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Retribution for a World Lost in Screens

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Posted on Sep 26, 2010
AP / Mary Schwalm

A woman takes a photo of a large format Polaroid of Lady Gaga at the MIT Art Museum in Cambridge, Mass.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

We confuse this happy talk with hope. But hope is not about a belief in progress. Hope is about protecting simple human decency and demanding justice. Hope is the belief, not necessarily grounded in the tangible, that those whose greed, stupidity and complacency have allowed us to be driven over a cliff shall one day be brought down. Hope is about existing in a perpetual state of rebellion, a constant antagonism to all centers of power. The great moral voices, George Orwell and Albert Camus being perhaps two of the finest examples, describe in moving detail the human suffering we ignore or excuse. They understand that the greatest instrument for moral good is the imagination. The ability to perceive the pain and suffering of another, to feel, as King Lear says, what wretches feel, is a more powerful social corrective than the shelves of turgid religious and philosophical treatises on human will. Those who change the world for the better, who offer us hope, have the capacity to make us step outside of ourselves and feel empathy.

A print-based culture, as writer Neil Postman pointed out, demands rationality. The sequential, propositional character of the written word fosters what Walter Ong calls the “analytic management of knowledge.” But our brave new world of images dispenses with these attributes because the images do not require them to be understood. Communication in the image-based culture is not about knowledge. It is about the corporate manipulation of emotions, something logic, order, nuance and context protect us against. Thinking, in short, is forbidden. Entertainment and spectacle have become the aim of all human endeavors, including politics, which is how Stephen Colbert, playing his television character, can be permitted to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Campaigns are built around the manufactured personal narratives of candidates, who function as political celebrities, rather than policies or ideas. News reports have become soap operas and mini-dramas revolving around the latest celebrity scandal.
Colleges and universities, which view students as customers and suck obscene tuition payments and loans out of them with the tantalizing promise of high-paying corporate jobs, have transformed themselves into resorts and theme parks. In this new system of education almost no one fails. Students become “brothers” or “sisters” in the atavistic, tribal embrace of eating clubs, fraternities or sororities. School spirit and school branding is paramount. Campus security keeps these isolated enclaves of privilege secure. And 90,000-seat football stadiums, along with their millionaire coaches, dominate the campus. It is moral leprosy.

The role of knowledge and art, as the ancient Greeks understood, is to create ekstasis, which means standing outside one’s self to give our individual life and struggle meaning and perspective. The role of art and scholarship is to transform us as individuals, not entertain us as a group. It is to nurture this capacity for understanding and empathy. Art and scholarship allow us to see the underlying structures and assumptions used to manipulate and control us. And this is why art, like intellectual endeavor, is feared by the corporate elite as subversive. This is why corporations have used their money to deform universities into vocational schools that spit out blinkered and illiterate systems managers. This is why the humanities are withering away.

The vast stage of entertainment that envelops our culture is intended to impart the opposite of ekstasis. Mass entertainment plays to the basest and crudest instincts of the crowd. It conditions us to have the same aspirations and desires. It forces us to speak in the same dead clichés and slogans. It homogenizes human experience. It wallows in a cloying nostalgia and sentimentalism that foster historical amnesia. It turns the Other into a cartoon or a stereotype. It prohibits empathy because it prohibits understanding. It denies human singularity and uniqueness. It assures us that we all have within us the ability, talent or luck to become famous and rich. It forms us into a lowing and compliant herd. We have been conditioned to believe—defying all the great moral and philosophical writers from Socrates to Orwell—that the aim of life is not to understand but to be entertained. If we do not shake ourselves awake from our electronic hallucinations and defy the elites who are ruining the country and trashing the planet we will experience the awful and deadly retribution of the gods.

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By CAN'T Be Kansas, September 27, 2010 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it.

How much of this discussion has devolved into a debate about LADY GAGA?  The article barely mentions her.  Actually, it doesn’t mention her.  It includes a photo of a woman taking a photo of a photo of her.  The photo is captioned, so there is some print in its vicinity.

You’ve just proved Hedges’s point.  In spades.  Beyond anything I could have believed possible.  The irony seems to be lost.  (Is Hedges actually right about everything?  Don’t tell me that.)

I’m flabbergasted.

I just wonder . . . this certainly isn’t the first imperialist society to fall into decline, but is there any precedent for one declining in this particular way?  I’m just wondering because I’d like to be better prepared.  (It could become a survival thing, for all we know.)  If only I knew what to expect . . .

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By colin2626262, September 27, 2010 at 11:42 pm Link to this comment

Just a slight correction.  Stephen Colbert testified in front of the House Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law Subcommittee, and he probably brought more attention to immigration and farm workers than any other expert could have done.  He said he was interested in people who have no power, something Chris Hedges, I’d have thought, would support. 

Aside from that, Hedges is absolutely right in this article.  His message is that we should be more intellectually mature and get away from the image based culture.  But how much of that culture of the self is really just a technological reflection of the materialstic view of the self?  In other words, if we were more spiritual, we wouldn’t worship images and confuse them with the divine.  Yes, we’re here to understand, not to be entertained.  But what is it that we need to understand?

We need to understand the Other, have empathy, understand that the corporate state is completely corrupt and that we need to rebel against it and its leaders.  We also need to understand that if we don’t change, get out from under our deadly illusions, and start living in reality, we’re going to, as Hedges often states, “commit collective suicide.”  The economy is unsustainable, and the enviromental damage resulting from our economic rapaciousness is soon going to become disastrous.  This is what we need to understand.  I agree.  Yet understanding something and then doing something about it are two different things.

Maybe we can be artists or writers and get our feelings and ideas out that way, making our individual lives into personal protests against the culture, through our words having others into enter our struggles so the bond of suffering is shared and empathy is realized.  This is what Chris seems to want.  Will it make much difference?  Who knows?  Maybe our rebellion will end as tragically, in worldly terms, as John the Baptist’s life. He was beheaded by the evil King Herod on the order of a dancing girl.  But it’s better to speak the truth than be a fool, or worse, a murderer of the holy.

That’s what “we” have become in this country, in this world, maybe in our own lives.  It’s time to follow the words of John the Baptist, whose body was killed but whose soul lives on in the command to “repent.”  I think that’s the essence of Chris’s article here.  He wants us to repent or else the “gods” (or God) will destroy us.  With free will, we will destroy ourselves.  God help us not to do that.  Here’s my contribution:

http://theyalwayssayyassim.blogspot.com

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By ChaviztaKing, September 27, 2010 at 11:39 pm Link to this comment

SUBDIVISIONS BY RUSH.  A SONG ABOUT THE NEOLIBERAL ECONOMIC MODEL OF USA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu9Ycq64Gy4

Its a song about non-conformity and how society tries to make people into a conforming drone. This is particularily bad in most cities suburbs where the roads, the corners, the mini shopping centers, the buildings and the homes are built exactly the same by the same builder, where people drive the same types and brands of cars and high school is all about being part of the crowd. The song is about the need for conformity and mass consumerism in the neoliberal economic model we live in. Neoliberalism cannot function without it. When I listen to it, I hear an amazingly written eulogy for society by Neil Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

I also think it represents Neil Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson falling away a bit from their earlier beliefs, as they mentioned they had. There is nothing inherently wrong with suburbia or living in it, if that is what someone desires. A lot of people don’t have the desire to go to “the bright lights.” This song is clearly more about conformity, which can be found anywhere in United States: the suburbs, in the city, or “the far unlit unknown.” In my opinion, the only flaw in this song is the focus on suburbia as the only place where conformity can be found. Popular opinion has been manipulated to belive that The Suburbs are the worst place for conformity.

Conformity also occurs when many people seek the same thing, including excitement in The Bright Lights (Everyone else is doing “the cool thing”, so why shouldn’t I?). That being said, Subdivisions is my favorite Rush song, and the best synth song ever. So much to write about this song. Basically, it’s a song about the “ticking traps” that american people in this violent country fall into. A nightmare neoliberal-world where a person’s main desire is a never ending escape from the suburbs. The suburbs can take many forms: from the boring, quiet life of suburbia to the pleasure seeking thrill ride of the big city. Ultimately, the suburbs offer nothing meaningful, and there is no escape within or between them.

