Interview of Chris Hedges ― Resistance Radio

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Hi, I’m Derrick Jensen and this is Resistance Radio on the Progressive Radio Network. My guest today is Chris Hedges. He is a New York Times Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent who for two decades covered conflicts in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He returned to the United States to become a powerful social critic and critic of capitalism, and is the author of a dozen books, including War is a Force that Gives us Meaning; Death of the Liberal Class; and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. He is a columnist for Truthdig and the host of the Emmy-nominated show On Contact on RT America.

So first, thank you, as always, for all of your great work, and second, thank you for being on the program.

CH: Sure.

DJ: So what does life look like at the end of empire?

CH: Well, that is a very interesting question, because it is exactly the question I asked two years ago when I set out to write my new book, America: The Farewell Tour, which will be out in August. What life looks like in a decayed society is expressed through various pathologies that we see all around us. Suicide, opioid addictions and of course overdoses. The false idea that we can build an economy and rescue ourselves from debt peonage through gambling. And the industry has become quite adept at feeding the addiction of gambling. In fact, I found, in the book, that gamblers, as an addicted group, have the highest rates of suicide. Hate crimes, sexual sadism, which you have spoken out against, and which very few people on the left have had the courage to emulate, or critique. Morbid obesity. These are all examples of a society in deep distress. And those problems are not solved by more rehabilitation clinics, or more Gamblers Anonymous meetings. They are solved by restoring the moral health of the society. Which of course are the things, those pathologies and the decay, that are getting worse under the Trump administration and the kleptocrats that he has put into power.

So the end of empire looks – and the end of all empire is really defined by both moral decadence and physical decay and despair, and is expressed through aberrant behavior. I mean, we see almost every other day in this country a mass shooting, this nihilistic violence. I was looking at Émile Durkheim’s brilliant work at the end of the 19th century on suicide, where he made that argument, that suicide is the product, he called it “anomie,” of people who became disconnected from their communities, lost control of their lives, and fell into deep despondency or despair. Just look around us. The physical decay, the moral decay, and the way it’s expressed is embraced by this very sick and frightening culture, which is manifested in a figure like Trump. I always say Trump is not the disease. Trump is the symptom.

DJ: Okay, I’m going to read a quote, which you knew I was going to get to at some point. I’m going to read a quote by Edward Gibbon, and then, after that, the question I’m going to ask you is why does this happen at the end of empire? Why are there these commonalities of, sort of, macrosociology becoming micropsychology? Or something? Here’s the quote. This is Gibbon writing in the 1780’s about the end of the Roman empire.

“The five marks of the decaying Roman culture: Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth. Obsessions with sex and perversions of sex. Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original. Widening disparity between very rich and very poor. Increased demand to live off the state.”

And I just find that so remarkably, I want to say “prescient” but it wasn’t prescient because he was writing history. And so how does this happen, that there are these commonalities through the end of empire? Why is this?

CH: Because you build, and this was true in the decline of the Roman Empire – you build an elite and a bureaucracy that will serve that elite, that is diverted from the common good towards the empowerment and enrichment of a tiny cabal. In the case of ancient Rome it was the ruling families who, like the Bushes and the Clintons, would just trade positions. You had, after the rise of Augustus, traditional – I don’t know that Rome ever achieved the democracy of ancient Athens, but you had a senate that became a kind of parody of what it had been. The form of the senate remained, but it was stripped of any real democratic power.

Essentially what happens is that any time a cabal, whether it’s oligarchic or corporate or fascist or communist, seizes power, you create a system of paralysis, which is of course what we’ve created. Because all institutions that once made incremental or piecemeal reform possible, i.e. gave a voice to the grievances and protected, to a certain extent – I don’t want to be too utopian about America, but to a certain extent protected the civil liberties of the populace. Everything is now directed toward this tiny cabal and their particular desires and lusts. And everybody else is ignored. They don’t count anymore.

And so once you reach that point, then these totalitarian systems, while they are different in terms of some of the details, function essentially in the same manner. And because there is a kind of disemboweling of the state, all of these systems look for scapegoats to blame for the kind of precipitous decline. Totalitarian systems, autocratic systems also do spectacle and entertainment very well. Cicero writes about how in ancient Rome, as the democracy decayed and the oligarchic class seized complete control, it staged more and more elaborate spectacles in the arena, so that people’s emotional and intellectual life were invested in the absurd, in the trivial and the banal, in the salacious. We forget that there was a huge sexual component to the kind of entertainment industry at the end of ancient Rome. There are marked characteristics, and I would call them pathologies, that express themselves in a dying culture. And of course one of them is what anthropologists call the “crisis cult.” Crisis cults are where you retreat into magical thinking when you can’t cope with the onslaught of reality. So we saw, for instance, at the end of the genocidal campaigns in the late 19th century, in 1890, 1889, the rise of the Ghost Dance, where if you put on a particular shirt you could stop the bullets. You threw the Ghost Dance and the white Americans, Euro-Americans would disappear, all the dead warriors would rise up from the ground, the herds of buffalo would come back. But that takes place in all decayed societies. I think that that’s how we have to look at the Christian right, as a crisis cult. The Rapture. The end times.

So we’re very far advanced. And what we’re really waiting for, which isn’t going to be that long in coming, is another economic collapse. And this time around, the oligarchs don’t have a plan B. They already have reduced rates to zero. There were actually moments in Europe when they were below zero. They were paying people to borrow money. Banks were paying businesses to borrow money. And what have they done? We’ve subsidized the financial industry, Wall Street, Citibank, etc., to the tune of trillions of dollars. That money has to be paid back, even though it’s lent at virtually 0% interest, and instead of investing in the country, as China by the way did after the 2008 crisis, and building New Deal-type infrastructure projects, all they’ve done is what Marx called “fictitious capital,” use money to make money, primarily through debt peonage. So they borrow money at 0% interest and then shove these student loans down the throats of college students, if you’re late on your credit card it’s 28% interest, all sorts of hidden fees in medical bills, even if you have insurance. But that’s not a sustainable system. The housing bubble is now back, the stock market is highly inflated. What did the oligarchs do with these huge tax cuts? Well, they didn’t invest in workers, they didn’t raise wages, they didn’t hire more workers. They bought back their stock. So the value of the stock increases artificially and then the managers or the CEO’s of these companies, because their compensation is tied to the value of stock, get huge bonuses. But it’s completely cannibalistic, and one of the things given mention in that quote, which is true, is that you – and also, by the way, Karl Marx wrote about this, although Marx was steeped in the classics, so he knew Gibbon – was that then these entities begin to consume the government, consume the bureaucracy, consume the system that actually makes, in this case, capitalist democracy possible. So, for instance, we’re watching the destruction of public, the privatization of public education into these charter schools, these vocational schools. We’re watching private companies; Booz Allen Hamilton, 99% of its budget comes from the government. The rise of mercenary forces. They are extracting – and of course they want to privatize Social Security. They are extracting the very marrow from the structures of power that sustains the system itself.

So all of this is kind of swirling around us and is really waiting for a crisis to trigger what I think will be a very frightening period in American history.

DJ: There’s another question I want to ask, but before I get there, can you talk for a moment about the relationship between end of empire and death squads? It seems as economic systems collapse – I believe you used the word “scapegoat” earlier. I think about the relationship between the economic collapse of the twenties and the rise of fascism, the rise of the KKK in the United States in the teens and twenties. And then you’ve written about this in an entirely different context with Chaco Canyon and death squads there at the end of empire. Can you talk about either state or non-state violence – let’s call it reactionary violence at the end of empire?

CH: Right. What sustains empire is a fictitious ideology. In the case of the United States it’s a respect for democracy – and I’m saying this is fictitious, but it’s a respect for democracy, for human rights, for the ability of everybody to get a fair chance. And when that ideology collapses and is exposed as a lie, and of course the ruling economic ideology is neoliberalism, which no longer has any credibility across the political spectrum. That’s how Trump got elected, that’s why Bernie Sanders was able to run such a powerful insurgency within the Democratic Party, although the Democratic Party made sure he didn’t get the nomination. I mean, they rigged the primary, sewing up the nomination.

So when that ruling ideology no longer has any credibility, then the elites only have violence left in order to maintain control. So they’re punishing the population more and more, to maintain the opulence of their lifestyles. I mean, you have CEO salaries that are 5000 times what their workers are making. The Walmart family I think makes $11,000 an hour for doing nothing but being part of the Walmart family. So you need coercion and force because the ideology, the ruling ideology is no longer effective. All we have to do is look at marginal communities in this country, primarily populated by people of color, to see exactly the forms of social control that are going to become even more widespread. So you deindustrialize cities and you redline them to leave behind primarily people of color, African-Americans in particular, and then you need a form of social control because there’s no work unless they go into the illegal economy. And so you create this massive prison system. We imprison 25% of the world’s prison population though we are only 5% of the world’s population. Half of the people in our prison complexes didn’t even commit a violent crime. All of this, by the way, was put into place largely by the Clinton administration and by Joe Biden, who is going to run for president in 2020.

And then you create, I would call them death squads. Militarized police forces that kill in these communities indiscriminately, with utter impunity. You take away people’s due process, and virtually nobody in these marginal communities has the right to a jury trial. They’re forced to plea out. 94% or something within our system never had a jury trial. They essentially have their rights as citizens removed. And Hannah Arendt wrote about this in The Origins of Totalitarianism when she’s talking about the stateless within Europe. Under the rise of fascism, she herself was stateless after being held for three weeks by the Gestapo and was expelled to France. So you’re stripped of your citizenship, the French don’t give you citizenship, and she said once you live in a society where rights become privileges, you create both legal and in effect physical mechanisms to strip a segment of that, demonize a segment of that society (in our case, people of color, primarily African-Americans) of their rights. But in a time of distress, or unrest, or social or financial collapse, everyone can be stripped of their rights with the flick of a switch, because you already have both the legal and the physical mechanisms in place. And I would include ICE, of course, as part of that.

So that is why societies, at the end, become so brutal. And it was fascinating when I was visiting Chaco Canyon and reading the work of the anthropologists who studied the late culture of the Chaco Empire, perhaps the biggest indigenous empire in North America, that it again replicated the way societies in terminal decline always seem to play out.

DJ: So part of what I’m hearing you say is that there is a sense in which rights, for those who at least are somewhat on the inside of the gated community, but not at the very center, are in a sense luxuries, from the perspective of the system. Luxuries that the system can afford so long as it is still able to steal enough from the colonies, really. And then when that becomes endangered, we, those at the center, get down to business and sort of drop off all these rights that we can no longer afford. Is that kind of what this is talking about?

CH: Well, yes, in the sense that as long as, let’s call it the middle class, is not restive. As long as most of the society is passive in the face of this kleptocracy, which always characterizes late empire, then you don’t need brutal forms of coercion to keep them under control. But if you have, say, economic collapse, which we’re headed towards, and of course the most dire aspect of financial collapse will be the decision on the part of the rest of the world to no longer make the dollar the reserve currency – and we know what that looks like. All you have to do is look at Britain in the 1950’s when the pound sterling was dropped as the world’s reserve currency – then the value of the dollar plunges. Exports become exponentially more expensive and you can’t maintain empire. U.S. treasury bonds become worthless, people won’t want to buy them.

So at that point, then, the ruling oligarchs, corporate oligarchs in this case, will need these harsher forms of control in order to continue to prey upon the population to extract obscene profit and to keep people in line. You never want to build a society where a segment of your society, as we have done, in essence is stripped of their rights. That’s not a particularly sophisticated concept. Because ruling elites as rapacious as ours will never stop there, and history has borne that out over and over and over.

