Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
April 30, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

Truthdig Bazaar
Capitalism and the Jews

Capitalism and the Jews

By Jerry Z. Muller

more items

Email this item Print this item

Welcome to the Asylum

Posted on Apr 30, 2012
AP/Mahesh Kumar A.

People collect scraps from a garbage dump in Hyderabad, India.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

Seventeenth century European philosophy and the Enlightenment, meanwhile, exalted the separation of human beings from the natural world, a belief also embraced by the Bible. The natural world, along with those pre-modern cultures that lived in harmony with it, was seen by the industrial society of the Enlightenment as worthy only of exploitation. Descartes argued, for example, that the fullest exploitation of matter to any use was the duty of humankind. The wilderness became, in the religious language of the Puritans, satanic. It had to be Christianized and subdued. The implantation of the technical order resulted, as Richard Slotkin writes in “Regeneration Through Violence,” in the primacy of “the western man-on-the-make, the speculator, and the wildcat banker.” Davy Crockett and, later, George Armstrong Custer, Slotkin notes, became “national heroes by defining national aspiration in terms of so many bears destroyed, so much land preempted, so many trees hacked down, so many Indians and Mexicans dead in the dust.”

The demented project of endless capitalist expansion, profligate consumption, senseless exploitation and industrial growth is now imploding. Corporate hustlers are as blind to the ramifications of their self-destructive fury as were Custer, the gold speculators and the railroad magnates. They seized Indian land, killed off its inhabitants, slaughtered the buffalo herds and cut down the forests. Their heirs wage war throughout the Middle East, pollute the seas and water systems, foul the air and soil and gamble with commodities as half the globe sinks into abject poverty and misery. The Book of Revelation defines this single-minded drive for profit as handing over authority to the “beast.”

The conflation of technological advancement with human progress leads to self-worship. Reason makes possible the calculations, science and technological advances of industrial civilization, but reason does not connect us with the forces of life. A society that loses the capacity for the sacred, that lacks the power of human imagination, that cannot practice empathy, ultimately ensures its own destruction. The Native Americans understood there are powers and forces we can never control and must honor. They knew, as did the ancient Greeks, that hubris is the deadliest curse of the human race. This is a lesson that we will probably have to learn for ourselves at the cost of tremendous suffering.

In William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Prospero is stranded on an island where he becomes the undisputed lord and master. He enslaves the primitive “monster” Caliban. He employs the magical sources of power embodied in the spirit Ariel, who is of fire and air. The forces unleashed in the island’s wilderness, Shakespeare knew, could prompt us to good if we had the capacity for self-control and reverence. But it also could push us toward monstrous evil since there are few constraints to thwart plunder, rape, murder, greed and power. Later, Joseph Conrad, in his portraits of the outposts of empire, also would expose the same intoxication with barbarity.


Square, Site wide
The anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, who in 1846 was “adopted” by the Seneca, one of the tribes belonging to the Iroquois confederation, wrote in “Ancient Society” about social evolution among American Indians. Marx noted approvingly, in his “Ethnological Notebooks,” Morgan’s insistence on the historical and social importance of “imagination, that great faculty so largely contributing to the elevation of mankind.” Imagination, as the Shakespearean scholar Harold C. Goddard pointed out, “is neither the language of nature nor the language of man, but both at once, the medium of communion between the two. ... Imagination is the elemental speech in all senses, the first and the last, of primitive man and of the poets.”

All that concerns itself with beauty and truth, with those forces that have the power to transform us, is being steadily extinguished by our corporate state. Art. Education. Literature. Music. Theater. Dance. Poetry. Philosophy. Religion. Journalism. None of these disciplines are worthy in the corporate state of support or compensation. These are pursuits that, even in our universities, are condemned as impractical. But it is only through the impractical, through that which can empower our imagination, that we will be rescued as a species. The prosaic world of news events, the collection of scientific and factual data, stock market statistics and the sterile recording of deeds as history do not permit us to understand the elemental speech of imagination. We will never penetrate the mystery of creation, or the meaning of existence, if we do not recover this older language. Poetry shows a man his soul, Goddard wrote, “as a looking glass does his face.” And it is our souls that the culture of imperialism, business and technology seeks to crush.

Walter Benjamin argued that capitalism is not only a formation “conditioned by religion,” but is an “essentially religious phenomenon,” albeit one that no longer seeks to connect humans with the mysterious forces of life. Capitalism, as Benjamin observed, called on human societies to embark on a ceaseless and futile quest for money and goods. This quest, he warned, perpetuates a culture dominated by guilt, a sense of inadequacy and self-loathing. It enslaves nearly all its adherents through wages, subservience to the commodity culture and debt peonage. The suffering visited on Native Americans, once Western expansion was complete, was soon endured by others, in Cuba, the Philippines, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The final chapter of this sad experiment in human history will see us sacrificed as those on the outer reaches of empire were sacrificed. There is a kind of justice to this. We profited as a nation from this demented vision, we remained passive and silent when we should have denounced the crimes committed in our name, and now that the game is up we all go down together.

1   2
Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, By Chris Hedges, Truthdig Columnist and Winner of the Pulitzer Prize -- Get Your Autographed Copy Today Also Available! Truthdig Exclusive DVD of Chris Hedges' Wages of Rebellion Lecture The World As It Is: 
Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress: A collection of Truthdig Columns, by Chris Hedges -- Get Your Autographed Copy Today

Keep up with Chris Hedges’ latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

Lockerdome Below Article
Get a book from one of our contributors in the Truthdig Bazaar.

Related Entries

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every day.

New and Improved Comments

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

Join the conversation

Load Comments
robjira's avatar

By robjira, April 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

An excellent and timely article. It also makes a fine
companion piece to ideas expressed in Terence McKenna’s
Food of the Gods.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

GradyLeeHoward well you can say so here an get an earful from people like myself who see Capitalism the way you see fire an electricity. As dangerous items that are important but dangerous if let loose. We need Capitalism just under control. We couldn’t function without it.

Humans have the dangerous ability to ignore cause and effect. We see it all the time from people leaving trash around to corporations exploiting our ecosphere an not caring what its poisoning does to everyone.

IN the USA we have seen from 1945-1980 the flowering of a Middle Class that hadn’t existed before. And we saw since 1970 the rise of the corporations again an their use of gov’t to help them grow and to insinuate themselves within gov’t to become its beneficiary and to prop gov’t up. A dangerous form of semi-parasitism and symbiosis. It took awhile with large amounts of money and people willing to allow corporations to do jobs directly in the gov’t especially in the National Security Sections of the military an in spying. Don’t forget mercenaries who are in every theater the US is in. Only we rarely hear anything about them.

A regular slow coup, like a parasite taking over its host. And we will be left to die.

Report this

By jrundin, April 30, 2012 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment


I apologize. I was rude and inappropriate to cite your well-intentioned thoughts and acts as illustrative of problematic issues. It was inexcusable.

I merely wanted to point out that, in my experience, Native Americans are not necessarily that happy when people like me, a U.S. citizen of largely European ancestry, start appropriating their ways and usages for our own purposes. When I see Chris Hedges cite Native American beliefs here as part of his argument, it makes me nervous. It’s not clear that we, people who have profited from the conquest and genocide of Native Americans, are in the best position to be invoking their heritage. There’s even something a bit ghoulish about it.

But, you are right, and I apologize.

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment

gee, I also took it as a pretty clear sign 40 years ago that things weren’t gonna go
my way, when I find out that my vote for McGovern didn’t come close to helping
him win.

however, it remains far more likely that the ever-grumpy and short-tempered
Greenwald will dissolve long before the ruling class.

