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A Question of Values

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Robert Scheer and Chris Hedges on Class Struggle

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Posted on Nov 1, 2011
Heart of Oak (CC-BY)

(Page 3)

Robert Scheer: Well, one good sign is that in Oakland last night we saw nurses turn out, and members of SEIU service employees union, to show support. But what I’m wondering is, what is the next stage? And that might be an irritating question, but it’s very difficult to sustain this kind of “occupy”; people get tired; where does it go?

Chris Hedges: We never know where movements go. And all of the movements I’ve covered—I covered all of the revolutions in Eastern Europe; all of the street demonstrations that brought down Slobodan Miloševic in Belgrade; the two Palestinian uprisings. You don’t know. The movements have a kind of life of their own that even the purported organizers don’t grasp or understand. So that on the afternoon of November 9, 1989, I was with the leaders of the East German opposition movement all out of Leipzig. And they said well, maybe within a year we’ll have free passage back and forth across the Berlin Wall. By that evening, the Berlin Wall, at least as an impediment to movement, did not exist. So even they didn’t know. And I think that is true; I mean, with all movements, ‘we just don’t know’ is the answer. And even the most—even those who are most intimately connected with the movement don’t know.

Robert Scheer: You know, I was just at home watching some of this, this morning. And my wife turned to me—you know Narda Zacchino, a journalist, cares a lot about it—and she says well, why don’t they call for a reversal of Glass-Steagall? Why don’t they call for an increased millionaires tax? She came up with a five point program in a few minutes, and so forth. And aren’t there some common demands—and in Egypt we had some common demands—that we could rally around at this time, that would give it greater clarity?

Chris Hedges: Well, I think that groups who support the Occupy movement can make those demands. But I think we have to keep focused. And you know, look, you’ve written a lot on this, on the corporate coup d’etat, on the fact that speculators and criminals have seized our economy and our political system and have no intention of letting go. And we can supplicate, we can make demands; of course, that’s just what they want. But unless these people are held accountable for the crimes that they have committed, and prevented from carrying out further criminal acts; unless there is some kind of accountability and restitution to the American public; then specific demands don’t matter. And I think that the clarity of the movement is that it recognizes that our political system doesn’t work, that there is no way in this country to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, and that if we don’t reverse that situation we will be radically reconfigured into a neo-feudalistic state. And we’re already very far down that road. So all of those demands are great, and I think they have wide support—certainly they do in New York and Washington—but drawing up a list of demands deflects attention from the main problem, which is of course the corporate coup d’etat.


Square, Site wide
Robert Scheer: And? So what do we do about it? I mean, can we just stay in the parks? I mean, what is the message we—you know, I just read a report that actually, poverty doubled in the suburbs as compared to the urban areas. This is a national problem now; this is no longer concentrated in certain ethnic neighborhoods or racially divided neighborhoods or visible poor. If you go across America—the article centered, it was on the suburbs of Cleveland, have doubled the increase in poverty that Cleveland itself as an urban area has had. And this has happened around the country; you go to a place like Riverside, Calif.; you go to once more prosperous suburbs of south Florida, and so forth. How do we reach these people? They’re not going to pick up and just go to these parks. What is ...

Chris Hedges: I think we’ve reached them. And the groundswell of support for the occupiers is staggering. People are shipping boxes of sleeping bags and tarps and supplies through the UPS box office, which you can find on the Occupy Wall Street website. They are sending money. They are ordering with local restaurants and fast food chains to deliver mostly pizza, but it gets delivered. I think the message is there; I think the message resonates, and we know from the polls that that is correct. The secret of movements is that they grow; you start with candlelight marches, with a few clergy and church members in Leipzig, and you end with half a million people standing in Alexanderplatz in East Berlin.

Now, the secret to bringing down authoritarian regimes that are as corrupt as ours is that the foot soldiers of the elite, i.e. the police, no longer enforce the dictates of a discredited power elite. So once these crowds assume gigantic proportions—and I saw this also in Prague, as well, with the Velvet Revolution, and that discredited elite became terrified and tried to employ mechanisms of overt force—those foot soldiers wouldn’t comply. And at that point, these regimes were finished. Will we reach that point? Absolutely no one knows. But I think that the steady refusal to be baited by the police, and the respect that is shown towards the blue uniform cop—not the guys in the white shirts, who are the supervisors and who are probably even more detested by the blue uniform police than they are by the protesters—is absolutely crucial. And that was something that also took place in East Germany and in Czechoslovakia and was vital in bringing down the power structure, the communist parties in both of those countries.

Robert Scheer: You know, what’s disturbing in this situation are the examples of false consciousness. After all, I mean, these blue uniform police are dependent upon unions; that’s one of the reasons they got decent wages and had the right to organize, which had formerly been denied them, along with most government workers. And what we’re having is these sort of false battles, a place like Oakland, where everybody knows Oakland has suffered enormously because of what the bankers did. Here in Los Angeles, everyone knows. So even the top city officials, the mayor of Los Angeles, city council, the mayor of Oakland, are people who call themselves progressive, who support the demonstrations. They supply, in the case of Los Angeles, bathrooms and electric power and so forth. But at the end of the day, they are sort of under this tremendous pressure to do the bidding of the bankers, because of the way the laws are set up, the way the power works, the way the media, corporate media, functions, you know, describing this disarray and so forth. And it’s really a sad situation of sort of pitting people who probably support these demonstrations against them, I think. I mean, it was sort of a classic ...

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By chacaboy, November 3, 2011 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Though it does seem to affirm that the “vast majority” of your head is empty

Is there a moderator here to focus this conversation away from cheap shots? The
smiley face doesn’t really compensate…this is definitely the low road.

Report this

By Don Schneider, November 3, 2011 at 6:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why do so many hate and fear mongers find their way to progressive sites such as
this to smear their nastiness ?  You would think they would feel more at home
commenting on rt. wing republican venues.

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By ardee, November 3, 2011 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Not so objective observer, November 2 at 2:48 pm

i’ll type slowly so you can keep up.  43% doesn’t make a majority. 

Your comment, as dumb as a post, stated that   it would appear that most of the commenters on this topic either commune only with like minded or totally ignore what the fact that the vast majority of the American public couldn’t care less about this “movement”.

Can you not even keep track of what you yourself post?  I thought not. 43% approval would seem to negate your comment about “the vast majority of Americans”. Though it does seem to affirm that the “vast majority” of your head is empty space…;-)

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, November 2, 2011 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

Interesting the talk in the interview about winning
over the rank and file police officers.

That is important. Police officers and their families
are bankrupted as frequently as anyone else in the
current financial system. 

It’s also important to win over rank and file
journalists.  Most journalists join their profession
because they bought into the myth that free speech
exists in the United States.  The truth is free
speech exists for corporations and their owners, such
as Rupert Murdoch, but journalists have been largely
reduced to the role of heavily censored corporate

The sooner journalists realize the Occupy movement
could benefit their profession the better off the
movement will be.   

objective observer:

Most of the people I know have seen a nuclear
detonation, which means at some rudimentary level
they must understand that our scientists penetrate
and even split the unseen and previously unknown.
Those scientists did not find souls and spirits; they
found subatomic particles.

Likewise, most of the people I know have flown in jets
and seen pictures the Hubble telescope has taken. 
The people know the ancients believed the gods—and
God—were in the clouds.  But the people don’t see
them when they fly in jets.  And when they look at
Hubble pictures, they see the universe, with all its
stars and black holes, not the flawless kingdom of
the Bible. 

And yet these same people still believe when they die
a spirit retaining all their memories and capable of
feeling sensations goes galavanting across the

And they twist themselves into mystical contortions to
convince themselves another dimension exists that is
indeed the heaven of the ancients.

And they believe when they close their eyes and talk
to themselves that the God of the ancients is
listening to their thoughts, and some of them even
believe that when their own thoughts echo back to
them what they are hearing are the words of God. 

And some of these people believe the Occupy movement
is just a bunch of punks and hippies. 

I don’t hold any of it against them.  For I have
learned to live among them and I have compassion for
their unique form of mental retardation, brought on
by a childhood of intellectual abuse, that renders
them incapable of perceiving reality as it actually

Peace out, dude.

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By objective observer, November 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ooo, cranky today, aren’t we Mr/Ms ardee.  this is typical of the left wing of the political spectrum, name calling when one disagrees with you, not being able to compose a coherent response. 

i’ll type slowly so you can keep up.  43% doesn’t make a majority.  the people i interact with are what would be called by civilized folk as “middle Americans”.  you know, common folk.  for the record, i applaud the few objectives put forth by the occupiers, i just don’t believe that they will be achieved with their current method. 

since you have no response except name calling and vile, i will regard this as a symptom of your lower mentality and await other, more thoughtful responses.

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By blogdog, November 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

from the interview, near its closing - “...Exxon Mobile is not going to lavish you…”
of course not, exactly why it took NPR (National Propaganda Radio) 9 days to
start covering OWS

but let’s not stop there - what if Rockefeller, Ford, Soros Foundations,
et al, do lavish you, then what is expected?  e.g.

Appalling Propaganda from Amy Goodman About Libya
Willy Loman - Scott Creighton

Amy Goodman of Democracy NOW! has become one of the most disingenuous
news figures this country has to offer and that’s saying a lot because there are
numbers of them. She is not worthy of your trust, she is not worth of your time,
she is not worthy of your respect… anymore.  Such a sad legacy she now leaves
behind after a long and storied career as a dedicated teller of the truth in spite
of the power aligned against her. For whatever reason, she has become just
another presstitute in service of the globalists who are at this minute still
attacking the people of Libya, still bombing them and their infrastructure, still
laying siege to cities and populations who refuse to surrender to NATO powers, 
and still planning how to dice up the people of Libya’s state assets to hand
them over to their favorite corporate contributors.


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By ardee, November 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

Oh another one crawls out of the woodwork. They all shout ,“because I say so!” in their squeaky little cockroach voices.

objective observer, November 2 at 12:55 pm

in my profession, i talk to a lot of different people throughout the day.

As one might expect of a streetwalker…;-)

  it would appear that most of the commenters on this topic either commune only with like minded or totally ignore what the fact that the vast majority of the American public couldn’t care less about this “movement”.  most of the people i talk to consider these “occupiers” as either slackers or 60’s has beens or wannabes.  until there is some unified message, demand or call to action, this event will simply be an annoyance.

...and there you have it, conclusive proof, not of the relative popularity of the OWS movement but of the sliminess of those who oppose it. Oh cockroach, CBS for one disagrees with your silly little poll. Polling your Johns, by the by, not really authentic.

October 25, 2011 6:30 PM

Poll: 43 percent agree with views of “Occupy Wall Street”

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By Morpheus, November 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

Memo to America: Stop waiting for Democrats and Republicans to save you. It’s bad for your health and your future. Can’t you tell? You have another choice -use it!

Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( )

Enough talk, it’s time to get organized.

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By Dieter Heymann, November 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sorry Mr. Scheer but the overturning of tables by Jesus, if that really happened, had absolutely nothing to do with social justice. For openers, these so-called money “changers” were not money changers but lenders of funds to people who did not have the money to buy a lamb that was to be slaughtered in the Temple at Easter. According to Jewish laws they were not allowed to demand interest although they probably had some ways to circumvent that law. They served a social purpose. Secondly, the so-called overturning was a religious not a social act by Jesus who held that the slaughter of lambs was a heathen and not a Jewish tradition.

