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Chris Hedges

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Nihil Loc
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Posted 07/22/12 - 12:58 PM:
Subject: Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges is a journalist who believes our political system has been taken over by Corporate interests, that liberalism (American Left) has failed to uphold and fight for its values.

He finds evidence in Barrack Obama's failure to rescind suspensions of liberty enacted during the Bush administration (i.e. warrantless surveillance and suspension of habeas corpus.)

Hedges sees the 2000 page health bill 'written by the pharmaceutical and insurance companies' on par with the taxpayer bailout of the finance industries.

The political system is rigged so to speak, with power concentrated between corrupt officials and Corporate elites.

He puts a lot of emphasis on the Corporate disintegration of America, where small business can no longer compete with offshoring and cheap foreign labor, where increasing materialism erodes the values of community and isolates the individual.

Chris believes civil disobedience and acts of rebellion are the only real means to empower the individual these days.

Would you consider his views to be too radical? I find myself highly interested in what Hedges has to say even though he is so cynical, depressing really (for example listen to his 2003 antiwar speech given at Rockford University, which got him fired as a writer for the NY Times).

Chris Hedges' Empire of Illusion


Edited by Nihil Loc on 07/22/12 - 1:28 PM
Thinker13
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Posted 07/22/12 - 2:06 PM:

The Theory of Prophetic Charisma


Watched for twenty minutes. It's the link above plus conspiracy theories, plus socialism, plus liberalism, plus Athiesm(Charvakas), plus celebrity culture, plus a great deal of old stuff revisited in my opinion. Are you fan Nihil?

Nihil Loc
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Posted 07/22/12 - 4:02 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:
The Theory of Prophetic Charisma

Watched for twenty minutes. It's the link above plus conspiracy theories, plus socialism, plus liberalism, plus Athiesm(Charvakas), plus celebrity culture, plus a great deal of old stuff revisited in my opinion. Are you fan Nihil?


Sounds a bit dismissive to me. Do I have to be a fan or is that the same thing as agreeing with Mr. Hedges' analysis.

If Chris Hedges is a conspiracy theorist then so is Noame Chomsky.
Thinker13
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Posted 07/22/12 - 4:35 PM:

Nihil Loc wrote:


Sounds a bit dismissive to me. Do I have to be a fan or is that the same thing as agreeing with Mr. Hedges' analysis.

If Chris Hedges is a conspiracy theorist then so is Noame Chomsky.



Neither in my opinion. I asked because Chris Hedges is a new name for me and many of the things he reads out looked familiar. It's possible that I heard about some of his ideas without being aware of the source.


You do agree with his analysis. smiling face
libertygrl
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Posted 07/22/12 - 10:03 PM:

hi nihil hug

NL wrote:
The political system is rigged so to speak, with power concentrated between corrupt officials and Corporate elites.

i agree with this sentiment. for me the most telling sign is the fact that corporate bribery is openly permitted.

NL wrote:
Chris believes civil disobedience and acts of rebellion are the only real means to empower the individual these days.

that may be part of the solution, but i'm not sure that it's the only way, or the best solution. i think a more effective solution is to focus on designing a system that works. it does no good to attack the titanic when there are no lifeboats in place, and especially when it doesn't seem to be sinking. no one will want to abandon ship, especially when there's material comfort being offered for the large majority of passengers. i think we as a society need to be careful of not falling into the trap of waging war for its own sake. we need to come up with a better plan that offers something worth fighting for. until then, it will be a losing battle.

i'm not convinced that obama is entirely corrupt. i was definitely disappointed that he failed to veto the defense authorization bill. drones killing innocent people is a serious offense. personally i believe the bailouts should have occurred only under certain conditions, ie. changes in corporate policy, to prevent us from falling into the same situation again. he promised to close guantanamo and it hasn't happened.

in general, though, i think obama's done a good job as president, and was definitely 180 degree turn from where bush was taking us. obamacare is obviously not perfect but it's much better than what we had before. someone's taken the time to list his achievements, i think these are noteworthy:

pleasecutthecrap.typepad.co...since-january-20-2009.html

but still, obviously, there's a lot to be done. civil disobedience is already taking place en masse in the form of piracy, the sword of the common man against corporate greed. not sure what acts of rebellion hedges proposes, but i'd be curious to know what kind of system he envisions to replace the one which currently presides? does he go into that in this video?

cheers,
lib
Nihil Loc
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Posted 07/23/12 - 12:53 AM:

lib wrote:
not sure what acts of rebellion hedges proposes, but i'd be curious to know what kind of system he envisions to replace the one which currently presides? does he go into that in this video?