However, in the first verse an outlet is available: “the far unlit unknown.” This unknown exist within each person-the unique thoughts and feelings that make an individual; tragically, few venture very far into this territory. I’m also inclined to think that it’s more about teens trying to breakaway from suburbia (and thier upper-middle class parents telling them HOW to think/beleive/be), only for some to discover (as Neil Peart writes) “

...Some will sell their dreams for small desires - Or lose the race to rats - Get caught in ticking traps “

Afterwards these suburb-raised, city-stressed folk “...start to dream of somewhere - To relax their restless flight - Somewhere out of a memory - Of lighted streets on quiet nights… “

I think it’s more of a commentary on the seduction of city life and the potential trappings it brings. It is also a social commentary on how cliques are hurtful, and how expectations of comformity often drive away our best and brightest. Very much like the suburbs of Tennessee, Boston, Pennsylvania, New York and Chicago

.

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By ChaviztaKing, September 27, 2010 at 11:31 pm Link to this comment

What a brain Chris Hedges is.  Damn this article describes exactly the way most people in the USA are getting brainwashed by TV. Chris Hedges is the Plato and the Einstein of US politics, he talks about how people are like in the beautiful part of The Matrix, not in the real world of The Matrix, he says that people prefer pretty-lies than ugly-painful truths


.

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By Alan Attlee, September 27, 2010 at 10:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, Bubba , ‘tis so , yet, don’t ya know, you
are a pundit of the punditocracy, your life lives off the antics of the plutocrats, you depend on
them, unless, unless I see you on the barricades
fighting the nazis!

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By Maani, September 27, 2010 at 10:01 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller:

LOL!  “Gaga for Prez” does have a nice ring to it. As for gutting mooses (meece?), she is too busy gutting society’s fascination with its own vapidness - only they don’t even realize it, which is what makes it so brilliant…

Peace.

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By Leefeller, September 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment

We have never seen or heard Lady Gaga, (We do not watch TV) so we cannot make a collective decision about her one way or the other. We need to be fair about this, from what we have heard about the Lady she has a great voice besides other noticeable assets and now we learn she has a brain too! We need to find out more about Lady Gaga and maybe we can get her to run against Palin in 2012?

Just hearing “Lady Gaga for President” has a nice ring to it, and we can hope Lady Gaga has read some magazines and a book or two, though we doubt she has gutted a Moose,  but we never know do we?

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 27, 2010 at 9:15 pm Link to this comment

“We” just don’t want to be marginalized… right?

Don’t we?

LOL

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By Maani, September 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

Given the number of put-downs of Lady Gaga, I can tell that most of you have not a clue what she is about, or what she knows.  Like Marilyn Manson before her, she is being judged (including by many of you) entirely by her public “persona,” which many (including many here) find silly and/or blatantly ego-centric and self-promoting.

However, if you have ever seen or heard her interviewed, she is one scarily savvy young lady (smart beyond her years) who, while admittedly “playing a game” with her “cultural” persona, nevertheless speaks quite deeply and seriously about many socio-political and socio-cultural matters.  Having seen the comments on one of the other threads about her (re her speech on DA/DT), it is clear to me that those who put her down or dismiss her are missing the deconstructionist nature of what she is doing.  It is actually quite brilliant.

In this regard, “we” are not amused…

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By elisalouisa, September 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment

we |w?| Definition in Apple Dictionary
pronoun [ first person plural ]
1————
2 used by a writer or editor, to refer to himself or herself : in this section we discuss the reasons.
3———-
ORIGIN Old English , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wij and German wir.

So what is this really about? The word we? I don’t think so. Try the word retribution. Perhaps some believe such a word and what it stands for is no longer in fashion and/or out-of-date? Where is the word spin? in all this?

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By WriterOnTheStorm, September 27, 2010 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

<<Society of the Spectacle dates from 1967, are responding as reactionaries to a
world which is now passing away—the world which was dominated by the press,
radio and television, where a few spoke to and deceived the many.  I guess much
of this was lifted from Barthes and the 1950s.  This is indeed a game that has
been largely played out.>>


Anarcissie, if the Society of the Spectacle is “played out”, do you think it has
evolved into something else? And does this mean the medium has stopped being
the message?

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 27, 2010 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

Good stuff Rudolfo.

“We” just don’t live with that perspective of our real history as a country here… always denying this and omitting that.. always publicizing this and trying to nationalize that… showing favoritism to these while always denying those.

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By John E. Hemington, September 27, 2010 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, as usual, has hit the nail on the head.  The only thing missing is where “they” are planning on taking us before “they” permit us to destroy the planet on which we depend.  We are now well on the way to becoming a pure military state—a state, the entire economy of which is dependent upon policing the world—in the pay of other nations.  In order to make this final leap, the middle class must be and is being eviscerated.  There will remain a tiny ruling clique, a small technocratic elite, a massive military establishment, and the rest.  The rest, the majority, languishing in or near abject poverty, serving as essential fodder for the military muscle to be weilded in the maintenance of world corporate dominance and intermittent, but never permanent, “peace”.  War is now and will remain the permanent state of existence—just as George Orwell so presciently laid it our in 1984.  Orwell simply missed the date, not the end result.

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By Ganeshaka, September 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Beautifully, beautifully put, Chris. That was tastier
than Marx, McLuhan, Carlyle, Emerson, and Tolstoy all
rolled up in one giant opium gum ball. Things ARE in
the saddle! And they’re whipping the froth out of
Mankind. All we can do, this late in the game, is
gracefully concede - like Adlai Stevenson, mumbling a
few words about “it hurts too much to laugh, but
we’re too old to cry” - and let the cockroaches have
their turn at running the planet…or wait for an
asteroid to press the reset button. I feel sad only
for Ted Williams, wasting all that money on liquid
nitrogen. A .344 lifetime batting average win a pass
from Nemesis, should it not?

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By Rudolfo, September 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment

Hedges always gets it completely wrong ... he writes .. “A print-based culture, as writer Neil Postman pointed out, demands rationality.”

Complete idiocy.  The break in reality and mentality occurred in the 50s, when the US and Soviet Union developed doomsday machines capable of destroying civilization and perhaps human life itself.  It was done by the best and brightest minds, in full view of the world, with total support from population. 

So, since then we have lived with the self-created possibility of annihilation in the next 30 minutes.  Yet, it is not a part of consciousness.  We have created a nightmare, we’re living in it, and no one notices.

It was all done with perfect rationality.  Or irrationality, take your pick.  It has nothing to do with print vs. electronic culture.  It’s the human animal.

The Huxley vs. Orwell debate is meaningless, the population is stupid beyond imagination, that is the reality.  Does that mean you’re stupid?  I don’t know.  Does it mean I’m stupid?  Again, I don’t know.  But I’m sure that the US population considered as a whole is beyond stupidity.  It doesn’t have to be controlled.  It is totally stupid and self centered, with no more polical awareness than a pack of dogs.

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By Anarcissie, September 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment

When it’s something bad, ‘we’ means ‘you’.

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By wfalcone, September 27, 2010 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jesus Christ Hedges! Give me a gun now so I can blow my brains out! Thanks…

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By G.Anderson, September 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

Yes, it’s easy to believe in lies, because it takes no effort, no risk to believe in them.

Truth on the other hand requires guts, and effort.

Yet, here we are in “peak delusion”, not wanting to face reality, because there is too much emotional pain in the truth. And maybe, we hold on tighter, as the world we believed in slips away.

The curse of our age, is that almost everyone wants to be extraordinary, or believes themselves to be so. But the reality is we are dumbed down and drugged up.

America, has been a revitalization movement since Reagan. A nation wide Ghost dance, to bring back, our economic past. Like all dreams this one too is finally coming to and end.

The more unreal people become, the more real the unreal is to them.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 27, 2010 at 5:35 pm Link to this comment

What I’m having trouble with is taking anyone seriously that takes this pipe-dream rant by CH seriously.

I mean, seriously, folks!

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By Gmonst, September 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment

Not to delve too much into the what does “we” mean discussion, but I know that Chris Hedges doesn’t believe that the ability to wage war gives the right to wage war.  I know that the opinions, beliefs, and views that are attached to the “we” are on the whole, the opposite of Chris Hedges own views.  Therefore he is not really including himself in the we, but using it as a substitute for you and they.  This makes the whole article an exercise in pointing out what he is not, thereby elevating himself above the masses which form popular culture.  An elevated position from which he can sermonize us all on how bad we are for engaging in popular culture.

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By mary m morgan, September 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After reading Hedges’sermon,and sending it to my friends and family list (whom I’m trying to recruit to the revolution)I sent $50 to Truth Dig.  This is what I would have put in the collection plate Sunday at the church I have stopped attending.  I need a good sermon ever so often.  Thanks, Chris.

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By bogi666, September 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Socio-psychopathic optimism is used by the government, business,pretend christians churches[towers of babel] with phony preachers[harlots] use this pseudo optimism to create mindlessness with peer pressure to be so.This institutionalization of mindlessness, the inability or to know how to discern thoughts, including the thoughts of others, from facts. This gives mindlessness legitimacy. The no child behind teaches mindlessness and test student to be proficient in mindlessness, otherwise they fail because may be non conformist and mindfulness instead. This is the ability to learn how to think and the PREDATORY CAPITALIST WELFARE KINGS don’t want knowing how to think on their agenda.

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By Hammond Eggs, September 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment

Contemporary technology makes it possible for everyone to star in their own movie.  No longer must this be confined to one’s mind alone.  This is, and will continue to be, one of the prime ways of controlling a population.  It isn’t just 15 minutes anymore but every minute of every day. The better technology becomes at this, the more powerful and convincing the movie. The Ruling Class simply needs to leave people just enough money to own the technology and distribute the results into both the virtual and real worlds.  No longer will people feel crushed by anonymity and loneliness.  Everyone will be a star, living and dying to their own applause.

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By REDHORSE, September 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment

TY MICHAEL MARTIN and PROLE. I enjoyed it.

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By mithunaveda, September 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

panem et circenses

nuff said

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By Anarcissie, September 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Debord—well, Debord seems to me like a self-conscious showman and con artist, whereas I am afraid I see Hedges and his fans as utterly and dreadfully sincere.

The funny—or sad—thing about this is that people like Debord, whose Society of the Spectacle dates from 1967, are responding as reactionaries to a world which is now passing away—the world which was dominated by the press, radio and television, where a few spoke to and deceived the many.  I guess much of this was lifted from Barthes and the 1950s.  This is indeed a game that has been largely played out.

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By Leefeller, September 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

Using the Apple Dictionary seems EYERONIC, because they have tried very hard to copycatted the word “I”, so of course they would suggest every Tom, Dick and Chris use the word “we” as a substitute for “I”, though I-Leefeller may be almost the only one who seems to care or notice!

We give up!

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By Leefeller, September 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

We are having trouble with the word we are we!

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By Leefeller, September 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

Tobygirl,

The last time I saw an Adams apple which loomed as large as Ann Colter’s,...... it was on a rattle snake that just swallowed a Dove.

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By gaberiel, September 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you want to know who’s behind it all watch this and start putting the pieces together. http://www.myspace.com/kaygriggs
... it gives names, groups and their histories.

Here is more on their origins and practices:
http://vodpod.com/watch/3129683-enki-sumerian-tablet-translation-ch-1-2-of-6
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1285345463618889531#
http://www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/7252/Old_World_Secrets_the_Omega_Project_Codes/
http://www.youtube.com/user/EducatedRebellion101
http://www.lawfulrebellion.org/
http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message315255/pg1
http://www.freedom-school.com/
http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/secretsocietyindex.htm
You add network of monolithic structures world wide and you find out how the good and just people survived such tyranny over last 240,000 yrs and on a cycle of every 13,000 yrs or so. Their technology was much more advanced than what we have today yet they still must recognize the laws of nature and universe. For the basics watch http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6151699791256390335#
and http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1895475242307393956#
... he’s about 99% right.
To add one more fact: for every 13,000 yr period the elites [ruling class] gather and amass resources such as gold, silver, uranium, diamonds, platinum, copper, etc. while treating the workers like shit. At the end of such time they transport those resources off world. That’s right ... OFF world and out of our solar system. Then they kill off the population to restore nature and build up the cycle of life again. If you look closely at our moon and mars you will see the same has happened there also. With one exception: life was not restored there this time around.
Every pyramid and mound used to contain 300 essential books for the next age. Where are they? Templars / Freemasons / Illuminati have one maybe 2 sets, Vatican 6 sets, Israelis another, Hindus one more [incomplete], White Russians have 3 complete ones, Chinese elites have over 10.
Rest of what you see on TV, news and mass media is a deception to keep you from realizing the truth and to stop you from fighting back. If we want to survive 30,000 plus active nukes, HAARP weather manipulation, poisonous oil, false flags, industrial military complex, mass genocide, etc. we must expose the elites fully and force them to disclose everything before it’s too late.

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By Malcolm Martin, September 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

As usual Chris Hedges describes the state of our existence with elegant literary force. What a writer!

Unfortunately a formula for avoiding a calamity is beyond him. It may be beyond the capacity of man.

In days gone by I thought I had found the answer to the scourge of capitalism in Marxism-Leninism. That is reflected in the essay below. But now I wonder if the great Marx just could not foresee the extent to which the capitalist system would come to dominate and twist the human mind, that Peak Oil and global warming would decimate the industrial base required for a working class dictatorship (the most profound form of democracy possible on the way to communism) and Socialism.

The essay previously referred to…

Now as capitalism enters its final stage, a nearly seamless political transition to fascism is well underway in the United States. The mass media, the electoral machinery, and both major political parties are under corporate control. The trappings of bourgeois democracy are a hindrance on profits and so they are being shredded. The Constitution and its Bill of Rights are being rendered meaningless by plans for perpetual war, by presidential signing statements and the theory of the unitary executive, extraordinary rendition, government surveillance programs and the like. It is irrelevant that George W. Bush used to be the President and now Barack Obama is.

Programs based on bourgeois democratic principles like the public schools, Social Security, and Medicare are, literally and figuratively, on borrowed time. Separate and parallel Internet and military forces are being constructed along with internment camps and the legal construct for a martial law declaration. Blackwater or Xe is the growing private military force of the ruling class, protecting them in Baghdad despite their horrific crimes and patrolling the streets of New Orleans and Detroit for them now. Because there are too many sons and daughters of the working class in the US military it can not be trusted by the bourgeoisie when the order is given to attack the American people. Likely the two militaries will one day face each other in combat.

Under these developments, the people of the world are struggling with a marked escalation of the class war. Maybe no one has a firm grip on “what is to be done?”, to borrow Lenin’s phraseology. But it is for sure a time to reject fatalism, defeatism, nihilism and any other current which involves the people in rolling over to die quietly.

If Karl Marx was right, we have reached the end times not of humanity but of the capitalist economic system. It is a time when the working class was, through its collective discipline and might, supposed to conduct and win a war with the bourgeoisie and establish its rule. Then the building of socialism was to commence. War, racism and poverty would be banished in the ensuing years along with all of capitalism’s pathological influences on man.

What are the prospects for this scenario? However likely or remote, the idea should not be given up on because the other choices are too horrific to passively accept-the Orwellian state, bands of survivalists roaming a scorched landscape, the extinction of the human being.

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By elisalouisa, September 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

As to pop culture, whatever happened to music? Why must “one” continually refer back to an earlier time for music “one” loved? Does that say something about “our” pop culture? I agree with Mr. Hedgesas to pop culture.

Again I shall repost as to the word “we” which I did not use in the above comment.

Dictionary on Apple product:

Second definition of “we” 

“we” is used “by a writer or editor, to refer to himself or herself.”

Not to worry, Chris does not include you(all?).

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By Tobysgirl, September 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, have you noticed Ann Colter’s (I love the spelling) Adam’s apple? Now I’ve never seen a horse with an Adam’s apple like Bruce Dern’s.

I asked my horse what he thought of being linked with Ann Colter, and he blew his nose all over the computer. At least it wasn’t the other end!

I know this is serious stuff Hedges is writing about, but sometimes one prefers to chuckle amidst the horror.

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By Flummox, September 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Donna Fritz: Anarcissie might be right. Anarcissie’s comments do tend to be orderly, But Anarcissie never has a clue what Hedges is talking about so “order” has only to do with the sequencing of letters and not much else. Ha!

Richard N. Juliani: Another person Hedges “owes” a lot to is Guy Dubord, who was saying essentially the same thing in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s.