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By objective observer, November 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

in my profession, i talk to a lot of different people throughout the day.  it would appear that most of the commenters on this topic either commune only with like minded or totally ignore what the fact that the vast majority of the American public couldn’t care less about this “movement”.  most of the people i talk to consider these “occupiers” as either slackers or 60’s has beens or wannabes.  until there is some unified message, demand or call to action, this event will simply be an annoyance. 

change comes only through the ballot box or the bullet box.  if voted in, the elected quickly become what they campaigned against, and become the problem.  if the latter, those that are calling the loudest for change will lose, since most of them wouldn’t know which end of the gun to point downrange, and are too anti second amendment to learn.

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By gerard, November 2, 2011 at 10:05 am Link to this comment

One thing we all need to understand better is what we mean, more precisely, when we say “they are clueless.”  It is so commonly used for that everybody assumes it has content.  It indicates, but the content is vague:  Whata does “out of it” mean, exactly, “not aware of causing disaster”, “out to lunch”, “care-less” nnd—most important—how do people get that way and what’s the most effective thing to do about it, and how?
  I know these questions seem boring and petty, but the psychology of “cluelessness” is very widely spread, not only among the rich, and in my opinion we need to seriously look into it. Probably we should all start with asking ourselves what we are “clueless” about, and why?

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By felicity, November 2, 2011 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

There are written accounts of Russian elites (to the
manor born types) who literally starved to death in
their houses when the peasants on their estates
rebelled and deserted them during the Russian
Revolution of 1917.

Reminds me of Scarlett’s line in Gone With the Wind,
“I’ll think about that tomorrow” when any threat to
their existence tomorrow is simply unthought of today.

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By prisnersdilema, November 2, 2011 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

While occupying Wall Street don’t forget to occupy Conneticut…

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, November 2, 2011 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

“The hero of independent media…Bob Scheer.”
—Chris Hedges

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, November 2, 2011 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

This is an awesome interview. I recommend everyone
listen to it. Thank you, Truthdig, for posting it.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, November 2, 2011 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

Thomas Friedman is a walking conflict of interest.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, November 2, 2011 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

“A lot of them are just stupid.” —Chris Hedges

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By D.R. Zing, November 2, 2011 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

Hell yes!  Occupy the newsroom.

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By DonMidwest, November 2, 2011 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

An excellent summary of the class struggle that we are going through and the importance of OWS.

I worked to get Robert Scheer elected to congress and went door to door in the 1960’s in Oakland. I well recall the Oakland police turning us back in the anti war march of Oct 15, 1965.

These days, every system is broken down. The problems our country faces are systemic and have not been addressed by the political class nor of course the corporations who have been carrying out the Corporate cout d’ etat.

I sent this article out to my friends.

I live in the Columbus OH area these days and sent it to the local democratic club. They have been focused on stopping Gov Kasik and not taken the step beyond the democratic party as advocated in this interview.

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By ardee, November 2, 2011 at 5:50 am Link to this comment

Perhaps the most significant and in-depth discussion I have read in my two plus years here at TD.

This is worth, not only a read, but a re-read and some real thoughtful consideration of the several points made. Further it certainly shines the bright white light of truth and balance on the insinuations and clumsy efforts of the twin pillars of propaganda here; Ozark Michael and IMax, in their efforts to discredit OWS. That this need to slander is present shows plainly how important this movement really is and both infers a status on it and makes one wonder where we will go from here.

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, November 2, 2011 at 12:31 am Link to this comment

“If you have a very large crowd shouting outside your
building, there might not be room for a safety net if
you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.”

Lemony Snicket

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By gerard, November 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

Wow!  A very cogent and thorough summary of where we’re at and what a lot of us are about, all put forth through airing the personal views and wide experiences of Scheer and Hedges.  I’m very glad to know more about where they are coming from and what they think our chances are. Hang in there, guys, and keep looking and listening, publishing and talking.

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