Well he was a voice and participator for the OWS and believes in that as a means for change. It isn't that Capitalism is bad but that if current policy trends continue more and more people are going to entering into retrograde levels of poverty. He is vehement about dealing with the extremes of poverty in the U.S.

We can't domestically compete with global manufacturing in many areas. But does the service industry (esp. finance giants) generate growth or destroy wealth in the long run?

Is there a way to improve our standards of living without devoting ourselves to an excessive economy of consumption. Possibly not...!?




Edited by Nihil Loc on 07/23/12 - 1:04 AM
libertygrl
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Posted 07/23/12 - 11:48 AM:

I think OWS has the potential to be a powerful means for change if they can organize and focus their mission into or two specific points of contention. Looking at the "points of solidarity" and "declaration" on their unofficial website, they have a long list of "wants" and no specific plan on how to go about achieving these wants. Every time I've asked various people who support OWS what it's about, I get a wild variety of answers, including one from a woman who said she just wants all rich people to die.

I mentioned this criticism to a friend not too long ago who responded with frustration, "Well at least they're trying to do *something*!" And yes, that *is* worth something, I'm not trying to knock that. But as it stands, OWS seems to be just a catch-all for people to shout their griefs about everything that's wrong with the world rather than something that can force the system to change. Without a specific target, like say the finance giants for starters, since the movement specifically references Wall Street, it seems like an exercise in futility.

As for the issue of poverty, I agree that it's disturbing (and foreboding). It's foolishness for a country to allow so much of its population to become impoverished. It then becomes a fertile breeding ground for riots like those we saw in London not too long ago. Obama would be smart to stay aware of that, I like to think he is (aware of that). But I also think the solution overall has to be, in part, a spiritual one, one which encourages empathy and compassion in lieu of constant fighting and war.

NL wrote:
We can't domestically compete with global manufacturing in many areas. But does the service industry (esp. finance giants) generate growth or destroy wealth in the long run?

I think by their very nature, they try to consume and accumulate wealth and power to the greatest extent possible. But at the same time, they *do* need to continue providing valuable services, or else they're worthless to the masses who can easily turn on them as soon as they're not getting what they want and need out of it.

NL wrote:
Is there a way to improve our standards of living without devoting ourselves to an excessive economy of consumption. Possibly not...!?

I do think so. =) I see many people in my immediate life seeking balance in this regard. People who care about themselves, each other, the planet. It's reassuring to me. But I agree that there's a lot wrong with the system and it takes people who care enough to fix it to do something about it. In that sense I do respect OWS and if Hedges is on a path to helping effect meaningful change, and maybe he is, I say kudos.
Nihil Loc
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Posted 07/23/12 - 1:56 PM:

Thanks for the thoughtful input Lib. thumb up

Its tough to weather the constant political spin and ideological noise that comes from the media and people you may live with. I know a couple of wealthy conservatives who watch Fox news and sound almost callous about helping people (i.e. the poor are where they want to be). They sound as hateful as the pundits on Fox and yet I think they just parrot the lines... and then I get to questioning my possibly misguided "bleeding liberal heart" and wether not I'm a parrot too.

Then Chris Hedges comes along and says something controversial: that the Liberal class is dead (which is quite an attention getter). So I'm spun in a new direction, drawn in by his radical indignation and the grim vision of the state of the nation he portrays.




Thinker13
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Posted 07/24/12 - 2:21 AM:

A general question on the lines Nihil was talking about:

Many of my friends(including me) believe that economic crisis is, apart from corruption, because of excessive consumption---consumption which is waste and can be do without. Living a life where you save money and don't run in the throat-cut mob-rat-race of 'status-symbols.'

What do you think about it?
Nihil Loc
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Posted 07/24/12 - 4:09 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:
Many of my friends(including me) believe that economic crisis is, apart from corruption, because of excessive consumption---consumption which is waste and can be do without. Living a life where you save money and don't run in the throat-cut mob-rat-race of 'status-symbols.'

What do you think about it?


Well the reverse might be true insofar as American prosperity is tied to over consumption. Any kind of excessive demand is provided by a service industry which provides work for people. Unfortunately the trend for decades has been to reduce the costs of business by outsourcing jobs overseas. Perhaps Chinese prosperity is also dependent on our over consumption in the US.

The problem partially lies in the the wide use of credit to sustain American levels of consumption. Without access to easy credit, various market demands would decline and the economy shrinks, creating more unemployment. Yet with economic recession it becomes more difficult to pay off debt, so there is a nasty debilitating cycle put into effect. Our liability grows (in interest) while unemployment rises and the risk to lenders increases.

It appears there is a huge psychological element to the dynamics of our economy, which is very strange and I don't quite understand it.

Edit:

Actually maybe it is improper to say America suffers from over-consumption because such a statement is at odds with the demand for greater employment. We can move consumer responsibility to the consumer, in which our decisions of what to buy effects the type of world and economy we live in. Our choice to maximize value at Walmart and Home Depot is behavior complicit with trends of wage stagnation and outsourcing. So it would appear that desire for material wealth trumps many ethical implications about human dignity. It would seem individuals maximize utility just as businesses do.

Here is an example of where I think Mr. Hedges finds a failure in the Liberal class: an inability to address the stagnation of minimum wage since the 70s while domestic worker productivity continually rose for decades.


Edited by Nihil Loc on 07/24/12 - 7:39 PM
libertygrl
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Posted 07/26/12 - 3:53 PM:

NL wrote:
So it would appear that desire for material wealth trumps many ethical implications about human dignity.

Totally. Calls to mind the classic phrase "selling out".

I often wonder what would happen if we could no longer buy things on credit. I started pondering this question after seeing "Fight Club", in which 'Project Mayhem' plans to blow up a building containing the records of major credit card companies. I mean, how long can we keep sustaining easy credit for everyone? Surely there's an end of the line somewhere?
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Posted 07/27/12 - 3:26 AM:

libertygrl wrote:

Totally. Calls to mind the classic phrase "selling out".

I often wonder what would happen if we could no longer buy things on credit. I started pondering this question after seeing "Fight Club", in which 'Project Mayhem' plans to blow up a building containing the records of major credit card companies. I mean, how long can we keep sustaining easy credit for everyone? Surely there's an end of the line somewhere?



Credit suggests 'you desire more than you have,' but then don't we all?

Yes, but when 'desires' grow out of proportions and there is not enough hard work done to get what you want you need 'credit.'

On the other hand if a loan is given for education and it's a good investment and then the person with 'acquired skills' might be able to pay debt back easily.

A culture of "status symbols piled one upon another like a tower ad nauseam brings disaster."
Nihil Loc
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Posted 07/30/12 - 3:28 PM:

Just finished Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.

The book is divided into five chapters:

I. Illusion of Literacy

Focuses on the predominance of spectacle, media and entertainment in America today and how distracts and erodes from a participation in democracy. Truth is less and less available because the media is full of pseudo-events, events that are staged to effect a particular reaction in consumers and voters. Rather we have become too immersed in desire and adulation for celebrity culture. Such culture reinforces superficial desires, which so many of us now strive for at the cost of collective moral investment. We hold advancement of the self to a level that degrades and commodifies other human beings. The media in effect changes the landscape of our values. He draws examples from celebrity culture in general, Pro Wrestling, "reality tv" shows like Survivor, Big Brother, Swan (plastic surgery pageant), MTV Road Rules, America's Next Top Model, American Idol, et cetera.

Informing the public in political matters has become a function of appeal to stereotypes (which it probably has always been).

Chris Hayes commented about the problem individuals face today regarding the politics and media. There is no institutional authority to which we can look to for guidance. Distrust of our leaders and the system of checks and balances is growing. He likens us to a sailor navigating the sea at night looking for a light house. The problem is there are light houses out there that are decoys meant to fool us.

II. Illusion of Love

Here Hedges shines a light on the insidious nature of pornography. It pushes human nature to an sadistic extreme in the way women become objectified, mistreated and abused. The examples he uses are really sickening. It is yet another example of turning a person into a commodity, eroding values of common good.

There is a lead in quote for the chapter which sums up his perspective (and tone) very well. Hedges believes the Left isn't radical enough, doesn't fight hard enough for the values it professes to believe in.

Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women wrote:


Capitalism is not wicked or cruel when the commodity is a whore; profit is not wicked or cruel when the alienated worker is a female piece of meat; corporate bloodsucking is not wicked or cruel when the corporations in question, organized crime syndicates, sell cunt; racism is not wicked or cruel when the black cunt or yellow cunt or red cunt or Hispanic cunt or Jewish cunt has her legs splayed for any man's pleasure; poverty is not wicked or cruel when it is the poverty of dispossessed women who have only themselves to sell; violence by the powerful against the powerless is not wicked or cruel when its called sex; torture is not wicked or cruel when the tormented are women, whores and cunts. The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.


III. Illusion of Wisdom

IV. Illusion of Happiness

V. Illusion of America

I'll cover some more later.
libertygrl
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Posted 08/01/12 - 1:09 PM:

NL wrote:
The media in effect changes the landscape of our values. He draws examples from celebrity culture in general, Pro Wrestling, "reality tv" shows like Survivor, Big Brother, Swan (plastic surgery pageant), MTV Road Rules, America's Next Top Model, American Idol, et cetera.