(and it’s even more likely that GG will spontaneously combust)

Report this
Mark E. Smith's avatar

By Mark E. Smith, April 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

redteddy, the movement isn’t built by means of peaceful demonstrations. The movement is built by banks, corporations, and governments themselves when they destroy people’s lives. If may be more photogenic when people in suits and ties are trying to break the bank windows, as happened in Argentina, but by that time there’s no need to grow the movement.

Protesting about what banks and government have done to poor people isn’t going to grow the movement because the rich and those who want to be rich don’t identify with or care about poor people.

In the video you posted I saw Occupiers marching with, mingling with, and getting along fine with those using Black Bloc tactics. I saw only minimal vandalism of property, attacks on a picket fence, a sign, some graffiti, and some broken windows. But then I saw a bunch of fascists with imperialist flags protecting the corporations from the people, proud to be helping the cops protect the corporations from the people.

While you and Chris Hedges may think of Occupy in terms of a corporate marketing scheme, a popularity contest, or an election campaign, it can never have the potential to become part of a revolutionary movement if it is limited to only those who respect and protect the capitalist imperialist system that is destroying humanity and the planet.

Catering to the lowest common denominator in hopes of attracting more people sunk the Democratic Party as it moved to the right of the Republicans.

Occupy has been hijacked by reformists who believe in the system and are determined to obey the law and work within the system. The system is the problem and you can’t solve the problem by perpetuating it.

What you and Chris Hedges are really saying is that despite the US government killing millions of innocent kids overseas, it hasn’t become brutal enough here at home to warrant violence yet. That you do not consider yourselves part of humanity.

I recommend you read Classified Woman by Sibel Edmonds, and Blood on the Tracks by S. Brian Willson, to understand that we are the people and the time is now.

Personally, I do not advocate violence. I advocate only that people stop supporting and perpetuating capitalist imperialism. I advocate noncompliance in legal, nonviolent ways, such as not paying taxes to support wars of aggression, not voting to delegate war powers to a government that continues to abuse its powers, boycotting corporations and their products, and creating alternatives that are less destructive.

But I will never condemn anyone who who breaks the windows of a bank that has broken millions of lives and destroyed hundreds of thousands of families through deliberate fraud, usurious business practices, and illegal evictions. I’m not here to protect the criminals or the system, the system has spent trillions of dollars to protect itself and doesn’t need my help. I support those who oppose the system, and I leave their methods up to their individual conscience, as they are fighting a system that has none.

Report this

By Keith M. Bender, April 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robes for Pierre,
Latin America was the training ground for IMF strip
mining of resources. They recovered ,though many said
screw the “B——-d’s” and found Communism or
Socialism the only way to recover Sovereignty to
within it’s own borders.

Thats my “Once upon a time” Story. Capitalism is a
wonderful construct for a carburetor upgrade to Fuel
injection or even turbo charge when the need arises.
But putting the Head below the belt in charge is like
letting a Sexual Predator teach Sex Education. Or
watching Cancerous cells do their thing and multiply
it’s host right out of existence. Committing suicide
to get rid of a headache has been the “protective”
retort of the frontline mouthpieces hired by the
Capitalist Heads .

They , the HEADS, are not the systems autonomous
operating system. They at best by separating
themselves from the rest of us taking on the role of
Parasites . And Parasites do not survive unless
there is a Host by simple definition.

    Keeping the to the Story line, the Inhabitants
of each Colony either enter into Rebellion or accept
their fate . But Education , real truth based,
reveals the plot and some of us awaken from our
hypnotic sleep. Will the US awaken from it’s sleep
when it has become such an Authoritarian dependent
      The 25 % suffering from the affects of this
present society does not necessarily match the 25% of
the Population straining to maintain a Roof over
their Heads. 50 % of someone’s income or 50% for
Housing and basic Transportation ought to find a
comparison will Serf’s and Estate bound populations
if we compare Land rent barter as that comparison.
      Review the last 800 years of Mental Health
treatments and that ought to scare some people awake.

Report this

By uniquelibrary, April 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

i feel that i need to be given a suffering exemption.

40 years ago i rejected the established order.

10 years ago i started a Crusade.

i thank God that you have all awakened now.

i can not take much more suffering.

please stop hitting yourselves and dissolve the

ruling class as noted by Glenn Greenwald in Justice

for Some ...

Report this

By A.C. Tion, April 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If, in order to step into a better world, we must eradicate the self, then who is it who will be stepping into that world?

It seems like we are being told here that death is the answer: we can hang on to our personalities and starve to death, or we can eradicate our personalities utterly ( = living death).

Perhaps the only real way forward to a living alternative to our corporate predicament is action, not vain theory. In action is life, personality, change.

For example, tomorrow is May Day. Join Occupy and go out and make a mark tomorrow.

Report this
redteddy's avatar

By redteddy, April 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment

@Diamond and Mark E. Smith

Hedges isn’t a pacifist, he’s said so many times. He’s said that there is a time
when violence is necessary.  What Chis was saying in terms of Occupy is that
destroying property when you have yet to build a mass movement is counter-
productive.  If fighting back is to work then you have to have huge numbers
behind you.  Most Americans may be pissed-off but they’re not yet at the point
of revolution, especially violent revolution, there are still many who are
comfortable, they may feel the pinch but they are still working, shopping,
planning and taking care of their families.  All Chris was saying is that there is a
time and place for violence but that time isn’t now and the place isn’t here. He
recommended building a mass movement using pacifism as a tactic.  He
realized that images such as this hosted by Occupytv:

Are alienating to the mainstream and destines the occupy movement to a fringe
movement. How the hell do you expect to get large amounts of people to join
you when there is a risk of this kind of behavior?  Destroying property doesn’t
confront empire it just leaves a bad impression on the movement.

Report this
Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, April 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

Great article. However it’s interesting that Hedges never mentions the impressive social changes happening in Latin America right now. When he cites the Native Americans and Marx’s observations, such a struggle to preserve and expand that culture in a socialist setting is happening right now in Bolivia.

Report this
redteddy's avatar

By redteddy, April 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

“...and now that the game is up we all go down together.”

But we don’t all have to go down together.  I know many people who read the writing on the wall many years before there were all these gloomy protestations over US demise and cries of panic.  They left, brought land outside of the US and live there without thinking twice about this country, some went to Central and South America, others to Asia and still I know one who moved to New Zealand. I for one own land outside, have lived in Asia and do not intend to sit and wait for us all to “go down together”.  I wonder if Chris has already built his self-sustaining home with a few acres for permaculture and the collective commune I assume he will build.  If he hasn’t then he’s just wasting his time reminiscing over the primitive days of yore.

I like Chris and read all of his articles and look out for all of his public speeches but now its becoming tedious just listening to
the same old “the end is nigh” ravings on how western civilization is screwed.  Its screwed, we get it, we know it, we believe it, now tell us what you’re doing about it on a personal level outside of raising the red flag. How are you taking care of yourself and your loved ones etc. is just as relevant because if the end is the end then struggle against “the beast” is futile and all we can do is prepare for impact.  Its of no use to the massive amount of hungry, homeless, jobless poor we all care about what historical mindset has lead to their present demise. Criticizing culture or the lack thereof isn’t going to help them and they
don’t have access to plots of land nor the knowledge to form
their own crops and live in a community unless of course you count the many tent cities that are propping up all over the US.  Without the knowledge of how to live with nature, off of nature as a part of nature the only conclusion one can make from his conclusions is that those ‘in the know’ will be able to prepare themselves while others “go down together” and I bet Chris has his own dingy.

