Welcome Chris Hedges (TruthDig.com) and Host Wade Rathke (ChiefOrganizerBlog)

Days of Destruction Days of Revolt

Let’s just be very clear right up front, Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco may have both collected their share of mainstream awards, like Pulitzers, American Book Awards, and the like, but with this book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, they remove any doubt about whether they are “celebrity couriers,” as they derisively term a lot of what is left of the mainstream, main street journalists out there today slapping whitewash on poverty and helping spin the machinery that manufactures rose-colored glasses. They have traveled through some of the hellholes on the dark side of the American economic reality and they are angry about the whole damn thing, fired up, fed up, and desperately looking hard for a fight. This book needs to be read, and it needs to sell very well because these guys are pretty much unemployable now. Trust me, I know this!

This book is the fascinating product of one of those buddy road trips that are so popular in movies today, kind of a Chris and Joe Report Back What You Don’t Want to Know From Where You Absolutely Do NOT Want to Go! There’s drugs, sex, and violence but often it is a true-life narrative with graphic illustrations of someone still living in Pine Ridge, South Dakota or Camden, New Jersey or next door to a tailings pile in southern West Virginia or still working in the predawn as a low waged picker in the fields of central Florida. Having been to all of these places and hundreds of others just like them, I can vouch for the fact that the book is its own “reality show,” and I’m willing to handle all bets that there will be no Hollywood movie and residuals coming from their tour. Make no mistake, this is depressing stuff, and despite how hard Chris and Joe try, reading the whole book it is hard to escape a sense that the authors were knocking on the doors of total hopelessness for any potential public policy and several miles past any realistic sense that there might be any change.

But they try and the effort is appreciated. They applaud the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their great successful efforts in winning against the tomato growers and helping prosecute slavery cases (yes, slavery, and it goes without saying…right here in America!). Readers walk in the footprints of the American Indian Movement and its very real, if uneven, legacy and accomplishments as a model for a certain rights-based strategy for Native Americans. In fact though Hedges and Sacco do not rub this theme in our faces, it is hard to not notice that peoples’ organizations like the United Mineworkers, AIM, and even CIW are simply outmatched in confronting the disaster and destruction zones on their itinerary.

The authors are aware of this problem and address it directly, both in their opening pages as well as in their last shouts where they try the journalist equivalent of a “Hail, Mary” to attach some hope to the Occupy Movement that was stirring on Wall Street as they completed the book. They do a good job of making a case for Occupy and come close to filing a brief for revolution. Believe me, if you read their book by the end you’ll be ready to rock as well, so none of it seemed a surprising at the finish.

Nonetheless, they were there by themselves. What was amazing in reading about – and seeing in the drawings – the people who lived in these houses of horrors is that they had all come to different conclusions. The people in their story were choosing spirituality, either through traditional religion or something personal. They took their pain and anger to some other world they hoped would be better than the one where we all live now. That’s not “another world is possible.” That’s hardly revolt. That’s hardcore, hopeless resignation. In many ways the main characters were bear hugging death for themselves and their communities. That’s the real story of “days of destruction.”

Chris and Joe have a lot to offer on this road trip to hell’s last acre. The writing is to the point and well researched. The drawings are powerful, poignant, integrate the text, and stand alone as separate graphic stories. Their politics are good. Their rage is palpable and empathetic. Time spent between the covers is rewarded.

At the same time the book is just depressing as hell, hell on earth, the worst hell there is, unless you are sky high on dope or booze or the “by and by” “opiates of the masses,” on the “desolation row” traveled by Hedges and Sacco. Finishing the book was a relief for me. This book is where I’ve worked for more than 40 years as a community and labor organizer, and I wouldn’t want to even begin to compare its horrors with many of the mega-slums where ACORN International organizes today, so this was no walk in the park. On the other hand it may be exactly the road that many people need to travel, and Hedges and Sacco are good guides, reminding readers of the urgent need for action, the importance of hope, and why our politics and policies are sadly missing the tragedy and waste of so many millions of people, who, like the characters in this book, are poor and dispossessed. Hedges and Sacco are also advocates which makes us feel at least comfortable rolling on this bumpy road with fellow travelers.

When they say, “The American dream, we now know is a lie. We will all be sacrificed…. No one is immune. The suffering…is universal. They went first. We are next…. We failed them, and in doing so we failed ourselves. We were accomplices in our own demise. Revolt is all we have left. It is the only hope,” by the book’s end, we know they mean it.

 

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

191 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Chris Hedges, Days of Destruction Days of Revolt”

BevW September 15th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Chris, Wade, Welcome back to the Lake.

Wade, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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dakine01 September 15th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Chris and Wade and welcome back to FDL this afternoon.

Chris, I have not had an opportunity to read your book but think I might have been living some of it as one of the long term un/underemployed. Is there any will among our supposed elected representatives at any level to address these issues? All we ever seem to see from most talking heads and pols at all levels is cries for austerity even while most voters are crying for jobs

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Chris, you might start with the earlier question and explain what “celebrity couriers” are?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Thanks. I am happy to be back. No, there is no will among elected officials to address the chronic long term underemployment and unemployment. The jobs bill went nowhere. Unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of Americans was not extended. We live in a corporate state and elected officials are simply the public face of corporatism.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

And, Chris, welcome and thanks for your book. I had a momentary “techno-peasant” crisis, but I hope we are all here now!

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Chris, why this book now? Do you and Joe feel there is an audience for addressing the “destruction” now?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Celebrity courtiers, nor couriers, handle out court gossip that passes for news. Fox. MSNBC. The talking heads on the Sunday morning news shows. They are celebrities who make huge amounts of money, often millions, to spin form one side or another the inanities of the day, meanwhile ignoring the assault underway against the poor, the working class and increasingly the middle class.

dakine01 September 15th, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 7

As a technical reminder, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment and pressing “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and comment number being replied to and makes it easier for folks to follow the conversation.

Note: Some browsers do not like to let the Reply function properly after a page refresh if the button is pressed before the page completes loading

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Any particular “couriers” worth singling out in this respect or just the whole gaggle of them? Love the expression! Says so much!!!

jest September 15th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Chris -

Great to have you here.

