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Home > Author > Michael C. McHugh
Michael C. McHugh

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Member Since: May, 2007

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  Michael C. McHugh

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Justice without power is impotent, and power without justice is tryanny. --Pascal

Background Information

When I was young, I was very conservative, a big supporter of the Moral Majority and a Cold Warrior who voted for Ronald Reagan.It wasn't any one thing in particular that changed my mind and caused me to move left. I read Howard Zinn's book, PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, which really opened my eyes and told me things about this society that I'd never heard before. Then there was a two-month visit in Mexico City, where I saw the vast slums and extreme poverty that I had never imagined existed, and heard about how the International Monetary Fund was imposing 'austerity measures' on the country.At that time, I also began to have great misgivings about US foreign policy in Central America, backing these brutalitarian regimes in places like El Salvador. I heard from guys in the Special Forces just what kind of war the US was fighting down there, with torture and execution of prisoners. It was then I began to seriously study the whole American Empire from a new point of view, and undertand that this Central American War was just like Vietnam and many other places over the years.More or less, I decided to drop out of the whole system. I lived on a commune in Missouri for a year and a half, then I worked for the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center for a year before moving to Des Moines to direct the Catholic Peace Ministry.It was in Des Moines that I got the idea for my book, THE SECOND GILDED AGE. During the stike against Bridgestone-Firestone in 1995, all the union members were fired and 'permanently replaced'. Of course, I'd heard about this type of thing for years, but now I had a chance to see it firsthand. No one on the state or federal level would lift a finger to help these people who had basically been fired for going on strike.It was then I realized that 1995 was really a lot like 1895 and that the Gilded Age was repeating itself. I had long known about the conservative-reform cycles in US history, thanks to Pete Forcey at the State University of New York, but I realized that the Gilded Ages were about double the length of 'normal' conservative eras like 1919-32, for example or 1946-62. I also thing the backlash against the previous reforms was more severe than in other conservative cycles. In these periods, the state is openly allied with the very wealthy and big business interests, which was obvious with presidents like Reagan, but also with Clinton and his support of NAFTA and the WTO, indifference to working class problems and so on.I left the US in 1995 and did not return for 11 years, but I spent that time writing THE SECOND GILDED AGE. I was angered but not surprised by the corrupt election of 2000, which was really a 'selection' by five conservative justices of the Supreme Court. I was shocked by 9-11, to be sure, but I also understood that the US had done a great deal to create this whole monster when it spent billions arming the holy warriors in Afghanistan. They were indeed very anti-communist, but then it turned out that they hated the West as well.I regard the war in Iraq as just another episode in the long history of the US trying to maintain control of the oil resources in the Middle East--installing 'friendly' governments there that will follow its instructions. As with Vietnam, though, it's not working out as well as they planned. It all part of a very familiar pattern in the Third World, depressingly familiar, but the rulers of America are trying to impose the same system everywhere and have been since World War II.They don't always succeed, however.

Birth Place
Binghamton, NY USA

I got my BA in history in 1984, my MA in 1986 and PhD in 1991.

As I said, I basically dropped out of the system as much as possible years ago, which is why I finally moved overseas. I taught at various schools and universities in Korea, Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Thailand and Central Asia. I enjoyed traveling and seeing much of the world.

I suffered an aneurysm in 2006 and moved back to the US for a while, staying at the Catholic Worker. I doubt that I'll stay in this country permanently, though, since it really is a sick society in many ways. Just look at these shootings at Virginia Tech and the copy cats who followed, and you see what I mean by 'social pathology'. Our system produces a lot of sick and damaged people, who unfortunately also have access to firearms and explosives.

Contact Information
Catholic Worker
713 Indiana Ave. 
Des Moines IA 50314   USA
Contact Author: Michael C. McHugh

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