From what I can tell about his career, Chris Hedges has been an outstanding journalist for many years, so when he has something to say, it "behooves", as we used to say in the cavalry, to listen closely: His current comment is simple and to the point: "When did our democracy die? When did it irrevocably transform itself into a lifeless farce and absurd political theater? When did the press, labor, universities and the Democratic Party - which once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible - wither and atrophy? When did reform through electoral politics become a form of magical thinking? When did the dead hand of the corporate state become unassailable? The body politic was mortally wounded during the long, slow strangulation of ideas and priorities during the Red Scare and the Cold War. Its bastard child, the "war on terror" inherited the iconography and language of permanent war and fear. The battle against internal and external enemies became the excuse to funnel trillions in taxpayer funds and government resources to the war industry, curtail civil liberties and abandon social welfare. Skeptics, critics and dissenters were ridiculed and ignored. The FBI, Homeland Security and the CIA enforced ideological conformity. Debate over the expansion of empire became taboo. Secrecy, the anointing of special elites to run our affairs, and the steady intrusion of the state into the private lives of citizens conditioned us to totalitarian practices. Sheldon Wolin points out in "Democracy Incorporated" that this configuration of corporate power, which he calls "inverted totalitarianism" is not like "Mein Kampf" or "The Communist Manifesto" the result of a premeditated plot. It grew, Wolin writes, from a set of effects produced by actions or practices undertaken in ignorance of their lasting consequences."