Report this
JimBob's avatar

By JimBob, April 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

Chris, the problem is, you’re getting old like the rest of
us.  The older you get, the more it seems like there was a
halcyon past in which people cooperated and the rich were
only too glad to put out a helping hand to the less


Report this

By Alan MacDonald, April 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

I believe that one of the major inhibitors of even discussing Empire, and talking about the fact that we are all trapped in the belly of the DGE (Disguised Global Empire) now headquartered in our former country, is that when the American people admit this compellingly obvious fact to themselves, that like the British earlier, they will have to take a position on that issue of Empire, and either vote to allow this immorality to go on, or to have the courage to stop it.

Many are intimidated and outright scared of having to take a stand on this all important issue, which the British, to their partial credit did face.

As Timothy Parsons recounts in his fabulously revealing book, “The Rule of Empire”, facing this societal issue of Empire in their East African neoimperialist empire as late as the 1950’s lead to admissions like this:

Dressing the East Africa Protectorate’s pacification campaigns in the garb of liberal humanitarianism was bad enough, but the settlers’ argument that they were civilizing the peoples of the highlands by exploiting their labor was simply disgusting. As one dubious official in the Colonial Office acidly noted: “Does anyone really believe in the educative value of labour on a European farm?”

Although the Conservative Party had a history of defending the empire, the Tories were now unwilling to risk their party’s larger political fortunes by defending a privileged imperial elite. As one of the new younger generation of Conservative politicians told the settler leader Michael Blundell: “What do I care about the fucking settlers, let them bloody well look after themselves.”59

Parsons, Timothy (2010-06-11). The Rule of Empires : Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall (p. 345). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Parsons, Timothy (2010-06-11). The Rule of Empires : Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall (p. 348). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

I am afraid that very few in the US, certainly not those in power, are willing to look this disgusting pathology of Empire in the eye and take any action that might up-set their own or the US economy’s apple cart.

Alan MacDonald

Report this

By J. Martin, April 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I ran across Marx in a college philosophy class, and
for the past 20 years I watched events unfold as he
predicted for the end of capitalism.

What people seem to miss about Marx’s theories is
that the communism of the past century is not the
communism he predicted would follow after capitalism.
Russia, China, the former Eastern Bloc ... all got it
wrong. Capitalism hadn’t run its course; in fact,
Russia and China had feudal economies when they
skipped over capitalism and socialism and converted
to communism, contrary to Marx.

Marx saw the end of capitalism when it had nothing
left to consume, no more material or human resources
to exploit. Then the masses would demand socialism.
Socialism holds the creation of value in higher
esteem than growth. It is argued that America under
FDR averted a socialist revolution during the Great
Depression by introducing programs like Social
Security and unemployment insurance.

Some smart folks at the top of the economic food
chain also know that Marx was a visionary of
political economy, and they have been planning for
the day when the masses rise up against capitalism.
They’ve done such a good job of it that the financial
crash of 2008 only made them stronger. The
surveillance state that has been created in the U.S.,
U.K. and elsewhere is, I think, part of the
preparation, an attempt to prevent the inevitable.

The unholy alliance of religion and politics that
holds together the current capitalist regime is truly
a “beast.” Mr. Hedges, you gave voice to many
thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head.
You are, unfortunately, precisely accurate in your

Report this
kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, April 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment


I used a Hopi ceremony as a model for conflict resolution in my proposal.  I feel that looking outside our culture to find the ways that other cultures have more successfully dealt with their own cultural problems can be helpful.

In no way did I disrespect another culture, or copy it, but respectfully model its concepts.

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

vec- it implied nothing of the sort, you nitwit….. how the hell can someone think
that a rejection of Marx’s failure to understand human ity implies an embrace of


that’s the lamest shit that gets drummed out of anyone in Logic 101.

the world isn’t binary, bungboy and X is false doesn’t imply not-X is true.

Report this

By Ed Romano, April 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

Screwed up the last line on Heidegger-
should read- But I’m NOT quite sure that she’s there.

Report this
ControlledDemolition's avatar

By ControlledDemolition, April 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

@charlesfrith ... exactly right!  I call it the ostrich effect, hiding your head in the hole of irrational thought because the airwaves stated 19 muslims did 911.  Proof?  Because the airwaves stated 19 muslims did 911.

Chris, excellent column.

I like your reference to native peoples as opposed to the capitalist personality, and suggest the importance of breath/body/dancing fullness as being close to the Earth, a natural ritualism (in its full-bodied participation) instead of mental isolation and separation (“sin”) of those taking too much thought—thought now measuring property and values and ownership above all breathing beings.  I consider this to really encapsulate the problem:  Someone once said that, of course, the native americans did not have a right to the land ... they didn’t have a deed!

Gads. —CD

PS.  Can anyone tell me if their Browser makes the commentary on Hedges’ columns always show up in bold font?  Mine does.

Report this
vector56's avatar

By vector56, April 30, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

“Marx was a lovely theoretician and historian without a glimmer of understanding
of actual flesh-and-blood humans is the mark of the booby. “

I apologize for regurgitating heterochromatic’s Libertarian ideological bullshit, but the statement above caught my eye. It implies that those “Great Thinkers” like Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan understood human nature and produced a system that worked. Consider what Uncle Melton’s “experiments did to the whole of Latin America. Capitalism produced a system of “Boom and Bust” that crashes very 10 years.

Report this

By Yuckster, April 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

One point of light is that as our society cuts itself off from the ability to imagine, it also reduces it’s ability to create new ways for self-strangulation.  As an example, have you noticed how transparent and ridiculous the excuses from our political and business leaders have become?  Lack of imagination me thinks.  This is Mother Nature’s somewhat cynical, yet effective, method of achieving balance.  We are unable to come up with new, creative methods to destroy earth and ourselves.

Report this
redteddy's avatar

By redteddy, April 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

“ consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet.”

LOL! For a guy who doesn’t watch t.v he sure knows a lot of gossip.  Hell I didn’t any of that.  Kim naked cooking eggs?  Really?  LOL!

Report this

By GradyLeeHoward, April 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

What a coincidence! Today I received an email from
Bill Moyers. He exclaimed that I’m now banned from
Moyers&Company;. They couldn’t accommodate my
imagination within their pre-conceived agenda. They
said I was distracting, veered from strict adherence
to assigned topic, and they implied that I went too
far in embracing the downfall of Capitalism. Now we
all here know how silly and futile banning is and
that I could emerge with a new moniker anytime. But I
will not do that. My absence from Moyers’ threads is
an experiment and I have colleagues who will analyze
content changes that result. Lower water in the
syndicated TV canal will likely beach his barge.

Chris is correct that we are justified in going crazy
in the face of self-annihilation. Maybe we are taking
too many meds that help us serve power, but we are
nuts with good cause. So I told my new friend Jon
Thomas I’d come over here and evaluate Hedges to
prove I’m not depressed. (I am.)

Someone said Chris Hedges is Elite, that he does not
reply to comments. I think he may be aloof with good
reason. Every column he seems more depressed and
hopeless and doubtful of his convictions. Old Bill
Moyers responded to fan’s flattery by saying the
woman’s praise was like oxygen to him. Bullshit I
yelled. How many liters per hour are you on anyway?

See, people with a mean boss can’t afford to joke
around. Moyers is beholden to every New York
foundation and trust not owned by Nazis and has lost
his freedom of speech. He sits at the desk and rolls
his eyes, even grunts, but can’t say what needs to be
spoken. We better appreciate Chris Hedges while
breath remains in him because Robert Sheer can only
carry him so far in this corporate flood.

Sure, we all would enjoy the reassurance of lemonade
on the porch with Chris. I’d like to mount Moyers
veranda and give him a piece of my mind. Not just to
put the egoistic old booger in his place but to let
him see the crazy eyes I share with Chris Hedges.

Anyway, I’m on strike tomorrow, won’t write one word.

