The nihilism and rage sweeping across the globe are not generated by warped ideologies or medieval religious beliefs. These destructive forces have their roots in the obliterating of social, cultural and religious traditions by modernization and the consumer society, the disastrous attempts by the United States to carry out regime change, often through coups and wars, and the utopian neoliberal ideology that has concentrated wealth in the hands of a tiny cabal of corrupt global oligarchs.
What to say about this long and complete disquisiton on our moral decay? I read Hedges for his scholarship…from Camus and Benjamin among others. I view the rising consciousness of the 99%, and it’s anger, as a hopeful sign in surviving neo-liberalism.
The thing is, as opposed to the certainty we know the direction of the oncoming disaster, we really don’t know how it will turn out. How it will work itself out, and whether we will will the lottery of planetary survival or not.
We do have a ticket to ride.
“And as we sleepwalk into the future, the steady deterioration of the ecosystem will ultimately lead to total systems collapse. Mishra warns that “the two ways in which humankind can self-destruct—civil war on a global scale, or destruction of the natural environment—are rapidly converging.” Our elites, oblivious to the dangers ahead, blinded by their own hubris and greed, are ferrying us, like Charon, to the land of the dead.”
Arnold Toynbee’s “A Study of History” - in one paragraph:
“Crystallization of a new order of civilization into an uncreative minority of powers that be leads to deterioration and ultimate collapse, despite the intervention of creative saviours.”
I just read the iconic sci-fi “The Black Cloud” (1957) by legendary astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who coined the term Big Bang, though never accepting it, and was instrumental in the early years of stellar astrophysics.
In the book - it is obvious to the alien cloud visiting our solar system that human nature and the “Limits to Growth” are likely to lead to our early extinction.
That is the path we are on as I see it.
“The dispossessed grasp the true message of the West to the rest of the planet: We have everything and if you try to take it away from us we will kill you….
Western ideas were adopted and mutated by ideologues in the global south, ideas that would become as destructive as the imposition of free market capitalism itself….
These bastard ideologies cloaked themselves in the veneer of indigenous religious traditions and beliefs.But they were new creations, born out of the schöpferische Zerstörung, or ‘gale of creative destruction,’ of global capitalism….
Once we no longer acknowledge or understand our own capacity for evil, once we no longer know ourselves, we become monsters who devour others and finally devour ourselves….
And as we sleepwalk into the future, the steady deterioration of the ecosystem will ultimately lead to total systems collapse. Mishra warns that ‘the two ways in which humankind can self-destruct—civil war on a global scale, or destruction of the natural environment—are rapidly converging’ Our elites, oblivious to the dangers ahead, blinded by their own hubris and greed, are ferrying us, like Charon, to the land of the dead.….
The self-alienation of humankind, Walter Benjamin warned, ‘has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.”’ Happy Destruction!
But let’s look on the bright side of how the sixth mass extinction event, caused by insufficiently regulated technology, will end when the human race is gone. Think of how wonderful that will be for life on a regenerating planet earth.
Mr. Hedges has proven to be one of the most astute voices documenting and analyzing our loss of humanity and march to self destruction. We are fortunate to have such an intellect and voice available for our edification. Our failure to heed the warnings will be a catastrophe of biblical proportions and totally on us.
anger is a necessary component in risk taking against the odds. All revolutions are infused with anger, because without it, our fear inhibits our ability to act on our world to our benefit.
so I don’t mind a lot of large-scale rage and anger. it’s long overdue. the trick now is to not just let it run riot looking for a random outlet, but to mold it into a force that can remake the world.
By "surviving neo-liberalism, do you man surviving capitalism? Aside from a very brief exceptional period or worker empowerment for a couple decades after WW2 , was pre-neoliberal capitalism - going back to the 18th century, any better?
All the anger I see in my region is anger at:
The Clean Air Act
The Clean Water Act
The Endangered Species Act
The Civil Rights Act
The Great Society anti-poverty programs
The Wagner Act
Immigrants and Black USAns in general
So it is going to be a big challenge re-directing that anger, because the way things are going we will be the first up against the wall when the angry people get their revolution.
I personally know a few genuine limousine liberals who believe outrageous idiocies like the need for US to impose military supremacy and the illusion that everything will be OK if we just re-install a Democrat president such as Hillary.
I like Hedges because he consistently warns against this kind of thinking, being as it is just as dangerous as Trump-think.
But the question remains: How do you make this message understandable to liberals? How do you communicate with them? Seems like all they understand now is Rachel Maddow or Samantha Bee, views which reflect their own narrow-minded privilege.
All complex civilizations created so far have eventually collapsed. This is probably how it works, the inability to think about things which conflict with their own hard-wired paradigms.
Hedges himself has a blind spot regarding religion, in that it’s an implicit theme that a return to a mythical pure Christianity could help the world. He trained for the Catholic priesthood & doesn’t know anything beyond Catholic propaganda.