DJ: And one of the reasons that collapse of empire leads to increased racism, xenophobia, etc., it seems to me, is that, you know, I can get along fine with people of all colors and religions and everything else, but if I just lost my job, and I have been trained not to see capitalism as the problem, or the ruling elites as the problem, instead, I can come to perceive this as “I lost my job because of those damned people from Mexico.” Or because of African-Americans, or because of – I can come up with all sorts of, there can be – when I’m trained, again, to identify with the system itself, pledged my allegiance to the system, then I can look for scapegoats anywhere else to – when I have very real – you know, the farm crisis has been very real. The independent farmers have been driven out of business and driven off their land. And we can talk about the takeover of small farms by Big Ag, and that’s true, but – here’s the point. I interviewed a long time ago Joel Dyer, who wrote a book called “Harvest of Rage,” about how a lot of these farmers were ending up far right. And he said part of the problem was that, in this case, they’re very desperate, because the land that’s been in their family for four generations is being foreclosed on, and he said at that point that the left was doing a really terrible job of reaching out to them, and the right, the far right, the racist right, was doing a wonderful job of reaching out to them. And he said basically if you’re sitting there ready to kill yourself, your family’s gone, your land’s gone, and somebody knocks on your door; if they’re Mormons reaching out to you, you’re going to become a Mormon. And if they’re far right, you’re going to become far right. And if they were far left, if the lefties would have done a job of reaching out, they might have gone left. And I think there’s some truth to that.

I’m throwing a whole mishmash at you. Take anything you want and run with it.

CH: So what happened with the rise of Reagan and Thatcher, as Stuart Hall has written, is that there was a conscious effort on the part of corporate power to dismantle the New Deal. And so they had to shift the whole perception of government. And that’s where you get Reagan’s thing, you know, government’s not part of the solution, government’s part of the problem. And to replace that idea of government as one that fosters community and makes sure everyone has a chance, and protects the vulnerable, etc., the ruling elites built this ideology of “Your national identity is under attack from these forces.” From these foreign forces. Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans. And if you look at the commercial media, they never talk about capitalism. That’s a word you’re never going to hear, even on MSNBC. And so any imperialist, any capitalist critics – you know this as well as anyone – have already been pushed to the margins of society. And what we’re seeing, because these people no longer have a counterargument to the ruling ideology, is that they are creating mechanisms to shut even our voices down, because they can’t answer these criticisms. Not in a rational way.

So you see the rise of this anonymous group prop or not, propaganda or not, where they take left wing websites, including the ones that I write for, that republish my stuff, and accuse them of being in the service of Russia – of a foreign power. And then they get Google and Facebook and Twitter to impose algorithms, which they have done, to essentially divert traffic away from left wing sites like TruthDig, where I have a column every Monday. And we have seen impressions. Impressions are: if you were to type “imperialism” into Google and I had written a recent article on imperialism, it would appear. Now you will be diverted to the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, but you won’t be directed to TruthDig, or any other left wing site.

And so, impressions on TruthDig have gone down in the last year, and that is traffic referred to TruthDig has gone down from over 700,000 to below 200,000. The World Socialist Website has seen its traffic drop by 80-something percent. Alternet by 63%. And then coupled with this is the revoking of Net Neutrality that allows them to create tiers within the system to slow down access to these sites. This is why I have a show on RT America, because I don’t have anywhere else to go. I can’t even go on public broadcasting, unsurprisingly given the fact that the Koch brothers fund the news hour and are huge contributors to public broadcasting, along with all sorts of other corporate entities.

So you are creating a society, by intent, and this is again going back to the destruction of public education, where people don’t even have to ask the questions because they’re not even given enough information to ask the questions. And then they’re easily manipulated – we saw Trump do this – to blame the outsider for the social and political and financial and cultural decay. And the worse it gets, the more the state, the despotic state, sanctions violence against the outsider as a kind of safety valve to direct that anger away from the cabal that has seized power. That’s just classic despotic rule and that’s something that we are rapidly approaching.