A friend of mine who has been in the U.S. over the last few months on a work visa was complaining bitterly about the lack of any significant world news on American television. When he first got here, it was news of the Trayvon shooting day after day on every channel. Nothing about what was happening in Europe or elsewhere.

A few days ago I saw Jersey Shore for the first time, I admit was a bit horrified and equally fascinated. (Fascination wore off by the second episode.) Also read that Snooki was paid $2 million dollars for this season. Pretty amazing. I think the American addiction to celebrity culture can be attributed to several different things. I can certainly believe the media conspires in large part to blind the American public to the values of a "collective moral investment". There is also the problem of Americans gorging themselves on physical junk food leading to obesity, cognitive difficulties and I believe correlating to an obvious interest in scandalous entertainment, or what I would call "spiritual/emotional junk food".

Another factor would be the simple fact that such entertainment is easy on everyone. Easy to make, easy to sell, easy to watch for many. And sometimes easy is what we crave after having been through a lot of trauma, especially in connection with multiple wars over the last century. Under an optimistic light, it may simply be a phase that we'll grow out of, like kids in college sowing their wild oats. Ideally, I think it's best that we simply outgrow it rather than trying to crack a proverbial whip to get it to stop. On the other hand, if such behavior is leading us off a cliff like lemmings, then it may actually be that some whip-cracking is in order if humanity as a whole is to survive.

He likens us to a sailor navigating the sea at night looking for a light house. The problem is there are light houses out there that are decoys meant to fool us.

Certainly, but I don't think America is debaucherous to the point of being Gotham City in desperate need of a Batman. Also, I wouldn't say the Liberal class is dead, although I can easily agree that there's more that could be done.

I came across a Hedges quote making the rounds on Facebook. It says "We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy." This I think is an oversimplification that can just as easily be restated, "There are crooks in every profession", which has probably always been true everywhere. Even though we read about a lot of scandal in the news, I don't feel we're to the point now where the country is overrun with crooks. Of course, I don't want to get to that point, either, and in that sense I do believe Hedges may be reaching for something of value.

Hedges believes the Left isn't radical enough, doesn't fight hard enough for the values it professes to believe in.

Probably true. The objectification of women is a definite problem, although it's worth acknowledging that the internet has been a valuable tool in organizing movements to deal with it. Here's an article I came across this morning:

www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_16...ming-attackers-on-twitter/

The comments are worth checking out.

I don't feel like America is a place where a woman can't walk down the street without fear of being gang raped and then sold into sex slavery. I feel safe where I live and I feel safe traveling freely in the U.S., both alone or with my sister, mother, or women friends. There are vile and heinous sex crimes going on everywhere but it's definitely not something I would characterize as a strictly American problem.

And just to be clear, it's not that I want to ignore or invalidate the problems he's trying to shed light on, but rather caution against failing to recognize the efforts that a lot of Americans are indeed making.

I'll cover some more later.

thumb up

What kinds of radical action does Hedges propose?
Nihil Loc
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Posted 08/02/12 - 11:15 PM:

Thanks for more input, Lib.

Lib wrote:
Another factor would be the simple fact that such entertainment is easy on everyone. Easy to make, easy to sell, easy to watch for many.


Yes, especially after a grueling days work. People come home exhausted from jobs they don't particular enjoy and all they want to do is turn on the tube and not have to listen to weighty issues. Entertainment acts as sort of an anesthetic. The same with food. People often sacrifice health for convenience (fast and processed food) because they are too busy and such foods are too easy.

lib wrote:
What kinds of radical action does Hedges propose?


He doesn't propose any specific policy approach as he believes our system is corrupt, just non-violent civil disobedience and a shift toward greater democracy by way of popular movements.

Chris definitely exercises strong rhetoric and fails to acknowledge valid counterpoints quite often (but it is understandable given his vision of what he sees as the cost of our moral degradation). He is preachy, somewhat resembling in intensity and moral indignation the stereotype of hellfire and damnation preachers, except in a Left direction. Presbyterian divinity studies is part of his background and heritage.

Here is a negative critique of Hedges from "radical" Left perspective:

Bougeosie Propaganda Alert: Chris Hedges, The Messenger of Capital




Edited by Nihil Loc on 08/02/12 - 11:25 PM
libertygrl
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Posted 08/20/12 - 1:00 PM:

A "road to nowhere" would be my criticism of his approach as well. Will a corrupt system, as it stands, serve the people worse than no system? I'm inclined to say no. Smaller systems, as proposed by certain subsections of the libertarian persuasion, might be more effective though.
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