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By gerard, September 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Anarchissie:  “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”  (As usual, the she’s got dumped by the dumped by the wayside.)

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

Don’t some us here…. the volunteering “we” ‘they’ mention…. wish to be a Lady Gaga or something similar?

And the end of the day, some are Lady Gagas looking out for #1 first… and before some lay down to sleep… some may actually ponder what their real purpose is, for getting up everyday to win your daily bread ( and as the system is fixed, to benefit those heads of state and industry running the system ) most win the daily breads for our managers and handlers too.  Lady Gaga is her manager’s meal ticket, as well as all who now work for her and what she represents… which is OUR fantasy… to be loved by folks just because you exist.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, September 27 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

Though Lady Gaga may be hot, I have a thing for Ann Colter, ......probably because of my cowboy fetish for horses?
********
Hence the re-spelled last name?

Remember Mr. Ed’s favorite baseball team was the…Fillies!

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By Leefeller, September 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

Though Lady Gaga may be hot, I have a thing for Ann Colter, ......probably because of my cowboy fetish for horses?

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By Leefeller, September 27, 2010 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

Last week we found Hedeges article enlightening, this week we find we are rehashing the hash once again! We may find the world as one big piece of doggy poop on our neighbors front lawn, but I kind of like where I am in the whole scheme of things and must say I am very happy though it seems we aren’t!

Gmnost comment;

“In his own narcissistic effort to show us his own superiority to the masses, Hedges generalizes about the average person, and paints us as stupid and without discretion.”

Us as we Gmnost, so Hedges uses the cover of we when he paints or suggests the average person is stupid, but he uses the word “I”
most sparingly?

So here we am again, back jib jabbing Hedges article. In a demented sort of way, We are looking forward to his articles every week now too, though how great Hedges Articles are we have a problem defining the word great.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Lady Gaga a man? With that figure?

I thought she was simply the next incarnation of Madonna, marketing herself brilliantly the way the M-girl did 20 years ago. Another Italian-American girl with dark features who bleached her hair platinum blond and marketed herself doing excessive things.

Made a fortune at it too!  Funny thing, when Lady Gaga appeared in the school-girl tie and hair down she looks just like Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies!

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 27, 2010 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Thanks prole for juxtaposing Huxley and Orwell… makes sense…

Throughout history people have witnessed master and slave relationships… some civilizations having more compassion than others, but still this dynamic continues to exist today.

Isn’t government the attempt to ‘best’ govern and use ‘power’ in its best, most just way?

Wasn’t Rome’s point in continually subjugating the masses was to continue its lifestyle / cultural ‘standard’ which Rush Limpnuts always defends “our standard of living” as he puts it so blatantly.

Obviously man is still failing at pleasing every one of his neighbors, or finding the ‘best’ form of governance that would be equitable for all…

If one were to describe the Christ as defined in the bible, what would he be called?

What would be the label for him?

What would his ideologue be described as?

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By Inherit The Wind, September 27, 2010 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

ardee, September 27 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

I am heartened to see only one bit of sarcasm in response to this finger shaking warning, and that from a blindly loyal democrat.
******************

Arithmetic!  Next on your refresher list, Ardee.  Gotta learn how to count.

I’m amazed at how many people STILL admire sermons. To me, they represent the arrogance of religion, ALL religions.  And you, Ardee, unwittingly described it best: Finger-shaking.  Just what we need…more finger-shaking.  More people telling OTHER people what they “ought” to do.

“Don’t point that finger at me unless you intend to use it!”—Walter Matthau as ‘Oscar Madison’

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By Anarcissie, September 27, 2010 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Donna Fritz, September 27 at 1:13 pm:

Anarcissie: It is also curious that we find so little analysis, so little order, in your criticism of Hedges’ writing or that of his fans.

Echolalia?  My remarks are quite orderly.  As for analyzing Hedges, I find his hatred of popular culture rather distasteful and I’d rather not slog around in it too much.  I think it’s enough to point it out.

gerard, September 27 at 1:19 pm:

Some people are gifted at diagnosis.  Some are gifted at healing. We may hope that both gifts can be found in one person, but it is asking a lot—especially since we ourselves offer neither diagnosis nor healing, but only criticism, and that harshly.

I hope you’re not catching the we’s from Hedges.

Actually, Hedges does seem to diagnose his own problem, and a dose of linear, analytical thinking grounded in some sort of concrete reality might do him a world of good, if only to teach him its faults and limits.  Doctor, heal thyself!  But to do this, thou must take thine own medicine.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, September 27, 2010 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

WriterOnTheStorm appreciates quality fire and brimstone, but Chris’ pregnant
admonitions against the worst of screen entertainment went from a pet peeve to
a lonely obsession a month of Mondays ago.

It’s not that one objects to a little Baudrillard lite, but to conscript the great
French genius in a personal, grudging proxy war on pop culture strikes this
crusty old outlier as more than a little disingenuous.

Get this: at any given moment on any given subject, a full 25% of the population
is terminally stupid. It’s not necessarily the same group of people—yours truly
falls into this category when it comes to, say, formula one racing and Chinese
acrobatics—but it’s usually around the same percentage. And 25% of 400
million is a big demographic. You can bet your better eye that there’s a host of
enterprising ne’er do wells eager to exploit this.

The mere fact that this makes for some loathsome forms of entertainment does
not constitute an argument for the entire restructuring of society. Chris Hedges
and his devotees must be the only ones who believe that the 25% with the sticky
remote finger are going to pick up a copy of Das Kapital after we’ve banned the
Real Housewives Of Orange County.

Chris, big fan, but take it from a recovering liberal, you deserve a better fate
than becoming the face of left wing fear mongering.

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By marcus medler, September 27, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

I suggest a visit to,‘good life center at forest farm’. This represents the Nearing’s attempt at an antidote to the toxic dominate social reality.

It reminds us that there are survival harbors.

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By Alan MacDonald, September 27, 2010 at 11:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris is right on target and the target is the disguised global corporate/financial/militarist Empire.

Fortunately, as this hidden Empire becomes more visible in its fear of popular revolt, and its increasing drive to oppress even citizens at home, this will engender awareness and corrective actions among ‘the people’—- even previously deluded people.

Like the recent police-state physical raids by the FBI on anti-war activists, expanded Internet spying by the global corporate/financial/political/militarist EMPIRE, which hides behind the facade of its two-party Vichy sham of democratic government, is actually a great sign of progress for all working-class Americans who fight for anti-EMPIRE and pro-democracy movement in the US.

Actions like these two tyrannical oppressions by the ruling EMPIRE here in the US itself actually demonstrates both the absolute truth of Hannah Arendt’s prescient Nazi-era warning that “Empire abroad (always) entails tyranny at home”, and also clearly demonstrates that the Vichy global corporate/financial/political/militarist EMPIRE that has fully ‘captured’ the US government (as the Nazi Empire had captured and occupied France) is now apoplectic about the threat that the genuine and fast growing pro-democracy and ‘anti-Empire peoples movement’ poses to the global Empire directly in its US headquartered lair.

Ralph Nader, Kevin Zeese, and many thousands of other pro-democracy and ANTI-EMPIRE intellectuals and academics are building the totally peaceful Global Anti-EMPIRE Peoples’ Movement within the belly of the US beast and this direct confrontation with the global Vichy Empire that has captured our former US government through the totally corrupt two-party Vichy facade is causing extreme pressure on the Empire—- which in turn is causing the Empire to show its neo-fascist fangs and ‘tip of the empire spear’ even here in its supposedly safe and placated US home base, and against US citizens themselves.

As Hannah Arendt noted, and as the German people themselves learned too late, an Empire which claims only to practice militarist “empire abroad” will always turn against its own people and expand inward to domestic “tyranny at home”.

As these clear signs of tyranny against our own US citizens increase (as they are now drastically increasing) even as the imperial media and entertainment distractions of NASCAR, “Meet the Press”, WWF, and “Dancing with the Stars” expand in lunacy, an increasing percentage of non-elite and oppressed US citizens are finally realizing that they are on a path toward feudal Empire, economic oppression, and now ‘police-state’ tyranny at home——and a current 21st century second-generation of American “minute-men” are clearly seeing “which way the wind is blowing”——and this throws fear in the heart of darkness, in the heart of Empire.

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By prole, September 27, 2010 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

“The sequential, propositional character of the written word fosters what Walter Ong calls the ‘analytic management of knowledge.’ But our brave new world of images dispenses with these attributes because the images do not require them to be understood”…nor perhaps is it necessary to recall the original written words of Brave New World. Curious that Hedges should omit Huxley while extolling Orwell. Hedges own cultural critique is much more redolent of the former than the latter. In one of the late Neil Postman’s most popular books, ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death; Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business’, he writes in the preface:

“… we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another-slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision ... people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. 
  What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
  This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right”
 
  Actually, they probably both were right in their own way. Huxley’s dystopia is closer to the domestic side of Amerika which “homogenizes human experience” ‘inflicting pleasure’ and “forms us into a lowing and compliant herd.” But Orwell’s brutal tyranny where ‘people are controlled by inflicting pain’ is still the nefarious norm in the far-flung corners of Amerika’s empire. “We have been conditioned to believe—defying all the great moral and philosophical writers from Socrates to Orwell”…but not Huxley…“that the aim of life is not to understand but to be entertained.” “If we do not shake ourselves awake from our electronic hallucinations and defy the elites who are ruining the country and trashing the planet we will experience the awful and deadly retribution of the gods”...which may be a long wait. In the meantime, the resistance in the occupied (in more ways than one) lands will continue. Someone really ought to make a reality TV show about them sometime. They never have learned to love Big Brother.

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By JenniferBedingfield, September 27, 2010 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

It is no coincidence that we are in the middle of something far worse than a Great Recession or even a Great Depression and yet, most Americans are conditioned into not only “accepting” the status quo but they are also conditioned into “defending” it.

Unlike any Great Depression this nation or for that matter any nation on this planet has experienced, in this one most Americans are totally lost as to what is really happening. Some of them know that we are in tough times but have no clue as to how to solve it other than resort to the same shortcuts that got us into trouble in the first place. Others foolishly believe that they can still be as “rich” and golden as Donald Trump and fly like Peter Pan.

When things go wrong, people are ready to find the wrong target to blame such as immigrants and Muslims. No, they will not bother to direct their anger to the source of the problem but instead kick around the symptoms and keep repeating the same mistakes again and again until they are beyond repair. I have the same problem trying to convince both the typically political “conservatives” out of their addiction to corporatist and militaristic policies as I do convincing even most supposedly liberal and progressive people out of settling for battered spouse solutions they call “practical” to everything.

From what Chris Hedges wrote, one can easily see that all they do is use the M$M to feel good about themselves but continue to think and act the wrong way on everything in life. Just look at the way our electorate votes. Not considering the issues, they start out on party labels the same way they get star struck with all the celebrity crap they watch and worship. We are in the middle of something as bad or maybe even worse than the Great Depression and people still want to ignore discussing issues while talking about sports and celebrity like there is no tomrrow ! Face it. We are in a politically dysfunctional system where people know nothing about the real meaning of conservative, liberal, progressive, etc… Heck, they would mistake regulated capitalism as “socialism” despite the differences. It is no coincidence that our cornfed electorate that would proudly trash good social programs would have the nerve to call for enriching the corporate welfare queens and the corporate warfare queens thanks to the violence and money seductive crap being presented to them on the TV and even on a lot of popular Internet sites.

What can we do about this insanity? It is very difficult to say. We can try our luck out on convincing enough folks to bail us out temporarily or we can collapse to the point of no return. The former is very difficult to accomplish so I am betting that the latter is inevitable only that I don’t know how fast we will be getting there. The sooner our society collapses, the sooner we can rebuild and we can only hope that upon collapse we will have enough support on our side to rebuild our own truly egalitarian society before the monied and military elites get their way.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, September 27, 2010 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

Has Chris Hedges been reading my posts?

Is he finally starting to see that we’ve been misled to believe in and worship idols?  One being money.

Attempts to describe what has happened for hundreds of centuries ( the ‘progress’ of society ) and now realizing that people have swallowed themselves up, is ironic.

The Christ didn’t fight the power, he simply stated ‘how’ to deal with it and truly ‘escape’ the slavery and the bounding tool ( money with Cesar’s bust on it ).

The haves will have their way continually since the naves believe that what the haves have, to be real…

Man-kind has been hard pressed, harassed, decimated and fractionated and it is a miracle we haven’t consumed one another in a fit of rage…. this hasn’t happened because the masses haven’t the faintest clue, but are waking up bit by bit… the illusion is still pervasive and powerful for most… and to face the reality we’ve been tied and valued to something fictional and easily manipulated ( money and its idea / illusion ) making us chattel, truly items of exchange like animals by some who’d rather treat us like such than realize we are ONE…

Cain and Abel comes to mind.

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By c-post, September 27, 2010 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

Wonderful article, Chris. I’m a Postman fan, too.

In our culture, both optimism and skepticism have their place. The two seem to be in constant battle with each other, but they are in fact both part of one system, and they need each other.

The human instinct for optimism, denial, and destruction of the environment is rooted not in imagery but in biology. What astonishes me is human’s amazing capacity to deny that overpopulation is at the root of all the ecology problems, from global warming to overfishing. 

Our love of babies, children, family, weddings, dating, and mating is too deeply imbedded in our culture and our brains for us to have fully conscious control of it, in much the same way that an overweight person desires to lose weight but can’t control themselves. Planet Earth is “overweight” with humans but we are in denial as to the condition; even if we do recognize it, we clearly do not have full conscious control of our instincts.

I submit that of all the imagery ou there, porn is the greenest, the best for our planet. Tell me I’m wrong.

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By L, September 27, 2010 at 10:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ gerard, September 27 at 1:19 pm

Well said, indeed.

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By thebeerdoctor, September 27, 2010 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

So I gather that Mr. Hedges has a problem with television and its marketing. Who doesn’t?
I see also that Mr. Hedges is aghast at the vulgarities of mass culture. When exactly was that ever better in history? Vicious cruelty has been around longer than those dead civilizations he holds in such high regards.
Let me put it this way: Any civilization that created the Taj Mahal, Shakespeare and striped toothpaste can’t be all bad.

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By duh, September 27, 2010 at 10:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr Hedges articles used to be inspiring. This is a broad based swipe that really doesn’t fit the audience of sites such as truthdig. I miss the more helpful, inspiring and galvinizing Mr Hedges I’ve grown to respect and admire

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By Gmonst, September 27, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

This is what I consider the worst kind of Chris Hedges piece.  A holier-than-though, guilt-mongering diatribe that has little focus or point.  Ironically enough delivered through the “electronic hallucinations.”

I know a few people that have little to no connection with popular culture or the demonic forces of the internet.  Ironically they are the most narcissistic people I know, and are totally clueless about the goings on of the elites we are to rebel against.  They live in a bubble of isolation. 

In his own narcissistic effort to show us his own superiority to the masses, Hedges generalizes about the average person, and paints us as stupid and without discretion. A common discretion he probably exercises in his own contact with popular culture on a daily basis.  It came across as mildly insulting really. 

Myself and those I know can and do pull back from it all and take a breath.  The “electronic hallucinations” give one a chance to just sit and let go for a while.  It is ok to take a break from fretting about the world once in a while.  I watch the dreaded reality tv, I engage in facebook, and I have even danced to a lady gaga song.  I also work in my garden and listen to the birds, or go for a walk in a forest.  Yes, I also fret about the world and think of ways to rebel against the elites (I would love to hear your ideas for rebellion Mr. Hedges) People are a lot more multi-faceted than he paints in this piece.

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By aprohricht, September 27, 2010 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

Once again, Hedges has managed to put to paper exactly what the nation needs to hear. This article provides fantastic insight into so many issues confronting our country and our generation. I look forward to every piece that Hedges writes.

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By Leefeller, September 27, 2010 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

I need to ask Chris Hedges when are we going back to the Porn Convention in Las Vegas, we had such a great time last year,........ didn’t we!

We know we find the word “we”  so very annoying, don’t we! It seems as if we cannot get enough of we, even the posters are we-ing it up, if we don’t watch what we say and do,  we may find we are in the we of it.

We give up!

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By REDHORSE, September 27, 2010 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

Damage to the Soul. Damage to the mind. The inability to tolerate silence and the emotional weight of personal and external reality. The fear of being alone in an infinite Universe. Or the greater terror that we are not alone. The struggle to find meaning and moral order and the fight to define what it is to be human.

