Chris Hedges

From Wikiquote
Jump to: navigation, search
To be judged by the state as an innocent, is to be guilty. It is to sanction, through passivity and obedience, the array of crimes carried out by the state.
The relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked and those who watch and track them is the relationship between masters and slaves.

Chris Hedges (born 18 September 1956 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont) is a war journalist and the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002) and What Every Person Should Know about War (2003).


  • The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor, and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief.
  • Over the last few decades these radical religious broadcasters, who have essentially taken control of the airwaves, have built a parallel information and entertainment service that is piped into tens of millions of American homes as a way of essentially indoctrinating listeners and viewers with this very frightening ideology.
  • Most of these who are thrust into combat soon find it impossible to maintain the mythic perception of war.
    • War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
  • Patriotism, often a thinly veiled form of collective self-worship, celebrates our goodness, our ideals, our mercy and bemoans the perfidiousness of those who hate us.
    • War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
  • Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history.
    • What Every Person Should Know About War
  • The glitz and propaganda, the ridiculous obsessions imparted by our electronic hallucinations, and the spectacles that pass for political participation mask the deadly ecological assault by the corporate state. The worse it gets, the more we retreat into self-delusion. We convince ourselves that global warming does not exist. Or we concede that it exists but insist that we can adapt. Both responses satisfy our mania for eternal optimism and our reckless pursuit of personal comfort. In America, when reality is distasteful we ignore it. But reality will soon descend like the Furies to shatter our complacency and finally our lives. We, as a species, may be doomed. And this is a bitter, bitter fact for a father to digest.
  • To be judged by the state as an innocent, is to be guilty. It is to sanction, through passivity and obedience, the array of crimes carried out by the state.
  • We’ve been saturated with cultural images and a kind of cultural deification of wealth and those who have wealth. They present people of immense wealth as somehow leaders, oracles even. We don’t grasp internally what an oligarchic class is finally about, or how venal and morally bankrupt they are. We need to recover the language of class warfare to grasp what is happening to us. And we need to shatter this self-delusion that somehow if, as Obama says, we work hard enough and study hard enough, we can be one of them.
  • We live in an oligarchic state where we’ve been rendered utterly powerless. The judiciary, the legislative, the executive branch is all subservient to an oligarchic corporate elite. And the press is owned by an oligarchic corporate elite which makes sure that any critique of them is never broadcast over the airwaves.

“Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System” (2011)[edit] April 10, 2011

  • The United States ... celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.
  • To truly teach is to instill the values and knowledge which promote the common good and protect a society from the folly of historical amnesia. The utilitarian, corporate ideology embraced by the system of standardized tests and leadership academies has no time for the nuances and moral ambiguities inherent in a liberal arts education. Corporatism is about the cult of the self. It is about personal enrichment and profit as the sole aim of human existence. And those who do not conform are pushed aside.
  • I suspect that a major goal of the reform campaign is to make the work of a teacher so degrading and insulting that the dignified and the truly educated teachers will simply leave while they still retain a modicum of self-respect.
  • The truly educated become conscious. They become self-aware. They do not lie to themselves. ... Thought is a dialogue with one’s inner self. Those who think ask questions, questions those in authority do not want asked. They remember who we are, where we come from and where we should go. They remain eternally skeptical and distrustful of power. And they know that this moral independence is the only protection from the radical evil that results from collective unconsciousness. The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralized authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think.
  • Those who are endowed with a moral conscience refuse to commit crimes, even those sanctioned by the corporate state, because they do not in the end want to live with criminals—themselves.
  • Those who meekly obey laws and rules imposed from the outside—including religious laws—are not moral human beings. The fulfillment of an imposed law is morally neutral. The truly educated make their own wills serve the higher call of justice, empathy and reason.
  • As Arendt pointed out, we must trust only those who have this self-awareness. This self-awareness comes only through consciousness. It comes with the ability to look at a crime being committed and say “I can’t.” We must fear, Arendt warned, those whose moral system is built around the flimsy structure of blind obedience. We must fear those who cannot think.

Our Only Hope Will Come Through Rebellion” (2014)[edit]

A lecture delivered on 29 March 2014 at the "One Nation Under Surveillance" civil liberties conference at Central Connecticut State University

  • The irony is that Barack Obama would not even be president if it were not for the courage of persecuted dissidents such as Martin Luther King or Malcolm X, spied upon by their own government. But Obama understands where power lies. It does not lie with the citizen. It lies with Wall Street and our corporate boardrooms, which have carried out a slow motion coup d’état. And a system of mass surveillance is designed to keep these elites in these boardrooms powerful and the rest of us powerless.
    • 21:20
  • Totalitarianism no longer comes in the form of communism or fascism. It comes now from corporations. And these corporations fear those who think and write, those who speak out and form relationships freely. Individual freedom impedes their power and their profits. Our democracy, as Snowden I think has revealed, has become a fiction. The state, through elaborate forms of political theater, seeks to maintain this fiction to keep us passive. And if we wake up, the state will not shy away from draconian measures. The goal is complete subjugation, the iron rule of our corporations and our power elite.
    • 25:13
  • Moral courage means to defy the crowd, to stand up as a solitary individual, to shun the intoxicating embrace of comradeship, and to be disobedient to authority, even at the risk of your life, for a higher principle.
    • 26:50
  • An omnipresent surveillance state ... makes democratic dissent impossible. Any state that has the ability to inflict full spectrum dominance on its citizens is not a free state.
    • 29:29
  • The relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked and those who watch and track them is the relationship between masters and slaves.
    • 30:02
  • The government officials, along with the courtiers and the press, ... insist that congressional and judicial oversight, the right to privacy, the rule of law, the freedom of the press, the right to express dissent remains inviolate. They use the old words and old phrases, old laws and old constitutional guarantees, to give our corporate totalitarianism a democratic veneer.
    • 34:44
  • We now live in what the German political scientist Ernst Fränkl called the dual state. Totalitarian states are always dual states. ... The outward forms of democracy, of democratic participation, voting, competing political parties, judicial oversight and legislation remain, but are hollow political stagecraft. And Fränkl called those who wield this unchecked power over the citizenry “the prerogative state.” The masses in a totalitarian structure live in what he termed “the normative state.” The normative state, he said, is defenseless against the abuses of the prerogative state.
    • 36:15
  • All those who challenge the abuses of power by the prerogative state, like Snowden, who expose the crimes carried out by government, are turned into criminals. Totalitarian states always invert the moral order. It is the wicked that rule, and it is the just that are damned.
    • 37:55
  • This deadly impasse, the tightening of the corporate totalitarian noose, would have continued if Snowden had not jolted the nation awake by disclosing the massive crimes of the prerogative state.
    • 39:25
  • Societies such as ours that once had democratic traditions or periods when relative openness was possible are often the most easily seduced into totalitarian systems because those who rule and build totalitarian structures continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old system.
    • 40:35
  • Reform will come and only come through the building of mass movements and alternative centers of power that can overthrow—let me repeat that word for Homeland Securityoverthrow the corporate state. If we fail to sever these chains, we will become like many who did not rise up in time to save their civil society’s human chattel. This means we too must defy the law and engage in civil disobedience
    • 42:45

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: