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Totalitarian Two-Pack

Program #WOLS001-HEDC006.

Sheldon Wolin - The Inversion of Totalitarianism

Traditional totalitarianism conjurs images of jack-booted storm troopers, death camps and Stalin-like regimes. In recent years a new variety of totalitarianism has emerged departing from the norm. Noted political theorist Sheldon Wolin calls it “the inversion of totalitarianism” and that it “represents the political coming of age of corporate power and political demobilization of the citizenry. Unlike classical totalitarian systems which openly boasted of their intentions to force their societies in a preconceived totality, inverted totalitarianism is not expressly conceptualized as an ideology, nor is it objectified in public policy. It is unaware of the actual consequences of their actions or their inactions.”  Corporations have de facto power and have carried out a slow-motion coup d’état. How to resist? Wolin says it start at the local level.

Chris Hedges - Inverted Totalitarianism

The wedding of state and corporate power is at unprecedented levels. The implications for democracy are ominous. Elections are formalities, often more like auctions to be sold to the highest bidder. There is no proportional representation. In a winner take all system the Dems and Repubs got the game all sewed up. And their sponsors the banks are not only too big to fail they are too big to jail. Meanwhile, the ranks of the out of work and out of house and home continue to swell. Basic freedoms of free speech, right of assembly and the right to privacy are being eroded in the name of protecting them. People are saying enough to inverted totalitarianism. The Occupy movement is a popular citizen response to grievances and inequities not being addressed and a universal feeling the system is rigged to favor the rich.

This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation.


Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has reported from the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.com. He is the author of many books including Death of the Liberal ClassThe World As It Is, Wages of Rebellion and America: The Farewell Tour.

Sheldon Wolin

Sheldon Wolin was an important political scientist and award-winning scholar. Cornel West called him, “The greatest political theorist of and for democracy of our time.” He taught at UC/Berkeley and Princeton. He was the author of Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. He passed away in 2015.

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