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Our Mania for Hope Is a Curse


#40

Hope isn’t what’s necessary

Humanity is.

Our sense of humanity compels us to follow our conscience, regardless of the odds. Many have stood against the most brutal and vicious forces with no expectation of conquering them.

They did so to remain true to their principles, with the realization that to do other would negate their very existence.

We cannot overcome without that understanding, and we may not with it.

But we will have given our lives meaning, and that to me is what this whole mishegas is about.

May I one day be enough of a mensch to make that mitzvah.


#49

As is typical Susan, your jerking knee is no accurate measure of the meaning of the post you react to. Pointless as always to attempt to engage you, but frankly, thanks for the laughs! The “me” you believe yourself to be arguing against, is quite funny, knowing the me that i actually am. Blessings,

webwalk


#51

This is just a very minor point, but I have to suspect that Rome’s fall was itself a cause for hope among some people who found Rome oppressive. They may have soon found themselves worse off, but a few probably actually felt they were doing better for awhile. I guess the moral is, be careful what you wish for, because then you’ll have to deal with it if you get it.

Of course, classical learning survived in Byzantium even at the time Rome fell in the West.

As I said, minor points …


#52

Good thing you’ve done your therapy, and vanquished your negativity and ARROGANCE! Whew…


#55

The only way to EFFECTIVELY protest NON-violently is to publicly,
loudly, and continually; ‘call-out’, expose, and educate Americans
that the US is acting like an EMPIRE abroad and TYRANNY at home.

Signs and protesting needs to be focused on ‘shouting-out’:

“Stop the EMPIRE”
“OCCUPY THE EMPIRE”
END ELITIST EMPIRE

Police, Please “PROTECT and SERVE” We the People against this EMPIRE

END TYRANNY!
Terminate TYRANNY

Liberty, democracy, equality, and justice
Over
Violent
Empire

PS. When Hedges speaks of “Dark Ages” he should read and understand this from Morris Berman’s fabulously revealing book, “Dark Ages America: The FINAL Phase of EMPIRE”

As Zygmunt Bauman hauntingly puts it, “In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis…is a crucial, perhaps decisive, part of the disease.”13

Berman, Morris (2011-02-07). Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire (p. 22). Norton. Kindle Edition.

Today it is crystal clear that the hidden disease is cancerous EMPIRE, or as might have been said in the Clinton era/error — “It’s the EMPIRE, stupid”!

PS2. Of 56 comments, this is the first to even mention ‘Empire’ — although Hedges mentioned it once in passing, and not related to the US now being the HQ of this Disguised Global (crony) Capitalist EMPIRE, merely ‘posing’ as our former country.

I’m tempted to rewrite the old song with up-dated lyrics:

"Where has all the thinking gone, Long time passing?

Where has all the thinking gone, On the leftish Left?"

If the leftish, progressive-lite, and supposedly alt media can no longer see the Empire for the trees/issues — then get a fucking chain saw.


#57

What Hedges is talking about is what I tend to call the Empire’s ‘big tools’, like; myth, mystery, tribalism, ethnicity, fundamentalist religion, nationalism, racism, law, technology, military strategy, economics, modern politics, media, ideology, et al. ---- all of which Empire will inexorably apply to serve Empire (through ‘Empire-thinkers’) and to suppress any attempts to reform or overthrow Empire by the natural majority of empathetic and loving ‘democracy-thinkers’.

In 2007, to discuss how the aligned Empires in Vichy America and Vichy Israel worked to confuse and misrepresent the majority of their people, I wrote:

"Fighter pilots have a saying that, ‘speed is life’.

But, for all the rest of us, “inclusiveness is life” — and tribalism is death by the oldest lie of empire.

Racism is another deadly old lie of empire, as is aggressively fundamentalist religion.

Nationalism is a somewhat newer lie of empire, proving particularly deadly in the 20th century.

While, economic ideology is the newest, and current, lie of empire (which is causing our economic and environmental collapse).

But all the lies and deceptions of “empire-thinking” lead ineluctably to the very same grave — so choose your empire poison, stupidly. Or choose your inclusiveness, wisely."

Hedges is certainly correct that diseased ‘states’ (as he calls Empires) will always employ the means of money and other enticements to the ethically void or amoral to use their “knowledge” to game the system in favor of Empire. And thus Empire is a force that has ebbed, but is now advancing to global proportions in our 21st century post-nation-state world.

But I would be a bit more optimistic (if not really ‘hopeful’) that several factors outside of merely knowledge may well give justification for some alternatives to the consuming black-hole of this current Disguised Global (crony) Capitalist Empire at the event horizon we are fast approaching.

