Christopher Lynn Hedges (born September 18, 1956) is an American journalist, Presbyterian minister, and visiting Princeton University lecturer. His books include War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. In 2002 Hedges was part of a group of eight reporters at The New York Times awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism.
- 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 ISBN 1586480499, (2002)
- 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 ISBN 1586480499, (2002)
- As I looked out on the crowd, I was witnessing things I had witnessed in the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina or in squares in Belgrade… it breaks my heart when I see it in my country.
- 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 (July 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.
- War: Realities and Myths (11 June 2005)
- We are experiencing an accelerated obliteration of the planet’s life-forms — an estimated 8,760 species die off per year — because, simply put, there are too many people. Most of these extinctions are the direct result of the expanding need for energy, housing, food and other resources. The Yangtze River dolphin, Atlantic gray whale, West African black rhino, Merriam's elk, California grizzly bear, silver trout, blue pike and dusky seaside sparrow are all victims of human overpopulation. Population growth, as E. O. Wilson says, is "the monster on the land." Species are vanishing at a rate of a hundred to a thousand times faster than they did before the arrival of humans. If the current rate of extinction continues, Homo sapiens will be one of the few life-forms left on the planet, its members scrambling violently among themselves for water, food, fossil fuels and perhaps air until they too disappear. Humanity, Wilson says, is leaving the Cenozoic, the age of mammals, and entering the Eremozoic — the era of solitude. As long as the Earth is viewed as the personal property of the human race, a belief embraced by everyone from born-again Christians to Marxists to free-market economists, we are destined to soon inhabit a biological wasteland.
- "We Are Breeding Ourselves to Extinction", truthdig.com, March 9, 2009
- We on the left have forgotten that the question is not how do you get good people to rule, most people who rule are mediocre at best and usually venal. The question is how do we make those in power frightened of us and not be seduced by formal political processes.
The Christian Right and the Rising Power of the Evangelical Political Movement, (May 2005)
- 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.
- I have a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, which is what you get if you are going to be a minister, although I was not ordained. For me, this is not a religious movement. It’s a political movement.
- If you look at the ideology that pervades this movement, and the term we use for it is dominionism... And dominionists believe that they have been tasked by God to create the Christian society through violence... essentially an ideology of exclusion and of hatred. It is a totalitarian ideology. It is not religious in any way. These people quote, as they did at this convention, selectively and with gross distortions from the Gospels.
- They have built a vision of America that is radically — and a vision of this — and latched onto a religious movement or awakening that is radically different from previous awakenings...This one is very, very different. It is about taking control of secular society.
- And this is an America where people like you and me have no place. And you don’t have to take my word for it, turn on Christian broadcasting, listen to Christian radio. Listen to what they say about people like us. It’s not a matter that we have an opinion they disagree with. It’s not a matter of them de-legitimizing us, which they are. It’s a matter of them demonizing us, of talking us — describing us as militant secular humanists, moral relativists, both of which terms I would not use to describe myself, as a kind of counter-militant ideology that is anti-Christian and that essentially propelled by Satan that they must destroy... And that’s what these people are about
- There are no constraints left to halt America’s slide into a totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics are a sham. The media have been debased and defanged by corporate owners. The working class has been impoverished and is now being plunged into profound despair. The legal system has been corrupted to serve corporate interests. Popular institutions, from labor unions to political parties, have been destroyed or emasculated by corporate power. And any form of protest, no matter how tepid, is blocked by an internal security apparatus that is starting to rival that of the East German secret police. The mounting anger and hatred, coursing through the bloodstream of the body politic, make violence and counter-violence inevitable. Brace yourself. The American empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying.
- "Calling All Rebels", truthdig.com, March 8, 2010
- 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.
- “Happy as a Hangman,” truthdig.com, December 6, 2010
- When you spend that long on the outer reaches of empire, you understand the cruelty of empire ... and the lies we tell ourselves about what is done in our name.
- 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.
- But human beings matter little in the corporate state. We myopically serve the rapacious appetites of those dedicated to exploitation and maximizing profit. And our corporate masters view prisons — as they do education, health care and war — as a business.
- "Profiting From Human Misery", Truthdig (18 February 2013)
- The Zapatistas form the most important resistance movement of the last two decades. They are a visible counterweight to the despoiling and rape of the planet and the subjugation of the poor by global capitalism. And they have repeatedly reinvented themselves — as Marcos has now done — to survive. The Zapatistas gave global resistance movements a new language, drawn in part from the indigenous communal Mayan culture, and a new paradigm for action. They understood that corporate capitalism had launched a war against us. They showed us how to fight back. The Zapatistas began by using violence, but they soon abandoned it for the slow, laborious work of building 32 autonomous, self-governing municipalities. Local representatives from Juntas de Buen Gobierno, or Councils of Good Government, which is not recognized by the Mexican government, preside over these independent Zapatista communities. The councils oversee community programs that distribute food, set up clinics and schools and collect taxes. Resources are for those who live in the communities, not for the corporations that come to exploit them. And in this the Zapatistas allow us to see the future, at least a future where we have a chance of surviving.
- "We All Must Become Zapatistas", Truthdig (2 June 2014)
- My attitude toward becoming a vegan was similar to Augustine’s attitude toward becoming celibate — “God grant me abstinence, but not yet.” But with animal agriculture as the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution, ocean dead zones and habitat destruction, and with the death spiral of the ecosystem ever more pronounced, becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species. It is one that my wife — who was the engine behind our family’s shift — and I have made.
- "Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time", Truthdig (10 November 2014)
- 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.
- Interviewed by Paul Jay, “The Pathology of the Super-Rich” (23 Nov 2014)
- 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.
- Interviewed by Paul Jay, “The Pathology of the Super-Rich” (23 Nov 2014)
- Karl Marx exposed the peculiar dynamics of capitalism, or what he called “the bourgeois mode of production.” He foresaw that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. He knew that reigning ideologies—think neoliberalism—were created to serve the interests of the elites and in particular the economic elites, since “the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production” and “the ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships … the relationships which make one class the ruling one.” He saw that there would come a day when capitalism would exhaust its potential and collapse. He did not know when that day would come. Marx, as Meghnad Desai wrote, was “an astronomer of history, not an astrologer.” Marx was keenly aware of capitalism’s ability to innovate and adapt. But he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable. And as we witness the denouement of capitalism and the disintegration of globalism, Karl Marx is vindicated as capitalism’s most prescient and important critic.
- "Karl Marx Was Right", Truthdig (1 June 2015).
- If you read the writings of anthropologists, there are studies about how civilizations break down; and we are certainly following that pattern. Unfortunately, there’s nothing within human nature to argue that we won’t go down the ways other civilizations have gone down. The difference is now, of course, that when we go down, the whole planet is going to go with us.
- Interviewed by Elias Isquith, salon.com (June 2015)
- The reality of empire rarely reaches the American public. The few atrocities that come to light are dismissed as isolated aberrations. The public is assured what has been uncovered will be investigated and will not take place again. The goals of empire, we are told by a subservient media and our ruling elites, are virtuous and noble. And the vast killing machine grinds forward, feeding, as it has always done, the swollen bank accounts of defense contractors and corporations that exploit natural resources and cheap labor around the globe.
- "The American Empire: Murder Inc.", Truthdig (4 January 2016).
- Paul Tillich wrote that all institutions, including the church, are inherently demonic. Reinhold Niebuhr asserted that no institution could ever achieve the morality of the individual. Institutions, he warned, to extend their lives when confronted with collapse, will swiftly betray the stances that ostensibly define them. Only individual men and women have the strength to hold fast to virtue when faced with the threat of death. And decaying institutions, including the church, when consumed by fear, swiftly push those endowed with this moral courage and radicalism from their ranks, rendering themselves obsolete.
- "The Suicide of the Liberal Church", January 24, 2016
- Kevin Kruse in his book One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America details how industrialists in the 1930s and 1940s poured money and resources into an effort to silence the social witness of the mainstream church, which was home to many radicals, socialists and proponents of the New Deal. These corporatists promoted and funded a brand of Christianity—which is today dominant—that conflates faith with free enterprise and American exceptionalism. The rich are rich, this creed goes, not because they are greedy or privileged, not because they use their power to their own advantage, not because they oppress the poor and the vulnerable, but because they are blessed. And if we have enough faith, this heretical form of Christianity claims, God will bless the rest of us too. It is an inversion of the central message of the Gospel. You don’t need to spend three years at Harvard Divinity School as I did to figure that out.
- "The Suicide of the Liberal Church", January 24, 2016
- This moment in American history is what Antonio Gramsci called the “interregnum”—the period when a discredited regime is collapsing but a new one has yet to take its place. There is no guarantee that what comes next will be better. But this space, which will close soon, offers citizens the final chance to embrace a new vision and a new direction.
- "Welcome to 1984," May 14, 2016
- We are a society awash in skillfully manufactured lies. Solitude that makes thought possible—a removal from the electronic cacophony that besieges us—is harder and harder to find. We have severed ourselves from a print-based culture. We are unable to grapple with the nuances and complexity of ideas. We have traded ideas for fabricated clichés. We speak in the hollow language we are given by our corporate masters. Reality, presented to us as image, is unexamined and therefore false. We are culturally illiterate. And because of our cultural illiteracy we are easily manipulated and controlled.
- You rebel not only for what you can achieve, but for who you become. In the end, those who rebel require faith — not a formal or necessarily Christian, Jewish or Muslim orthodoxy, but a faith that the good draws to it the good. That we are called to carry out the good insofar as we can determine what the good is.
- Interviewed by Elias Isquith,
- We are captive to systems of power until we can name the dominant myths and the intricate systems of coercion and control that extinguish our freedom.
- The great writers—Marcel Proust, Anton Chekhov, Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil, Max Weber, Samuel Beckett, George Orwell, W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin and others—knew that thought is subversive. They challenged and critiqued the dominant narrative, assumptions and structures that buttress power. They freed us. They did not cater to the latest fashion of the academy or popular culture. They did not seek adulation. They did not build pathetic monuments to themselves. They elucidated difficult and hard truths. They served humanity. They lifted up voices the power elites seek to discredit, marginalize or crush.
- "The Intellectuals We Abandon", TruthDig (3 September 2016)
- As a foreign correspondent I covered collapsed societies... It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion. All the harbingers of collapse are visible... We suffer the usual pathologies of impending death. I would be happy to be wrong. But I have seen this before. I know the warning signs. All I can say is get ready.
- Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year.
- Neoliberalism transforms freedom for the many into freedom for the few. Its logical result is neofascism. Neofascism abolishes civil liberties in the name of national security and brands whole groups as traitors and enemies of the people. It is the militarized instrument used by the ruling elites to maintain control, divide and tear apart the society and further accelerate pillage and social inequality. The ruling ideology, no longer credible, is replaced with the jackboot.
- These myriad corporate dictatorships, or private governments, ensure American workers are docile and compliant as the superstructure of the corporate state cements into place a species of corporate totalitarianism. The ruling ideology of neoliberalism and libertarianism, used to justify the corporate domination and social inequality that afflict us, sells itself as the protector of freedom and liberty. It does this by subterfuge. It claims workers have the freedom to enter into employment contracts and terminate them, while ignoring the near-total suspension of rights during the period of employment. It pretends that workers and corporations function as independent and autonomous sellers and buyers, with workers selling their labor freely and corporate owners buying this labor.
- "The ‘Private Governments’ That Subjugate U.S. Workers", Truthdig (14 January 2019)
- The brutality of our corporate executioners grows by the day. They will stop at nothing, including wholesale murder, to consolidate power and amass greater profits. Blinded by hubris, driven by greed, disdainful of democracy, foolishly believing their wealth will protect them, they will herd us over the cliff unless they are overthrown
- Delacroix was right. It is the struggle that matters. Not the outcome. I was where I should have been that Saturday in front of the Paris Opera House. Yes, our cries were not heard.
- Yes, it may be futile. But the fight is what makes us human. It gives us dignity. It affirms life in the face of death. “This eternal combat” brings with it, as the painter knew, a strange kind of consolation that lifts us up to the level of our despair.
- "Only the Struggle Matters", Truthdig (1 April 2019)
The Death of the Liberal Class (2010)
- Hope will come with the return of the language of class conflict and rebellion, language that has been purged from the lexicon of the liberal class. This does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of working class enslavement, but we have to learn again to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx and Adam Smith did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good.
- p. 17
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America
- Not to know the Bible is, in some ways, to be illiterate, to neglect the very roots of philosophy, art, architecture, literature, poetry and music.
- Chapter One: Faith
- We are not fully human if we live alone. These small acts of compassion-for they can never be organized and institutionalized as can hate-have a power that lives after us. Human kindness is deeply subversive to totalitarian creeds, which seek to thwart all compassion toward those deemed unworthy of moral consideration, those branded as internal or external enemies. These acts recognize and affirm the humanity of others, others who may be condemned as agents of Satan. Those who sacrifice for others, especially at great cost, who place compassion and tolerance above ideology and creeds, and who reject absolutes, especially moral absolutes, stand as constant witnesses in our lives to this love, even long after they are gone. In the gospels this is called resurrection.
- Chapter One: Faith, p. 11
“Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System” (2011)
truthdig.com 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Moral courage ... is always defined by the state as treason. ... It is the courage to act and speak the truth. Thompson had it. Daniel Ellsburg had it. Malcolm X had it. Martin Luther King had it. What those in authority once said about them they say today about Snowden.
- 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.
- The relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked and those who watch and track them is the relationship between masters and slaves.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Security—overthrow 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
"The Illusion of Freedom" (2015)
- December 27, 2015 Online at truthdig.com
- The more communities break down and poverty expands, the more anxious and frightened people will retreat into self-delusion. Those who speak the truth—whether about climate change or our system of inverted totalitarianism—will be branded as seditious and unpatriotic. They will be hated for destroying the illusion. This, as Gabler noted, is the danger of a society dominated by entertainment. Such a society, he wrote, “… took dead aim at the intellectuals’ most cherished values. That theme was the triumph of the senses over the mind, of emotion over reason, of chaos over order, or the id over the superego. … Entertainment was Plato’s worst nightmare. It deposed the rational and enthroned the sensational and in so doing deposed the intellectual minority and enthroned the unrefined majority.”
- Those rebels who rise up to try to wrest back power from despotic forces will endure not only the violence of the state, but the hatred and vigilante violence meted out by the self-deluded victims of exploitation. The systems of propaganda will relentlessly demonize those who resist.
"Reform or Revolution" (2016)
- May 22, 2016 Online at truthdig.com
- Liberalism, which Luxemburg called by its more appropriate name—“opportunism”—is an integral component of capitalism. When the citizens grow restive, it will soften and decry capitalism’s excesses. But capitalism, Luxemburg argued, is an enemy that can never be appeased. Liberal reforms are used to stymie resistance and then later, when things grow quiet, are revoked on the inevitable road to capitalist slavery. The last century of labor struggles in the United States provides a case study for proof of Luxemburg’s observation.