How will these trends play out globally? Specifically in Europe & Canada? Similar trends seem to be happening in Spain, Greece, France, etc.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Wade, the book was an attempt to show readers what happens when you force human beings, communities and the eco-system to kneel before the dictates of the marketplace. The whole idea that structuring human societies around the dictates of the marketplace is a utopian absurdity. This book went to the first sacrifice zones in the country, the places destroyed first. It is a kind of warning, for what happened in Camden, NJ or Pine Ridge South Dakota or southern West Virginia or the produce fields will now happen to us as all impediments to corporate capitalism are abolished. We never once asked ourselves if there was an audience or if the book would sell. It just seemed like the right time and the right subject. It has, by the way, resonated climbing to number 8 on the NY Times nonfiction best seller list.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Wade, thank you for the stellar introduction.

Chris and Joe, the book is stunning! Most of the drawings feel even more hard-hitting to me than a photograph would have.

How did it come about for the two of you to do this book together?

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Chris in that vein, you might also tell readers how you choose the locations visited in the book? What else was on the list?

hpschd September 15th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Welcome to FDL!

I’ve had your book on reserve from the library for weeks. I will probably get it this week – there are 37 copies in the Toronto system and 234 holds – a popular request!

I’ve been reading other sources talking about people with arrest records or defaulted student loans being denied public assistance – housing, food stamps, general assistance, etc, and the difficulty they have getting work. These people constitute many of the homeless.

Did you see much of this?

juliania September 15th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Mr. Hedges, I am eager to ask my librarian to order a copy of your and Mr. Sacco’s book. When I was in college, a book which profoundly influenced me at the time was ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.’ I’m sure you know it. I wonder if you could briefly explain how your book does or does not express similar values to that powerful work.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 2:13 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 11

climbing to number 8 on the NY Times nonfiction best seller list.

Wow! So well deserved. Maybe you won’t be unemployed after all.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

We are witnessing the collapse of globalization and the corporate state, rather than respond rationally to the crisis by providing a jobs program, forgiving student debt, placing a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions and establishing a universal health care program respond exclusively in the language of force, in short by shutting down the Occupy encampments and criminalizing dissent. This is why I sued Obama over the NDAA and won last week, sending the security state into a frenzy. The Obama administration has called for an emergency hearing in the 2nd District Court of NY Monday morning to hear their appeal. I won’t be there. I will be with the OWS demonstrators at Wall Street.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:13 pm
In response to hpschd @ 14

wow!

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 17

What’s your view of the OWS legacy at this point. Your book ended with the hope that OWS was a symbol of the coming storm. Clear or cloudy now in your view?

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Chris, I’ve been reading a lot of your writings lately. I think that you are one of the most insightful and important commentors for our time. I do have one OT question for you. Have any of the graduates of rockford college ever apologized to you?

jest September 15th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 11

Wade, the book was an attempt to show readers what happens when you force human beings, communities and the eco-system to kneel before the dictates of the marketplace. The whole idea that structuring human societies around the dictates of the marketplace is a utopian absurdity. This book went to the first sacrifice zones in the country, the places destroyed first.

I’m reading Zinn’s People’s History right now, and this concept reminded me of the first chapter of the book which was all about genocide and the murder of Native Americans for resource extraction and land. Capitalism’s obsession with accumulation and profit is a cycle that repeats itself.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Joe Sacco is one of the nation’s most brilliant journalists. We met in Bosnia. I am not a reader of graphic novels, but I watched him work and swiftly realized he was a remarkable reporter. We did a couple of magazine pieces together, but the editors never seemed, to me, to grasp what Joe could do and how talented he is, so I approached him to do this book. You are right, he can do things a photogrpaher cannot. he can give a filmic quality to people’s lives, make us see as well as hear. And since these people are largely rendered invisible this was important. He gave the book a punch it would not have had if it were simple prose.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:19 pm

No, question Joe’s contribution was critical in making the argument harder to avoid by simply flipping the page. It was a unique idea for the book, so it’s heartening to hear that it is resonating with the public. More! More! More!

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 2:20 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 22

Thanks for responding.

As a note, if you hit the “Reply” button in the lower right hand corner of the comment/question you’re responding to, people will know whose comment you’re responding to. Try it, you might love it!

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Chris, great book–thanks for being here and writing it.

Wade, great introduction.

Chris, I’m curious about what you’re hearing from readers as you talk to them about this. I thought the WV chapter felt like one of the fullest (perhaps because it had the despair you saw at Pine Ridge with the organizers you saw in Imolakee). Plus, I think it’s important because so many white people forget about poor white people (often because it’s rural and therefore hidden), and therefore dismiss the poor.

I also think it’s important to show that addiction shows up everywhere, whether it be inner city Camden or rural WV.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:21 pm

We chose the poorest pockets in the country. Camden, per capita, is the poorest city int he US. Males on Pine Ridge have an average life expectancy of 48, the lowest int he western hemisphere outside of Haiti. The coal fields are devastated. Farm workers, many undocumented, are held in conditions that can resemble slavery. The last chapter, Days of Revolt, is Zuccotti. We argue that civil disobedience is all we have left. As far as Zinn, I think the book does tie itself to The People’s History of the United States in many ways. I have taught that book to inmates and admire it tremendously. This book, I like to think, comes out of Zinn’s understanding that the real correctives to American democracy came through movements.

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:22 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 24

I also think it broke up the despair with … more of it, but in a different medium. Sort of a place to catch your breath.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 2:22 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 24

See my response to Chris at 25. Ditto!

solerso September 15th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

The problem is Capitalism, not “corporate capitalism” or “crony capitalism”. People in the US got used to thinking we had some kind of special, magical capitalism because the New Deal and Great Society protected many of us from its depredations. Thats the only thing about American capitalism that was “special” – socialism, the part they have been furiously, frantically removing for 40years..we dont have to qualify or make excuses for capitalism, in fact it would be best if we dont do that any more..this is what it is, and what it always was. A people and planet eating, “Totalitarian” monster.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 27

Fran Piven with the late Dick Cloward have long argued that it is these moments of “disruption” that have the ability to accelerate change. Any sense that we are knocking on that door now, Chirs?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 26

What we heard from readers is that these stories are their stories, stories that in an age of corporate control over our systems of information never get heard. WV was probably the fullest chapter in the sense that there was more active resistance than in other chapters. And you are right about the way poor whites are especially invisible — or rather we only make them visible when we make fun of them. I come from rural Maine so know this class well, amny are my relatives.

CTuttle September 15th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 17

Mahalo, Chris, for all that you’ve done…! Occupy Hilo will also be celebrating the 1st Anniversary of #OWS on Monday…! ;-)

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to solerso @ 30

Chris makes a point in the point about “coercive totalitarianism,” which might be worth him explaining more here….

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:26 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 31

Yes, change is coming. Since the corporate state will not respond rationally it will get unrest and instability. It is always the ruling class that determines the parameters of revolt. And this ruling class is in for it.

