Chris Hedges: “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (WGBH Forum Network, web | iTunes)
This lecture feels somewhat like a followup to a Derrick Jensen talk I listened to a few weeks ago (and which sparked some great conversations between Hill and I, and apparently some of his blog audience). But I was actually led to this talk by an article shared by my father, which addressed the deterioration of public/political discourse in our nation, particularly the lack of framing arguments based on evidence. Nice to see The Nation finding its way into my folks’ paper, btw.
On to the topic at hand: Hedges addresses the same topic as Jensen, but where Jensen speaks as a radical environmental activist, Hedges speaks as a war correspondent and (later?) Harvard Divinity scholar. In any case, another very strong argument, and one that rings true, that we are on a terrible path toward disintegration and collapse:
How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of an imperial superpower and the fantasies of a glorious tomorrow, or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations?
Will we heed those who are sober and rational, those who speak of a new simplicity and humility, and an age of imperial as well as material decline, or will we follow the demagogues and charlatans who rise up in moments of crisis and panic?
WIll we radically transform our society to one that protects the ordinary citizen and fosters the common good, that defies the corporate state, that dismantles empire, or will we employ the brutality and technology of our internal security and surveillance apparatus to crush dissent and drive us into a new Dark Age?
Social and political reform never comes from accommodating the power structure, it comes from frightening it.
See also: “2011: Brave New Dystopia”