Christianity was always an authoritarian, totalitarian religion of terror and violence, just like Judaism & Islam. Thus the endless succession of Holy Wars, Inquisitions, forced conversions, slavery, colonizations, etc.
Conservatives are more hard-wired to reptilian neurological pathways …
When thinking about what will happen to people as greater numbers of people are replaced by technology I ran into Nobel Laureate, Wassily Leontief. “Let’s think about horses. They used to be everywhere. Where did they go? Well, I can tell you what happened to them: they died, we don’t need them anymore. The same thing could happen to people who somehow don’t get linked into the modern economy.” Is this the intent of austerity economics?
Bitoif a digression, but it is a myth that in the 19th century, horses were used in a way similar to the automobile today. Most non-wealthy people, particularly in cities, did not own or even know how to ride a horse.
What the automobile replaced was walking-distance scale economics, and in the latter 19th/early 20th century, electric streetcars that went everywhere quickly and cheaply and hourly intercity steam trains that went faster than most Amtrak service does today! And the public in cities absolutely did not see the point of getting a personal car - even after the cost went way down. They had to be forced into cars through the deliberate buying up and dismantling of public transit, and through the deliberate development of sprawling suburbs.
Lucrative economics, not popular clamor, is what drives technology adoption - sometimes it gets quite comical - such as the way “high tech” has replaced the fast and far more information-rich thing called a “telephone call” with painfully slow, information sparse thing called “texting”.
With the ease of duplicating new products with technology creating almost a zero sum value and replacing human jobs it becomes dependent upon patents to guarantee capitalists profits, but who is to buy if no one has a job?
Thank you for you comment, with which I am in full agreement. Reading Hedges gives one a more complete perspective, one that I haven’t found an equal to, anywhere.
A masterpiece of writing! Bravo, Mr. Hedges! You have made me think and see things from a different perspective more than any other single person that I have ever read. Thank you!
Chris Hedges is always worth reading even when he is paraphrasing another authors work, Mishra. The elements are all there for the anger at the “system” to erupt in, most likely, violence at unprecedented levels since the 60’s and the civil rights/anti-'Nam riots. A lot of people were killed, mostly folks of color as cops and national guardsmen beat and shot the dissidents. My only beef I have with Chris is his hostility towards atheists as if they’re all amoral or heartless. They are no different than people of faith; some are very good and likewise some are very bad. We suppressed people need a common vision, a way forward, a way to stop the total destruction of Earth and her creatures before it can’t be halted by any means available to humans. Capitalism is killing people and Earth in a murderous rampage of seemingly unstoppable annihilation. It needs to be dismantled and democratically, redistribute all the resources a vision that won’t happen in my lifetime anyway. At this point I don’t see it happening anyway.
To have my intellectual hero devote his weekly diatribe to a single author’s latest work - well I need to read Mishra now. By this piece it is clear that he has connected some hard to find by foundational dots.
Throw Me A Bone empirePie June 11th, 2017
We ‘wag the dog’ We consume the fliers of desire
so cast up Allahs, … or Shahs
conjure up dreamy utopias
Join the pilgrimage; Crusade for ‘brave new worlds’,
the decoys of hope to duck or cover with platitudes of plenty more
So many points of view birthed these illusions
from the ah ha to an I told ya saw, to Pax Americana
from alternate sinister or the ruling plump handed dextra;
Neither the boughten prime ministers of the peacock throne or
the discordant cacophony of words won’t leave me alone
Yeah, … I am a mark with the mark of a sated citizen from a branch of the leading rogue empire
I have bitten the media fruit and spread the seeds of confusion, an illusion that has a canopy that blocks most of the light
Unlike a Confucius
or a pacifist in feudal times
I delight in the ruse …. so
Please trump that illusion that the earth is not on slow simmer
Make another payment on the Bimmer
and cruise on the black tar pavement of desire
Cheer to depose another Shaw …… & ….
Throw me a flier they are handy for the fire
iN THE 60s we had a defining moment of hope for real change with leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Patrice Lumumba, Fred Hampton, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. The response from the right wing agenda was murder. Let the future leaders know that if they adopt positions and aggressively push for real change for humanity - we have shown where they will end. Better, yet - the arch conservatives had a better plan - coop the real leaders - buy them out. In many ways - leadership and progressivism ended with the 60s and we began a steep decline into a world of neo-liberalism. The model is the plantation and we are mostly willing slaves serving the masters. Who would dare betray the master?
welcome to the world of risk. but if this is true–and I don’t think it is, unless you live in, like rural Texas (I live in souther Mississippi and anger is more far-ranging than that)–then it’s an indictment of our inability to organize our own force to fill a power vacuum.
Guess you’d better get cracking if that wall doesn’t sound so good.