Sometimes the author, journalist and activist Chris Hedges makes no sense. Sometimes he is…I’m sorry, there’s just no better way to put this: unhinged. Other people have responded appropriately on those occasions so I need not bother to do so here, except to note that it is a confounding exercise to juxtapose the author of those screeds with the writer who can so skeptically and eloquently demolish the dogma pervading our national discourse to write this. But when he is making sense, the truth is that Chris Hedges is impressive as hell. In a 7-part series for Reality Asserts Itself, a new show for The Real News.com, Paul Jay interviews Hedges in-depth. It is well worth watching.
What comes across immediately is that he’s really bright. I also came away with a better understanding of the hold that religious ideas seem to have on him. He’s a genuinely compassionate person (if occasionally a bit sanctimonious), and during his formative years his father, an outspoken Christian minister and activist, engaged in some extraordinary social justice work. Perhaps the idea that morality is grounded in the so-called “spiritual” realm was modeled for him so powerfully that it fused to his self-identity as a moral person. Who knows. But at least he doesn’t rail on us nasty atheists in this interview.
Here are few choice quotes I transcribed from Part 4:
Appealing to the better nature of the Democratic Party I can assure you is not going to work.
I’ve covered totalitarian states all over the world, and they all have elections.
The point is to build organizations that make the power elite frightened of us.
It’s just a game. Because whether it’s Bush or whether it’s Obama, Goldman Sachs wins. Always. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.
Speak it, brother Chris.
The interview ends with his response to a viewer question:
Q. Congress seems a wholly owned subsidiary of the multinationals. Obama is pimping for GE in Africa. The Koch brothers have made a downpayment on the Supreme Court. Money will control the next federal election, and most of the state elections. Is there any scenario you see that will return this government to the people?
A. Mass protests that begin to scare the hell out of these people, and begin to disrupt systems that they care about. That really is the only solution.
I think they’re very fragile. I think internally they know how corrupt they are—which is why they passed the NDAA, because they want to be able to put the military on the streets. Because I think ultimately they don’t trust the police to protect them. And those are the sentiments of a dying elite.
So I think when we begin to organize against all the formal structures of power, I think that they may crumble as the Stasi state in East Germany, which, when I was in East Germany, appeared monolithic. [It] fell in about a week. And it fell in a week because Erich Honecker, the dictator for 19 years, sent an elite paratrooper division down to Leipzig to fire on 70,000 demonstrators, and they refused to do it… In the same way that the Tzar sent the Cossacks in to crush the Petrograd bread riots, and they fraternized with the crowd. Both Honecker and the Tzar only lasted another week in power. Once the foot soldiers of the elite will not protect the elite, they’re done.
And that’s why we have to be nonviolent. Because ultimately what we are doing is trying to create a paralysis within systems of power, whereby we speak truth, we appeal to conscience, we expose corruption, fraud, lies by those in power, so that when those forces are called into the street to stop us, they refuse to do so. That’s how all revolutions happen. And that’s really in the end what I’m calling for. I’m calling for the overthrow of this system. Let me say that again for Homeland Security: that’s what I’m doing. And I’m calling for it through nonviolent means, through mass protests. Because as a father of four children, I know that if we don’t stop these forces, they will kill us. They will destroy the ecosystem on which the human species and my children will depend for their life. And that is really the stakes that lie before us, and why there is an imperative for all of us to take risks. I don’t like going to jail, as I have. Going to jail is more time than I care to donate to my government. But it really is the only option left. Because if we fail at this, then it’s not just this particular civilization that will be extinguished, but human habitation.
I hope Chris Hedges gives more interviews. It’s a format that really does him justice.
Here is Part 1: