from The Sunday New York Time Book Review, Revolutionary Roads by George Packer; a review of By the People by Charles Murray and  Wages of Rebellion by Chris Hedges:


But the most interesting aspect of these two books is where their authors overlap. Both are appalled by the collusion between the federal government and corporations. Both describe the legal system as essentially lawless. Neither has any faith that electoral politics, the three branches of government or the Constitution itself can make a difference. Neither fits with any sizable faction of either of the two parties. Both despise elites. Both are willing, even eager, to see Americans break the law, in nonviolent ways, to force change.

At times Murray and Hedges sound exactly the same. “It is part of our national catechism that government is instituted to protect our unalienable rights, and that when it becomes destructive of those rights, the reason for our allegiance is gone. At that point, revolution is not treason, but the people’s right,” says Murray, though it could be Hedges. “Appealing to the judicial, legislative or executive branches of government in the hope of reform is as realistic as accepting the offer made by the March Hare during the Mad Tea-Party,” writes Hedges, pulling off a pretty good Murray. What the historian Michael Kazin calls “the populist persuasion” is as old as the country, and its language has been deployed in different eras by radicals and reactionaries alike, though a characteristic of our own time is that they are doing it simultaneously.

Our elites have led us to a dead end, but our populists, barricaded in their corners, lack the clarity of vision to find a way out. It’s hard to imagine that we’ll get better elites anytime soon. In the absence of a revolution, we have to hope for better ­populists.