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:27 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 32

Ah, that’s my sense. And yeah, I guess that’s what I meant about the WV chapter–you’re seeing the whole range of responses to this devastation.

How well is the book being distributed outside of the big cities? Is this getting into libraries in places like WV.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 2:28 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 27

Thank you for this. Ive not read it yet but your words resonate loudly with me. I also believe,this insane reliance on the “free” market threatens to enslave us all.

Do you think the prison system will become free slave labor for the free market? It ia already being privatized.

Phoenix Woman September 15th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Welcome, Chris and Joe!

I might as well ask this question because I am sure a lot of people are thinking it: When you talk about “revolt” being the only option left, do you worry that this might be interpreted as incitement to violence or what the government might call sedition? Or is your definition of revolt a bit broader than that?

Also: I suspect many if not most of the people with whom you spoke, because of their upbringing and because of the only news media readily available to them being of the FOX and Limbaugh sorts, likely would blame people like us more than, say, Charles or David Koch for their being kept from having a place at the table. How do you think we can address that?

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Chris, since you went to Pine Ridge for your book, do you think that Leonard Peltier was set up because he was a leader in the resistance there?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 34

The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

As long as the charade is played, they do not have to consider how to combat what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of “inverted totalitarianism.” I like this term better than coercive totalitarianism since all totalitarianism is coercive.

Inverted totalitarianism, Wolin writes, represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry,” Wolin lays this out in “Democracy Incorporated.” Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.

Inverted totalitarianism is not conceptualized as an ideology or objectified in public policy. It is furthered by “power-holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions,” Wolin writes. But it is as dangerous as classical forms of totalitarianism. In a system of inverted totalitarianism it is not necessary to rewrite the Constitution, as fascist and communist regimes do. It is enough to exploit legitimate power by means of judicial and legislative interpretation. This exploitation ensures that huge corporate campaign contributions are protected speech under the First Amendment. It ensures that heavily financed and organized lobbying by large corporations is interpreted as an application of the people’s right to petition the government. The Supreme Court under Citizens United ratified the concept that corporations are persons, except in those cases where the “persons” agree to a “settlement.” Those within corporations who commit crimes can avoid going to prison by paying large sums of money to the government while, according to this twisted judicial reasoning, not “admitting any wrongdoing.” There is a word for this. It is called corruption.

Corporations have 35,000 lobbyists in Washington and thousands more in state capitals that dole out corporate money to shape and write legislation. They use their political action committees to solicit employees and shareholders for donations to fund pliable candidates.

These corporations have made sure our so-called health reform bill will force us to buy their predatory and defective products. The oil and gas industry, the coal industry, defense contractors and telecommunications companies have thwarted the drive for sustainable energy and orchestrated the steady erosion of civil liberties. Politicians do corporate bidding and stage hollow acts of political theater to keep the fiction of the democratic state alive.

There is no national institution left that can accurately be described as democratic. Citizens, rather than participate in power, are allowed to have virtual opinions to preordained questions, a kind of participatory fascism as meaningless as voting on “American Idol.” Mass emotions are directed toward the raging culture wars. This allows us to take emotional stands on issues that are inconsequential to the power elite.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 35

Do you think a revolt is coming? And if so, why is a place like Spain relatively quiet?

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Chris

I think the way you condemn the Democrats who fail to address these issues–particularly in Camden–show the failures of our political system. And I respect the need to call out Democrats especially because they’re SUPPOSED to be different.

Are the politics around Imolakee the converse: a bunch of Republicans using the undocumented status of the ag workers to keep them even more marginalized?

CTuttle September 15th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 35

As JFK once said: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 39

I read the trial transcripts. There is no question he was set up. The government did not have any evidence on him. It fabricated evidence and lied to the court. Peter Mattheissen does a good job of explaining all this in detail in his book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 2:33 pm

At the beginning of the book, you’re discussing and quoting Verlyn Long Wolf, an elder from Pine Ridge. She’d been repeatedly raped as a child and teenager. She’d had 7 husbands, most of whom had died violently at their own hands or those of others. You asked, “How many of these relationships were physically abusive?” “All of them,” she says, “Except for the one that I had two sons with.” Then on the next page is one of the first of Joe’s drawings. The power of the narrative combined with the power of the drawing grabbed me so completely. The starkness of the violence on the reservation and the pain in her face brought me completely into the horror of the scenario.

This is an absolute must read book. These two heroes are two very powerful canaries in the coal mine.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:34 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 41

Yes, a revolt is coming. I have covered them as a foreign correspondent. They have a mysterious life force. No one knows what ignites them or when they will erupt. But after spending two years with Joe in the poorest parts of the U.S. I have no doubt that something is in the air.

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 2:34 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 36

Here in Morris County NJ there are currently 14 books in the system, all are out, and there are 10 current holds. I have to say that this is nowhere near how 50 Shades of Gray was in demand.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:35 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 42

The Democrats serve corporate interests as slavishly as the Republicans. Only the rhetoric is different.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 44

that was another beautifully written and argued book! this is a good salon, we’re digging deep on the issues and the dialogue is excellent. i meant “inverted totalitarianism” but got so excited i misread by notes — good catch — and great response!

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 40

Again, one of the things I really liked about the WV chapter is the way you showed that the corporations have basically taken over the state and own the law. That came out with the Massey disaster, but you provided that from the perspective of what it looks like from those who live behind one of the settling ponds. And within that, the real violence between people over whether they should cater to the corporations (there, the coal companies) because they offer jobs, however shitty, or fight them, because they’re poisoning everyone.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 45

Thanks. These interviews, including the one with Long Wolf, were very emotional. All of us us were in tears. And your reaction was like mine. Joe was able in every case to give these narratives a visceral punch.

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 47

Thanks–that’s still a ton.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 50

Thanks. I every case we attempted to show how complete corporate control has become. The entire state of West Virginia, from the elected officials, to the courts, to the media, to the textbooks used in schools is owned by big coal. And this is writ large across the United States.

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 44

Thanks, I’ll have to look at that.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 46

Two years for you guys was a big investment of time and energy in these locations. Can you give us some more details? How long in each place? How hard for y’all to access? Ever have any fun? Let us “behind the pages” with y’all on this if you could.

marymccurnin September 15th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 40

So, the corporate structure has simply hired a layer of employees to run the country for them. These employees are paid rather well and are citizens and neighbors. In reality, they are not our friends but are traitors. We need to start pointing our fingers at these enablers.

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:41 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 53

When did you do the reporting in WV? I’m curious with coal becoming less competitive with all the fracking (which is of course going to create WVs all over the country as people’s groundwater gets poisoned in the name of poorly regulated energy) how things are changing?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 38

I have been very vocal about the need for nonviolent resistance. I debated Black Block anarchists in New York City last Wednesday over this issue. There is an article in The Indypendent on the debate. My book Death of the Liberal Class is an argument that the destruction of mass movements in the name of anti-communism left us disempowered and we have to rebuild them, but this does not countenance violence.

jest September 15th, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to solerso @ 30

Increasingly, it seems more and more like “free market capitalism” is a euphemism or a re-branding of feudalism.

We’re going back to the Dark Ages, my friend.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 40

Excellent.

And so we are all constrained by the power of the market place. Citizens United was a blow to,the heart. We now allow anyone or country in the world to buy his own President and congress and to pursue profit based self interest.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 55

We would report, write and draw one chapter at a time. We made at least two trips to every location, in some cases more. Each time we went we stayed for about two weeks. Once one chapter was done, a process that took a couple of months, we moved on to the next. Joe and I are sadly conventional. We don’t drink much. We get up early to work. Our favorite activity is reading books, so the conversations int he car tend to revolve around books, as well as how much we miss our partners. For a couple of radicals we are sadly conventional. I love working with Joe. I did most of the main body of the interviews, but then he would ask a few questions when I was finished. And every time I could have kicked myself. What he asked was so vital and important and I had clearly missed it. But it made the book better.

cmaukonen September 15th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Welcome Chris and Joe,

Though I do believe the revolution of some sort will be inevitable, what are your thoughts on people preparing themselves for the eventual collapse of our capitalistic system. Becoming less dependent on those institutions, services and enterprises for the food and well being. Transportation etc.

Bobster33 September 15th, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Chris, have you seen any progression in terms of the public’s understanding of the economic issues?

I used to tell some of my coworkers that if you knew what was really going on, you would be mad. Now i find that many are getting more informed (and are very mad). However, I still find large pockets of ignorance/apathy.

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Chris

I was curious abt the US focus on this. It wasn’t total (obviously, you told what brought Mexicans and Guatemalans to the US, ultimately to Imolakee). But when you talked about Occupy, you gave just a small nod to Spain, with no mention of the Arab Spring.

I can think of a bunch of reasons to do that, but I’m curious why you did.

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Chris, how invested in the current political events? Are the people that you spoke with supporting a particular political party? How do they view the political scene nationally and at the state level?

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

How did you make your initial contacts with folks? Was it difficult?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to jest @ 59

Yes, the global economy is being reconfigured in a form of neofedualism, masters and serfs. Workers are told they have to be competitive in a global marketplace, which means being competitive with prison labor in China or garment workers in Bangladesh who make 22 cents an hour. This is the world they are creating, and they are quite willing to hollow the nation state out to do it. In the language of patriotism these corporations are traitors.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:49 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 61

that actually sounds like fun! what was the “order of the march?” same as the book or different?

emptywheel September 15th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 64

Adding, one of the reasons I ask is because it seems this time the uprising is getting closer to global, and everyone is, in some sense, rising up in part in response to US neoliberal policies.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 61

Were the drawings made on the spot? Or from photos or rough sketches?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 62

Read The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter. We are no different from any other civilization in this regard. The difference is that this time when we go down we will bring the whole planet and its eco-system with us. The fact that we are not in panic over the melting of the summer sea ice in the Arctic, but talking heatedly about the rights of the unborn is an illustration of how we have unplugged ourselves from the real world — the theme of my book Empire of Illusion.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 68

Camden first, then West Virginia, then Pine Ridge, then Immokalee and then Zuccotti. It was not in the order of the book.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 70

Joe made a few sketches, but he mostly worked off of photographs.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 69

I would agree with this.

cmaukonen September 15th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 71

Thanks. I watch his presentation two or three times so far. Excellent.

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Chris, to refer to a point that you made earlier, the motu will maintain the Constitution letter, but hollow it entirely by legislation, executive orders, and judicial contraints. The motu and many supporters of the political parties, especially the republicans, really do not like the Constitution, and want a strong ruler to tell them and the rest of us what to do. The ruler just has to have the correct affiliation attached to his/her name because those that want to be rulers are all striving for the same outcomes.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:57 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 66

We spent a lot of time preparing for each trip, which meant a lot of reading. We also made a lot of contacts in advance so that we could be taken into these communities by people who had long ties there. This was key. It got us into homes that we would otherwise have never been able to enter. It also gave us a level of trust. People like Father Michale Doyle and Dwight Ott in Camden, Charlie Abourezk and Mike Red Cloud in Pine Ridge, The Rev. Amanda Reed in West Virginia and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers were vital to our work. We could never have had the access we did without these groups and individuals.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Chris, so many of the central “characters” featured in depth seemed to turn to religion or at least some level of spirituality as a survival mechanism rather than focusing their alienation and rage towards revolt. Your thoughts on that pattern would be interesting for the readers.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 69

Yes, the neo liberal economic policies will destroy us. But it is very powerful. Just think, they tell us the,governement is going broke. We believe it. But such an eventuality is literally impossible. We could hire everyone who wanted a job. Why don’t we?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 2:59 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 76

Wolin, I think, does the best job of explaining our structures of power in Democracy Incorporated. He argues, correctly, that in inverted totalitarianism you do not center power around a demagogue or supreme leader but through the anonymity of the corporate state. Thus, a George Bush, a Barack Obama or a mitt Romney become the public face of corporate power, but do not actually wield much power. I think Wolin is right.

cmaukonen September 15th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 79

You cannot fix systemic problems by printing money. Germany tried that in the 1930s. Didn’t work well at all.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 78

You are right that at that level of despair religion becomes key to emotional survival, but we did not find that this meant that people did not resist. I think religion gave them the framework to hold their identities together and made resistance possible.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 3:01 pm

A quote from the book about Camden:

“Camden is the poster child for postindustrial America. It is a window into the dead end that will come to more and more Americans as corporations “harvest” what is left of the nation for short-term profit and leave behind wreckage and environmental disaster.”

I read this as a cry of despair and also a cry to get up on our feet and start countering the plan of capital.

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 80

Another one I’ll have to read.

cmaukonen September 15th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 80

BINGO !

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 81

Yes, although when I spoke with Paul Krugman a few weeks ago he insists we can do it without falling victim to hyper-inflation. What do I know. I was an English major. But it still worries me.

