“Resistance to radical evil is the pinnacle to human existence.” – Chris Hedges
By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (2/8/18)
There is no better guide to the modern corporate state than writer and former New York Times war correspondent and Middle East bureau chief Chris Hedges. His various books – including “American Fascists”, “Death of the Liberal Class” and “Wages of Rebellion” – deftly dissect the condition American society is in and how we got there and where – barring some form of popular uprising he doesn’t see happening any time soon – the country will wind up.
Hedges is our modern day prophet and as with all prophets his message can be as daunting to hear as it is important. While I am a believer in the wisdom of the Buddhist concept of radical acceptance – as in seeing things as they actually are – and thus appreciate Hedge’s relentless documentation of what is going on, he can be a little heavy for some.
“In every act of rebellion we are free.”
On December 4, Hedges delivered a talk entitled “The American Empire’s Descent Into Dystopia” at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, New York. And while much of the talk is vintage Hedges he also offered up some inspirational comments and examples of resistance triumphing over authoritarianism, noting, “In every act of rebellion we are free.”
He cites the scene from Henry Kissinger’s memoir (“Don’t buy the book,” Hedges says) where the besieged White House grounds were encircled by a barricade of city buses to keep the thousands of antiwar protesters at bay. Deep in his gloom and perpetual paranoia, Richard Nixon looks out the window one evening at the barricade of buses and the angry protesters beyond and frets to Kissinger. “Shit, Henry, they’re coming in over the friggin’ WALLS. They’ll have my head on a pike!.”
And that, Hedges – a proponent of the “nobility of rebellion – notes, is just where we want the people in power to be.
But resistance is about more than mobilizing masses of people and tearing down the walls of the castle, it begins with tearing down the walls within.
“Resistance,” Hedges tells his audience, “Is not only about the battling of the forces of darkness, it is about becoming a whole and complete human being. It is about overcoming estrangement. It is about the capacity for love. It is about honoring the sacred. It is about dignity.”
This is an important talk. At about the 30-minute mark come strong words of hope and resilience and the story he shares about his minister father battling for gay rights in the 50’s and 60’s in the last five minutes or so of the video is especially moving.
Hedges quotes from Russian dissident writer Vasily Grossman’s banned novel “Life and Fate”:
“My faith has been tempered in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious leaders, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.”
If you want to better understand where we are at this moment and how we got here and what our hope of salvation looks like, this is well worth the time.
- Chris Hedges: The Price of Resistance – In the conflicts I covered as a reporter in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, I encountered singular individuals of varying creeds, religions, races and nationalities who majestically rose up to defy the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed. Some of them are dead. Some of them are forgotten. Most of them are unknown. These individuals, despite their vast cultural differences, had common traits—a profound commitment to the truth, incorruptibility, courage, a distrust of power, a hatred of violence and a deep empathy that was extended to people who were different from them, even to people defined by the dominant culture as the enemy. They are the most remarkable men and women I met in my 20 years as a foreign correspondent. And to this day I set my life by the standards they set. … Read the Rest
- Chris Hedges: Defying The Politics Of Fear – No social or revolutionary movement succeeds without a core of people who will not betray their vision and their principles. They are the building blocks of social change. They are our only hope for a viable socialism. They are willing to spend their lives as political outcasts. They are willing to endure repression. They will not sell out the oppressed and the poor. They know that you stand with all of the oppressed—people of color in our prisons and marginal communities, the poor, unemployed workers, our LGBT community, undocumented workers, the mentally ill and the Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans whom we terrorize and murder—or you stand with none of the oppressed. They know when you fight for the oppressed you get treated like the oppressed. They know this is the cost of the moral life, a life that is not abandoned even if means you are destined to spend generations wandering in the wilderness, even if you are destined to fail. … Read the Rest