The political, cultural and judicial system in a capitalist state is centered around the protection of property rights. And, as Adam Smith pointed out, when civil government “is instituted for the security of property, [it] is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.” The capitalist system is gamed from the start. And this makes Luxemburg extremely relevant as corporate capital, now freed from all constraints, reconfigures our global economy, including the United States’, into a ruthless form of neofeudalism.
- Democracy, in this late stage of capitalism, has been replaced with a system of legalized bribery. All branches of government, including the courts, along with the systems of entertainment and news, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state. Electoral politics are elaborate puppet shows.
"Crucifying Julian Assange" (2018)
- Nov 12, 2018 Online at truthdig.com
- Assange was once feted and courted by some of the largest media organizations in the world, including The New York Times and The Guardian, for the information he possessed. But once his trove of material documenting U.S. war crimes, much of it provided by Chelsea Manning, was published by these media outlets he was pushed aside and demonized. A leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch dated March 8, 2008, exposed a black propaganda campaign to discredit WikiLeaks and Assange... to destroy the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity” and blacken Assange’s reputation. It largely has worked...
- The Democratic Party—seeking to blame its election defeat on Russian “interference” rather than the grotesque income inequality, the betrayal of the working class, the loss of civil liberties, the deindustrialization and the corporate coup d’état that the party helped orchestrate—attacks Assange as a traitor, although he is not a U.S. citizen. Nor is he a spy. He is not bound by any law I am aware of to keep U.S. government secrets. He has not committed a crime....
- WikiLeaks and Assange have done more to expose the dark machinations and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. Assange, in addition to exposing atrocities and crimes committed by the United States military in our endless wars and revealing the inner workings of the Clinton campaign, made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency, their surveillance programs and their interference in foreign elections...And WikiLeaks worked swiftly to save Edward Snowden, who exposed the wholesale surveillance of the American public by the government, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow...
- What is happening to Assange should terrify the press...The silence about the treatment of Assange is not only a betrayal of him but a betrayal of the freedom of the press itself. We will pay dearly for this complicity.... Assange is on his own. Each day is more difficult for him. This is by design. It is up to us to protest. We are his last hope, and the last hope, I fear, for a free press.
Chris Hedges, AMERICA: THE FAREWELL TOUR, Simon & Schuster 2018
- [pp 6-9] Marx warned that capitalism has built within it the seeds of its own destruction.... Unable to expand and generate profits at past levels, the capitalist system would begin to consume the structures that sustained it. It would prey upon, in the name of austerity, the working class and the poor, driving them ever deeper into debt and poverty.... Politics would become subordinate to economics, leading to political parties hollowed out of any real political content and subservient to corporations.... Capitalist oligarchs hoard huge sums of wealth, $7.6 trillion stashed in overseas tax havens.... In the end corporate monopolies obliterate free market competition.... Corporations feast on taxpayer money. The government is committed to spending $348 billion over the next decade to modernize nuclear weapons.... We spend $100 billion a year on intelligence, surveillance, and 70% goes to private contractors.... Department of Education spends $68 billion a year. Wall Street and hedge funds behind the charter school industry view public education as one more source of revenue.... Public lands, prisons, schools, water and power utilities, parking, sewers, garbage collection and health services are being sold off or privatized by desperate towns, cities and states. None of these seizures of basic services by for-profit corporations makes them more efficient or reduces costs. That is not the point. It is about extracting money from the carcass of the state.
- [pp 40-41] The opioid crisis, the mass shootings, the rising rates of suicide, especially among middle-age white males, the morbid obesity... magical thinking... the Christian Right.... They have risen from a decayed world where opportunity which confers status, self-esteem and dignity has dried up for most Americans.... A decline in status and power, an inability to advance, a lack of education and health care and a loss of hope are crippling.... Humiliation fuels loneliness, frustration, anger and feelings of worthlessness. When you are marginalized and rejected by society, life often has little meaning.
- [pp 82-83] The Corporate State has cast many aside, but especially the young. It has thwarted their dreams and condemned them to a life where the best many can hope for is a low-wage mind-numbing job in the service industry.... The despair, the stress, the sense of failure and loss of self-esteem, the constant anxiety of being laid off, the pressure of debt repayment, often from medical bills, is amplified in a society splintered and atomized to render real relationships and community difficult and often impossible. Many people, especially the young, sit far too long in front of screens seeking friendship, romance, affirmation, hope and emotional support. This futile attempt to achieve a human connection electronically, vital to our emotional well-being especially in a society that condemns so many to the margins, exacerbates the alienation, loneliness and despair that make opioids attractive.
- [pp 232-233] The message of the consumer society, pumped out over flat screens... is shrill and unrelenting: You are a failure. Pop culture celebrates those who wallow in power, wealth and self-obsession, and perpetuates the lie that if you work hard and are clever, you can become a "success."... The disparity between the glittering world that people watch and the bleak world they inhabit creates a collective schizophrenia. It manifests in diseases of despair, suicides, addictions, mass shootings, hate crimes and depression. We are to blame for our own misfortune.... Noam Chomsky suggests, "If you care about other people, you might try to organize or undermine power. That's not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich; you don't care whether other people's kids can go to school or afford food. In the USA that's called 'libertarian' for some wild reason. I mean it's actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important as a way of atomizing and undermining the public."
- [p 308] The corporate state, however, is in trouble. It has no credibility. All the promises of the "free market," globalization and trickle-down economics have been exposed as a lie, an empty ideology used to satiate greed. The elites have no counterargument to their anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist critics. The attempt to blame the electoral insurgencies in the United States' two ruling political parties on Russian Interference, rather than massive social inequality - the worst in the industrialized world - is a desperate ploy. The courtiers in the corporate press are working feverishly, day and night, to distract us from reality. The moment the elites are forced to acknowledge social inequality as the root of our discontent is the moment they are forced to acknowledge their role in orchestrating this inequality.
- [pp 308-309] The U.S. government, subservient to corporate power, has become a burlesque. The last vestiges of the rule of law are evaporating. The kleptocrats openly pillage and loot. Programs instituted to protect the common good - public education, welfare, and environmental regulations - are being dismantled. The bloated military, sucking the marrow out of the nation, is unassailable. Poverty is a nightmare for half the population. Poor people of color are gunned down with impunity in the streets. Our prison system, the world's largest, is filled with the destitute. There is no shortage of artists, intellectuals, and writers, from Martin Bubar and George Orwell to James Baldwin, who warned us that this dystopian era was fast approaching. But in our Disneyland world of intoxicating and endless images, cult of the self and willful illiteracy, we did not listen. We will pay for our negligence.
"Manufacturing War With Russia" (2019)
- Despite the Robert Mueller report’s conclusion that Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential race, the new Cold War with Moscow shows little sign of abating. It is used to justify the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders, a move that has made billions in profits for U.S. arms manufacturers.
- It is used to demonize domestic critics and alternative media outlets as agents of a foreign power. It is used to paper over the Democratic Party’s betrayal of the working class and the party’s subservience to corporate power. It is used to discredit détente between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. It is used to justify both the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States and U.S. interventions overseas—including in countries such as Syria and Venezuela.
- Stephen F. Cohen said when I interviewed him: “The wall had come down...Germany was reunifying. The question became ‘where would a united Germany be?’ The West wanted Germany in NATO. For Gorbachev, this was an impossible sell.
- Twenty-seven point five million Soviet citizens had died in the war against Germany in the Second World War on the eastern front. Contrary to the bunk we’re told, the United States didn’t land on Normandy and defeat Nazi Germany. The defeat of Nazi Germany was done primarily by the Soviet army. How could Gorbachev go home and say, ‘Germany is reunited. Great. And it’s going to be in NATO.’ It was impossible.
- 'The wall had come down,' Cohen said of the 1989 collapse of East Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall. 'Germany was reunifying. The question became ‘where would a united Germany be?’ The West wanted Germany in NATO. For Gorbachev, this was an impossible sell. Twenty-seven point five million Soviet citizens had died in the war against Germany in the Second World War on the eastern front.
- Contrary to the bunk we’re told, the United States didn’t land on Normandy and defeat Nazi Germany. The defeat of Nazi Germany was done primarily by the Soviet army.
- How could Gorbachev go home and say, ‘Germany is reunited. Great. And it’s going to be in NATO.’ It was impossible. They told Gorbachev, ‘We promise if you agree to a reunited Germany in NATO, NATO will not move—this was Secretary of State James Baker—one inch to the east. In other words, NATO would not move from Germany toward Russia. And it did...
- As we speak today, NATO is on Russia’s borders, From the Baltics to Ukraine to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. So, what happened? Later, they said Gorbachev lied or he misunderstood. [That] the promise was never made. But the National Security Archive in Washington has produced all the documents of the discussion in 1990. It was not only President George H.W.] Bush, it was the French leader François Mitterrand, it was Margaret Thatcher of England. Every Western leader promised Gorbachev NATO would not move eastward.
"The Enemy Within" (2019)
- Our democracy is not in peril—we do not live in a democracy. The image of our democracy is in peril. The deep state—the generals, bankers, corporatists, lobbyists, intelligence chiefs, government bureaucrats and technocrats—is intent on salvaging the brand. It is hard to trumpet yourself as the world’s guardian of freedom and liberty with Donald Trump blathering on incoherently about himself, inciting racist violence, insulting our traditional allies along with the courts, the press and Congress, tweeting misspelled inanities and impulsively denouncing or sabotaging bipartisan domestic and foreign policy.
- Trump’s most unforgivable sin in the eyes of the deep state is his criticism of the empire’s endless wars, even though he lacks the intellectual and organizational skills to oversee a disengagement.
- The deep state committed the greatest strategic blunder in American history when it invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. Such fatal military fiascoes, a feature of all late empires, are called acts of “micro-militarism.” Dying empires historically squander the last capital they have, economic, political and military, on futile, intractable and unwinnable conflicts until they collapse. They seek in these acts of micro-militarism to recapture a former dominance and lost stature. Disaster piles on disaster.
- There are no internal or external checks on the deep state. The democratic institutions, including the press, that once gave citizens a voice and a say in the exercise of power have been neutered. The deep state will further the corporate consolidation of wealth and power, expand the social inequality that has thrust half of Americans into poverty or near poverty, strip us of our remaining civil liberties and feed the rapacious appetites of the military and the war industry.
- Most Americans – regardless of whether they were once on the left or right – have become politically disempowered and economically insecure. Nowadays it’s the boardwalk versus private jets on their way to the Hamptons.
- Why hasn’t America risen up in protest? Because American democracy was dysfunctional even before Trump ran for president. The moneyed interests had already taken over much of it. It’s hard for people to get very excited about returning to the widening inequalities and growing corruption of the decades before Trump. Which partly explains why Biden is foundering.
- We call this (Impeachment of Donald Trump) a trial, this isn't a trial by any stretch of the imagination. It's political farce... It shows utter contempt for the rule of law which any democracy must be based... If we're going to have hearings, why don't we have hearings on the politicians and generals who've fed us 18 years of feudal endless war... the greatest strategic blunder in American history... nine illegal wars — wars are supposed to be declared by Congress...the wholesale surveillance begun by the Bush administration, exposed by Edward Snowden, in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.. the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which makes it a crime for the government to surveil any U.S. citizens; the global programming of extraordinary rendition, kidnapping and torture; [and] the decision by the Obama administration to reinterpret the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force Act to give it the right to act as judge, jury and executioner and assassinate U.S. citizens.
- Chris Hedges calls out Dems lack of moral authority on impeachment, Rising (news show) Interview (24 January 2020)
- Neoliberalism, deindustrialization, the destruction of labor unions, slashing and even eliminating the taxes of the rich and corporations, free trade, globalization, the surveillance state, endless war and austerity — the ideologies or tools used by the oligarchs to further their own interests — are presented to the public as natural law, the mechanisms for social and economic progress, even as the oligarchs dynamite the foundations of a liberal democracy and exacerbate a climate crisis that threatens to extinguish human life.
- Class: The Little Word the Elites Want You to Forget. Truthdig, March 2, 2020.
- The oligarchs are happy to talk about race. They are happy to talk about sexual identity and gender. They are happy to talk about patriotism. They are happy to talk about religion. They are happy to talk about immigration. They are happy to talk about abortion. They are happy to talk about gun control. They are happy to talk about cultural degeneracy or cultural freedom. They are not happy to talk about class. Race, gender, religion, abortion, immigration, gun control, culture and patriotism are issues used to divide the public, to turn neighbor against neighbor, to fuel virulent hatreds and antagonisms. The culture wars give the oligarchs, both Democrats and Republicans, the cover to continue the pillage. There are few substantial differences between the two ruling political parties in the United States. This is why oligarchs like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg can switch effortlessly from one party to the other. Once oligarchs seize power, Aristotle wrote, a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution.
- Class: The Little Word the Elites Want You to Forget. Truthdig, March 2, 2020.
- The CARES Act handed trillions in funds or tax breaks to oil companies, the airline industry, which alone got $50 billion in stimulus money, the cruise ship industry, a $170 billion windfall for the real estate industry, private equity firms, lobbying groups, whose political action committees have given $191 million in campaign contributions to politicians in the last two decades, the meat industry and corporations that have moved offshore to avoid U.S. taxes. The act allowed the largest corporations to gobble up money that was supposed to go to keep small businesses solvent to pay workers. It gave 80 percent of tax breaks under the stimulus package to millionaires and allowed the wealthiest to get stimulus checks that average $1.7 million. The CARES Act also authorized $454 billion for the Treasury Department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund, a massive slush fund doled out by Trump cronies to corporations that, when leveraged 10 to 1, can be used to create a staggering $4.5 trillion in assets. The act authorized the Fed to give $1.5 trillion in loans to Wall Street, which no one expects will ever be paid back. American billionaires have gotten $434 billion richer since the pandemic. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, whose corporation Amazon paid no federal taxes last year, alone added $34.6 billion to his personal wealth since the pandemic started.
- The Treason of the Ruling Class. Scheerpost, June 2, 2020.
- Many of those in the streets can’t find meaningful work, are often burdened by large sums of student debt and have realized that in this world of serfs and masters they don’t have much of a future. They understand that if these protests are to succeed, they must be led by people of color, those who suffer disproportionally from the inequities and violence meted out by the occupying forces of the corporate state. And they also know that social inequality is at the root of the evil we must vanquish.
- Gaslighted by the Ruling Class. Scheerpost, June 15, 2020.
- Prisons, along with the police, are the twin pillars of social control. They are used by the ruling elites to keep those discarded by deindustrialization and austerity fearful, intimidated and neutralized. Break the reigns of terror by the police and the bonds of the world’s largest prison system and the ruling elites will stand naked before us. And this is why the reigning oligarchs, despite gaslighting us with promises of reform, have no intention of weakening the two principle institutions that keep those they have betrayed in bondage and themselves in power.
