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Real Hope Is About Doing Something

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Posted on Nov 29, 2010
AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Lt. Dan Choi, center, and other demonstrators stand at the White House fence after handcuffing themselves to it Nov. 15 during a protest for gay rights. The group demanded that President Barack Obama keep his promise to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

By Chris Hedges

On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail. Hope, from now on, will look like this.

Hope is not trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.

Hope does not mean we will halt the firing in Afghanistan of the next Hellfire missile, whose explosive blast sucks the oxygen out of the air and leaves the dead, including children, scattered like limp rag dolls on the ground. Hope does not mean we will reform Wall Street swindlers and speculators, or halt the pillaging of our economy as we print $600 billion in new money with the desperation of all collapsing states. Hope does not mean that the nation’s ministers and rabbis, who know the words of the great Hebrew prophets, will leave their houses of worship to practice the religious beliefs they preach. Most clerics like fine, abstract words about justice and full collection plates, but know little of real hope.

Hope knows that unless we physically defy government control we are complicit in the violence of the state. All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice. If the enemies of hope are finally victorious, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are in times like these the thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.

Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and the more potent hope becomes. Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope does not believe in force. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope’s power and it is why it can never finally be defeated. Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves. Hope does not separate us from them. Hope sees in our enemy our own face. 

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Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful. Hope is what the corporate state, which saturates our airwaves with lies, seeks to obliterate. Hope is what our corporate overlords are determined to crush. Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don’t resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations to think. No. Above all do not think. Obey.

W.H. Auden wrote:

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The powerful do not understand hope. Hope is not part of their vocabulary. They speak in the cold, dead words of national security, global markets, electoral strategy, staying on message, image and money. The powerful protect their own. They divide the world into the damned and the blessed, the patriots and the enemy, the rich and the poor. They insist that extinguishing lives in foreign wars or in our prison complexes is a form of human progress. They cannot see that the suffering of a child in Gaza or a child in the blighted pockets of Washington, D.C., diminishes and impoverishes us all. They are deaf, dumb and blind to hope. Those addicted to power, blinded by self-exaltation, cannot decipher the words of hope any more than most of us can decipher hieroglyphics. Hope to Wall Street bankers and politicians, to the masters of war and commerce, is not practical. It is gibberish. It means nothing.

I cannot promise you fine weather or an easy time. I cannot assure you that thousands will converge on Lafayette Park in solidarity. I cannot pretend that being handcuffed is pleasant. I cannot say that anyone in Congress or the White House, anyone in the boardrooms of the corporations that cannibalize our nation, will be moved by pity to act for the common good. I cannot tell you these wars will end or the hungry will be fed. I cannot say that justice will roll down like a mighty wave and restore our nation to sanity. But I can say this: If we resist and carry out acts, no matter how small, of open defiance, hope will not be extinguished. If all we accomplish is to assure a grieving mother in Baghdad or Afghanistan, a young man or woman crippled physically and emotionally by the hammer blows of war, that he or she is not alone, our resistance will be successful. Hope cannot be sustained if it cannot be seen.

Any act of rebellion, any physical defiance of those who make war, of those who perpetuate corporate greed and are responsible for state crimes, anything that seeks to draw the good to the good, nourishes our souls and holds out the possibility that we can touch and transform the souls of others. Hope affirms that which we must affirm. And every act that imparts hope is a victory in itself.

Also from Auden:

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

 

Chris Hedges is a Truthdig columnist and a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.” More information on the Dec. 16 protest can be found at www.stopthesewars.org.


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By L2k4fc, November 30, 2010 at 12:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, if you were in a jacuzzi that was handcuffed to the fence; and said jacuzzi came with a few topless strippers then you could count me in.  Actually that might work out better because after being booked you would probably be elected to local office and then you could work your way up from the inside to really make some changes.  All kidding aside I wish I could be there.  Good luck to you and the others.

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By kulu, November 29, 2010 at 11:56 pm Link to this comment

Thomas Dooley,

You can do it for me too and others like me who would like to take a stand.

And you can do it for those among us who know things are falling apart around us but passively shrug their shoulders and ignore the problem.

I hope people will be climbing over themselves to lock themselves onto that fence.

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By RL, November 29, 2010 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why not resist in an equally soul-nourishing way that also has more of an impact than just being symbolic, like sitting in the middle of some streets to stop traffic?  Why must hope only be soul-nourishing and nothing else?

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By gerard, November 29, 2010 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment

Thomas Dooley:  Of course you are doing it for yourself.  But please remember you are doing it for tens of thousands of others all over the world who won’t or can’t be there.  I’m one of them.  Thank you.

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By FRTothus, November 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm Link to this comment

Mass demonstrations, especially those that shut down
the system, are dismissed as theatre by those in
power, because it is not and cannot be sustained,
else, it is used as an excuse to beat us up and jail
us, justifying their police / security state.

