Winner 2013 Webby Awards for Best Political Website
Top Banner, Site wide
Apr 20, 2014

 Choose a size
Text Size

Top Leaderboard, Site wide

First Solar Bread Oven Takes a Bow
Drought Adds to Syria’s Misery

The Divide

Truthdig Bazaar more items

A/V Booth

Hedges and Friends Debate Illusion, Conservatism and 9/11

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Nov 18, 2009

Chris Hedges, George Packer and Sam Tanenhaus mix it up on this Miami Book Fair panel about the fascinating times in which we live. Don’t miss Hedges take on the charge that his lingo is limited to the Harvard set.

Catch it on C-SPAN.


Square, Site wide

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, November 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Yes Gerard to continue the analogy of Obama as “The Wizard” we know him to be a fraud, one more of the P.T.Barnham variety in showmanship glitz than actual substance of meaning. I call him a “bridge president” like Clinton was who continue the line of our fall of a Republic toward a more perfect tyranny. One made up not of a head owner but a corporate board/elders who want to rule with an iron fist in a technicolor glove.

They all made good points including texture and historicity involved in how we came to be at this juncture. The methods of those against us is all around us and have been in use for some 80 years to good effect. Not just in marketing of products but ideas and even people like Obama to be ready to purchase. It is the packaging that has changed not the core product itself. (Which is the point of it.)

The few that are educated in the basics including the burning desire to learn the more isolated they will be. Question and analyze and make decisions for ones self and family If they don’t follow the corporate media’s view of the world they are considered cranks. “Manufactured consent” is all around us. The way to control minds is to control what goes in and to help them not to be interested in anything that contradicts such ideas that become their own. As we come to an even closer proximity to overt fascism, uniquely American type, the majority will not only accept it as normal. They will embrace it too. We see that as well. The cratered economy helps because desperation is a good fuse to light the fires of want and support and whatever will happen to make it end. We see that too right now.

When the radicals are in charge and their ethos is everywhere and still considered with some legitimacy only what they themselves would call “radical” can fix it. Like Dennis Kucinich who was what we needed. He was real, unlike the ephemera of Obama and had a track record and was not corrupted and bought off by others. Which is why they made sure to remove him from the tickets and character assassination worked well. The men may come and go but what they establish and strengthen will last far longer.

The spectrum is far more vast and varied than the linear two dimension official version of the political spectrum. {Based upon the revolutionary congress of France.} Check out the that has a 3-D version that covers the gamut in a better more thorough way. [Note I appeared in the lower left quadrant further to the left than Mandela and lower toward the corner that Gandhi.] It is worth taking the test to see where you really are on this before continuing.

Economic L/R -9.26

Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -7.18

Then we need to see where we all agree on and work from there as a movement to get back what we see taken from us over the long years. If we still have time.

Report this

By john crandell, November 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

Previously, I’ve seen only one, one too many way and whacked-out videos regards 9/11.

The following is something else entirely: highly intelligent, hugely challenging, of the highest quality and inordinately intelligent. It will leave you wondering as to just when America’s Mob, Inc. assumed control of Wall Street, the entire Republican and a substantial portion of the Democratic Parties. 82 minutes of mind-bending revelation. Anyone who has ever conducted deep/original research will recognize the true value of the following documentary -

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, November 20, 2009 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

The comments on this article are civil. The topic in the article is important. Whether liberal conservative, we all want to break out of the downward spiral that we all sense we are in.

My hope is that I could participate in such a way that it remains civil. here goes:

Realizing that the citizens of this nation are often equally poised between a conservative and liberal view, i would like to suggest that for a moment we think in terms of method.

It is obvious to all of us that the same rules need to apply to both sides in political tussles and even between friends conversing. In other words, methods which we know are bad if we do them are also bad if the other side does the exact same thing.

The other side must not be allowed to say, ‘but our cause is good so these bad methods are ok for us to use’. How much trouble that has brought upon the world!

Some leaders in history have said “Since I am doing this for a good cause, its actually a good thing for me to use bad methods, so that in my hands the bad methods are purified, and not bad at all.”

Ah! From that mindset comes all the atrocities and most of the misery that people afflict upon other people. This sort of thinking must be rejected out of hand.

Agreed? It is my hope that we all agree. If you dont understand i can give examples.

I am busy so i must stop now.

Report this

By winston moss, November 20, 2009 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is nothing fascinating about the times we live in and the fact that someone who claims to have an IQ thinks so is pathetic.

Report this

By samosamo, November 19, 2009 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment

Hedges is right, movements are required, action, and by the people, who have
responded to the problem by succumbing to the msm propaganda mechanical
injector, so how well will that go over when trying to create a movement, and the
people needed the most are still soaking up their empty lives from msm, it will take something to open their eyes.

And to think about it, I wish there had been some recognition and discourse about the human population of almost 7,000,000,000 people, always now the sleeping gorilla in the room.

Report this

By KDelphi, November 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment

I saw this last Sunday—I thought Hedges was great.

phreedom—didnt you think that his point was that a high school educated (well, maybe not now) mineworker could understand what he was saying if it was explained to him? I thought he was saying that the harvard Parlor style Marxist is exactly what is NOT needed and that it is a n insult to the basic intelligence of the working classes to say that they cant understand. (I hope I remember this all correctly—saw it on Sunday and cant play it back here)It has been a Dem Party mistake for at least 50 yrs. It makes one feel better but I am afraid its just not the truth. (“They always vote against their own best interests”—but who does represent their interests??)I think that working class people have time to judge only on results and neoliberals have not dispalyed any of late.

Phreed—then, again, I hear what you are saying , re. Hedges refusal to dismiss neoliberalism and embrace a new political/economic order. I think, and this is just a guess, that it has much to do with his religious beliefs and Seminary training—he thinks that Socialism might be antithetical to “god”.But, in alot of his work, sans religion, he clearly supports this type of economic system…the word has certainly gotten a Cold War Stalinesque tinge to it here and it is sad..we are going to have to reframe and rephrase if we expect anyone to believe that it has anything to do with them.

gerard—I have a feeling that the
“middle classes” are just still too comfortable. I hope that they dont awaken too late. When we end up with a draft and no employment for white collar workers, perhaps, then….but even during the Great Depression, people here were subdued…it is depressing.

The true liberal “elites” have to realize that they have alot more in common with the working people of this country than they do with the rulers…maybe its an ego problem. I know that people are thinking “teabaggers”, but, no thats just a minority.

The greatest trick that the Wall St elites have played on the middle class is to get them thinking that they too, will someday have the ‘Merkin dream”, when, in truth, it is a nightmare.

But, look what happens when the so-called “peoples’ party” has majorities? Nothing. It is time to abandon the Democratic Party.

Report this

By gerard, November 19, 2009 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Of all the important things said in this panel discussion, the most important is probably Chris Hedges’ advocacy of “movements” and the necessity of action that comes from well-organized movements, committed to nonviolence and headed in the direction of intelligent practical goals. 
  I point this out because I feel sure that merely (and often meanly) criticizing Obama for failing us is no more than a sign of our own dereliction of duty. Where, for instance, is the “movement” of the peace movement, of the economic justice movement, of the social welfare movement, of the public information movement?
  Small attempts in all these directions are out there, but they lack cohesion, voice, heart, soul—something to get them “off the ground” so to speak.
Maybe the overwhelmingly intimidating effect of massive “surveillance” is denying the country the ability to work its way out of decadence by destroying the benefits of countervailing power.
  I think it is also safe to assume that many people working at all levels of government would like to take action to solve problems but feel there is no solid evidence of support among the general public. 
  This is just a feeling—but intuitions are sometimes prescient—that right at this moment the country is held in thrall by the boogie-man Fear, and looking to Obama as a sort of Wizard of Oz to point out the Yellow Brick Road of escape. No doubt it would help the country in general to move ahead if Congress would revoke at least the most Draconian measures of the previous administration and free up the loyal opposition, rather than continuing to regard all opposition as more or less disloyal. How is error to be recognized and counteracted without opposition?

Report this

By phreedom, November 19, 2009 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

Part 1 of 2

Thank you Chris,

Quite a bit was covered between you, George & Sam, but I think, and what I find quite common in panels or discussions such as this, well, that the net effect was a canceling out of anything that could be taken away as actionable, for even the most intelligent and passionate listener.  Almost as if there was a collusion between you all, to stop each other in their tracks, signaling each other what needs to be said next by the other or others, to have the aggregate input & output result in a comprehensive & complicated discussion of futility. But I also think, Chris, that your intention was less willing to curve toward this end, than was the original intentions of your co-panelists. 

Don’t get me wrong, I need to hear this stuff, just as any desperately concerned American and/or World citizen does.  Initially, I thought the seating arrangement was wrong, since you spoke of social-cognitive frontiers & expressed exacting understandings of the common plights of humans, but both Sam & George, though both seated to your right tried to encapsulate you. They seem to framed your “breaking out, accurate-thinking jargon” with macro and micro reminders of what they considered the limits or rules were to addressing the dire issues confronting American society and the global society today.

On the one hand, Sam nicely paralyzed the discussion with emphasis on political labels, and he seem to suggest that political cycles, and their liberal or conservative inclinations, at what ever time in history, were legal and unavoidable “persons”, or organic things just as corporations are legally accepted and discourse-ively considered today to be organic and/or natural.

It appeared you were boxed in with “general theory”, a macro bookend by Sam, but on the other hand, a kind of “specific theory”, a micro bookend, by George. Since, though we must always consider the ideal, that every person matters, too much emphasis on accounts or witnessing by or from individuals promotes in the end the misguided notion of the “American Cowboy” mentality, based really in the myth that an isolated or discovered lone person will have a perfect intelligence, represent all of humanity or operate from a fully objective self(identity). 

From what you said Chris, seems it will be hard to equip the 45 million illiterate Americans with the an adequate level of literacy and the subsequent thinking experience needed to overwhelm our system with intelligent and thoughtful democratic and just processes. So, maybe its not about conventional education or literacy, maybe its about raising & nurturing certain version of radical instincts and awareness instead, instincts & awareness that considers the limits of human beings and their common/shared environment. Though you articulate the underlying causes of our society’s problems in a fantastic and best-ly accurate manner, I do not think you can stay clear of the terms & thinking associated with socialistic theory for much longer. There is an evolved, new,  huge & well documented body of information available, a real history to point to and reference in a positive & applicable light.

(Part 2 on the way)

Rhuen Phreed
11 Marlborough Street, #22
Boston, MA 02116

Report this

By phreedom, November 19, 2009 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

Part 2 of 2(finished)

I don’t think you have become ineffectual, because you have become infected with some kind of Harvard University meme, but rather I see you attempting to replace, as to re-load and re-fire socialistic terms, thinkings and remedies, in a different terminology, an accepted terminology, hoping to strum up the world changing passion that drove the socialistic movements to succeed. By using fringe & dissenting, yet still, acceptable capitalistic terminology, anti-capitalistic terms from the “Concise Capitalistic Dictionary”, you might only get those equally literate as you to understand the hybrid, cross systemic, vaguely synonymous coding you seem to use.

I thought George’s statement, if only Chris could “radicalize the democrats” or liberals, implying, that to subdue & defeat the radical right, the left must too engage in an almost blind & unrelenting ideological passion toward social & economic justice which could surpass & conquer the radicalism that hinders and obstructs social & economic justice today.

To be fair, I thought Sam’s contribution might have been the political historical proof that we truly have a one party system, but a couple of reliable & differentiated political mood swings every 20-30 years.

Chris, I think you are right about “movements”, but subsidiary movements of the system the movement wants to replace or change is counterproductive, and will only serve to empower the overlying system. Are you talking, “economic movement”, well I think you are, again, why has the socialistic movement been thrown out with the baby water. Does anyone even dare say “mix economy” anymore?  When I use that term, most people think I am referring to a drink you get at a tavern near Wall Street.

There is just not enough time to reinvent the wheel, and to re-term economic & social justice in such a way that will make a two party system work for its’ people, just not enough time before millions more become collateral damage of greed & excess run amok.

So much came up, good panel and I appreciate all three authors insights. When you speak Chris I sometimes think of Jean Baudrillard’s work, and in particular his book, “Simulacra and Simulation”, and his ideas about “copies without originals”, so I conclude with a little piece from that book, a piece I hear you saying in so many other words;

“What is essential is that nothing escape the empire of meaning, the sharing of meaning. Certainly, behind all that, nothing speaks to us, neither the mad, nor the dead, nor children, nor savages, and fundamentally we know nothing of them, but what is essential is that Reason save face, and that everything escape silence”

Thank you, to all three authors.

Rhuen Phreed
11 Marlborough Street, #22
Boston, MA 02116

Report this

By Kay Johnson, November 19, 2009 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

This C-SPAN discussion was quite lively and informative. As usual, as mentioned by Ouroborus, Chris Hedges did NOT mince words, and he also speaks to my world view, a world about which I need to know more. In addition, I believe him—this country is in serious trouble.

About literacy and illiteracy: I read that the U.S. is 65th among nations of the world in literacy. What does that tell us? I am, by nature, a reader, and I have read all of Hedges’ books, including Empire of Illusion. Most of my friends have college degrees, and even advanced degrees. However, even though they buy some books, they never seem to really get around to reading them. Therefore, I am seldom able to have deep and serious discussions on the underlying issues that face us today. Slogans and other phrases are enough for most people, beginning with “Yes, We Can!” To me, though, this slogan means nothing, and offers NO direction for the future.

Sheldon Wolin wrote the book, Democracy, Inc., and this book is frightening. Chalmers Johnson wrote a comprehensive and powerful review of the book for Truthdig, or I would not have known about the book. Even though I live in NYC, I couldn’t walk into a store and buy the book (I called countless book stores all of which offered to order the book for me). Finally, I was forced to order the book over the Internet. I highly recommend the book to everyone.

I always look forward to reading the comments on this site because people, for the most part, are informed on the issues!

Today, Amy Goodman interviewed Robert Sheer.

Report this
Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, November 19, 2009 at 5:33 am Link to this comment

That was great; all three were well spoken. Sam
Tanenhaus did a good job describing/explaining
conservatism in todays politic. I was especially taken
with Chris Hedges; he doesn’t mince words and speaks to
my world view. We’re in serious trouble.

Report this

sign up to get updates

Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.