- My Student Comes Home. Scheerpost, June 29, 2020.
- As embarrassing and awful as Trump is, he serves corporate power just like Joe Biden. The big corporate Democratic Party donors made it clear that if Bernie Sanders became the presidential nominee, they would support Trump. The donor class has created a system where they cannot fail. If it's Trump or Biden, Goldman Sachs doesn't lose, ExxonMobil doesn't lose, Raytheon doesn't lose, Citibank doesn't lose. There is no way that they can lose. They have rigged the system so that their interests are always served.
- We have to acknowledge that the empire is tottering towards its collapse. So what is empire? Empire is the expression of white supremacy beyond our borders. The whole nature of empire is to go into the Middle East — previously into Vietnam, Latin America, the Philippines and elsewhere — and steal natural resources and exploit cheap labor in the name of white supremacy. And of course, we have an American society built on chattel slavery and genocide against indigenous peoples. What empires traditionally do at the end is they engage in what historians call "micro-militarism".
- We have to acknowledge that the empire is tottering towards its collapse... Empire is the expression of white supremacy beyond our borders... to go into the Middle East... Vietnam, Latin America, the Philippines... & steal natural resources... exploit cheap labor... White supremacy hurts white folks.... The police in Buffalo intentionally knocking down that older white man, who lay there bleeding from the head while the police walked over him... was such a profound metaphor for how racism hurts white people... What empires traditionally do at the end is they engage in what historians call "micro-militarism".... At the end stage, the elites need the tools that the empire perfected on people of color abroad... the drones and militarized police and heavy weapons such as armored personnel carriers being used.... against the country's own citizens.
- As Aristotle said, once you have oligarchic rule, there are only two choices. It is revolution or tyranny, and that's it. I'm not naive enough to tell you the revolution is going to win, but I'm going to tell you that if it doesn't win then there will be a very ugly corporate tyranny in the United States.
- I'm more optimistic because I see the resistance in the streets... That's where hope lies.... They're mostly young, incredibly courageous, they are out there braving economic misery, arrests, indiscriminate, brutal and often lethal police violence and COVID-19, and they're fighting against injustice and the elites anyway. They're all heroes in my book.
- Political, economic and social dysfunction define the American empire. Our staggering inability to contain the pandemic, which now infects over 5 million Americans, and the failure to cope with the economic fallout the pandemic has caused, has exposed the American capitalist model as bankrupt. It has freed the world, dominated by the United States for seven decades, to look at other social and political systems that serve the common good rather than corporate greed. The diminished stature of the United States, even among our European allies, brings with it the hope for new forms of government and new forms of power.
- America’s Death March. Scheerpost, August 10, 2020
- The tinder that could soon ignite widespread violent conflagrations throughout the United States lies ominously stacked around us. Millions of disenfranchised white Americans, who see no way out of their economic and social misery, struggling with an emotional void, are seething with rage against a corrupt ruling class and bankrupt liberal elite that presides over political stagnation and grotesque, mounting social inequality. Millions more alienated young men and women, also locked out of the economy and with no realistic prospect for advancement or integration, gripped by the same emotional void, have harnessed their fury in the name of tearing down the governing structures and anti-fascism. The enraged, polarized segments of the population are rapidly consolidating as the political center disintegrates. They stand poised to tear apart the United States, awash in military-grade weapons, unable to cope with the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, cursed with militarized police forces that function as internal armies of occupation and de facto allies of the neofascists.
- American Bloodlands. Scheerpost, September 8, 2020
- The flashing red lights are all around us. Joe Biden and the Democratic Party will do little to restore the social bonds or address the social inequality and disenfranchisement of tens of millions of Americans, now facing evictions and bankruptcy, which is fueling the social collapse. Donald Trump and the Republican Party, along with media outlets such as FOX News, in a bid to retain power, are fanning the flames of violence, seeing in the incitement of far-right mobs a route to a ruthless police state.
- American Bloodlands. Scheerpost, September 8, 2020
- Liberals, largely comprised of the professional managerial-class that dutifully recycles and shops for organic produce and is concentrated on the two coasts, have profited from the ravages of neoliberalism. They seek to endow it with a patina of civility. But their routine and public humiliation has ominous consequences. It not only exposes the liberal class as hollow and empty, it discredits the liberal democratic values they claim to uphold. Liberals should have abandoned the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton and political hacks such as Biden transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and launched a war on traditional liberal values and left-wing populism. They should have defected by the millions to support Ralph Nader and other Green Party candidates.
- The Collective Suicide of the Liberal Class. Scheerpost, December 7, 2020
- The belief that we can maintain current levels of consumption, especially of animal products, capitalist expansion, imperial wars, a reliance on fossil fuels and abject subservience to unfettered corporate power, which has solidified the worst income inequality in human history, is not a form of hope but suicidal self-delusion. We are not headed under the policies of the Biden administration and the global ruling elite for the broad sunlit uplands of a new and glorious future, but economic misery, vast climate migrations, waves of new and more virulent pandemics, of which COVID-19 is a mild precursor, along with irreversible ecological systems collapse and frightening forms of societal breakdown, authoritarianism and neofascism.
