillance of every American citizen. He will be extremely vindictive. He will draw up an enemies’ list. Figures like Giuliani, Chris Christie, John Bolton – they will have no tolerance for any kind of dissent, nor any restrictions on the use of lethal force by militarized police. As this country realizes that it has been betrayed by the Trump campaign, and as things continue to get worse, especially as we see further tax giveaways to the rich, there will be unrest. There will be frustration. But it will be met with draconian state violence and state control.
Peries: Trump is going to rule with a consolidated House and Senate and these kinds of appointments that you’re talking about. This kind of concentration of power we haven’t seen in a very long time. What should we be braced for?
Hedges: We are going to see an acceleration of the policies of neoliberalism, the long plan to privatize Social Security. All of this will be on hyper-drive. A deification – what you saw in the Trump campaign – of the military, of the police. No tolerance at all for any kind of dissent, even non-violent dissent; it will be condemned as forms of terrorism, something that will be attacked under the terrorism laws that the Obama and the Bush administrations put into place.
There will be a period of quiet while people wait and see. Once it’s clear what’s happening, the state is going to use all the tools at its disposal to shut down any kind of protest. It’s going to be really ugly. Rudy Giuliani comes as close to any major American political figure who can accurately be described as a fascist.