DJ: So one thing that terrifies me is that we have what seems to me a very bad confluence here. You have, at the end of empire – Chaco Canyon is really interesting, that you had the death squads there and you had the other problems there, you had these same – and the same with the Roman Empire, because we can talk about the end of empire, and we can also talk about the iron cages that Max Weber talked about, and we can talk about technology just hemming us in. We can talk about television as the world’s best propagandistic tool of the time, and now the Internet, the same way. And with the control of flow of information, combine that with – I’ve done interviews about, and have read about, and have thought about lot; the decline of long-form thinking that has been taking place over the last, especially the last 40 years. If you get these dreadful symptoms at the end of empire anyway, and then, when I interviewed Robert Jay Lifton decades ago, I asked him if technology exacerbates psychic numbing, that he talks about in his work, and he laughed and said “Technology exacerbates everything.”

And it seems to me that this is a confluence that makes the end of this empire much more fraught than – and we haven’t even talked about ecological collapse yet. But leaving that aside, this still makes this end of empire, it seems to me, far more dangerous than many previous empires.

CH: Well, because the systems of indoctrination are so much more sophisticated, along with the systems of surveillance and control. So you’re right. We’ve never seen anything like this. I mean, the Stasi state in East Germany was child’s play compared to what the United States has set up.

You’ve called them; it’s a term you use that I steal from you all the time; you call these things “electronic hallucinations.” They are designed to destroy thought. That’s why you gotta stay off them. I’m not on any social media. I don’t own a television. And yet you can’t escape it. Even I know who Stormy Daniels is, and Roseanne’s meltdown. But you don’t want them both seizing control of your time and also conditioning you for these constant adrenaline hits that destroy your capacity to sit down and actually think.

As you know, I wrote a book called “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” that talked about the danger of severing ourselves from a print-based culture and embracing spectacle and illusion. What’s happening now to the commercial news media is that it is a full partner in the reality show presidency. They largely created Trump. I mean, NBC created the fictional personality of Trump on The Apprentice, which he then used to sell to the American public. It’s all burlesque all the time. I find it just terrifying. I was at the gym the other day and saw CNN, and it was a long segment on something new from Stormy Daniels, and then a round table discussion about Roseanne Barr’s show. This isn’t news. I come out of news. I’m an old newspaper guy.

So I think when you look at the decay of society, everything becomes salacious, everything becomes gossip, and that was certainly true at the end of the Roman Empire, at the end of the Habsburg Empire, any empire. Look at the end of the Ottoman Empire. In a way it becomes an effective mechanism, again, to divert attention away from the collapse, and you mentioned environmental collapse. The polar ice caps are melting at a rate that even the most pessimistic climate scientists a few years ago would never have predicted, large trees are dying, communities in the north are sinking because the permafrost is melting. And what are we doing? We are doing what all societies do at the end, which is engaging in emotional and psychological retreat into the embrace of depravity. And we haven’t even mentioned pornography. We’re a completely pornified society.

Because of you, actually, the fourth chapter in my book, which is called “Sadism,” is set at kink dot com, which I’d never heard of until you told me about it. And I went out there and sat through “classes” of torture, literally how to torture people. And as Wilhelm Reich writes in The Mass Psychology of Fascism, and I’ll just read you that sentence: he says “Fascism countenances that religiosity which stems from sexual perversion, and it transforms the masochistic character of the old patriarchal religion of suffering into a sadistic religion; in short, it transposes religion from the otherworldliness of the philosophy of suffering to the this-worldliness of sadistic murder.” And we have to, and you have been very outspoken about this, one of the few; we have to also recognize that accompanying all of these pathologies is the loss of the capacity for intimacy, the objectification of women as essentially tools to be abused physically. I mean, I interviewed women on these kink sets, and boy, this pain is not simulated. These women are beaten. They are black and blue. When they finish they take painkillers. Everyone I’ve interviewed who’s left it is dealing with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. And these films are, there’s just no other word for it. They’re just sick. They’re just sickening. And that is a huge element within the culture. We are a completely pornified culture, which is why the stills that were released from Abu Ghraib look like stills from porn. That’s not accidental.

DJ: Yeah. It’s completely mainstreamed and horrifying. And, again, predictable. We have Edward Gibbon saying this in the 1780’s.

We have – this is not quite time to wind down yet. We still have about 13-14 minutes. But I’m going to ask you what would normally be a wind-down question.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve interviewed some people who’ve been working on these issues for a long time, working on environmental issues especially, back all the way from the 60’s and the 70’s. And three of the people I talked to recently have all said that the momentum is just so fierce, so strong, that they feel like their work has been like throwing a tiny pebble against the incoming tide or something.

I’m not countenancing quitting. I’m in this until my last breath. But that doesn’t alter the fact that when I read sort of macrosociological accounts, when I read your wonderful book that’s coming out in August, the fact that these are macrosociological larger social trends… Decades ago, when I read Overshoot by William Catton, one of the things he talked about in there is he said that if you have a certain number of people acting in a certain way, you can almost call that a fate because it is so hard to change an entire culture.

So what do we do, given that we care, you and I, and others; care about decency, care about justice, care about sanity? What do we do in the face of this momentum that is not only technological and modern, but also is a common pattern from the collapse of empire? A predictable result of the collapse of empire.

CH: Well, we have to create in essence walled communities where we nurture and protect those values that the wider society is attempting to destroy. As much as possible, we have to create parallel institutions to sustain ourselves and empower ourselves. And all of that will be done locally. Because when collapse comes, the elites will retreat into their gated compounds, where they will have access to services and health care and goods and security that the rest of us won’t. They’re not going to be out there taking care of us. We’ll have to take care of ourselves. That’s why food, local food markets, sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy; all of this becomes, in moments of distress, becomes political acts. Local currencies. The more that we can dis-unplug ourselves, disconnect ourselves from the corporate monolith, the safer and the better we’ll be.

So that really means attempting to take power locally. We can’t be naive. If you go back a couple years ago in Denton, Texas, the community rose up against the fracking industry and what did the state legislature do? It essentially overrode. The fracking sites around the city were making people sick and poisoning the drinking water, and the state legislature essentially outlawed the efforts by the local community to control their own environment. We also have seen this with fracking in Pennsylvania. These will be the forces we have to contend with. But we are going to have to begin to rebuild community and rebuild local power structures to pit power against power.

Will we succeed? I just don’t think it’s helpful to be Pollyanna-ish or naive. For me, what resistance is about, and ultimately what hope is about, is facing the bleakness of what’s out there rather than lying to ourselves about it. And it’s difficult, especially given what’s happening to the climate, but we have to remain rooted in reality. I would say that if you don’t resist, you can’t use the word “hope.” We have a kind of moral imperative to fight, without being overly dramatic, for systems of life, especially those of us who are older. And I have kids, and what kind of a world are they going to inherit? I at least want them to look back and say that their father tried. That he wasn’t complicit and he wasn’t passive.

DJ: One of the many things I love about your work is that you unabashedly – that you’re not afraid of using the word “moral” or talking about moral imperatives. And I think this is a huge problem on the left specifically, that it seems like for the most part the left has ceded morality to the right. Ceded any claim of morality, I should say, to the right, and so there are – I mean, there are lefty screeds about, against all forms of morality. I find that both tactically absurd and also, to use the same word, morally repugnant. So I appreciate that very much about your work.

CH: Well thank you. I mean, I think that this is – you know, Freud called these forces of death – well, actually they were called that later by post-Freudians, but it’s thanatos. That there are two forces in life. Eros: that force to nurture, preserve, protect. Forces of love, forces of reverence. But it’s always pitted against forces of death. As Freud wrote, these forces are in eternal conflict, both within the individual and within society. And the forces of thanatos are ascendant around us. And it’s imperative upon us to embrace those forces of life and fight for them.

You know Kant has a great quote where he says that if justice perishes on earth, life has lost its meaning. As you know, I come out of divinity school. But I think that resistance, fighting on behalf of the oppressed, standing up against the lies of the corporate state, these give meaning to life. And I would even go beyond that. As Tolstoy said at one point; the only true happiness is living for others. And you see that with parents with children, and I have four of them. You know, it can be a headache, and sometimes that happiness is very bittersweet. But it is real happiness as opposed to the emotional and hedonistic highs that are defined as happiness by the consumer culture, with of course money being the primary route, they will tell you, to happiness.

I went, at the age of ten, to an elite boarding school, as a scholarship student, one of 16, and lived around the über rich, and I can tell you they are immensely unhappy human beings, who, no matter how rich they are, never have enough. And you can see it in the lust by these billionaires, from Bezos to the Koch brothers to everyone else who has insane amounts of money and just want more and more and more. And of course it distorts their own relationships. Most of the relationships they have are built around a kind of mendacity and obsequiousness. So I think that on every level it’s incumbent on us to stand up against these forces and I think that standing up and resisting against these forces, even if we lose. It allows us at least to be complete and whole human beings.

DJ: Yeah. I think a lot about a line by R.D. Laing: how do you plug a void plugging a void? And I think when you talk about the misery of the rich, they’re attempting to plug an existential hole with money. And that’s one reason for the insatiability. It’s one reason for the insatiability of pornography, because it’s not meeting the need that it’s purporting to meet.

CH: It meets the need temporarily and then it becomes blasé. It’s why porn gets more and more and more violent, because you need to keep pushing it further and further in order to get that momentary high. Yeah, it’s the same with money. The same with the acquisition of goods and services. But it’s ultimately not only futile but self-destructive.

DJ: A person I think about fairly often is Henning von Tresckow. He was one of the German resisters in World War II on the eastern front, and on D-Day, or after D-Day, a lot of the resisters said “Why are we even trying? We’re risking our lives for nothing because the war is essentially over.” And he responded that first off, there were people dying every day, civilians dying every day the war lasted, so the sooner they got the war over, and if this included stopping Hitler, doing their coup, then they should do it. And the other thing he talked about was he said “I want to show to history that there were at least some decent people in Germany. I don’t want history to say that every German went along with that.” And I always find that incredibly inspiring, that as this culture is wreaking havoc on so much – you know, it’s the story, in some ways, and it’s a dreadful story in other ways, but it’s the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. How many good people are there here? And I want the frogs to know, and I want the humans who come after to know, that there were some of us who were still decent people at the end.

CH: Well, and go to Germany today. Who do they hold up? They hold up the White Rose. They hold up Niemöller. They hold up Stauffenberg. They hold up these figures who actually did resist, to give themselves another narrative, to create moral signposts for the society that comes after them. So I don’t think resistance is ever futile. Justice or injustice is going to outlive us all. It’s a perpetual fight. You know, what Max Weber is saying in his essay Politics as a Vocation, it never ends. We must always be vigilant. But it is that kind of ironic point of light that guides future generations and inspires future generations to do the right thing. And if everyone is silent, those lights aren’t there.

DJ: Well I think that’s a good note to end on. And I always appreciate not only your analysis itself, but the eloquence that you – that you manifest this process that we’re talking about, of the importance of long-form thinking, by making clear the importance of people doing the work of reading other writers, metabolizing their thoughts, and then making them your own. That’s something people need to do with your work, is we read your work, we metabolize it, and then we – you know, one writer once said to me that all of those writers who are working in the right direction were all standing through time holding hands. You are reaching back to the people before, and reaching forward to the ones who came after. And I just want you to know that your work’s appreciated.

CH: Well thank you, Derrick. Thank you very much.

DJ: And I would like to thank listeners for listening. My guest today has been Chris Hedges. This is Derrick Jensen for Resistance Radio on the Progressive Radio Network.

Filed in Interviews by Derrick Jensen
No Responses — Written on August 26th — Filed in Interviews by Derrick Jensen

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