Chris Hedges Answers Questions at The Occupy Wall Street Movement at Liberty Plaza Sunday Morning.
Chris Hedges Transcript from September 25th 2011
An interview on Sunday Morning 9/25/2011. Ended at about 12:15pm)
Chris Hedges stopped by the Occupy Wall Street encampment, and after a slow start, they fed him excellent questions. Great stuff. Sorry for the sloppy notes, typing in real time!
Most of these are quotes or approximate quotes from Chris Hedges:
“When you are afraid you think with a different part of your brain” … which is why we have to empower people.
The police are trying to intimidate you
While Social Media is good, ultimately, for activism, you have to put your body in the way of the machine
Those of us who care must engage in these acts of Civil Disobedience
“To be honest, going to jail is more time than I want to donate to the US government”
If there is not a radical change in human behavior, all of those sea creatures are going to be gone in his lifetime.
In that sense, Karl Marx was right, it is a revolutionary force. To appeal to the systems of power that they present to us, is to prevent the radical solutions needed”
If we don’t carry out acts of Civil Disobedience, then the rage that is being experienced by the working class will be channeled through proto-fascist groups…
Those of us who care about an egalitarian, open society, get into the streets, or we will seek movements to snuff out all the remnants of democracy in our society
To my mind, everyone in this park are the best…
“We’ve got to break the back of the consumer society”
“We have to learn with a new simplicity, as well as a new humility” if we have any hope to survive as a species”
“We are a culture utterly awash with lies”
Rejecting the distorted and perverted value system that defines the commodity culture itself”
“Don’t let them define results. That is the biggest trap you fall into. They are going to make sure (the power elite that controls the elite) is going to say it is a failure. “You did not get enough people, It didn’t last long enough”
If we don’t rebel, if we are not physically in an act of rebellion, it is spiritual death. Re: Camus
The Buddhist call it Karma.
Know matter how intimately you have been involved in this protest, you don’t know how much you have touched a life, or a few lives here…
I look at this as a very long struggle.
“These are powerful forces we are up against, but not to resist is to succumb to despair”
“The fact that you got here. The fact that you sleep here at night. The fact that 80 people were hauled off to jail yesterday. The fact that NYC has gone insane about your presence, creating a kind of green zone around Wall Streeet, means you won.”
Q: HOw do you explain to someone over 60 that there is a news blackout?
Most people experience media in a passive way (tv, etc) “The internet is only useful if you are proactive. We are the most illusioined society on the planet.” The vast majority of Americans live in an illusion.
Anerican citizen (cleric) targeted for assasination Offshore penal colonies
Most people don’t see this.
It is a non-reality based belief system. It is not about reality or truth, it is about self-exaltation. It is hard to have rational discussions with people who drink deep from that well of illusion…
The only thing you can do is reintegrate these people into the economy. The only reason they have fallen into these fantasies is because they have fallen into despair. Either we get the working class into the system, or we have lost them. So, a call should be economic equality.
Q: How do you take away the fear from those afraid of joining the occupation?
(Refers to being a war correspondant, and knowing fear) One is self discipline. You have just got to learn to live with fear. When you think you are going to get killed, and the guy next to you gets killed, you react in ways that are embarassing.
The way to overcome fear is to break the kind of atomization or isolation is an inherent part of American civilization. The ability to endure situations that are frightening, and know that there is someone standing next to you. It is the solidarity of the group, and the empathy towards you in the group, as a dissident, that gives you power. They make us recognize that we’re not allow. They allow us to glimpse the kind of power, that if we continue to build, we can have, a power that clearly challenges the corrupt elite.
I don’t like the term revolution. I like the term rebellion. Where people have to make a choice to their field. Privilege and power vs. Justice and Truth. All the true correctives in history have come through movements that never achieved any true political power. It is not our job to take power, it is our job to remain fast around this principles. Most people attracted to power are at best mediocre which is Obama, or at work venal, that is Bush.
It is only in rebuilding movements that have a constant antagonism to power that we can ever have reform.