    Thinkers in the “mens movement” warned decades ago that we had entered the realm of the great non-event and the age of perpetual childhood. The electronic land of the half adult.

    VANITY FAIR just ran a photo spread of a beautiful young woman. A talented and intelligent actress we see on T.V. daily. Lindsay Lohan. Why the drug addiction and drama?

    She is the poster child for the narcissistic emotionally damaged eternal half adult, trapped in an electronic void of cult and personality, so stripped of life and meaning drugs and flashbulbs are the only way she can tell she is alive. Like Michael Jackson she might be the next blood sacrifice to the daemonic zombieland of imaginary eternal childhood.

    Why do you suppose that the Vampire is such a popular figure in the minds of the young? Because the Vampire is the representation of the narcissist. Cold, beautiful and heartless. It feeds on the unfortunate and less beautiful. It exist, as long as it can find other life forms to exploit, forever. It has no moral center and is responsible to nothing but the insatiable hunger that drives it. What do you think I mean when I say that D.C. is an irrelevant nightmare inhabited by psychopathic megalomaniacal narcissists. We are a Nation soaked in blood.

    If you want a fight, try to separate your child from their electronic connection to the manufactured lie filled reality the perps have plugged them into. Try turning the T.V. off.

    It is time to accept that the electronic damage is mental/spiritual/emotional/financial and intentional. Save your children and save yourself.

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By gerard, September 27, 2010 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Some people are gifted at diagnosis.  Some are gifted at healing. We may hope that both gifts can be found in one person, but it is asking a lot—especially since we ourselves offer neither diagnosis nor healing, but only criticism, and that harshly.

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By mdgr, September 27, 2010 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Brilliantly stated, Chris, and of course you are right, although I think that you too (along with me) may be somewhat trapped in the “screen.”

Is the universe really at war with itself? Maybe not.

Fact is that even if you take away the other “screens” to which you refer, our perceptual resources as Sapiens are themselves seriously flawed.

The pathologies of which you speak are very real, of course, but they follow our innate perceptual “nature” (phenomenology) as a species.

I am loathe to blame the species for that. Perhaps we’re just the Missing Link we’ve been looking for.

On the other hand, the dynamic still applies, at least here—on the periphery of the wheel. Thus Hubris and Nemesis.

And it is only a matter of time. Everything now is in retrograde-mode. Soon, it will be time for shock and awe.

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By Peacedragon, September 27, 2010 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

Well said, Chris.
Robertaustin: You were assuming alot about that couple just because they
were enjoying a TV show.

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By Donna Fritz, September 27, 2010 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

heavyrunner: No, Lady Gaga is not a man. I don’t know how that rumor got started.

Anarcissie: It is also curious that we find so little analysis, so little order, in your criticism of Hedges’ writing or that of his fans.

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By Peetawonkus, September 27, 2010 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

A million channels with canned laugh tracks. Channels for Business, Comedy, “reality” Tv, Shalom TV, KKKristchun Evangelists. Even Public Television has Business News. But not one Labor Channel. And I’ll fall out of my lazyboy if I see the History Channel do a history of Labor in America. How about a world history of Slave Revolts? No? Not enough T & A? It would even be refreshing to see a history of capitalism. So much for the Big Lie of the Liberal Media.

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By heavyrunner, September 27, 2010 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

I never saw this person in action but isn’t “Lady” ga-ga a man?

But I am really writing to argue that Facebook isn’t what Dr. Hedges alleges. I am a former teacher. I had about 500 students over the course of my teaching career in the 80s and 90s. That was in Seattle and I now live in California. One of my former students sent me a Facebook friend request about a year ago and I replied “yes” so we became Facebook friends. Pretty soon a couple of her classmates sent me friend requests and then a network started to form as kids from classes a year or two apart from the original one started to notice my name on their friends’ friend list until now I am in contact with about 50 of my former students.

I taught the special class for the gifted kids, so nearly all of them by now have advanced degrees from places like MIT and Harvard and NYU and Stanford and The University of Washington and Dartmouth and are doctors or nurses or engineers or fashion marketing experts in Hollywood or financial advisers on Wall Street, etc. These are all actual examples.

I love being able to follow their lives and Facebook has provided a means of doing so that would be nearly impossible otherwise.

I loved my students like they were my own children in many ways and I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to keep in touch with them.

I worked hard to make my class, almost always 3rd grade and often I had the kids for 3rd and 4th grades, to be both fun and educational. The kids remember me fondly too and Facebook provides a way that we can share a lot about ourselves and our lives in a safe and informal manner. How else could I have access to hundreds of photos of these kids and share in the images from their weddings and graduations and trips to the far corners of the world where they are pictured with their arms around a baby elephant in the Philippines or jumping off cliffs in the San Bernardinos or telling stories of being stranded in the Newark airport considering walking to an appointment in Princeton or hear about the opera in Lincoln Center?

Maybe these kids are watching TV too, but they seem to have lives that are too full and minds that are too active to waste very much time with the kind of mindless crap you correctly bemoan in your piece. There is reason to have hope.

It’s not all bad Chris.

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By Anarcissie, September 27, 2010 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind, September 27 at 7:40 am:

‘Oh, no…. Chris is off his meds again….

Yes, Hedges seems to have an enormous problem with popular culture and media.  I have tried to get into it a little but the torrent of hysteria has been too much for me so far.

I did notice the print-versus-image remarks—you know, print requires us to put our thoughts in linear order and proceed analytically and all that.  It is curious, then, that we find so little analysis, so little order, in either Hedges’s writing or that of his fans.  If it’s such a good thing, then why don’t they practice it?

And in any case, if they don’t like popular culture, why are they sitting their drinking it in?

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By Richard N. Juliani, September 27, 2010 at 8:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am glad that Chris Hedges has begun to cite Neil Postman, whose work is at the core of what is being presented here.  If you think that Hedges has something important and valuable to say (and I certainly do), you should read Postman’s “Disappearance of Childhood” and “Amusing Ourselves to Death”.  But Hedges “owes” a great deal to Postman (and Daniel Borstin as well) which he could acknowledge more often.  You’ll find in such work the seeds (and maybe much more) of what Hedges has been arguing. Postman, who died in 2003, was an incisive scholar who deserves to be remembered.  Put his name into any browser and get better acquainted with him.

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By cmarcusparr, September 27, 2010 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

We have collectively ignored the ancient lessons of the Fisher King, at our peril. What does this mean? (If you don’t know about the Fisher King, then study it.) “…the healing of the Fisher King comes as a result of the recognition of and the subsequent response to the need for empathy to the suffering king (the Other)….”

How does the Fisher King myth relate to 21st C. America? This wounded figure is represented symbolically by our lost human potential. The king’s wound is not confined to his person but afflicts the entire land, and it further constitutes “a blight on his realm.” America is blighted. Nowadays our land is a “corporate fascist wasteland,” to quote Cindy Sheehan. As in Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” the myth is used to represent moral and social decay. The Fisher King and wasteland myth may spring from the Celtic belief that the fertility of the land depended upon the potency and fertility of the king. From J. G. Fraser’s The Golden Bough: “The king’s life or spirit is so sympathetically bound up with the prosperity of the whole country that if he fell ill or grew senile the cattle would sicken or cease to multiply, the crops would rot in the fields, and men would perish of widespread disease.”

Obama/Perceval/the Grail Knight must be empathetic to the Other to heal the wounds of our nation, but tragically, this isn’t happening. Instead, he panders to other sources. Perceval did not ask the right questions about the lance and the Grail. Had he done so, a great good would have come of it. Instead, the castle (democracy) has disappeared (along with everyone in it) and the king still suffers.

This myth, perhaps Celtic, despite its transmutation by Christian influences after 476 AD and throughout the Dark Ages, may be understood from a psychological perspective of the Individual attaining Actualization through understanding and being empathetic to the existence of the Other, as Chris Hedges refers. Children may be said to be on their way to becoming adults by understanding that they are not the centers of the universe and that other people with feelings, with desires and fears, exist in the world. It is the acceptance of the Other that breaks the bonds of narcissism in the child (to use Alice Miller’s terminology, The Drama of the Gifted Child) and puts her on the road to psychological maturity. I see parallels of this with the Fisher King myth. To wit, the Grail Knight, in order to heal the realm and the wounded Fisher King, must recognize the origins of the wound and express empathy. In this manner the Other is acknowledged and healed through acknowledgment of the Grail Knight’s true human condition in the world, and all eventually is made right. This is because, in my opinion, by acknowledging the Other we align our perceptions to reality; the world “heals” because the conflict within the narcissist that he is more important than everything else, and that nothing else suffers as he does in life, is resolved by the prescription of seeing that other human beings exist and that they share our feelings, fears, wants and desires.

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By skmacksk, September 27, 2010 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

Dear Chris,
I hate to sound like the Dean of Boys to your Endicott Peabody: come down from the pulpit and, please, remove your vestments and enter the world of adults and their children, who have no problem making certain obvious distinctions between reality and the manufactured world of mass media. As much as I admire your intellect,good will and your moral integrity, you do become,at times, a scold; that is a desirable quality in someone who models himself after the prophets of old, but that historical moment is in the distant past, and needs to stay there. I’m sure you would not agree with this last statement, but as a friend and ally I needed to speak this unpleasant truth to you, in good faith.,
Best regards
StephenKMackSD

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By Balboa, September 27, 2010 at 7:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is an interesting article, which I enjoyed reading, and, like other comment posters, I agree with much of its content.

It was unfortunate that I, and the thousands/millions of fellow readers, had to “stare into an electronic screen” to do so; sadder still that those thousands/millions of laptops running said screens, and the use of energy to power said laptops, will contribute to the earlier realisation of our Nemesis, as laid out by the author.

Still, given the author’s opinion on “self-presenting, self-fulfiling and self-empowering” sites such as Facebook, I hope he doesn’t mind that I have used said’s ‘Share’ function to present this article to my friends, so that it may fulfill and mentally empower more people.

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By robertaustin, September 27, 2010 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

Though I earlier expressed my complete agreement with Chris Hedges’ thesis, the real battle for American hearts and minds is being waged with images and words on the screen instead of on the page. Recognizing this, I commend people like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart for their virtuosity in this realm. I think it is right to critique what is wrong with the world and to try to push it in a better, more rational direction, as Chris Hedges does so powerfully, but we also must accept the world the way that it is and try to make it better using the tools that currently have the most impact. Colbert and Stewart are doing this better than just about anyone else. Through the use of wit and irony, tailored to our current American preference for absorbing information via streaming video and television, I think they have found a way to wedge a more progressive viewpoint into American souls, and we should not disparage them for that.

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By dogdiva, September 27, 2010 at 7:26 am Link to this comment

Thanks Chris.  It’s a wonderful piece to read after 3 days of perusing the ravings of militant Colbert worshipers who think he is the Second Coming.  Sadly I suspect most of them would read into it that Colbert was the one exhibiting real empathy.

Chris’s writing always help me organize my thoughts and bolster my courage when confronted with constant criticism for being a ‘downer’ by the enforcers of the ubiquitous Sunshine League that surrounds me.

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By Robert Lassiter, September 27, 2010 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess a spoon full of sugar is out of the question? 
I cannot help but acknowledge the truth in labeling
but would add a tinge of thought about the
circumstances we have evolved into.  Firstly, I would
be remiss not to mention that the younger generation
sees our morass and does not equate it with decay and
irrational no more than my generation of the 60’s
thought the world was going to hell in a handbag when
my late father announced full throated, that he was
glad to be leaving this screwed upside down
world…he died at 58 revolutions of the sun.  At the
time, I personally thought everything was proceeding
in a very rational way.  Youth can be so deceived! 
While it may certainly be the case that things are
not what they used to be, in many ways the plight of
homo erectus has been improving.  There are too many
of us right now on this little planet, but that will
take care of itself.  Our philosophies are muttled
and absurd, but we will forget them and change them
anyway.  We will go through a Darwin correction that
will be rather painful for many folks, but the other
side will be a different place where the young will
think that it is the only way life should be.  I’ve
been there and it’s what I thought.  We are humans
who have a little ways to go from our lizard
ancestors.  I try to give our species a little
slack…ok a lot of slack…after all it is us that
must pay for our misinterpretation of reality.  Why
blame the lemurs?  It is not insanity that will turn
the world upside down for us, but it is conscience.
Who knows, the world might have been a real bug-a-boo
to exist in during the 1400’s?  Once we have gotten
over the fact that all of us are going to die, no
matter how clever we are, the rest is a piece of
cake.  This is no place for emotional intelligence. 
We will continue to do what we do and pay dearly if
it ain’t right.  Cheer up and enjoy what time you
have left dear travelers.  When you are gone, it will
make little difference if you left some oil not used
or left some panda walking in a deforested daze.  It
is amazing that we are here to foul up the imperfect
spaceship called Earth.  Evolution dictated our
response and obviously we don’t really like it here.

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By Go Right Young Man, September 27, 2010 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges certainly knows his own mind and the world as he views it.

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By kerryrose, September 27, 2010 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

robertaustin

I have also noticed how some right-wing Tea Partier types have no lack of compassion or empathy towards animals. So, it is not inherent coldness that has them vote to the right.

It is the propaganda war of words and attitudes that the right won 30 years or more ago.  George Lakoff, a cognitive scientist, says that if Progressives could find the dialogue to express the moral and ethical implication of their policies, then they would have no trouble winning hearts and minds.

I believe that.  People are easily led astray if you push the right buttons.  Progressives are defending against the right’s insults, but not starting an ideological campaign of their own.

I think hope is educating those who ‘know nothing.’

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By elisalouisa, September 27, 2010 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

Of course, Ardee, as to your “blindly loyal democrat” comment, I have come to the conclusion that you are responding to sarcasm with a bit more sarcasm.  Is that not so?

Like they say, “Lighten up.” grin

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By CharlesBivona, September 27, 2010 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

—and so ignore
the wolves—lacerations
to the groin—bleeding
on hardwood—plush love
seat—Indian rug
pattern—by Target—
—or earthen stone bowls of
pork rolled tobacco—

with a burned
Vietnamese rice farmer’s
carcinogenic—patent
pending—water—

just ignore
—teeth on the jugular—
the pulse pushing
scarlet—ignore—the jets
—the red spurting
onto crisp white linen
—a bloody
striping—ignore it

—go shopping—

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By mrfreeze, September 27, 2010 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

In response to robertaustin:

“It’s time to add the “Collateral Murder” channel to the cable lineup. Unfortunately, American brains have been so conditioned by the media to interpret everything as a divertissement, rather than being repelled and chastened, I fear that many Americans would be entertained by barbaric images of warfare.”

What an excellent observation robert! Personally, I find it hard to be in “public spaces” these days because, somewhere, there’s always a TV blaring the news or vomiting some sort of ridiculous ad about erectile disfunction (or worse). Just spend 10 minutes at the airport and one realizes that the never-ending blitzkrieg of the MSM, its 24/7 bombardment of the public with propaganda and its shallow substance has literally rotted the brains out of most Americans.

I just returned from a nice long vacation in Italy and was astounded, upon my return here in the States, at just how much garbage is being showered on Americans every stinking minute of every (shopping filled) day. Just landing at the airport here one is immediately bombarded by the “news” and its inescapable.

We will not find a way out of our problems because the Media, our politicians and everyone else in TV land wants us to believe that capitalism, free market economics and technology are the answers to all of Life’s problems. Unfortunately, Americans believe whatever they are told and will try to shop their way to salvation.

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By Alfred LaMotte, September 27, 2010 at 7:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, everything you say is true. Jeremiah was right too. But sooooo grumpy. Consider some humor, if not to save your own mind from gloom, then for the sake of your readers. You are becoming such a debbie-downer, you might lose them!

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By teleokin, September 27, 2010 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Cant read all of the Hedges piece because of the incessant POP-UP trash ads.
But yes, THEY are destroying the planet….. Yup!

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By Gregg, September 27, 2010 at 6:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A great post. I had never heard of Chris Hedges until I attended his lecture at North Park University in Chicago last Wednesday and his talk was the most riveting presentation I have ever heard, and have become a regular reader.

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By Z1, September 27, 2010 at 6:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As far as the arts in school are concerned, they start the attack on anything that develops the creative part of the brain in elementary school. The first things that are normally cut to save money are arts, music, foreign languages and the library. After which goes civics and social studies, why do our children need to know anything about how their government works?. Schools today teach the race to the bottom programs of Ted Kennedy, George W. Bush, Arne Duncan, Barack Obama and Michelle Rhee. Just what you need to build a compliant work force of automatons for the corporations that now run this country!

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By kukai, September 27, 2010 at 6:41 am Link to this comment

Another masterpiece from Chris Hedges!

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By Dan, September 27, 2010 at 6:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks again for a great column. One of the few remaining voices out there that isn’t just spitting out self serving nonsense.
To anyone who’s interested - The relatively recent Frontline special: Digital Nation is worth watching. Even that had too many people just pumping technology for technology’s sake…..something else to consider.

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By SemiFrost, September 27, 2010 at 6:30 am Link to this comment

Thanks, robertaustin.  I accept corrections as due.  Was sort of winging it, universally speaking.  In mind (slightly) was Hawking’s *Death Star* dual high-energy gamma ray theory. Pretty cool, if you like that sort of thing.  But I’m also good with your solar system-based Thor-like demising premise.

And otherwise a good post.

As to another poster, on below and similar comments I have noted on this site—

“I am heartened to see only one bit of sarcasm in response to this finger shaking warning, and that from a blindly loyal democrat.”

First:  I count two (2) at least partially sarcastic comments.  And, really?  Are there still blindly loyal Democrats?  Actually reading through an article and being able to compose and comment on Truthdig?  What the hell is that, anyway, a “blindly loyal democrat”?  That like the Sasquatch?

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By expat in germany, September 27, 2010 at 5:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sometimes Chris Hedges reminds me of a college student home for the holidays, determined to enlighten his torpid parents. If Mr. Hedges thinks that reading the Iliad or taking a walk in the woods is “better” than 2 hours playing Halo, then that’s what HE should do. I think he errs, however, in suggesting that that is what the rest of us should do. When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter a whit what others do.

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By robertaustin, September 27, 2010 at 5:53 am Link to this comment

Though I share SemiFrost’s sentiments about Mr. Hedges’ column, I want to point out some astronomical errors in SemiFrost’s apocalyptic vision.

“Beyond our galaxy” means hundreds of thousands of light-years away at least. Such threats are so far away in space and time that we needn’t concern ourselves about them. Perhaps SemiFrost confused “galaxy” with “solar system,” which is an unfortunate but not uncommon mistake. We really don’t even need to look beyond our solar system, since there are plenty of potential “Lucifer’s Hammers” in our own solar neighborhood.

Incidentally, our Sun will never become a supernova; it’s mass is too small by nearly a factor of ten. In its waning years, the Sun will puff up into a red giant and gently fry the Earth to a crisp before sloughing off its outer layers, leaving behind a beautiful planetary nebula that envelopes several inert planets, revolving around a tiny, bright, white dwarf.

Getting back to Chris Hedges’ column, I often have similar thoughts to those he expressed so poignantly. I remember sitting about five years ago in the waiting room of an auto repair shop as I waited to have my tires rotated and balanced. I shared the room with an elderly couple who were watching “Animal Planet” on TV. I was suddenly struck by the thought that these two, nice, elderly people who were completely involved in a show about innocent animals, chuckling at their antics and sympathizing with their suffering, and meanwhile, they were indifferent to (or perhaps even approving of) the immeasurable suffering, caused by our nation, of fellow humans in distant lands. Our entertainment media has figuratively and literally brought us closer to animals than we would like to admit, and diverted our attention from the wrong that is being perpetrated in the name of what we call “good.” It’s time to add the “Collateral Murder” channel to the cable lineup. Unfortunately, American brains have been so conditioned by the media to interpret everything as a divertissement, rather than being repelled and chastened, I fear that many Americans would be entertained by barbaric images of warfare.

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By balkas, September 27, 2010 at 5:53 am Link to this comment

We were taught to believe this or that and we became what we are, appear
better linguistic structures than “we believe” and “we are”.
Such structure elicits questions, How we became what we are and how did we
learn to believe in cults, cultishness, barbarities, wars, uncivilized behaviors,
etc.

And, then, questions pop up, by whom, why, and since when! And the answers
are?
By clerico-plutocratic lowlife and since at latest 10k yrs ago.
This makes clear that US is not a novelty nor an exception and exposes THE
GREATNESS OF AMERICA and GOD BLESS AMERICA as fictions.

So let’s change ‘our’ teachers teaching children their lies. Else what? Basic
relationship between a member of clerico-noble class of lowlife and a child in
school run by greatest criminal minds, stays! tnx

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By nufctj, September 27, 2010 at 5:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

but how can I read this unless I look at a screen?

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By COinMS, September 27, 2010 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

There’s no way around it, a major correction has to happen. Sadly, it will not be pleasant. Of course, the poorest will, as always, bear the brunt of massive change.
In our southern university town, a handful of progressive (I hate labels) thinkers are trying to counteract the growing influence of the ‘know-nothings’, I mean, the Tea-Partiers. It is a losing cause. Many of us here cannot be involved in a public way, due to the fear of reprisal. Most of them are old. There are hardly any young people who give a damn, as long as they can twitter, facebook and watch the football team.
But have heart. After the correction will be a time of rebuilding and brotherhood, and lessons will be learned. Do not lose hope and be of good cheer. Most people are good and will do what is right when the time comes. I wish it wouldn’t take such a jolt to wake them but that’s the way it is.

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By ardee, September 27, 2010 at 5:38 am Link to this comment

I am heartened to see only one bit of sarcasm in response to this finger shaking warning, and that from a blindly loyal democrat.

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By thom delahunt, September 27, 2010 at 5:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

we need an instrument to amplify our voices in to a
unified statement.  At best, the most powerful one
available to us, in my opinion, is moveon.org. My role,
as an individual is to persuade those close to me to
join and contribute with both cash and ideas; to
participate. Because if they don’t, the corporate media
will continue to suck them in and swallow them; making
them a part of the food chain. We need to make clear to
those around us of what is happening; that millions of
dollars are poured in to subtle ways to tell us that we
are NOT ok if we do not buy their product.

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By elisalouisa, September 27, 2010 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

As to the hope Chris Hedges writes about, the most I had hoped for is that Lady Gaga would not be continually in my face. Now all hope is lost, for her picture is even with a Chris Hedges column on Truthdig.

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By T., September 27, 2010 at 5:13 am Link to this comment

C.H. is the voice crying in the wilderness.  And it is truth.  “Hope” might be better expressed as the enlightenment of those who are driving us over the cliff.

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By Dave24, September 27, 2010 at 5:12 am Link to this comment

Even the divine is manmade (that is, the supernatural).

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By SemiFrost, September 27, 2010 at 4:47 am Link to this comment

As usual, I (basically) agree with CH.

So, as a partially mitigating mental cure for *Hedges Syndrome*, lately I have begun to take marginal comfort in pondering the foreseen possibility of an Earth-ending event emanating from beyond our galaxy, such that our in-the-path planet will be instantly fried to a crisp, thereafter to wobbly orbit as a piece of lifeless galactic rock until the Sun goes super nova, dusts it.

Thus, in one’s thoughts, are rendered moot the realities of murderous, despicable, generally destructive and ignorant humans, poisonous plasticized seas, eradicated innocent species, apocalyptic environmental retribution, stuff like that.

Cheers, Chris.

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By johnny hempseed, September 27, 2010 at 4:43 am Link to this comment

Great post to end a cyber fast with.Hedges at his best thanks.
peace

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By jdelassus, September 27, 2010 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

All very true and a good analysis of what is wrong.  The question is how do we make it right?  How do we, as Lincoln said, be in touch with the better angels of our nature?  Knowing what is wrong is important.  Knowing how to make it right is more important.

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By kerryrose, September 27, 2010 at 3:56 am Link to this comment

I love Chris Hedges when he proselytizes. It feels like home.

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By parnell44, September 27, 2010 at 3:43 am Link to this comment

Thank you for another great cultural analysis, Chris. 
I agree with your criticisms. 
Having been brought up in the 50’s and 60’s (the early
days without television), I learned early the power of
the written word on the mind.  As a result, I have had
very little interest in the “screen” mentality”.  This
has allowed me to form myself as an individual and
avoid group-think (or, rather, be suspicious of it).
Keep up the good work; I look forward to every post.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 27, 2010 at 3:40 am Link to this comment

Oh, no…Chris is off his meds again….

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