RevBev September 15th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 40

This may be too late….Reporting was the Chief Justice Roberts was the force for Citizens United? Is it you belief that he wants these sorts of consequences?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 83

Yes, which is why everyone should be on the streets (of New York if possible) on Monday.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 82

We need more good work from our faith-based organizations in pushing institutional religions back into the progressive column wouldn’t you say?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to RevBev @ 87

Our judiciary is pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state. Citizens United snuffed out what was left of our anemic democracy. It is all legalized bribery now.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 81

Yes you can damn it.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 89

Institutionalized religion has always been at best cautious and often a reactionary force. Rebels, like Martin Luther King or Malcolm X, arise from their ranks, but they are never fully embraced by these institutions and often cast out of them, like Malcolm.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 3:06 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 77

Father Doyle and Charlie Abourezk particularly stand out as beacons of light in their communities.

To quote you quoting Father Doyle in Camden:

“The best four-letter word in the English language is hope. It is my job, my vocation, to promote and celebrate hope, to hold it up. When I look at these children, I can cry. I am afraid at some point they will make a turn.”

jest September 15th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 81

There’s a mixed record on that.

Argentina, for instance.

Devaluation is a very common way of dealing with macroeconomic issues.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
In response to Bobster33 @ 63

Yes, there is a growing understanding, which is why the corporate state is working to criminalize dissent and build up an internal security and surveillance state as swiftly as possible.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 93

Yes, they are remarkable people. We felt privileged to spend time with them.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to jest @ 94

Krugman used the Argentine case as an example when we spoke. Chris

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:10 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 86

The US government can pay any bill and buy anything denominated in dollars without limit. You and I and Spain and Greece and the state of Indiama cannot bc we all use someone else’s money. We are a sovereign issuer of the currency. This is not a mystery. MMT economists have been talking about it for years. Krugman is ” almost” there but not quite. He still has an unhealthy concern for debt, but he is mostly right.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Have I answered all questions?

jest September 15th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 92

Contemporary organized religion is particularly pernicious.

If MLK were practicing today, I doubt his message would be as powerful as it was back then. Especially amidst today’s prosperity gospel & and its adoption of the conservative evangelical “self-made man/bootstrap pulling” ideology.

It’s really disheartening the way the political has been stripped from church, as you documented so well in Death of the Liberal Class.

cmaukonen September 15th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 98

The more money you put into circulation, the more inflationary it becomes. The only answer is ditching the capitalistic market based economy completely.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 92

Agreed, but anything that argues for the “by and by” rather than action now is not our friend. The institutional credibility of organized religion, like other institutions in modern society, is falling like a rock, but in some ways our political movements are not competing directly with some of the movements towards spirituality, which makes the ground-level organizing task more difficult. To the degree organizations are embedded in institutional religion their ability to act as agents for change is severely blunted. I was curious how y’all made the judgment to give religion and spirituality somewhat of a “pass” in the book?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 98

I read as much as I can on the economic crisis, but have to admit the currency issues baffles me since we seem able to print endless amounts of money and not devalue our currency. It does not make sense to me, but then so much of finance is based on the appearance of stability rather than stability that it may be the mirage itself that baffles me.

OmAli September 15th, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Chris, what are your thoughts about the wretched farce of the coming elections? I can’t stomach the thought of pulling the lever for either toady of the corporate state. Would a second Obama administration throw a wrench into the combine and at least slow down the harvest? Buy time for building up a wave of renewed protest? Would throwing support toward a third party have any effect, or does the election matter at all.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 81

The Weimar inflation was in the early twenties for entirely different reasons. And they fixed it. Then came the depression and austerity and Hitler.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 101

I am sorry but that is simply not true.

matthewj September 15th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 46

Chris, you say you are sure a revolt is coming. Do you have any sense of how many years out it might be?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to jest @ 100

Yes, the liberal church, which I was raised in (my father was a minister and I graduated from divinity school) is pretty much a spent force, a kind of social club for the pious. I left the church because I did not want to invest my energy in useless debates, such as whether gay people should have equal rights. I have no time to argue with bigots.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Here’s a new question if all of the contributors have gotten a response at this point. Your admiration for the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida was well earned. It was interesting how few organizations stood tall in the Days of Destruction. What is the future for CIW? What role might others play elsewhere? UMW in West Virginia? The various faith-based organizations in Camden like PICO and Gamaliel? Thoughts? Can they make a difference or is this a capacity issue? Or are they working too far out of the zone of “destruction?”

textynn September 15th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

We have to stop this.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to OmAli @ 104

The real debate, the debate raised by the Occupy movement about inequality, corporate malfeasance, the destruction of the ecosystem, and the security and surveillance state, is the only debate that matters. You won’t hear it on the corporate-owned airwaves and cable networks, including MSNBC, which has become to the Democratic Party what Fox News is to the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party. You won’t hear it on NPR or PBS. You won’t read about it in our major newspapers. The issues that matter are being debated, however, on “Democracy Now!,” Link TV, The Real News, Occupy websites and Revolution Truth. They are being raised by journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi. You can find genuine ideas in corners of the Internet or in books by political philosophers such as Sheldon Wolin. But you have to go looking for them.

Voting will not alter the corporate systems of power. Voting is an act of political theater. Voting in the United States is as futile and sterile as in the elections I covered as a reporter in dictatorships like Syria, Iran and Iraq. There were always opposition candidates offered up by these dictatorships. Give the people the illusion of choice. Throw up the pretense of debate. Let the power elite hold public celebrations to exalt the triumph of popular will. We can vote for Romney or Obama, but Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil and Bank of America and the defense contractors always win. There is little difference between our electoral charade and the ones endured by the Syrians and Iranians. Do we really believe that Obama has, or ever had, any intention to change the culture in Washington?

In this year’s presidential election I will vote for a third-party candidate, either the Green Party candidate or Rocky Anderson, assuming one of them makes it onto the ballot in New Jersey, but voting is nothing more than a brief chance to register our disgust with the corporate state. It will not alter the configurations of power. The campaign is not worth our emotional, physical or intellectual energy.

Our efforts must be directed toward acts of civil disobedience, to chipping away, through nonviolent protest, at the pillars of established, corporate power. The corporate state is so unfair, so corrupt and so rotten that the institutions tasked with holding it up—the police, the press, the banking system, the civil service and the judiciary—have become vulnerable. It is becoming harder and harder for the corporations to convince its foot soldiers to hold the system in place.

