Hedges is a great critic but seems to get a little lost when it comes to solution and focus on the root of the problem. “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.” All ruling classes throughout history have sought to crush human kindness usually by validating it only for and among themselves right down to today’s “greed is good” capitalist philosophy. They also make kindness harder to come by when everyone is put in competition with everyone else, even for life’s basic necessities.
The Reverend Hedges does trace a spiritual pathway to “transcendent happiness” for the faithful at the price of rejecting “what it means to succeed in a capitalist, consumer culture, especially the idea that we should always come first.” For the faithful of any religion god or gods always come first. Hedges quotes theologists and novelists but not the many brave socialists that have fought capitalism, imperialism and even the class system of party membership in the U.S.S.R. and other communist dictatorships. Socialist failures have been spectacular but the socialist dream still lives and grows as it is the only hope for those not owners of either this world or eternal life via a “soul”.
I have no problem with religion when the faithful act out of kindness to help those less fortunate. Much good has been done in the past by the religious faithful and they can even take credit for many social improvements and for most people today believing that people should not suffer needlessly. The problem though has never been enough “good people” or too many “bad people” but the existence and organization of society under a class system.
There has never been a just society with a class system. Law exists to protect the property of the haves against the have nots. The owners of the world are 1,810 billionaires on the Forbes 2016 rich list that own $6.5 trillion, “as much wealth as the bottom 70 percent of humanity.” If you work for a living or are starving to death they still own you. Ninety percent of U.S. law is Roman Property Law which is why lawyers must know the dead language of Latin. Along with the law all western empires have sought to copy the Roman Empire and the U.S. Empire is the latest but probably not the last.
Capitalism is what it is wether it be the state capitalism of China or the corporate monopoly capitalism of the U.S. Empire. In either system social/party rank and wealth determine justice. It cannot be otherwise in a class system no matter how class is determined. In economically good times there will be more opportunity for an individual to succeed through personal effort but studies have shown that even during the boom decades in the U.S. following WWII most people did not rise far above the class they were born into. The whole social and economic system in a class system is set up to keep people in place in order to protect and enrich those at the top; most of it is so subtle that even those at the bottom think it's right. The biggest flag wavers and the best soldiers of empire are those from the lower classes.
In a falling empire more control must be exercised to protect the propertied and privileged few. The First Amendment has always been relative, as is all U.S. law. One gets as much justice as one can afford and demand. Protest is now penned off, kept out of sight, and limited in length. Protest is also being spun as "terrorism". The U.S. Empire has had it's rise and soon, in its fall, there will be no place to flee to as it will precipitate a worldwide crash. Reaction and revolution will be as violent as state repression makes it.
The answer though is not in another redistribution through revolution but in finally ending the class system. I do not believe that anything new is possible except under a socialist system which abolishes class. There is nothing but more of the same and worse under capitalism. Consumer capitalism is now ecologically unsustainable and it is destroying the human race. The deluge has already begun.
Good luck to you and yours. We do seemed destined for extinction in the sixth mass extinction event technology and greed is causing. Choosing how one will die, whom and what one will cling to, and what one will risk may be a luxury for only the rich in a world of plague and famine, devastated by natural disaster and war.
It's socialism or death.
Or one can “accept sorrow” and seek transcendance through practicing one’s religion. This has been the solace for many down through history, even for those who were persecuted and murdered for their belief and resistance to state authority. But there are those of us who do not have the “opiate” of any religion and believe that there is only this life and no eternal life after death via a “soul”. For us the path of resistance and personal sacrifice may be the same as the religious devout but for us “salvation” comes through taking action to bring about a world without class systems that always oppress and exploit the many for the sake of the few.
Only socialism gives opportunity and greater freedom to all by doing away with the class system. Only socialism favors the many at the price of a few. Class systems favor the few at the price of the many and are endemically corrupt and criminal. Freedom to mercilessly exploit others and profit even at the expense of the ecology and the very existence of the human race should not be allowed just as certain freedoms, such as killing whomever you want, are not allowed and are criminalized.
It is criminals that have owned and run society via class systems throughout history, wrapped in flags and religion.