First, there is some significant possibility that the most Americanized myth of forward progress. which is oft called the ‘American system’ (and which might more accurately be termed the system for an Empire to disguise itself, and still accumulate all wealth to the metropole of the Empire) may well be discovered to be a fraud in a third Great (but not existential) Economic Crash — 1929, 2008, and 2016? — such that the proximity of the 2nd and 3rd are close enough to reinforce the same memories (which the 1st and second did not).

This first ‘hopeful’ possibility to realize and recognize the danger/damage of the cancer of this Disguised Global Capitalist Empire may well be reinforced by some of the more ethical, empathetic, wise, and also ‘knowledgeable’ economic experts like; Krugman, Stiglitz, Wolff, et al. to use the ‘crash event’ as a teaching moment to educate the people about the vast difference between economic ‘models’ which totally ignore ‘negative externality cost dumping’ and the now essential need in the ‘real world’ to be mindful of ‘negative externality costs’.

However, the process of educating a sufficient portion of the population to actually start a non-violent Second American Revolution against Empire would likely be a difficult accomplishment within the timeframe that we are likely to need.

Secondly, on a potentially positive note, the small but growing principled progressive left community, the more politically conscience Black community (at the tip of the Empire’s spear), and the principled anti-war (and anti-empire) libertarian community could conceivably aggregate all of their various (and useless); ‘identity issues’ and subordinate ‘symptom problems’ and coalesce and cooperate in a broader coalition of popular resistance in peaceful and non-violently simply exposing, and ‘outing’ the Disguised Global Capitalist Empire as being an Empire — which since the mid 20th century has been an unpopular and thus unmentionable thing to actually be.

If this later ‘hopeful’ condition could be made to arise organically (as the “Occupy”-something movement did) but could have its populist progressive energy actually directed and focused on diagnosing, exposing, and ‘shouting out’ the Empire — this would likely be an escape path from Empire which would be less damaging that waiting for the economic crash scenario to occur.

As Zygmunt Bauman hauntingly puts it, “In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis…is a crucial, perhaps decisive, part of the disease.”13

Berman, Morris (2011-02-07). Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire (p. 22). Norton. Kindle Edition.

What the hell, it could be possible, if as George C. Scott said in “Dr. Strangelove”, “depending on the breaks”.


#58

Chris Hedges makes a valid point about the false hopes of further Capitalist consumption of everything on the planet. This cannot continue for all the reasons Limits to Growth outlined way back in 1972 - Peak Oil and Resources, too much waste. But there is another hope which is growing more and more powerful of new principles for a shared sustainable life anchored in community not privatized fetishes for more things, for a life filled with nature, music, the arts and conviviality. Actually people prefer community - as Kunstler pointed out year ago in
“The Geography of Nowhere” - it is ironic that millions flock to Disneyland which has carefully reconstructed the walkable Main Streets before Auto Addiction took over. But of course it is a faux Main Street reconstructed for Corporate profits. Try to get on a soapbox there!


#59

Yeah, I read it. And while I didn’t necessarily disagree with all his points, I get tired of the same old same old rehashed in different ways, liberally doused with G and D. Hey, there are days when it’s just too much.


#61

In your example of North Korea, obvious to all, you exclude the more subtle forms of ‘free speech suppression’, such as a controlled press. The mass media has formed a sycophantic relationship with the deep state resulting in the absurd exceptionalism of America. Where war crimes become the fault of the victims and deception is brushed away. Look forward, ignore govt crimes.


#62

It’s actually not important whether Marx said it or not (and providing a paragraph quote doesn’t settle the issue by any stretch of the imagination). Hedges is criticizing Marxism, a defining element of which is dialectical materialism inspired by Hegelian metaphysics.

You can think whatever you want, but if you disagree with the interpretation of dialectical materialism as critiqued by Hedges, then you are, as far as I can tell, disagreeing with the common interpretation. This critique has been made by real radicals, particularly anarchists, since the time of Marx himself. So it’s a bit unfair for you to portray Hedges as a fake radical or as foolish, unless you’re prepared to say the same to, say, Camus.


#69

If you consider the hierarchy: data --> information --> knowledge --> understanding --> wisdom, you find that at each step context broadens. Wisdom is the widest possible view. I admire Hedges and quote him often. I agree with his views about hope (actually Derrick Jensen is more eloquent on the subject, and more persuasive). He has a great deal of knowledge and profound understanding, but I don’t think he has achieved wisdom. I don’t mean this as criticism. I’m only suggesting it’s what gives some of his admirers pause. There’s a sense he doesn’t see those last few dots that need to be connected.