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 99

How invested in the political system are the people that you spoke to? What are their feelings toward the leaders of the two wings of the uniparty? Their state governments?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:21 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 109

They make a difference. But they are also arrayed against forces that are so powerful and so large that unless we build mass movements across the country to battle corporate power they, and we, cannot win. But they are resisting. And you cannot use the word hope if you do not resist.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 103

With respect, but the neoliberal meme prevents the truth from getting out. Everyone thinks debt and deficits are bad things. A deficit could be inflationary when all resources are employed. We are no where near that. And no one is going to drop money from helicopters. I would urge you to read Randall Wrays new book coming out in a week or so. It is a primer on modern money.

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 111

I understand that Jill Stein is on the ballot here in NJ. I plan to vote for her, as does Ms. BearCountry.

OmAli September 15th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 111

Thank you, Chris.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 112

These people are not invested in the political system. They know the Democrats, although they use the feel-your-pain language of traditional liberalism, sold them out long ago. Clinton lionized at the convention, is the poster child for the Democratic politican who sold his soul, as well as the Democrat’s traditional base, for corporate money. Obama is of the same mold.

tuezday September 15th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Chris,

I too want to add that I found Joe’s drawings very poignant, what a marvelous way to tell the stories. I couldn’t put your book down… cause my husband would snatch it.

Although I consider myself rather “aware”, I will also say your book was a slap in the face (or 2×4 upside the head). I grew up in New Jersey, but Morris County ain’t Camden. I’ve been to Berkeley WV many, many times, skiing, and I now live in Florida. I thought I knew these places well. As I think someone said up thread, poor whites, and others, are literally under our noses but we fail to see them. It’s sad. Hopefully, your book will shake more people out of their stupors.

Blue Onyx September 15th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Chris–

It is a privilege, and honor, to have you here.

I am more concerned that Obama will succeed in eviscerating Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, than Romney.

Is that fear misplaced, in your opinion?

Thanks.

juliania September 15th, 2012 at 3:26 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 99

I think you answered mine when you spoke to the power of Mr. Sacco’s portraits enhancing your text. That is the combination I was trying to reflect in my question.

I can see from other responses that your book will have more concrete presentations than the poetry and photographs of James Agee and Walker Evans, but also it is already generating much interest, and that is very good indeed. I very much hope it will have the resonance in this time that the book I compared it to did in its time.

Thank you for being here, and also to all the other questioners as well.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 111

Well, if we will not vote or it is meaningless, then revolution seems the only way out?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 114

This is the point Krugman makes, and yet we print money and hand it to speculators who sit on piles of it. How is it helpful to the economy to bail out a firm like Goldman Sachs every penny to the dollar and then lend it federal money at zero interest so it can gamble? Matt Taibbi in Griftopia did a good job of laying this out.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Any reason to believe that a second Obama Administration will seek to restore or rehabilitate any of the “sacrifice zones?” If you were to give them the benefit of the doubt, what would you argue they should do first?

gesneri September 15th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 115

Yes, another vote here for Jill Stein.

RevBev September 15th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Do you view the movements of the ’60s as having been successful? What do you think may be the mobilizing force in these current circumstances?

hpschd September 15th, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 114

What is the title?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:29 pm
In response to tuezday @ 118

Thanks. I live in Princeton and am well aware, especially after all my time in Camden, that this is a segregated state. We leap from one pocket of affluence to another, if we have the means, and ignore the vast wastelands around us.

BevW September 15th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to hpschd @ 126

Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems [Paperback] L. Randall Wray

john in sacramento September 15th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 58

I have been very vocal about the need for nonviolent resistance. I debated Black Block anarchists in New York City last Wednesday over this issue. There is an article in The Indypendent on the debate. …

FWIW, every time I run across one of the black block people (which is not very often, thankfully), I think agent provocateur.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 123

That sounds like a nice fantasy!

BearCountry September 15th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Again, referring to a point you made earlier, Chris, I think that the laws will be written more and more with vague wording that will give the govt ample wiggle room to apply it as they wish in any circumstance. We already see that in the lack of prosecution of the banksters vs the whistleblowers. I believe that Judge Forrest’s decision will be blown away without much thought.

juliania September 15th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to gesneri @ 124

Me too.

jest September 15th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 111

But you will vote, despite its futility, no?

Can you explain why you feel it is still a worthwhile exercise?

There is quite a debate about it lately.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 123

Shit even I don’t think Onama is going to do a lot of good. But that other nut case is worse.

greenwarrior September 15th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

What is your greatest hope from writing the book?

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:34 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 122

We don’t need to bail out anyone. We should use our money for the public purpose, like hiring people or health care or….

Kurt Sperry September 15th, 2012 at 3:35 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 81

“You cannot fix systemic problems by printing money.”

This is wrong. If it were true there would be no point in printing money. Ever.

It is never counterproductive to print money to pay people to do things that must be done in any case. Now printing money to bail out fraudulent financial institutions? That’s another story.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:35 pm
In response to BevW @ 128

Thanks for that.

gesneri September 15th, 2012 at 3:35 pm
In response to jest @ 133

Don’t mean to push into something you addressed to Chris, but in my case it’s just plain stubbornness. I’m making an unheard statement against all the corporatist BS I’m subjected to every day.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:36 pm
In response to RevBev @ 125

The radical upheavals of the 1960s were as infused with the same deadly doses of hedonism that corrupted earlier twentieth counter culture movements. There was an open antagonism with the working class, whose sons were shipped to Vietnam while the sons of the middle class were usually handed college deferments. Working class high schools sent 20 to 30 percent of their graduates to Vietnam every year while college graduates made up 2 percent of all troops sent to Vietnam in 1965 and 1966. Students who opposed the war were derided by the power elite and many in the working class as draft dodgers. Anti-war activists were portrayed as spoiled children of the rich and the middle class who lacked a moral core and advocated free love, drug use, communism and social anarchy.
The unions remained virulently anticommunist, spoke in the language of militarism and the Cold War and were largely unsympathetic to the civil rights and anti-war movement. When student activists protested at the AFL-CIOs 1965 convention, chanting, “Get out of Vietnam!” the delegates taunted them by shouting, “Get a haircut.” George Meany ordered the security to “clear the Kookies out of the gallery.” Walter Reuther, once the protesters were escorted out, announced that “protestors should be demonstrating against Hanoi and Peking…[who] are responsible for the war.” The convention passed a resolution that read: “The labor movement proclaim[s] to the world that the nation’s working men and women do support the Johnson administration in Vietnam.”