However, the demonstrations ought not be viewed
primarily as a petition for the redress of grievances
(as if they care what we think or want), but rather a
way to let ourselves know how mighty we are, who
among us is not afraid to come out and stand up for
something.  I found it terribly encouraging that
millions around the world protested the US web of
lies for war - BEFORE the war began.  An historical
first, I believe.  If national poll results were not
censored, we would already know how far to the left
the average American is to what the US government is
doing, but we are not treated as adults.  We would
already know our numbers.  The gatherings would then
be more a show of solidarity.

(Here’s a suggestion, something I do.  At the
supermarket, I do not use the cashier-less machines,
and I let the store manager know that I do not and
that I will not, because it puts a cashier, a local
person, out of a job.  I tell the manager that I
would very much like to see the things removed
entirely from the store.  I would like to tell the
people who are using them to show a little solidarity
and use a human cashier, but I’m certain the storm
troopers would be called.  Private property, don’t
you know.) 

We can fill the jails to overflowing as has been done
before to stop the immorality and injustice that
states and empires pursue as policy.  We can take all
the suggestions given here and elsewhere which serve
to disconnect us from the exploitations as much as
possible, to render the state’s influence moot.  I
myself suggest we flood the IWW with membership dues,
establish our own strike and pension fund, do what
“our” government fails (by design) to do for Labor.

PS. Diana Brooks, I have a room available in the
upper mid-west.

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By Thomas Dooley, November 29, 2010 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

Hedges’ act appears pointless, doesn’t it? It doesn’t seem like it will accomplish anything. It won’t work.

So what?

It’s not meant to work. If a child suddenly dies carrying on crying and mourning doesn’t work either. It won’t bring the child back to life. I suppose a person could criticize the parents by telling them they aren’t accomplishing a thing with their tears and mournful acting out. They aren’t affecting the outcome. So why do it?

Actions like this have little to do with outcomes or those in power. We do these things for ourselves not for them. We are human beings and we must do human things.

Look, if nothing we do can have any effect on outcomes then it doesn’t matter what we do. We can do whatever we want. It doesn’t matter. Since we can’t affect outcomes it doesn’t make rational sense to stick to strategies towards that end. The hell with it. It isn’t like we will lose some illusory bargaining chip and with it the chance to change things for the better.

I plan to go to Washington and help Chris gum up the works. Not for Chris. I’m going for me. I don’t foresee it working, but gumming up the works is the right thing to do and I’m going to do it, for me.

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By Cris, November 29, 2010 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When we act like we are indeed “We, the People,” there is hope; hope to renew our sovereignty that created our republic, hope that we can act on our democratic ideals, hope to model what taking back our government really looks like. 

I’m standing there with you all in spirit because I cannot now travel to D.C.  With a little notice, I’ll be there the next time!

It’s time for all of us to shut down the senate and house offices in Washington, D.C. and back at home until the wars end, and we cease threatening Life with nuclear weapons and the war economy.  It’s time to renew our hope in ourselves.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, November 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment

Fat Freddy

LOVED the video.

OK, so if we are done discussing how many angels dance on a pinhead or which
dead revolutionary leader is correct, then WHAT do we do?

Can we start to have THAT discussion?

For the record, I will be at the anti-war demo in Minneapolis Dec 17th.
Mirroring this event at the White House. However, I will only be singing anti-
war Christmas Carols.

Apparently, I am far too outspoken in my opposition to the pro-war, corporate
corrupted two party system to be “allowed” to speak at them.

Preach On Chris Hedges.. Maybe some day people will stop asking Congress to
“develop a spine” and decide to ask the right persons that question.

Themselves.

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By rico, suave, November 29, 2010 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment

If the progressive agenda can be satisfied by chaining itself to the White House fence and spending a night in the slammer- I’m all for it!

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By Fat Freddy, November 29, 2010 at 7:12 pm Link to this comment

Now, this is the most awesome video I have seen in a long time. A fan runs on the field at a soccer game. The security/police (I’m not sure what they are, but they look like cops, to me) chase him down, and start beating him, while holding him down. Then, a bunch of fans and players run on the field and start beating the shit out of the police. If this doesn’t lift your spirits, you are fucking dead, and deserve to be controlled by the State.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws-mn3M23dc&feature=player_embedded#!

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By Amon Drool, November 29, 2010 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

i really don’t have anything to say here…just feel the need to chime in with others and say ‘good on ya, chris hedges’

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By REDHORSE, November 29, 2010 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

My best insight from comments on TRUTHDIG and other sources is that FAT FREDS correct. It’s about the $$$$$. It was the money thugs that crashed us and their continued looting is holding us in thrall. They run things, not Obama or Congress.

    I’m not the brightest on finance but I’m pretty sure you can’t keep printing and distributing $$$$$ without collateral to back it. I’ve come to believe that our economy IS based on debt. Hence, it’s an airball and simply a matter of time.

    Guess who’s gonna be left holding the bag?