Report this
M Henri Day's avatar

By M Henri Day, April 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Chris, from your writings and your political activities, I know you as a thoughtful and highly moral man. But I must confess that this article gives me pause - while I am sure you do not mean it that way, with its anti-rationalism and appeals to «spirituality», it wakens uncomfortable memories of what the Germans term «die Blut-und-Boden-Ideologie». Our so-called «civilisation» certainly needs criticism, but the ground from which you choose to criticise it seems to me a very slippery slope, indeed….


Report this
Lee Oates's avatar

By Lee Oates, April 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Right on Chris, on all points. [K’wihl H’auusqum Xsgaak]

Report this

By geh, April 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

Diamond’s comment below—“Is violence ever justified? Do you live on your knees or die on your feet? This is a question every civilized person wrestles with and always has, all through history”—brought to mind this passage from the 1970 film of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, another depiction of the brutality of the world that global capitalism (represented in the novel by Milo Minderbinder) and administration (Cathcart in the novel) brought about:

Capt. Nately: You’re a shameful opportunist! What you don’t understand is that it’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

Old man in whorehouse: You have it backwards. It’s better to live on your feet than to die on your knees. I know.

Capt. Nately: How do you know?

Old man in whorehouse: Because I am 107-years-old. How old are you?

Capt. Nately: I’ll be 20 in January.

Old man in whorehouse: If you live.

In the penultimate chapter of the book, it is discovered that the old man’s cynicism did not save him from death either. But his comment to the young and naive Nately is still haunting.

Report this

By catsberry, April 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s easy to write about doomsday in the
comfort of our living rooms drinking our
expresso coffees or Merlots wines;  After
all, it just a form of intellectual
masturbation. We are all part of the human
race, including the native americans, who
in reality are no different than modern
society in that we are still very
primitive.  In fact “civilization” should
just be thought of as an idealized state
of mind that can never really exist.  We
are a violent species bent on the
exploitation and ultimate destruction of
others all for material gain.  We are still in the midst of
primitive tribal warfare and plunder just
like the native Indians, treat women and
other weaker members of society like dogs
despite the academic perceptions to the
contrary.  They too are a class society
perpetuating poverty;  Just follow the
money of any of these casino-rich
tribes…they are worse than white
society.  Why put them on a pedestal?

Report this

By Ed Romano, April 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Somebody mentioned my pal….
  Heidegger,degger met a poor beggar
  Whose face was the color of air.
  Said Heidegger, degger,
  I’d help ham and egg her
  But I’m quite sure that she’s there.

Somebody else spoke of imagination. Imagination is the single most important attribute missing in the character of the vast majority of human beings…the imagination required to understand what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes.

Report this

By diamond, April 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

“For Hedges, the image of Occupy as law-abiding citizens is more important than confronting empire, and obedience to empire is the only permissible way to confront it. Yes, many people have been driven mad, but they must act as if they were not.”

You’ve hit the nail on the head and raised a very important question. Is violence ever justified? Do you live on your knees or die on your feet? This is a question every civilized person wrestles with and always has, all through history. I don’t see how the march of globalization and neo liberalism and the feudal system it intends to impose on western democracy can be stopped without fighting and not just writing or talking. I don’t endorse violence but looking at history I know that no elite has ever given up power until they had no choice and the boots of their victims were on their necks. The French Revolution never needed to happen and neither did the Russian Revolution but the elites were not prepared to give up one inch of their power and the response was rage, violence and revolution. The outcome in both cases was certainly not what the people wanted (in the short term) but they were left with no choice and the current elite will leave people with no choice either and that may lead to more being broken than windows.

The corporations have rendered national governments impotent and that will have consequences that history tells us will be cataclysmic because the masses always take power back eventually: how that happens depends on the elites. In South Africa, for example, the white elite let Nelson Mandela be elected, averting a race war and complete social disintegration. I don’t see that kind of wisdom being displayed in the globalized, neo liberal elite that is currently trying to enslave the workers of the world.

Report this

By Bill Desmond, April 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well and truly said,  Mr. Hedges.
But what. then, are we to do?

Report this
americanme's avatar

By americanme, April 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

Fidel Castro had this to say last week in his column Reflections:

The accelerated development of science and technology has been a sign of our times. Whether we are aware of it or not, this is what will mark the future of humanity.  This is an entirely new era.  What prevails in every corner of this globalized world is the real struggle of our species for its own survival.”

He put into a succinct small paragraph what PERHAPS Hedges would or could say if he were not anguishing with for a white paradise that never existsed and promoting The Way of the Wimp.

Report this
Mark E. Smith's avatar

By Mark E. Smith, April 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

So the answer is to confront the empire through passivity. To respect property over people. To condemn anyone who so much as breaks a window as a “cancer.”

Hedges is an elitist who never reads or responds to his critics or fans. His pronouncements come from on high, and no matter how accurate they may be, they are the edicts of someone who places himself above us, not among us.

For Hedges, the image of Occupy as law-abiding citizens is more important than confronting empire, and obedience to empire is the only permissible way to confront it. Yes, many people have been driven mad, but they must act as if they were not.

First we’re told that only passivity can lead to progress, and now we’re told that passivity is the problem.

Chris Hedges is an excellent writer and I agree with most of what he says in this essay. But in the end, he is a believer—a believer in hierarchy, authority, religion, the state, property, and even in the pharmaceutical industry he rightly condemns. Refuse their toxic medications but accept their profit-motivated diagnoses? Yes, the reactions of humanity to being violently extinguished are normal. When your planet, your only habitat, is being destroyed by uberviolent capitalist imperialism, you should take care not to break a window or resist arrest, for fear of harming the image of the resistance?

Chris Hedges knows the answer: to stop believing and to start dreaming and acting. A pity he can’t.

Report this
americanme's avatar

By americanme, April 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

And the no-neck troll adds fucked-up to his kneejerk epithet of shithead.

At least I didn’t say “The only good white person is a dead white person”, like you and yours say about us red folks.

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

and the quest of those who quote Marx’s predictions long after they’ve proven that
Marx was a lovely theoretician and historian without a glimmer of understanding
of actual flesh-and-blood humans is the mark of the booby.

Report this

By Rixar13, April 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

“The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth, as Karl Marx observed, is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism. This quest, as there is less and less to exploit, leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death.”

As always, Chris Hedges right on the money…

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

white peoples iz bad

red peoples iz good

u iz fucked-up bigoted shithead

Report this
D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, April 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

I love the flow of this column. Truly brilliant. 

If I may lighten it up a bit, here’s some Monty

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.

David Hume could out-consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel,

And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

There’s nothing Nietzche couldn’t teach ya
‘Bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.

Plato, they say, could stick it away—
Half a crate of whiskey every day.

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.
Hobbes was fond of his dram,

And Ren Descartes was a drunken fart.
‘I drink, therefore I am.’

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed,
A lovely little thinker,
But a bugger when he’s pissed.

Report this

By LarryA, April 30, 2012 at 11:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great post, you hit the nail on the head.  Thanks.

Report this
americanme's avatar

By americanme, April 30, 2012 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Ah, I see you are white, too.

No I read the same article—I just read between the lines better than you do.

And I am not seduced by arguments for The Way of the Wimp.

Report this

By johndot, April 30, 2012 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

@americanme…I think you read a different article
than I did.

Report this
americanme's avatar

By americanme, April 30, 2012 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

It’s way too obvious from reading this piece that Hedges is white.

He just has to get in digs at Native American leaders such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse to justify the genocide the whites committed against indigenous people.

His nostalgia for a whites-only paradise that never existed is what blinds him and makes him not only incapable of meaningful action, but makes him dangerous—as he trivializes EVERYTHING.

Report this

By MeHere, April 30, 2012 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Great article by C. Hedges.

