"The bottomless narcissism and hunger of consumer culture cause our darkest and most depraved pathologies."
I was listening to a Gar Alperovitz talk and he said that America produces enough to provide $200,000 income for every family, that it’s an income distribution problem. I agree with Gar that America is failing and it’s time for a new economic system. He speaks of worker owned cooperatives and locally-based economies.
Anderson Indiana is a good example of what’s wrong with American Capitalism. Nicholson File left Anderson for Alabama in the 70’s (now also in Mexico) then GM went straight to Mexico in the 80’s. Now it’s a bedroom community of Indianapolis, with little work other than minimum wage retail, food servers, a few motels along the interstate, a university losing enrollment.
If workers had owned Nicholson File and GM, you bet they would still be in Anderson and the people Hedges’ article describes would have jobs where a single parent could support the family, with healthcare, pensions.
The average Fortune 500 CEO now makes 300 times what their average worker does. This is obscene inequality. It is also unsustainable and an indication that the economy is on the verge of collapse.
Thanks, Chris Hedges, for going on the road to Anderson Indiana and telling this story of America. And thank you Sybilla and Josh Medlin for your humanity.
“Hope means walking away from the illusion that you will be the next Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Kim Kardashian.”
Besides walking away from the illusion that we might be these people, we have to walk away from the illusion that what we see of these people through the media is authentic. If authenticity mattered much in our media, then the one presidential candidate who got thousands of people to donate to him and turn out to see him would have gotten a lot more coverage. The media rarely covers authentic people, and when it does, it usually does so with the objective of either sanctifying them, or more often, tearing them down.
The fragility and resilience of our humanity
I found this article valuable to my life and thought and work. I believe many such communities can be found in most cities. I live in Tucson and certainly, this sort of intentional community can be found many times over here. I believe the collected wisdom of these communities and the people who comprise them constitutes whatever hope I retain for the future. This article was deeper and more meaningful to me than most of what I read on the Internet. Thank you for publishing it, and thank you to Chris hedges for writing this, and your other work. It matters.
Chris, your greatest gift is the empathy that you feel and show for the downtrodden, the throwaway people and society’s “misfits”. This gift enables, even drives you, to know them, to care, to listen, and to write the stories of their lives better than anyone writing today.
Charles Dickens would be proud of your substantial contributions to this real journalism and writing!
That is about the highest compliment I can think of at this moment!
I have learned so very much from your writing on a wide variety of subjects over the years. In this type of article, I also think I can see your soul. Keep it up, my friend. Some of us are listening and gaining understanding.
Excellent column by Hedges about those who do not despair in hard times but find wealth in love and sharing with each other. Wise men and religious leaders have been advising people for millenniums to put people before material possessions and if fortunate enough to have a lot than enjoy the great pleasure of being able to give a lot to others less fortunate. It is wisdom that is perhaps even more important than ever with the greedy and powerful destroying the environmernt and threatening the end of the human race itself in order to hold on to their obscene wealth.
I pity the rich as I cannot hate sick, addicted people. It is the capitalist system itself I hate. I do try to mitigate the misery done by the sociopaths that capitalism and class systems perpetrate. I doubt that anyone here doesn’t realize that the Imperial U.S. Ward is one of the most violent wards on asylum earth. One can bury one’s head in the sand or, for the sake of health and karma, fight the madmen running the asylum. You can’t reason with them and you can’t appeal to their hearts or souls which they don’t have. Sociopaths gain positions of power because they’re not hobbled by empathy or guilt. The only thing that they wish to discuss is power and control. They only understand profit and commitment to the self.
Our sociopathic leaders are monsters who use patriotism, religion, and love of the land to exploit us but have none themselves. We owe them nothing and should treat them with the same contempt they hold for us. I have had a good life despite them because I knew, thanks to parents who taught me how to think for myself, that they were the enemy at a young age. In order to have as little to do with them as possible I’ve lead a very simple life unencumbered by a lot of possessions. Frugality is freedom and giving freely of oneself to others is priceless.
Very few see anything but harder times ahead. The capitalist consumer economy is now unsustainable and cannot last much longer. More and more people will not be able to tread water with hard work as there won’t be any work. Hopefully they will find their way past despair and destruction to “intentional communities” or communes where they can not only share and help each other but work toward a socialist world.
Wise words, beautifully written, Rusty! We need more people like you.
This interview with Chris Hedges a few days ago is the one to read: