June 20, 2013
Robert Scheer and Chris Hedges on Class Struggle
Posted on Nov 1, 2011
Chris Hedges: Oh, yeah, of course. I mean, Thomas Friedman becomes a kind of poster child for it, but it doesn’t matter; I mean, they all run in the same circle. That’s how you get news celebrities like Katie Couric pulling down salaries of $15 million. Katie Couric couldn’t write a story on deadline if she put a gun to her head. So yeah, it’s ... [laughs] I mean, I wrote a whole book on it. I mean, all of the pillars of a democracy and liberal institutions—I don’t mean that in an ideological sense, but institutions that once gave a voice to those outside the power elite, and made possible incremental or piecemeal reform, have been completely corrupted and bought off, including public education. I mean, look at what’s happened to Berkeley. So, yeah. And I think when we talk about a corporate coup ... it’s not incorrect, that every major system of power is either beholden to or wholly controlled by the corporate state—including, of course, our judiciary, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate interests.
Robert Scheer: Let me ask you a personal question, and then I’ll turn it over to Alan Minsky here at KPFK. I do want to remind people that you’ve agreed to be at a teach-in that they’re going to have at Occupy L.A. I’m going to be speaking there, Robert Reich is speaking there, it’s the weekend of Nov. 4 and 5. And so we’ll have great occasion to hear from you.
Chris Hedges: I might be in jail on the 4th, but that’s all right.
Robert Scheer: Well, then, that would be a legitimate ...
Robert Scheer: Oh, OK ... I’m sure the people at Occupy L.A. will forgive you for not being able to be there. But I want to ask you a personal question, because we’ve been running your—and we’re going to, by the way, be using your book as a way of promoting contributions to KPFK within this hour. And you know, I have been assuming this role; I don’t edit anything you write, but I’m the editor of Truthdig, and people constantly are asking me well, what drives Chris Hedges? And so forth. And I, in thinking about that, I think you are drawing upon an incredible wellspring of idealism and commitment and social justice in America. And in terms of your father’s example, and the tradition; we’ve had a lot of blather about religion, condemnation of religion, celebration of religion, one nation under God and everything. And it seems to me one of the clearer messages that comes from the three major religions certainly is a notion of social justice that condemns usury, Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers. And that whole message, which Martin Luther King drew upon, has been lost. And it seems to me you, having gone to divinity school, being the son of a preacher, you’ve revived that maybe more visibly than anyone else. Do you accept that, that you are kind of a prophetic voice in that respect, drawing on that tradition?
Chris Hedges: Well, I don’t like the word prophetic, but I certainly come out of that tradition. And you know, I was trained as a preacher, and in many ways I act and write like one. I mean, the tragedy for me is that—and this isn’t just Christian—but I mean, look at the great tradition of social justice within Judaism, the alliances between major figures like Rabbi Abraham Heschel and others, and the civil rights movement. That unfortunately we saw a corruption of these monotheistic religions which have ended with this grotesque distortion, whether it’s with the Christian right and Jesus comes to make you rich and bless dropping iron fragmentation bombs all over the Middle East, or the state of Israel is elevated, you know, sanctified in whatever—it’s making a mockery of the great prophets, Amos, Isaiah. I think that unfortunately, we were probably always a minority within the church, but I think the chatter and noise of—I would call them heretics, these people who have hijacked religion for very nefarious ends, have just shut out, coupled with the fact that the liberal church itself has become sort of anemic and weak, and you know, lost membership. But it think that that kind of moral imperative—and it doesn’t have to be religious; I mean, Camus for me is a great figure—but that moral imperative to do right, to fight for justice whether you win or not, is something that is needed within every society to counterbalance all of those elements that are built around self-interest and self-gain.
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