I particularly liked his paragraphs about the power of human imagination. It is interesting to observe that the imaginative and sensible solutions that many propose for solving problems in our country are considered impractical by the majority.  It is tragic and ironic that the favored approach is to support the constant use of unimaginative, unrealistic solutions because these are deemed to
be practical. The increasing evidence all around us indicates that this is the wrong path.

Report this

By AHC, April 30, 2012 at 10:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have given up.  The evil has won

Report this

By Michael Shaw, April 30, 2012 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

This is perhaps the single, most important commentary of modern times ever made. Clearly it had to be made and is is very sad in fact that not that many other folks have the courage, or the same practical incites as Hodges. It speaks the truth about our one and only beloved mother earth. The horrific truth, that may already place us beyond the point of no return.

Report this

By Kaleopono, April 30, 2012 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Hawaii and Hawaiians need to be added to the list of nations colonized once the continental US was subjugated (Hedges’ last paragraph). A good article, Hedges’ view syncs with America the Possible: A Manifesto, Parts I & II, by James Gustave Speth, published in the last two issues of Orion magazine.  All three point us in the direction we need to deliberately explore, post haste. My aloha to you all.

Report this

By Korky Day, April 30, 2012 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

“VyseLegendaire” writes of “the examples of the ancient Indian tribes”.  Don’t forget that the First Nations were not all exterminated.  They and their cultures persist and evolve, as all cultures do.  Whites like to forget that so that they can ignore the First Nations’ continuing demands for justice and pretend that the USA is post-racism.

As far as solutions, see most of the other threads here on TruthDig.

Report this

By Alan MacDonald, April 30, 2012 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

JohhnyM, April 30 at 7:28 am Link to this comment.

JohhnyM, did you read Chris’s article?

The answer that you are complaining (or even whining about not getting) is clearly given by Chris—- it is Empire.

Empire is the issue, the cause, the focal point that must be addressed.

Obviously, Hedges’ solution or answer that you are demanding, is merely to confront and excise the Empire.

So, go forth.  Confront Empire.  Get others to confront the Empire.  And then Empire will be excised, since it can only exist if your passivity allows it to exist.

Once “called-out” and identified, recognized, and confronted by the masses, then Empire, like a fish out of water, simply dies.

Nothing collapses so fast as an Empire (even this DGE) once it is recognized and confronted by the people.

Only by deceit, deception, disguise, and lies believed by idiots, can Empire survive and plague us.

Best luck in simply “Occupying the Empire”,

Report this

By VyseLegendaire, April 30, 2012 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

To those asking for ‘solutions’ to the present crisis, questioning Mr. Hedges’s
sanity, and saying that this ‘spiritual mumbo-jumbo’ is colonialist guilt for the
effete , are all demonstrating full well what is wrong with the prevalent
‘Enlightenment’ culture we’re taking its to extremes right now.

A return to spiritualism and accountability means an end to Cartesian
teleological ends, and a re-acquintance with that thing called intuition and
sense. There is not going to be a solution because the current system is a linear
one that must have an end point.  Mr. Hedges is not fallen off his rocker but
has simply ‘given up’ to the obvious truth. 

And using the examples of the ancient Indian tribes is an example for
communal accountability, not a romanticization of the obvious brutality and
poverty that undoubtably existed in all of these ancient tribes. If you expect to
find ‘answers’ to capitalisms woes within its language, then you are going to
come up empty handed because the terminology and capitalism excludes the
vocabulary to describes its counter.

Report this

By Alan MacDonald, April 30, 2012 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

charlesfrith, Chris correctly identified the focal cause of all ‘symptom problems’ as Empire.

Why are you critical of him regarding the symptom problem of 9/11?

Of course the DGE (Disguised Global Empire) caused 9/11 to occur.


Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

@ sallysense


Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

@ JohnnyM

The stars at night are big and bright.

Gee, I guess you really are unique.


Report this
sallysense's avatar

By sallysense, April 30, 2012 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

(brings to mind)...

oh that odd-shaped egg that cracked…
beneath the crow’s nest watch…
and fell to hell to gently hatch…
inside the edge of a crooked notch…
no offspring food for lonely brood…
whose siblings ceased to be…
whose father’s flight took off one night…
to search eternity…
whose mother hen with wings tucked in…
had flown the coop with fate…
and laid a few to set unto…
while chance renewed her mate…
they say the bird was never heard…
couldn’t hear the smallest peep…
no feathered sound to ruffle ground…
as fluffy down slept deep…
though sickness nursed this baby chick…
with mystery held as so…
secrets sprout to nuture bouts…
which helped the young bird grow…
he learned to fly by nature’s eye…
to soar the boundary plain…
then flew above to meet the love…
of scattered seed remains…
he caught the catch of brethren batch…
who shed to spread their youth…
and shared with care his being spared…
as he dared to bare the truth…
he kept the course he set well lit…
and met with prayer in air…
then landed smooth on jagged groove…
to level roughness there…
and as that outcast did outlast…
his task of every deed…
he came to know the undertow…
that flowed for those in need…
the ones who sought what couldn’t be taught…
the ones who chose to heed…
the ones who fought off living naught…
to save their dying breed!...

oh that odd-shaped egg that cracked…
beneath the crow’s nest watch…
and fell to hell to gently hatch…
inside the edge of a crooked notch…
a fledgling reared by soul’s own pledge…
a promise vowed to take…
its power straight from the great unknown…
and see what life can make!...

Report this

By JohhnyM, April 30, 2012 at 9:11 am Link to this comment


Really? Dumbfuck is a term used by people who don’t own mirrors (but really should)...or children who can’t reach the view.

My comment was appropriate, accurate, and unique, albeit outside the specific topic - a big picture view on all of Chris’ latest articles - he’s slipping into a place no one should be! @heterochromatic gets it right…

I want Chris to respond, instead of the “plants” like you. Btw, how’s the weather in Texas?

Report this

By Ben Jezierski, April 30, 2012 at 9:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks, Chris, for your insight. 

The indigenous peoples of this land tended to judge the merits of an action by how its consequences might echo down the corridors of the next seven generations.

Viewing things from this perspective allows for a vastly different state of affairs than when the farthest forward one looks is the next Quarterly Report…

Report this

By Ed Romano, April 30, 2012 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

It looks to me that most, not all, of the posters here offer perfect proof of what Hedges is saying. The more vituperative their response the more you can be sure Hedges is hitting then where it hurts.

Report this

By RV, April 30, 2012 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

Einstein said that imagination was much more important than knowledge.

And the following is from “Air and Dreams” by Gaston Bachelard, (pp 1-2.)

“Studies of the imagination, like many inquiries into psychological problems, are confused by the deceptive light of etymology. We always think of the imagination as the faculty that forms images. On the contrary, it deforms what we perceive; it is, above all, the faculty that frees us from immediate images and changes them. If there is no change, or unexpected fusion of images, there is no imagination; there is no imaginative act. If the image that is present does not make us think of one that is absent, if an image does not determine an abundance – an explosion – of unusual images, then there is no imagination. There is only perception, the memory of a perception, a familiar memory, an habitual way of viewing form and color. The basic word in the lexicon of the imagination is not image, but imaginary. The value of an image is measured by the extent of its imaginary aura. Thanks to the imaginary, imagination is essentially open and elusive. It is the human psyche’s experience of openness and novelty. More than any other power, it is what distinguishes the human psyche. As William Blake puts it: “The Imagination is not a State: it is Human Existence itself.”
“Conversely, an image that deserts it imaginary principle and becomes fixed in one definitive form, takes on little by little all the characteristics of immediate perception. Soon, instead of leading us to dream and speak, it causes us to act. We could say that a stable and completely realized image clips the wings of the imagination.”
“A psychology of the imagination that is concerned only with the structure of images ignores an essential and obvious characteristic that everyone recognizes: the mobility of images. Structure and mobility are opposites – in the realm of imagination as in so many others. It is easier to describe forms than motion, which is why psychology has begun with forms. Motion, however, is the more important. In a truly complete psychology, imagination is primarily a kind of spiritual mobility of the greatest, liveliest, and most exhilarating kind.”