The only hope for America is if we have military movements that put pressure on the power elite to respond.
Q: What do you say to the BBC that say that Occupy Wall Street is unorganized.
A: “I would turn off the BBC” Actually, it is one of the better media outltes. But, these messages are meant to demoralize. If you have a tv, you should unplug it and put it out on the trash. You are better off to listen to the voices around you and read books. I really try to shut the xx of the electronic media out and stick to print, so I can think. One needs solitude and quiet to think. And, the cacuophony of modern culture is designed to make it impossible for you to think.”
A: “Nonviolence and issues not of ideology, but economic justice”
The Democratic Party will use the rhetoric, but then again serves the interest of the corporate state. The Liberal Class and Clinton did it through NAFTA, thrust a knife within the American Working Class. Michelle Bachman, Republicans, etc. are right in some way about the hypocrisy of the Liberal Class, and because they can see that hypocrisy, they can use it…
Speak in a language of justice and truth, which I think cuts across ideological lines. It is not suprising that Ron Paul came in second. Even with Libertarians there is an anger at corporatism that comes across. Theft, greed, corruption and fraud that affects the American people.
Moderator – Tell us when you have to go. We could keep you all day. “Everyone loves you right now”
The Tea Party is not the problem. It has been used by Koch brothers. The problem is corporations and unregulated capitalism. If we don’t destroy the corporate structure, then we are finished. And, that is where we should put our focus.
“All energy has to be focused against corporations…” which have been aimed against our society, even education.
[I paused and missed a lot of good stuff to eat brunch!]
Q: Are you for equal pay for equal sacrifice made for work?
A: I think all of the American work force should be unionized. Because, it is unions that created the American Middle Class. Without unions, the working class are utterly unprotected.
Q: Do you believe that this talk that the government will use Marshall Law against us when they think they need to?
A: Yes, they will not call it Marshall Law. Look at the G-20 protest. That was Marshall Law. It was meant to send a message “Don’t try this”. That is why they are so harsh againt Bradley Manning. It is about sending a message
“Because we’re locked out of the corporate media, we have to play around the edges, because we don’t have the numbers. It’s takes a lot more time and work” But that is how it has always been with these kins of movements. “If we keep at it, if we keep sort of sloggin forward, we will be able to get messages out that the corporate mainstream wants to silence” Example – Kucinich and the debate in Iowa, the insurance and pharmacuetical industry sponsored it. They did not want Kucinish there. They shut Nader out. They didn’t want people to hear that. “We live in this sick environment, where it is legally permissable for a corporation to hold a sick child hostage” while their parents go into bankruptcy trying to save them. We grant exemptions to these agencies, because they do not want to cover children with long term conditions. That is a window into the moral depravity.
“Movements that our fighting, in a literal, not just a figurative way, to fight for life.”
“Well, 70% of the US economy is driven by consumption, so we actually have a fair bit of power, if we can break that cycle of consumption, we can begin to hurt” that corporate structure…
It is something that I have not done, in ways that I think I should. I mean, I have a car. I hate my home. The more we can sever ourselves from the drugs that maintain the consumer lifestyle, including fossil fuels, not only morally do we have a capacity to justify the way we are living, we can begin to fight the entities that are going to kill us. Self-deluded – the idea that we can adjust to Climate Change. Poor Bill McKibben has become as much as a media pariah as Ralph Nader, because this is a truth that the political powers do not want to explicate.
We can change if, “we act in ways that defy the definition of a good life that is handed to us by a consumer society.”
[Many thanks, expressing appreciation to Chris Hedges]
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges’ original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009, and granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay “One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists.”
Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City and has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He currently teaches inmates at a correctional facility in New Jersey.
Hedges began his career reporting the war in El Salvador. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times’ investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.
He has written eleven books, including “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. In 2011, Truthdig and Nation Books published a collection of Hedges’ Truthdig columns called “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”
Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and knows ancient Greek and Latin. In addition to writing a weekly original column for Truthdig, he has written for Harper’s Magazine, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs and other publications.