- The Great Delusion. Scheerpost, December 21, 2020
- History has repeatedly illustrated the dire consequences of extreme social inequality. It foments revolutionary ferment, which can come from the left or the right. Either a leftwing populism that smashes oligarchic power takes control or its counterfeit, a rightwing populism, built on the poisoned solidarity of hate, racism, vengeance and violence — and bankrolled by the hated oligarchs that use it as a front to solidify tyranny. We are barreling towards the latter.
- Papering Over the Rot. Scheerpost, February 1, 2021
- The two million deaths that have resulted from the ruling elites mishandling of the global pandemic will be dwarfed by what is to follow. The global catastrophe that awaits us, already baked into the ecosystem from the failure to curb the use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture, presage new, deadlier pandemics, mass migrations of billions of desperate people, plummeting crop yields, mass starvation and systems collapse . . . The science that elucidates this social death is known to the ruling elites. The science that warned us of this pandemic, and others that will follow, is known to the ruling elites. The science that shows that a failure to halt carbon emissions will lead to a climate crisis and ultimately the extinction of the human species and most other species is known to the ruling elites. They cannot claim ignorance. Only indifference.
- The Age of Social Murder Scheerpost, March 2, 2021
- The engine of our emerging dystopia is income inequality, which is growing. This bill does nothing to address this cancer. The bottom 50 percent of households in 2019 accounted for only 1 percent of the nation’s total wealth. The top 10 percent accounted for 76 percent. And this was before the pandemic accelerated income disparity. More than 18 million American depend on unemployment benefits, as businesses contract and close. Nearly 81 million Americans struggle to meet basic household expenses, 22 million lack enough food and 11 million say they can’t make their next house payment. Only deep structural reforms accompanied by New Deal-type legislation can save us, but such changes are an anathema to the corporate state and the Biden administration. History has amply demonstrated what happens when income disparities of this magnitude afflict a country. We will be no exception. Lacking a strong left, the United States will in desperation embrace authoritarianism, if not proto-fascism. This will, I fear, be Biden and the Democratic Party’s real legacy.
- Bandaging the Corpse Scheerpost, March 12, 2021
- There are many parallels between the deformities that grip Israel and the deformities that grip the United States. The two countries are moving at warp speed towards a 21rst century fascism, cloaked in religious language, which will revoke what remains of our civil liberties and snuff out our anemic democracies. The failure of the United States to stand up for the rule of law, to demand that the Palestinians, powerless and friendless, even in the Arab world, be granted basic human rights mirrors the abandonment of the vulnerable within our own society. We are headed, I fear, down the road Israel is heading down. It will be devastating for the Palestinians. It will be devastating for us. And all resistance, as the Palestinians courageously show us, will only come from the street.
- Israel, the Big Lie Scheerpost, May 14, 2021
- It is not until people are reintegrated into the society, not until corporate and oligarchic control over our educational, political and media systems are removed, not until we recover the ethic of the common good, that we have any hope of rebuilding the positive social bonds that foster a healthy society. History has amply illustrated how this process works. It is a game of fear. And until we make the ruling elites afraid, until a terrified Joe Biden and the oligarchs he serves look out on a sea of pitchforks, we will not blunt the culture of sadism and social murder they have engineered.
- Chris Hedges Speaks on ‘American Sadism’ Scheerpost, June 29, 2021
Revisiting the case of Julian Assange and the reality of the "rule of law", Salon (15 June 2021)
- A Society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice... the battle for Julian's liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher. It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era. And if we lose this battle, it will be devastating, not only for Julian and his family, but for us...I was in the London courtroom when Julian was being tried by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, an updated version of the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland" demanding the sentence before pronouncing the verdict. It was judicial farce. There was no legal basis to hold Julian in prison. There was no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the U.S. Espionage Act.
- The U.S. government directed, as Craig Murray so eloquently documented, the London prosecutor James Lewis... It was judicial pantomime. Lewis and the judge insisted they were not attempting to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press while they busily set up the legal framework to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press. And that is why the court worked so hard to mask the proceedings from the public, limiting access to the courtroom to a handful of observers and making it hard and at times impossible to access the trial online. It was a tawdry show trial, not an example of the best of English jurisprudence but the Lubyanka.
- What we are demanding on the political spectrum is in fact conservative: It is the restoration of the rule of law. It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning democracy, be incendiary. But living in truth in a despotic system is the supreme act of defiance. This truth terrifies those in power... The architects of imperialism, the masters of war, the corporate-controlled legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and their obsequious courtiers in the media, are illegitimate. Say this simple truth and you are banished, as many of us have been, to the margins of the media landscape. Prove this truth, as Julian, Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden have by allowing us to peer into the inner workings of power, and you are hunted down and persecuted.
- The criminal ruling class has all of us locked in its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It has abolished the rule of law. It obscures and falsifies the truth. It seeks the consolidation of its obscene wealth and power. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically of course, I say, "Off with their heads."