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 30, 2012 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

Mr Hedges was once a wonderful author.

“War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning” is extraordinary.

One can only hope and pray for his return to health and think well of him.

Report this

By ron hansing, April 30, 2012 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

Thank God for Chris and the glories of revolutionary Marxism… problems solved. Or should we say Thank Chris… for God?

ron hansing

Report this

By MouseyTongue, April 30, 2012 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

In addition, our collective conscience is insane, we
have government by gangs. They have their own lingo,
their own colors, their own symbolic language, art
and are a culture unto themselves.
Respect for the law? Respect has to be earned, and it
is a traditional knowledge inherited from the dawn of
recorded history, and likely even before that.
Yet the Law, that collective conscience and spirit of
fairness and justice is being daily diluted,
degenerated and dissolved by adding new ‘laws’, laws
that are not a matter of collective consensus - in
fact many laws are only discovered to exist until
AFTER they have been ‘legislated’ into existence!
Then when someone steps on one of these landmines
buried in the middle of the night on public
thoroughfares, suddenly ‘ignorance of the law is no
excuse (read excuse as defense).’
If we are to have a law of the people, we need, and
have the technology for, a one person one vote system
of ratifying new laws by the people themselves.
I can already hear the objection that ‘people are not
capable of fully understanding the laws proposed as
are the legislators who do nothing else their entire
In other words, as when justifying the reason for the
Electoral College (the average man is not capable of
casting an informed vote so representatives must be
elected to cast their vote for them - and they are
not bound in their vote by those who elected them,
they are free to alter their vote as they choose (or
are bribed to do).
Bottom line, everybody needs to wake up to the vacuum
of power they are creating by their lack of awareness
and participation, and demonstrate their awareness
and demand their right to participation.
To paraphrase, all that is needed for evil to succeed
is for good to do nothing.

Report this

By charlesfrith, April 30, 2012 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

I love Chris Hedges but c’mon. You guys are still in
denial about 9/11 and who orchestrated it, so the
reality pain barrier is still outstanding.

I’m absolutely serious.

Report this

By JohhnyM, April 30, 2012 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

Chris, your point is well taken in spite of its tone. We need solutions, not smart people like yourself who waste their time writing whine after whine - what’s the answer? Write that article!

Otherwise, it’s truly hopeless, which seems to be the gist of your article. If you’ve given up, then you don’t deserve “air-time,” if you haven’t, then solve solve solve. I have faith that someone smarter than me, and smarter than the capitalists (which isn’t saying much) will do just this. There’s a lot of voices out there, but the solution-job is still open…

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

I post this against my better judgement, but well… it just fits (like a boot).

Jon Bon Jovi - Blaze Of Corn

Report this

By Korky Day, April 30, 2012 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

A great sermon by Chris Hedges except for one of his component arguments.  He defines the conflict of older natural cultures with nature-destroying patriarchal capitalistic ones as essentially religious.  He insinuates that pure reason and science are antithetical to peace and human understanding.  However, I think he is using mostly pure reason himself.  Without his religious argments (animism preferred to modern religions), his essay would be even better.

Report this

By balkas, April 30, 2012 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

btw, how do i and CH know that marx used the word “state” [with what meanings he had
imbued it] as i or CH uses it? we don’t don’t and never ever will know what exactly he meant.
and even my use of that term may differ [vastly or otherwise] from CH’ meanings of that label.
the label “state” is overgeneralized and possibly meaningless; and especially in view that
“states” [in now generally accepted meanings] never ever existed until just, say, 8k y ago.
is it possible that marx knew nothing ab. implicatory structure of language and thus took it for
granted that the label “state” forever means the same thing and for all people.
but everything changes; including meanings of words and even my own meanings may change
from year to year or decade to decade.
look, folks, it can be proved that the meanings are not in words—the meanings are in people;
and they change just like everything under the sun.
so, let’s stop attacking words and language!

Report this

By frank1569, April 30, 2012 at 8:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember what God told Noah, 70% of Americans who claim
to be Christians?

This is the last time I’m wiping out Man and giving him
another shot. Next time, Man will wipe out Man.

If I weren’t agnostic, I’d be worried at this point…

Report this

By traynorjf, April 30, 2012 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

A pretty good summing up of the way things are. The problem, of course, is global and, I think, may be insoluble. None of the great civilizations lasted very much beyond the point we are at now. It may be beyond our species capability to solve the problem. This may be the last hurrah for our kind.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

@ mindful

Sometimes. before I go to sleep. after I take inventory of all the wonderful things I posess, not just my electronic equipment, but the qualities and experiences that make me the man I am, I like to imagine myself as a young lad in a field of corn.

Maybe I am out there drinking a beer after I got in a fight with my Ma and Pa over watching “Anonymous” vids on my smartphone. Maybe it is something else.

Anyhow, those ears of corn can hear me, drinking a beer out there in the moonlight more than just about anyone else can. So don’t knock corn my friend.

Corn is what keeps us true Americans alive.

Report this

By Alan MacDonald, April 30, 2012 at 7:52 am Link to this comment

mindful, in the 19th century it was famously said that, “it took half the world to support the British Empire”, and today it certainly takes 3 or 4 worlds to support this DGE (Disguised Global Empire) hiding behind the facade of America.

So, my friend, painting China as “the problem” is both a red-herring (pun intended) and seems like it could easily be taken for right-wing ‘fear mongering’.

You’re not a right-wing troll?  And be mindful of your answer.


Report this

By jrundin, April 30, 2012 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

I’m generally sympathetic with the views expressed here.

However, no amount of appealing to Native Americans or the virtues of pre-empire peoples is likely to get anywhere. Such romanticized notions have been tossed around since the beginning of civilization—it’s a pastoral vision, present already in the writings of the ancient Middle East. More currently, you can hear such pleas in people who studied folklore and mythology in the nineteenth and early twentieth century—Jung, Eliade, etc—many of whom actually had some fairly unsavory view associated with budding fascist movements.

At it’s most harmless, such views become a fun, artsy thing for elite artists and intellectuals to play with in their parlors while, all the while, these same artists’ more violent comrades—armies, capitalists, conquistadors—happily mop up the few remaining primitives in violent displays of force.

At it’s worst, these musings become the intellectual basis for attacks on the very people idealized. Anthropologists always like to claim they support the interests of their subjects. However, their funding usually comes from those whose interests are to exploit the people whom the anthropologists observe. Most recently, we can observe the use of anthropologists by U.S. forces in the Afghan occupation. But history is full of these stories. (My favorite is Edwards Evans-Pritchard, the great anthropologist of the Nuer who, in his writings, never seems to figure out why the natives hate him so much and are so unfriendly, when, clearly, if you read between the lines, the natives knew he represented the British colonial authority.)

In any case, these appeals to the spirituality of other peoples goes nowhere or, at least, nowhere good. That is probably why the dissertation on Hopi ceremonies went no place, kerryrose; your advisor may have known something. If you spend any time on the reservation, you may discover the Hopi themselves are not amused by the material regime imposed on them by the U.S., and, actually, with full justification, can be a bit surly about the whole situation. Try going on one of the tours of the Hopi Mesas sometime. If you have any sensitivity, you’ll soon realize that you are really an unwelcome invader as you watch the locals peer back at you from their dwellings.