    All this high emotional patriotic drama around making Obama or Congress wake up is a fools dance. If they gave a @%#k about America we wouldn’t be in the shape we’re in. They sold us and themselves out long ago. Baboonus Washingtonus is a dancing monkey on a chain. FREDS correct. Direct action against, and demand for transparency in, the dealings of the Federal Reserve and Wall Street, is where our anger should land, and land hard. For all practical moral purpose Washington only exists as a firewall to protect corruption. Obama is a “cooler” sent to sweet talk you into giving the “Gold Sacks” boys a pass.

    I say: $#%k THEM!!

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By Fat Freddy, November 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

felicity

Speaking of fire, wasn’t there someone who set himself on fire in protest of the Vietnam War in the parking lot of the Pentagon, or something? I vaguely remember something about that. I suppose I could look it up, but I’m too lazy, right now.


JDmysticDJ,

If you are ready to face 2 years in prison, you are a better man than I. I spent 6 months on the 5th floor of Camden County Jail with parole violators. That’s not something I would wish on my worst enemy. Camden County is notoriously one of the worst jails in the country. Worse than Rikers. I’ve seen dudes smashed in the head with mop ringers and stabbed with pens, for stupid shit, like spending too much time on the phone. Being locked down with four Mother Fuckers in a cell that was meant for one, is not pleasant. I took the “easy” way out. The Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) AKA: “The Inmate Sucker Program”. No more second chances for me. Only clean livin’, brother. Like I said, I’ll stick to counter-economics.

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/probsup/isp_intro.htm

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By balkas, November 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

u.s constitution, quran, bible, torah, talmud cover ALL BASES. thus, by selecting
passages from any of these inanimate [ergo, 100% harmless or non-protective]
writs one cld justify any action, thought, idea etc.
all of these harmless and dead writs- cannot even pinch let alone kill people. 
warfare, serfdom or as now ownership of people, etc., is justified by the living
people and not by dead ones or by the harmless paper with ink on them.

it’s the living that solely cause living hell on earth. meanings are not in books or
even words—meanings are in people!

it is the living people supported by living cia and fbi agents, generals which cause
hell on earth or parts of it! tnx

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By ElkoJohn, November 29, 2010 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment

Yes, civil, (and sometimes self-defense) disobedience
in the tradition of Bill Haywood, Cesar Chavez, Mario Savio, Malik Shabazz
(Malcolm X), Martin Luther King, Mary ‘‘Mother’’ Jones, Alice Paul et.al.
Rebellion not revolution (Howard Zinn)

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By de profundis clamavi, November 29, 2010 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

Hope is also the heroine of Percy Shelley’s poem “The Mask of Anarchy”, which was written in protest against the “Peterloo” massacre of striking English workers in 1819.

Hope’s invocation:

‘Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.’

Here’s where you can read the complete poem:

http://www.artofeurope.com/shelley/she5.htm

And here’s an article about the Peterloo massacre.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterloo_Massacre

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By de profundis clamavi, November 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

Since I live in Massachusetts, I thought Senator Kerry might be interested in the demonstration and since I’m his constituent, I just sent him the following letter.

* * * * *

Dear Senator Kerry,

I call your attention to the demonstration planned by veterans against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to be held on December 16th in Lafayette Park.

Read about it here.

http://www.stopthesewars.org/

and here

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/hope_in_the_21st_century_20101128

You may be acquainted with some of the people participating in the demonstration, but my guess is you haven’t seen or communicated with any of them for a very long time, since you decided to pursue a secure, respectable and decently-paid career in establishment Democratic party politics.

I thought perhaps you might wish to make an appearance at the demonstration. You might renew old friendships and stand up for something you once sincerely believed in, if you can remember what that was, or how it feels to sincerely believe in something.

No? I didn’t think so.

Sincerely,

[De Profundis Clamavi]

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By mitchum22, November 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges,

You’re one of the few inspirations left in this cesspool of a society. (As today Big Bad Barry finally stands up!—against Federal workers.)

But another god-damned protest march?? Isn’t that the very thing you have so brilliantly articulated against these past few years? I also know you have written that anything beyond that would be used as an excuse to turn our current police state into something far worse. I disagree. The Blankfeins, Dimons, Macks, Lewises, Paulsens, Greenspans et. al. are as cowardly physically as they are morally deranged. A couple of explosions in their general direction would do wonders.

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By Theodore Hartman, November 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So you might miss out on a few cocktail parties with liberals. Who cares? Finally somebody is willing to actually take on the war machine and the corporateacracy. The time for words is over. Good luck Chris

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By mojo, November 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By Diana Brooks, November 29 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Entropy2 has a point but I still feel like a coward. I am homeless, a nurse fired and censored for revealing patient neglect that lead to deaths and amputations enabled by a corrupt healthcare system. I feel my mentally challenged son was sentence in a homeland security prison 4 ten years because of my ASSOCIATIONS-yes I am a coward NOW because they can destroy your life and family…but its bad to force a coward in the corner…you never know their breaking point…a coward can be true asset-HOPE is still alive here…

Diana . . . You are not a coward; you are courageous. It is not a HEALTHCARE System.  It is rather, a “Sick Care System”. The pharmaceuticals are a huge part of Corporate Greed ubiquitous in the so-called ‘healthcare system’.  It is to the advantage of those who control these multinationals which are also integrated into the omnipresent Agribusiness that actually encourages the population to ingest unhealthy “foods”.  The projections are that by the year 2020 half of the U.S. population will have diabetes or will be pre-diabetic.  This will be at a cost of three trillion dollars.  Imagine the profits that the ‘health-care’ system will enjoy !

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By balkas, November 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

hope cannot exist nor will ever exist sans trust; which, to me, represents, one of
the most valuable panhuman traits.
and in the ocean of lies deposited by sacerdotal and ‘noble’ [mafia] people over
the last 10 k yrs, trust had been much damaged yet extant to some degree in
some facets of living; unfortunately also trusting constitution and supremacistic
governance.
even as late a 200 yrs ago, trust existed unharmed in some high civilizations
such as mohawk, hayda, hopi, salish.

and trust cannot exists without tutoring-guidance. this is what indigenes had.
they did not have armies, spies, laws, taxes, judges, govts, senate, ‘schooling’
[dehumanizing kids], whores, ‘experts’ sowing confusion, ‘stars’, persona cults,
cults, priests, jails, columnists to tell u what is not going on, etc.

the task before us is how to force our rulers to behave in a more honest way;
earning our trust once again. all they have to do is act as guides and tutors.
fat chance that wld ever happen if one solely protests, marches, pleads with
mafia!
one needs counter ‘mafia’ to defeat present mafia! there is no other way—at
least—in u.s.

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By Jack Kerouac, November 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

Some comments under this article criticized association of proposed action with photo showing similar action to defend gay’s right to join the army openly with dignity. I remember also that Auden was associated, in his living time, with homosexual preferences. Nevertheless, the words speaks for themselves, and a poet rarely had done so well in turning « negation and despair » into more than dialectic contrary : affirmative action multiplying hope.

Yes, hope, but very differently than terrorism, is the weapon of the weak. Weak they feel when they are alone, in fact they are millions. Myriads have to learn their parenthood in same heart and souls calling for justice. Big difference is that hope refuses violence. Pacific resistance to unilateral power shows pure hearts with bare hands that appeal to masses about to unify in future majority.

The most courageous and wise battle is against war itself. Much more rarely than pretended there is a position, situation and standing for Just war. America, to name just that superpower (applies to any other religion or party), was not in that situation since WWII. In Korea, at least arguably, they came to defend a dictatorship against another dictatorship. In Vietnam, because of cold war and strategy of containment against the so-called « Communist » side, wicked maneuvers and sly attacks tried to wipe out aspiration of a very courageous people.

Irak and Afghanistan are still more difficult engagements to justify. Sheer petroleum interests’, support to corrupt drug smugglers and encirclement of Iran show very evidently behind so-called virtuous protests about freedom and them-mockracy.

Hope is for the weak, but like aspiration for love, this nonviolent pursuit for justice is inspiration for every heart and soul that had not completely lost their ways into this bleak world of powers at war. With love, hope is the strongest might yet to rise to save the world. We have to believe… and, in fact, find each our own ways to act.

Amen.

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By RayLan, November 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

@Cyr “Hope is the vicious cruelty liberals offer, in place of the good they could provide… if they ever wanted to.”
Whoever you think the ‘liberals’ are and what you count as good.  The Dems are not liberal and it sounds like the ‘goods’ you are speaking of are more of the same - corporate capitalist goods - or I should say evil.

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By radson, November 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

So Chris you have decided to subject yourself to the lawlessness of Elitist Democracy and afterwards claim what?That you are a true Dissident ,throwing the Zinn’ist’ wrench into the apparatus of societal and
moral subjugation .Should we give you a medal afterwards ? There is a year that comes to my mind at the moment ;and that year is 1944 ;why you may ask :is relevant .Have you come to the realization or perhaps
the conclusion that the ‘system’ has become such a lie that deeds must replace words.In this regard I understand your choice and therefore your stance .I had posted a question to the TDers months ago and I will
repost it once again here .The question was threefold ,it goes as follows .

1 Where did you come from
2 What are you doing here
3 Where are you going when you leave

Now the first and last questions are unanswerable but the second question is and everyone on this Planet has that right ,the right to be a person ,a member of this Earth , not some kind of propaganda invested
robot ,basically a tool of fools . Therefore I respect your decision and ‘Hope ’ it has a positive effect even though Hope in itself may prove to be a fools Hope ,yet Hope remains and always will.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-dOQjie6pQ

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By gerard, November 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges, Dnniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern:  I stand with you, though I am not able to be there.  I would if I could.  Tens of Thousands of others all over the world are standing with you also.

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By Mr. T, November 29, 2010 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hope, real hope, is getting a decent job and moving to another country.  From there you can be a voice of reason among people who may actually listen.  You can watch relatively sane news and be among a population that understands politics, protest and issues.  You can maybe see a dentist, or go to a doctor for the first time in 15 years.  You can begin to think about things like education for your kids, or retirement.

Throwing your life away on this rotting corpse of a country is a lost cause.  It’s going down.  You only get one life to live, and half the people in this country don’t even deserve saving.  They just do everything they can to make things worse.  They thrive in ignorance, like a sunflower in sunshine. 

A lot of people left Nazi Germany rather than stay and fight a hopeless battle.  Today they are looked at as heroes, merely for having the will to get out.

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By felicity, November 29, 2010 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

Well, small bands of sign-carrying protesters regularly
gathered outside that fence during the Nam
War/Johnson/Nixon era. I don’t know about Johnson, but
Nixon went ballistic (short journey for sure) demanding
that his underlings ‘remove’ them immediately. 

Of course removing them was a tad unconstitutional so
they kept appearing regularly. We’ve really got to
light a fire under Obama - maybe people chained to a
fence in full view of the Oval Office will do it. More
power to Mr. Hedges.

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By M L, November 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, Thank you for your courage and empowerment to stand on your own ground discover your own voice and make your own choices. But the American people have been beat down so long that many of them feel “powerless” to speak out and stand up against the forces of corrupt power and authority.

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By JDmysticDJ, November 29, 2010 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment

Many give credence to Hedges’ talk, but not to his walk. It may be that the option is only considerable by the “Liberal, Class,” the unemployed, or the totally committed. There are many excuses for not being hopeful about hope inducing actions. Hedges isn’t asking that anyone give their live life for the cause of freedom, justice, and against the insane folly and cruelty, but it appears he is asking too much, of most.

I would have never guessed that Fat Freddy is subject to “Three strikes and your out.” Maybe he could direct the attack on the Federal Reserve from a distant hill, like an old poltroon. Others advocate for an ineffectual unwieldy consumerism in lieu of real action. Oh well, maybe “Tiny Acts of Rebellion” have some negligible merit. I’d take a vow of poverty, but I did that years ago, and I’ve been very successful at achieving that goal.

Like thebeerdoctor I’ve been charged with the crime of civil disobedience, facing a two year sentence in federal prison, but I’m ready for more, If only there were the opportunity in my locale. I suppose I could protest by myself, I’ve done that before too. During the May Day Protests in 1971, I didn’t impress anyone in the small Eastern Oregon Cowboy town where I found a job, except for the incarcerated ne’re- do- wells who cheered my rockin’ blues harp. Perhaps my mere existence in that cowboy town was my greatest protest. Scuffling with cowboys and rednecks who failed in their attempts to intimidate this Hippy Laborer may have served the cause better. I’ve experienced some heavy maturing since those days, I still have the fire in my blood, but I’d like to think my maturing has led me to a better controlled fire.

By David J. Cyr, November 29 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

Your tautological hate filled accusations directed at liberals is counter productive and stupid. We need coalition and consensus in order to actually be effective, not counter productive divisiveness. Some might say you are a tautological, “One trick pony,” but you remind me more of a child’s hobby horse, (I sometimes think that some were indoctrinated against liberals at an early age and carried that indoctrination with them into their radicalism.)

At some time in the future, my only option may be voting for a losing Progressive Third Party, or voting for a losing Democratic Party. I’ll vote for the Losing Progressive Third Party, while a near omnipotent Citizens United backed Republican Party continues to serve its corporate masters, impoverishing the American people and continuing horrific foreign policies, with no “Hope” of change.

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By RayLan, November 29, 2010 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

At least Hedges has silenced the sappy self-righteous indignation (read denial) of those who dismiss his message as being ‘negative’ without any ‘positive’ solutions (which in some confused way makes it false?).

It is a sad commentary when the kind of political protest which sustains a true democracy is relegated to a right wing lunatic fringe called the Tea Party who are fighting to protect the very corporate capitalist ideology that is enslaving them.

The vital protest movements of the sixties and seventies which were the life-blood of the liberal class are gone, as is indeed the authentic liberal class. Hedges I believe is trying to resuscitate it.

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By tussah, November 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Any wave that you begin on December 16th will build…the time has come.

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By srelf, November 29, 2010 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

chaztv, November 29 at 3:12 pm :

Excellent!

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By reynolds, November 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

i to my perils of cheat and charmer
came clad in armor by stars benign
hope lies to mortals and most believe her
but man’s deceiver was never mine

the thoughts of others were light and fleeting
of lovers meeting or luck or fame
mine were of trouble and mine were steady
so i was ready when trouble came

a.e. housman

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By Bob Wiley, November 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges’ articles are evolving, so are his actions. Every independent action, freely chosen, further awakens the actor. At some point enough independent actions and unexpected acts of resistance would be called an insurrection. The success of this insurrection wouldn’t depend on the size of the crowd nor extent of the media coverage, but on its usefulness, through a million tiny awakenings, in bringing corporate capitalism to a grinding halt.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, November 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with thebeerdoctor that protest is useless, but protest or surrender are not the only options.

http://www.cluborlov.blogspot.com/2010/11/americathe-grim-truth.html

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By Anarcissie, November 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

<blockquote>
FTW, November 29 at 4:26 pm:

... I have the time to read Hedges every week but not the time or the fortitude to bear personal witness to the truth of what he says…

Start where you are and do what you can.  A tiny thing may make a great difference.

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By grumpynyker, November 29, 2010 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why do you fake leftists/progressives/liberals always schedule these bullsh* “protests” when the bought off members of Congress aren’t in town?!  Just admit that yall like system as it is because hasn’t negatively affected you mofos yet.

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By Terry Burke, November 29, 2010 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for writing on hope!  I was arrested with the Hyatt Housekeepers in Boston last July.  Better late than never.

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By elisalouisa, November 29, 2010 at 11:33 am Link to this comment

Rather than a feather in your cap as one poster suggests, this action is the result of a thorn in your heart. Many of your followers are also acquainted with such a brithmark thus making them more sensitive to the injustice that permeates the world. With hearts made of stone, the corporate powers have another agenda, one that has a stranglehold on this country. Low key protests will be tolerated as government oppostion may incite more people into action. If such protests do become a threat to the powers that be all hell will break loose. Please Mr. Hedges do not take any undue risks, you are much needed as one of the few gifted writers challenging MSM.

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By FTW, November 29, 2010 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

I have succumbed to fear,apathy and despair…I will not be chaining myself to the fence at the Executive Mansion with Hedges and his cohort…I’m too old,too lazy,too busy with work…I have the time to read Hedges every week but not the time or the fortitude to bear personal witness to the truth of what he says…

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By Orbis Unum, November 29, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Once upon a time, I was given sage old advice, which is apropos to Mr. Hedges present article touching upon action so to speak. This advice, not to play in streets because your more than likely going to get run-over.

Instead of ignoring this sage advice and acting like a spoiled child, I put away child like behavior out of respect for my Elders and put my nose to the grindstone of various endeavors. In hopes of gainful livelihood and service to my Brethren. One endeavor was the study of the ‘isms’ and ‘ologies’ associated with societies and their approach to creating Law, for better ordering of their societies.

Over the coarse of many years, while working within society via socially accepted behavioral framework, I received from their (e.g., the creators of this society) educational centers and role models (politicians, law enforcement officers, preachers, attorneys, etc…) found therein, I began questioning the established better ordering of their socially accepted practices from a standpoint of my private studies aforementioned.

I came to question the very nature of the defined definition of what the term, ‘State’ meant and the definition currently espoused by every geopolitical body of governance, pandering ideas of what the true ‘State’ was or was not.

I did this, only because from my studies aforementioned, revealed a dichotomy of facts between the archaic definition and the current definition, seem to be an illogical aberration or variance of the true organic natural State-In-Fact.

Generally, I would not have given such aberrations any deep seated desire to investigate further, excepting the fact, that the current definition of the ‘State’ only associated such ideas with territorial boundary’s (mostly imaginary with no physical or visible evidence thereof) associated with what is commonly referred to as dirt.  While the more ancient definition of the ‘State’ could only be found, in what some would term archaic manuscripts touching upon the laws of nature and moral (self-aware) entities.

But the more I contemplated the matter of the obvious enormous chasm that existed between the ancient definition and it’s counter modern application, I began to see or believe that these archaic manuscripts were more than likely kept arcane for various reasons.

And the more I contemplated the whys and what fores, it became very self-evident, that there was a very old and concerted scheme afoot, which evinces a most deliberate effort by Arbitrary Powers and their Unregulated Monopolies to keep such knowledge out of the hands of the young impressionable developing minds via their educational centers used to foster socially acceptable studies.

All in all, all that I’m trying to say is, the street is not the place to foster solutions for the wise. Rather the wise seek out the pearls of wisdom to establish order, based on orderly reasoning. Those who believe other-wise, are free to be used a fodder by the foot soldiers of deceit.

Having said all this, I will agree that if anyone can prove to me, that they have exercised the Science of Right Reason and come to the table to bargain for their rights to enter the society of Man, and have been trampled upon by Arbitrary Powers and/or their Unregulated Monopolies, then most assuredly, reason must find recourse where recourse may be found within reasonable perimeters.

In support of the aforementioned, one only has to avail themselves of these facts by reading the “4” declarations posted by the SEA at the web link: http://www.scribd.com/rahyah.

We honorably await any actual and provable evidence to prove the premises presented in-particular to the established facts raised with the declaration dealing with the Four Freedoms on pages 13-15 to prove otherwise.

My best to all who post herein, for the purpose of proposing hopeful enlightenment or garnering enlightenment, while proffering Good Will in the interest of seeking Universal Peace with All Walks of Life!

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By Alfred LaMotte, November 29, 2010 at 11:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A romantic gesture, like chaining yourself to the white house fence, may give hope to a handful of aging yuppies, but is hardly hope for the working man. If you are serious about what you say, Chris, then start a real revolution and be ready to spill blood instead of ink. Otherwise, join the rest of us in little daily sacraments of friendship and care that don’t get covered by the media.

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By Midway54, November 29, 2010 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind

Right you are.  I have contended for some time now that we are in the grip of a Gilded Age II Plutocracy, whose members own and control not just the military-industrial-complex but also the supine members of the Federal and State legislatures so dependent on donations for reelection campaigns. The plutocrats, in their war against the struggling middle class prosecuted through their Operation Phornicate,have all but eliminated labor unions and successfully attacked through media and think tank shills all forms of dissent as the equivalent of treason. Almost monthly the huge income gap becomes greater in our slide toward becoming a second rate Country.

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By Diana Brooks, November 29, 2010 at 10:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Entropy2 has a point but I still feel like a coward. I am homeless, a nurse fired and censored for revealing patient neglect that lead to deaths and amputations enabled by a corrupt healthcare system. I feel my mentally challenged son was sentence in a homeland security prison 4 ten years because of my ASSOCIATIONS-yes I am a coward NOW because they can destroy your life and family…but its bad to force a coward in the corner…you never know their breaking point…a coward can be true asset-HOPE is still alive here…

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By entropy2, November 29, 2010 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges—It’s great to see you talking about hope. We need it. However, the method you have chosen to oppose the system is one that, by and large, is reserved for an elite few who can afford to step away from the grindstone for long enough to protest, can afford lawyers to get them out of jail and can afford to be blackballed from employment in the corporate-state machine for publicly airing their views. These are real risks, compared to a night in jail photo-op for people of means.

Not to denigrate your effort, Mr. Hedges, but the rest of us would be clubbed, gassed, tazed, incarcerated, fired and spit out on the trash heap if we tried the same. The feather in your cap would be a permanent millstone around our necks.

Ultimately, any hope for the masses to escape our serfdom is going to be born and nurtured among ourselves. We must build functional and practical relationships of trust and cooperation that transcend ethnic, cultural and traditional political boundaries. Pro-or anti-choice, gay or straight, hunter or vegan, religious, athiest or anything in between, working people are being crushed by the corporate-government hegemony. We can’t feed ourselves, house ourselves, clothe ourselves, drive across town, or so much as get a glass of water without obeying our masters. When we can combine our skills and resources for mutual benefit, providing real-life alternatives outside the hierarchies that use us and discard us like so much trash, THEN the iron grip in which they hold us will be broken.

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By chaztv, November 29, 2010 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

Kudos to you, Mr. Hedges, for saying we must take action and that will mean inconvenience and
sacrifice.

Many have described the current situation as a class war.  If so, it is time for the bottom 90% of Americans by income and wealth to have a say and mount an offense. 

If you believe a message can be sent with a Master Lock and a night in jail, okay, but there’s much that those not going to DC can do and do everyday.

As of now, most Americans are cowed and believe the are helpless to help themselves.

How many of the resentful, we know you’re out there, underclass are taking any simple actions to fight against the greed that is feeding the elite frenzy of oppression?

Have you done anything to “vote with your feet” against the corporate forces making your life
untenable?  For example, are you willing to put down your credit and debit cards which feed 2 – 3.5% of each purchase and over $50 billion dollars a year into Big Banking (http://www.UseCashMovement.org)? 

Have you moved your money, checking and savings, out of the too big to fail banking system and into a local bank or credit union (http://www.MoveYourMoney.org)? 

Is your retirement and/or college fund still “invested” in that casino called Wall Street?  Are they still promising you 8 – 10% returns and handing you a fraction of your original investment back 5, 10 and twenty years later? 

Are you still using electricity, gas and natural gas like there’s no tomorrow?

Are you shopping at retailers and buying products from companies that have out-sourced your jobs, given anonymous donations to influence an election and spent billions of dollars on lobbying “our government” to decimate the middle class and create a permanent poverty class of under paid workers? 

Have you stopped eating at fast and franchise food outlets and restaurants?  And are you, instead,
spending your dollars with local merchants who are part of you community?  You know, human beings.

Do you drive 5 miles to the big box home center when the local hardware store has everything you probably need?  Have you made an effort to buy American made products lately?

If not, when are you going to stop giving your money to a system that sees you, not as a person, but as a sucker.  This isn’t about protectionism or any other ism, it’s about using the market as a weapon to regain a voice in how the system works and to send a message to politicians that aren’t getting from the voting booth.

These are all little acts of economic insurgency.  If we, the 90% of the popular that are now just suckers, did what we can to starve this machine by with holding our participation we will regain significant influence over a badly corrupted system.

If this is a class war few of the 90% at the bottom, few of the unemployed, few of the foreclosed, few of the underemployed and, finally, nearly none of the still employed but over-worked have taken up the battle.

And, by the way, Mr. Herbert, Mr. Krugman, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Scheer, Mr. Olberman, Ms. Maddow and all the other populous pundits, when are you going to start telling people how to use the system to their advantage as described above? Isn’t it time we all sent a rallying cry?

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By David J. Cyr, November 29, 2010 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

QUOTE (Chris Hedges):

“Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and the more potent hope becomes. Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd.”
____________

Hope is the vicious cruelty liberals offer, in place of the good they could provide… if they ever wanted to.

The “progressive” myth that the corporate party’s Democrats are a “lesser evil” has been revealed to be an “historic” contender for the biggest of BIG lies… ever.

In 2006, the aggressive “progressives” got out the vote for Democrats, promising that Conyers would provide impeachments for war criminals… if only more Democrats were elected (for liberals, it’s a high crime to commit war crimes incompetently).

After the tsunami of Democrats washed into Washington, on their many promises of good to come that they always cleverly qualify and never keep, Conyers wouldn’t walk his impeachment talk. No, the “progressive” Democrat, Conyers, protected war criminals… and he himself, Conyers, had peace activists arrested instead.

After the “progressives” got their “historic progress” in 2008, by having a half-black man, Obama, be now able to commit the highest crimes that only white men could commit before, the limits Republicans had placed upon torture were removed; privacy was invaded more; human rights were made more expendable; environmental destruction became “sustainable development”; war was greater privatized and became far more generally acceptable; and a sick system that profits from sickness was more sickly liberal mandated to have greater profits from ever more denial of healthcare… and so Single-Payer advocates were arrested.

Now, what distinguishes a “progressive” Democrat from a “regressive” Republican is their position on whether gays should, or should not, be allowed to be openly gay, while committing war crimes in close quarters with the “normal” warped minded but sexually straight “good Christian” boys.

Liberals warn that “fascism” will come if Republicans march forward, but when their Democrats quick march human progress backwards that’s “reform”!

What “progressives” have proven is that nothing moves America further Right faster than getting more Democrats elected does.

Tiny acts of rebellion creating more hollow hope can’t even begin to repair the massive damage that the regressive “progressives” have done, if they ever MoveOn to get out the votes for their greater evil Democrats… again.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 29, 2010 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

I did not mean to obfuscate Hedges message. As someone who has been arrested and locked up for protesting war(s), I do not find this call to action to be too demanding. Having been arrested, charged, brought to trial, beaten up by the police, I can tell you that no matter how noble the intention, it does not make a bloody bit of difference to the bastards (and I mean every bipartisan manifestation) who promote suffering in the name of whatever ungodly goal they claim.
If noble protest is your satyagraha, so be it. Just remember that Gandhi pointed out that for many people, political activity is a luxury they can not afford.

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By Fat Freddy, November 29, 2010 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Perhaps you should chain yourselves to the Federal Reserve Bank, instead. Just a thought.

Democrats are statists, and war is a natural function of statism. They have the guns, the soldiers, and the prisons. What else do you think they would do with those “tools” besides wage war on foreign countries and on their own citizens? Plant daisies? End the State, end the wars.

I applaud you and your colleagues, Mr Hedges, for having the courage to do something. Personally, I have a felony conviction on my record, and can not partake in such activities without fear of serious prison time. I choose Agorism, and counter-economics, instead.

Good luck.

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By StPete, November 29, 2010 at 9:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Futile war? Hell, it isn’t futile if you and your friends are making lots of money out of it, and someone else’s kids fight it for you.

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By Bill Mahkovtz, November 29, 2010 at 8:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The main point of his is that we all have to stick up for all of us. The only way to
make a real positive change is to be united. Like really. Not on everything..that
might be too ‘pie in the sky’..just a few liberty based issues. Come help us at the
above Facebook site..how can we get past our ‘being right’ about our
opinions..and work together to be united as Americans. EX:The site We Wont
Fly..has 18,000 people, which brought to attention the TSA abuses in our
airports(along with Ron Paul and others). I saw in 2 weeks..the uproar over the
abuses..almost completely changed what was going on in our airports. There is
‘hope’..I prefer the word intention. We have to plain and simple act like adults and
have this country be what we want. It starts with action of some kind.
Thank you.

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By majorcurry, November 29, 2010 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Chris is quoted in The Anti-American Manifesto by Ted Rall.  A good read on hope.

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By JDmysticDJ, November 29, 2010 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

Thebeerdoctor

True enough, but why obfuscate the wisdom and truth of Hedges’ message? Could it be that you find this message inconvenient, or too demanding?

Handcuffs and nights in jail, even threats of further incarceration, are not at all disheartening when you know you’ve done nothing wrong, but quite the contrary. We all need to be singing verses of “We Shall [We hope] Overcome,” from behind bars, doing so would be good for our souls, and for humanity.

Dec. 16 should be national, and not just local.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 29, 2010 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

There is a disconnect with Hedges rallying cry. The picture used is a protest for gay rights in front of the White House on November 15. What are they protesting for? To be allowed to join the military as openly gay. Apparently civil rights translates to this: more soldiers.
Slaves: embrace your chains. How strange in a consumer driven universe to ask someone not to buy something. More soldiers, whatever their sexual persuasion, is not what I would call progress.

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