Those that constituted the hard core New Left, groups like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), found their inspiration in the liberation struggles in Vietnam and the Third World rather than the labor movement, which they considered bought off by capitalism. They turned to Mao, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. And with that turn came an embrace of revolution. The Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam or the Weather Underground Organization, severed from the daily concerns of the working class, became as infected with the lust for violence, quest for ideological purity, crippling paranoia and internal repression as the state system they defied. Only a couple thousand radical Maoists, many of them living in communes in cities such as San Francisco, broke with the SDS and took jobs in factories as blue collar workers in an attempt to organize the working class. They were a tiny minority.

The bulk of the protesters in the 1960s found their ideological roots in the disengagement championed earlier by beats such by Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsburg and William Burroughs. It was a movement that, while it incorporated a healthy dose of disrespect for authority, focused on self-indulgent schemes for inner peace and fulfillment. The use of hallucinogenic drugs, advocated by Timothy Leary in books such as the Politics of Ecstasy, and the rise of occultism that popularized Transcendental Meditation, Theosophy, Hare Krishna, Zen and I-Ching, were trends that would have dismayed the Wobblies or the militants in the old CP.

The counterculture of the 1960s, like the commodity culture, lured adherents inward. It set up the self up the primary center of concern. It offered affirmative, therapeutic remedies to social problems that embraced vague, undefined and utopian campaigns to remake society. There was no real political vision. Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, became emblematic of the moral hollowness of the New Left. These movements, and the celebrities that led them such as the Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman, catered to the stage set for them by television camera. Protest and court trials became street theater. Dissent became another media spectacle. Anti-war protesters in Berkeley switched from singing “Solidarity Forever’ to “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine.” The civil rights movement, which was rooted in the moral and religious imperatives of justice and self-sacrifice, what Dwight Macdonald called nonhistorical values, was largely eclipsed by the self-centeredness of the New Left, especially after the assassination of Malcolm X in 1967 and Martin Luther King a year later. And once the Vietnam War ended, once middle class men no longer had to go to war, the movement fragmented and died. The political and moral void within the counterculture meant it was an easy transition from college radical into the liberal class. The 1960s counterculture, like the counterculture of the beats or the bohemians, was integrated into the commercial culture because at its core it shared its hedonism, entrancement with mass entertainment and preoccupation with the self.

jest September 15th, 2012 at 3:36 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 130

If Obama does try “rehabilitation” it will mean gentrification. I’m finding that is the only solution they are willing to entertain, assuming they are willing to entertain a solution to begin with.

More likely is that they’ll build a new jail, and lock them all up. With the surveillance state rising, it’s going to be a good time to be in the criminal justice industry.

OmAli September 15th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

We are very fortunate in that the issues that Chris mentions as being the ones that matter, and the websites and journalists raising them, are raised, linked, discussed and debated here at the Lake.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to Kurt Sperry @ 137

Yep!

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to jest @ 133

It is always worthwhile to dissent, to register our deep disapproval of the systems of power in any way possible, so yes, I will vote for a third party candidate as a form of protest.

mzchief September 15th, 2012 at 3:38 pm
In response to Kurt Sperry @ 137

With the “Trickle Down” mechanisms in place, printing money (QE) is great for the 1%ers but awful for the 99% as by design.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 140

Yes, being an old guy, I remember that.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 135

My greatest hope is that it will make someone, somewhere, begin to think, to get them to examine the lives of others, especially the poor and the oppressed, and to do something about it. When I meet someone who has acted because of something I wrote this gives me great satisfaction. You probably only change the world one person at a time.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:40 pm
In response to mzchief @ 145

Doesn’t have to be. Money should be used for the public purpose.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 131

It is such a clear Constitutional violation it is going to be hard for the higher courts to defend. We may lose, but I think we have a chance. Either way, it is imperative we do not accept this passively.

RevBev September 15th, 2012 at 3:42 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 140

Thanks for that magnificent recall….May show my daughter….I do wonder if you think anything particular may bring the tipping point in our current mess?

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:43 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 148

This is Krugman’s point. Go into debt. Print money. But use it to create jobs and sustain the population not the banks.

gesneri September 15th, 2012 at 3:43 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 140

Ouch! Well, you just gave us a dispassionate look at the 60′s. The sad thing is that I felt there was a great sense of hope then, that things could really change for the better. Sadly, I’ll never feel that way again–there’ll be no positive change in my lifetime.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:43 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 149

It is a great evil. I hope you and we win.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 140

You make a number of interesting and solid points here, Chris, but some of them might bear further discussion. Certainly the Iron Bound project was intended to organize the working class and some were very committed to it. It’s also hard to characterize the PL faction that “argued” for going into the factories in quite the upbeat way that you do, but nevertheless, none of this is in the book, so no need to get off track.

More positively what movements or incipient stirrings that you see now in the US (elsewhere?) give you the most cause for optimism?

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 151

Yes, I can buy that. But the debt is rather meaningless. Never has to be paid off and in fact can cause a recession if you try.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I suspect they, like the rest of the movement is heavily infiltrated which is why transparency and nonviolence is out only option. We cannot beat them at their own game. Vaclav Havel lays this out in his great 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless.” This is the only route that has any chance of success.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
In response to gesneri @ 152

I come out of the religious left which always had an uncomfortable relationship with the New Left over all these issues.

jest September 15th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
In response to gesneri @ 139

Everyone has their reasons.

I didn’t vote for a very long time because of the futility of it. But as I got older, I realized a lot of people died for my right to vote. To not do so would be to spit on their graves. I vote in memoriam of others that came before me, and I vote the way I imagine they would have voted if they were in my shoes.

The last straw was the MLK memorial in DC that had become a corporate sponsored fiasco; that POS represents everything that man stood against.

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/missing-quote-king-memorial

After seeing the corporate sponsor list, I’d imagine he’d be rolling over in his grave at it, and worse that people like me squandered the opportunities that he fought and died for.

Anyway, that’s why I vote, despite the futility of it.

Blue Onyx September 15th, 2012 at 3:47 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 134

bluedot12–

“But that other nut case is worse.”

How so?

I am always puzzled when this is said, since I’ve never seen any concrete evidence presented, to demonstrate that this is true. Yes, the Democratic Party rhetoric “is different,” but you know that this administration’s actions in many ways have been to the right of GWB.

And, that Bowles-Simpson (or its framework) will be enacted in the lame duck session. (It is, of course, the same plan that Romney and Ryan openly tout. The only difference is that they are “truthful” regarding their intent.)

Blue

juliania September 15th, 2012 at 3:47 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 140

Not everyone in the ’60′s fell into these categories. Not my friends, not many progressives of that era. We protested, many of us, without becoming drugged hippies or violence prone. It is unfortunate that these were the elements played upon by the media, and that we were even accused of hating those called up by the draft. I think many of us had a similar attitude to that of progressives today, a great sadness for the unnecessary sacrifices and ruination of young lives at the expense of a war on poverty only just beginning and cut short in its infancy. Other forces were definitely at work, but ours was the generation that saw the Watergate hearings and held Daniel Ellsberg to be the hero he still is.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 3:48 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 147

One person at a time? I didn’t see that coming? That is not really the argument that you and Joe advanced in your book is it?

john in sacramento September 15th, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 147

You’re in good company

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, & crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

- RFK

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbtxTh_A92s

econobuzz September 15th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Love the title of this book and others.
My favorite subtitle: Dispatches …

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to Blue Onyx @ 159

How about,what they said about SSMM even the minimum wage. Then there is the supreme court and while O may start a war in Iran I am almost positive they,will. And if,you think O will cut the deficit these.guys are warriors to listen to them.

mzchief September 15th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 148

I think the IT model of encrypted mesh networks gives clues as to how to restructure the monetary system and the international telsatco system since they are converged. The ideas of multiple concurrent use of currencies and demurrage I think are worth reviewing as well to recouple things monetary to real world conditions. The Casino-Gulag system started in the 1700s has got to go.

gesneri September 15th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Sometimes I think he really could have made a difference. And then I tell myself to stop dreaming.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 154

Movements, such as OWS or the Chicago teacher’s union, that operate outside the confines of the two political parties. This is where there is hope. As Karl Popper wrote in The Open Society and Its Enemies the question is not how do you get good people to rule. This is the wrong question. Rather how to make those in power frightened of the masses. There is a scene in Kissinger’s memoirs (DO NOT BUY IT) where Nixon and Kissinger are looking out a window at the White House on a massive anti-war demonstration. Nixon has used empty buses to ring the White House. He turns to Kissinger and says, “Henry, Henry, they are going to break through the barricades and get us!” This is just where we want people in power to be and it is why Nixon was our last liberal president. He was scared of movements.

gesneri September 15th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I’m going to have to catch up on the rest of this discussion later. Chris, it was great to hear your thoughts today. Thank you.

BevW September 15th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon discussion,

Chris, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book.

Wade, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Chris’ website and books

Wade’s website and books

Thanks all, Have a great weekend.

Tomorrow: Subhankar Banerjee /Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point; Hosted by Will Potter

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

We are coming towards the end of this great session with Chris, so any final questions? And, Chris, I want to give you the last shot before the bell rings to send people out to their bookstores to buy the book and into their communities to spread the word, so give us a shout before we close the salon! I know I’ve enjoyed being a fly on this wall…I mean moderator…so thanks a million for your time and talent here!

RevBev September 15th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

You all created a sobering and fantastic book salon…A time to weep & have hope….Thanks to you all.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to juliania @ 160

I was only 12 then so I go by what Father Berrigan, who I know, and others like Ralph Nader tell me. I also remember my father, who took part in protests, critiquing the New Left. But I am sure you are right. The fatal divide was between the radicals and labor. This was not the case before World War I when Mother Jones was hero to the working class.

Ready September 15th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Chris,

Everyday I work to restore some justice to this country.

Hope all here are doing the same.

jest September 15th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks so much to Chris and everyone else involved!

Remember to try to buy the book at a local bookstore, not Amazon!

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:56 pm
In response to Wade Rathke @ 161

You build movements one person at a time. This is what OWS was so important. It was educational, and the mourning after the park was shut down for the People’s Library showed this. When people take part in a protest they have the capacity to develop a consciousness that they may have lacked before. They build a solidarity with others. So the goal is a mass movement, but it comes together person by person.

Chris Hedges September 15th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thank. you all for participating.

cmaukonen September 15th, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 140

Which is precisely why I left the so called “movement” early on. But I myself follow ZEN Buddhist teachings and can tell you we do not just set around meditating.

However I am also closer to anarchism as well. Though I do not support those who call themselves anarchists and engage in violence to make a point or for violence sake.

tuezday September 15th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Thanks Chris, Wade and Bev, great book salon.

Chris I have to say the depth of your passion was evident in the interview you did with Amy Goodman earlier in the week. That was one impressive rant. Not many people could get their thoughts across in such a concise and coherent manner and for, what, almost 10 minutes. Bravo.

Blue Onyx September 15th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Thank you Chris, Bev W, and Wade.

Wade Rathke September 15th, 2012 at 3:58 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 175

Actually that’s the way you build organizations, not movements, but we agree on the goal, so let’s all do what we need to do to get there! Thanks again!

TomThumb September 15th, 2012 at 3:58 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 176

Thank you, Chris.

econobuzz September 15th, 2012 at 3:59 pm
In response to tuezday @ 178

x2

OmAli September 15th, 2012 at 3:59 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 175

If I walked out of my house with a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ or ‘Medicare For All’ sign, my neighbors would have no idea what I was talking about. But If I can engage just one in conversation…..

CTuttle September 15th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Mahalo Nui Loa, Chris, Wade, and Bev, for an awesome Book Salon…!

We do need to Occupy Everywhere…! That’s why I’ll be in the streets on Monday…! ;-)

juliania September 15th, 2012 at 4:01 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 172

Thank you very much, Mr. Hedges. Good and excellent mentors, in my opinion. And not to forget, we were all extremely traumatized by the three assassinations, one after another.

bluedot12 September 15th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Thanks Chris. I can identify with you and the people you wrote about. Good luck to us on your court case.

mzchief September 15th, 2012 at 4:14 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 184

x2 and Thank You! for all you do everyone. :-)

HotFlash September 15th, 2012 at 6:01 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 140

I was also there, and I don’t remember it like that. Your story is very succinct and readable, thoug, and I am sure an editor would be pleased. Five w’s and all that.

biglake September 15th, 2012 at 9:23 pm
In response to Chris Hedges @ 167

That 60’s overview is striking. If Chris were still available I would ask.. since consumerism was integral and remains the engine of the corporation, why wouldn’t it be a good alternative to aggressively defund the power? Not buy-as an important strategy to take away their power? Good luck with the case, thanks Chris.

tejanarusa September 16th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Awwwww….I read this wrong, thought it was today, Sunday.Rats. Well, up the page to read, I guess.

frang September 17th, 2012 at 12:26 am
In response to Wade Rathke @ 180

I think most of us would view Chris’s method as being very much applicable to building movements. As you disagree, what method do you believe is useful for movement building?

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