All this spirituality stuff is a diversion from the real material issues in front of us, which has to do with income and power inequality.

Report this

By balkas, April 30, 2012 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

i haven’t read marx at all. but i am glad he sees indigenes of n.america and some
of the s.america as i do.
CH might right about marx [and thus communists] being wrong in using the state
to impose on old structures a different structure of society. i prefer education for
that purpose.

Report this
mindful's avatar

By mindful, April 30, 2012 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

Chris as always, a schloarly piece of art you have given that will fall on ears in denial. The only ear deafer is one of corn.

Although, this is a hack retort, the Romans fell thusly as well. It was bread and circus, while the debauchery of the politicians and rich and priviledged burned higher.

What worries me is China, on a road of free wheeling capitalism. There are not enough riches in the world to fuel that monster. In the mean time, China cuts medical care for the poor and sends a salvo of we are coming to the world. Something, it seems, if just by simple mathematical logic and the inherent limitations of supplies, will result in disaster.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

@ balkas

I thought we were friends on the same team!!!

What happened to us???

Report this

By balkas, April 30, 2012 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

emile z,
u just proved my point: disagreeing w. people with murder in mind! u were well
made by your masters!

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

I will never obey you Balkas!!!

Report this

By balkas, April 30, 2012 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

yes, all evil that is befalling us comes from one seed: me more deserving; me
abler, more educated, smarter than you!
so shut up and obey me!
every prez had said this but, of course, not so explicitly as i do. bible, quran,
torah, any law, constitution, etc., say the same basic notions i just posited above.
a constitution or any law can be best understood as being theoretical and this
explains why even lawyers and priests argue about meanings of them.
and often with murder in mind if they are crossed or their meanings contradicted.
remember the witches they hung and ‘heretics’ they burnt?

Report this
John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, April 30, 2012 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

Two points.

First, some fraction of our ‘insanity’ is real.  Some fraction of the insanity is due to a combination of real physiological conditions, including hormonal changes due to obesity/diet, and including early stage Altzheimers, brought about by all manner of unhealthy foods, possibly now even including ‘mad cow’.  The cumulative generational effects of epi-genetics starting in pregnancy are not to be discounted.  But we don’t fund these sorts of inquiries… money in it, upsets the apple-cart.

Second….I forgot…..oh yea.  A camel is a horse designed by a committee.  Even with completely rational educated people working together, our compromise lowest common denominator solutions are sometimes disgusting.  Our so-called ‘free market’ system is an example. 

Add points one to point two, and you get an amoeba.

The cherry on top of this fetid amoeba cake?  We tolerate the re-echoing of rancid-Ayn-Randian clap-trap that, for each to follow their self-interest will magically resolve into some reasonable equilibrium with a fair quality of life for all.  The most outrageous psychotics have been running the asylum for far too long.  We let those in power scream this fairy tale to the impressionable and searching masses!  No wonder crazy is on the rise.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

Shut up Balkas!!!

Report this

By balkas, April 30, 2012 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

finally, we hear about n.american indigenes and their structure of society and governance.
caveat! nongovernance [and thus with no govts] also representing a structure.
their structure was, imo, idyllic or ideal. and when priests and ‘nobles’ saw it and its
‘godlessness’, they knew that had to destroy it utterly.
i have many times already listed resultants in daily living from such a structure of society and
governance, but it bears repeating them, i think.
so beg your indulgence:
no jails, whores, organized religions [a better term for them might be ideologies or cults], incest,
police, army, experts, generals, racism, discrimination, meritocracy, corruption, nepotism,
animal cruelty, deceiving, lying, ‘promising’, ‘schooling’ [indoctrination camps], professors,
‘stars’, spys, terrorism, domestic violence, boxing, christmas, usury, philosophies, dogoodings,
‘charities’, leaders, etc.
and we have all that and look what is happening to us!!!!

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

@ madprops

Re: “All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.”

I dunno, that sounds pretty fucking stupid to me.

Report this

By ninaflannery, April 30, 2012 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

>Alan MacDonald   And the Celine image of turning the page reminiscent of Hegel writing that when Philosophy begins to paint its gray on gray, then another era has come to an end: the owl of Minerva begins her flight at dusk.

Report this

By Madprops, April 30, 2012 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Capitalism isn’t the driver but an unfortunate part of the problem:  The psycho/spiritual
disease that makes us inasiable for things that we wrongly believe will make us whole.  
The void is never filled and our mad quest for more, more, more is rampant, out of control
and fast tracking us to annihilation.    As Pascal said, All human evil comes from a single
cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.

Report this

By Robert Charron, April 30, 2012 at 6:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes but happiness is not everything, for instance it can’t buy money.

Report this

By Darleen Fitzpatrick, April 30, 2012 at 6:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Human is not a race.  Human is a species.  Your discussion of North American indigenous people is flawed.  You do not know any of them.

Report this
BR549's avatar

By BR549, April 30, 2012 at 6:39 am Link to this comment

Another excellent article, Chris,

For anyone still in a fog about the machinations of evil people who crave even more wealth and power, I refer to the following White House Executive Order:

In that Executive Order, under sections 801(e) and (n), and specifically dealing with mental health, section (n) under “marine fats and oils”, these interlopers in our government know all too well that their management of this population, both national and global, has left these incompetent administrators preparing for their own potential doomsday, rather than actually start telling people the truth and working toward any meaningful solution.

Marine fats (lipids) are necessary for proper mental balance and as the stress level continues to rise and as these lipids come into more demand, we will find that these people had been laying the groundwork to seize anything and everything WE own after they intentionally force us into martial law. With that, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights will have been suspended, thereby “allowing” them to legally (so they think) steal anything they want and put people into forced labor.

Report this

By balkas, April 30, 2012 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

yes, chris, poverty, ignorance is waged—else no poverty and thus much less or no
anxiety, utter dependency, hopelessness, homelessness, courage to be,
helplessness, etc.
waged in some regions since at latest 10k y ago; in others, such as europe, since
about 3.5k y ago and among indigenes of n. america since roughly 200 y ago.

Report this

By Mark, April 30, 2012 at 6:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t understand why so many leftist intellectuals bash the Enlightenment?  It’s a
mistake to not separate science and the advancement of thought from how that
advancement is used.  Spending time in a liberal arts program where professors
and students speak of the Enlightenment as if it were a plague, I can tell you that
it translates into “brilliant” postmodernist conversations about how something is a
fact if you believe it.  Without the Enlightenment you’ve got Fox News.  Quit
making the Enlightenment out to be something devoid of imagination and
creativity and something that wasn’t fundamental to questioning power.

Report this

By Alan MacDonald, April 30, 2012 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

It is indeed encouraging to see Hedges finally, in a truthdig column, pin the tail unequivocally, on Empire.

It is also encouraging to see that Chris has tied together the insights of Timothy Parsons’ “The Rule of Empires”, Morris Berman’s “Why America Failed”, the horror of ‘settler mentality’, exploitation/extraction, the obvious connection between perverted, organized, and elitist rationalized religion and capitalism, and Shakespeare’s greatest play, “The Tempest”.

Certainly a tour de force in pinning the blame on empires of the past and the remaining DGE (Disguised Global Empire) that has captured and now “Occupies” our former country, by hiding behind the facade of its modernized two-party ‘Vichy’ sham of faux-democratic and totally illegitimate government—as the Nazi Empire tired to accomplish in its earlier and crude Vichy facade regime of a dreamed for Fourth ‘Reich’ (German for Empire) of a thousand year European Empire.

Yes, the post-nation-state DGE today has far greater sophistication in its propagandist deceit of, as Obama proclaims, “not being an Empire”, and far greater scope in its final attempt at saving the structure and deceit of this last neoimperialism empire by going truly global—- under the polite camouflage of ‘globalism’—- as if this trend is the ‘natural conclusion of history and evolution’.

But empire, no matter how it is disguised, and no matter how it is evolved, will never be anything except un-Godly exploitation by murder and tyranny.  Or as Hannah Arendt presciently warned from her painful experience with the Nazi Empire, and her life-time of studying empires:

“Empire abroad entails tyranny at home”.

Best luck and love to the “Occupy Empire"educational & revolutionary movement.

Liberty, democracy, equality, & justice

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Report this

By balkas, April 30, 2012 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

CH: “useless wars”. for some, but useful for some; for others, wars satisfy their
in the end that’s what’s it all about: THOUGHTS-FEELINGS or TEACHINGS-
LEARNINGS; in either order. of course, taught-learned since millennia ago and
passed from parents to children; from sacerdotal class to their prisoners; from
‘nobility’ to peasants; and now from industriaslists-bankers-elite to their serfs. 
and wars seem natural, a must, etc.

Report this
ghostofwatergate's avatar

By ghostofwatergate, April 30, 2012 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

This is so wonderfully gloomy, not to mention an accurate report on the fucking bats that have appeared everywhere that it could have been written by Ambrose Bierce, or Hunter S. Thompson.

I’m totally gonna have this screed framed.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 30, 2012 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

@ kerryrose

Sounds pretty gay.

Anyhow… beyond the gaydom in “our culture”...

“Our town” has some pretty serious problems, like slave labor, extraction and control of resources all across the land (or earth), and supporting muderous dictators.

Middle school may be the place to avoid certain types of trauma, but how about all the rest??? How can we communicate or explain away these incredibly serious moral issues and at the same time, nurture our young folk in the proper manner so that they might fully adjust to our ever dubious system of being cool and accepted with a bright future ahead of them (hopefully in the IT sector) regardless of their sexual orientation???

Report this

By Peerless Cynic, April 30, 2012 at 6:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Since hypocrisy and hubris have been institutionalized
in our culture I’m very grateful to Mr. Hedges and
those like him who give voice to the feelings many of
us share.  Here in Canada, our media is saturated with
the likes of Kevin O’Leary et al and it gives me
personally a sense of relief to have things like
Truthdig to turn to for reason and sanity in a world
gone mad.

Report this
prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, April 30, 2012 at 6:15 am Link to this comment

We live in a System of a down.

Where one in 4 are depressed. Where they are told that their dysfunction is their
own fault, or a biological condition, a malfunction in their brain. Yet there isn’t a
single study that confirms this. It’s a message created at the pharmaceutical
companies, to push drugs that were designed to mimic, street drugs, like Cocaine
and Methamphetamines. Drugs that created billions of profits. But all drugs block
a persons insight themselves making their behaviors more irrational, and for a
good percentage more controllable. 

Everything that the Elite do, is done for profit, as is a psychiatric system that is
also highly profitable for them. With treatment outcomes worse than Nigeria,
medications, that at their best cause brain damage and at their worst episodes
resulting in the deaths of dozens of innocents in maniacal rampages of gunfire.

The pubic fed disinformation, seems unable to understand. 

Drug treatment, that puts drug addicts on more drugs channeling the profits
reaped off them from the streets to mainstream medical institutions. Or they send
brain damaged children to residential treatment where they become detached
from their families at earlier and earlier ages. With success rates of 1% it doesn’t
matter to them,  as long as there are billable hours.

Few seem to understand, that the media will never connect the dots for the
masses, who seem to have a need to search for validation. It’s as if you have been
shot in broad daylight by a robber, who then denies their crime. But your basic
mental state is disassociation, so you can’t understand what happened. 

The Gulf of Mexico is dead, the Pacific dying, Tokyo will be the first large
industrial city to turn into a Ghost town, GMO’S poison the food you eat, Agent
Orange the water you drink, the grass you sit on, even the ideas you are fed by the
media are poisonous.

You are being poisoned to death, on every level of your existence. Even the Borg
were not this thorough.

Report this
sand11's avatar

By sand11, April 30, 2012 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

Thank-you, Chris Hedges, for an insightful article. If only all that anger that people turn inward, resulting in depression and anxiety, could be turned outward instead and used to demand solutions before it is too late.

Report this

By Bill Wolfe, April 30, 2012 at 5:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Speaking of a demented vision - just before I read this I read about the latest
Koch Brother’s attack on civilization.

One of hero front groups, Americans for Prosperity, is running ads in NJ (Mr.
Hedges’ home state) attacking legislation that would convert foreclosed properties
to affordable housing.

Sickness and warped thinking is too generous a term for what these evil bastards

Read about it here - includes a link to the TV ad, but be forewarned, it is vile and
may induce vomiting:

“Bill That Would Put People Into Foreclosed Homes Draws Heavy Flak

Americans for Prosperity TV spot says bill would move drug addicts, sex
offenders, and homeless into affordable housing.

Report this

By NPLee, April 30, 2012 at 5:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is discouraging to read further as your perspective is dealing the things in utter catastrophic terms. Many promosing works in the
field of nano technology are currently leading us not to the cliff or deadend of utter hopelessness, rather we are encouraged to look into a new era of advancement in human affairs. Why a man of high magnitude in intelligence and vision, Mr. Christ,
provide us with a pigeon-hole kind of view to us the laymen, to be honest with you.

Report this
kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, April 30, 2012 at 5:49 am Link to this comment

For my dissertation proposal at a NYC Ivy, I used the model of Hopi ceremony that expunges community ills and draws the people together again as a strong entity following such ritualistic purging to address problems of bullying, empathy, and tolerance in Middle School.

I was told by my advisor that I should stick with ‘our’ culture for examples.

Nice, huh?

Report this

By Age of Anxiety, April 30, 2012 at 5:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris seems to be upset that mankind’s civilizations keep failing, imploding; that the lions have not yet lain down with the lambs. We are essentially stupid, venial animals; our civilizations have always been predicated on nastiness and brutality, and all things perish. I recommend to Chris that he re-read Jonathan Swift and have a laugh while the idiots at the wheel of power drive us off the cliff. Better to chuckle cynically than to kill yourself.

“A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
although I love you, you will have to leap;
our dream of safety has to disappear.”
                      —W. H. Auden

Report this
thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, April 30, 2012 at 5:26 am Link to this comment

“It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress.”

Yes, and given that this “ethos” guarantees the ascension of psychopaths to power, this should not surprise you:

Report this

By jedson, April 30, 2012 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

Excellent article. An article at “Politics of Health” makes exactly this point, and attempts to understand the nature of this madness in greater depth. It concludes, in part, that “Given the collective nature of the wrongness from which we suffer, the most reasonable hypothesis was that our civilization is itself psychotic. It is mad. As individuals we imbibe this madness, and we reflect it in our thinking, our feelings and our actions. We have some responsibility for how we respond to it. But we did not create this madness, nor are we as individuals its primary location.”

This article suggests, much as Hedges does, that “the core problem is that our technological evolution has outstripped our spiritual evolution. Revolvers are now in the hands of Chimpanzees, and mentally deranged ones at that.”


Report this
thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, April 30, 2012 at 5:18 am Link to this comment

…yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv’d only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery Deluge, fed
With ever-burning Sulphur unconsum’d:
Such place Eternal Justice had prepar’d

- Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I

Report this

By Should I, April 30, 2012 at 5:13 am Link to this comment

“And as we race toward the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem we must restore this older vision of life if we are to survive.”

I could not agree with this more.  We will return to a state of community one way or the other.  A planned approach or through serendipity.  I’m thinking it will be the latter.

Report this

Page 3 of 4 pages  <  1 2 3 4 >

Right Top, Site wide - Care2
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide