“If we really saw war, what war does to young minds and bodies, it would be impossible to embrace the myth of war. If we had to stand over the mangled corpses of schoolchildren killed in Afghanistan and listen to the wails of their parents, we would not be able to repeat clichés we use to justify war. This is why war is carefully sanitized. This is why we are given war's perverse and dark thrill but are spared from seeing war's consequences. The mythic visions of war keep it heroic and entertaining… The wounded, the crippled, and the dead are, in this great charade, swiftly carted offstage. They are war's refuse. We do not see them. We do not hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they tell is too painful for us to hear. We prefer to celebrate ourselves and our nation by imbibing the myths of glory, honor, patriotism, and heroism, words that in combat become empty and meaningless. ”—Chris Hedges
“The Indians must conform to the white man's ways . . . The tribal relations should be broke up, socialism destroyed, and the family and autonomy of the individual substituted.”—
Although it’s well known that subjugation of Native Americans was quite literally the official policy of the United States at one time, it nonetheless shocks the conscience to see the words on paper. Countless human lives boiled down to an brief, abstract expression of cultural imperialism.
“I used to wonder: Is Huxley right or is Orwell right? It turns out they’re both right. First you get the new world state [Brave New World] and endless diversions as you are disempowered. And then, as we are watching, credit dries up, and the cheap manufactured goods of the consumer society are no longer cheap. Then you get the iron fist of Oceania, of Orwell’s 1984.”—
That’s NY Times journalist Chris Hedges in an interview with The Progressive. He keeps going:
That’s precisely the process that’s happened. We have been very effectively pacified by the pernicious ideology of a consumer society that is centered on the cult of the self—an undiluted hedonism and narcissism. That has become a very effective way to divert our attention while the country is reconfigured into a kind of neofeudalism, with a rapacious oligarchic elite and an anemic government that no longer is able to intercede on behalf of citizens but cravenly serves the interests of the oligarchy itself.
“The aim of the corporate state is not to feed, clothe or house the masses but to shift all economic, social and political power and wealth into the hands of the tiny corporate elite. It is to create a world where the heads of corporations make $900,000 and four-job families struggle to survive. The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions. Charter schools, mercenary armies, a for-profit health insurance industry and outsourcing every facet of government work, from clerical tasks to intelligence, feed the corporate beast at our expense. The decimation of labor unions, the twisting of education and mindless vocational training and the slashing of social services leave us ever more enslaved to the whims of corporations. The intrusion of corporations into the public sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively by naked self-interest.”—Chris Hedges, Why The Revolution Must Start in America, Adbusters 96.
“There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt or you stand on the wrong side of history. You either obstruct through civil disobedience, the only way left to us, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. You either taste, feel, and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt, or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. You are either a rebel or a slave. To be declared innocent in a country where the rule of law means nothing-where the poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation, and internal surveillance are the only real businesses of the state, where habeas corpus no longer exists, where you, as a citizen, are nothing more than a commodity to corporate systems of power, one to be used and discarded-is to be complicit in this radical evil. To stand on the sidelines and say, "I am innocent" is to bear the mark of Cain. It is to do nothing to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save our besieged planet. ”—I might go so far as to say that Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is a necessary document for anyone who cares about the United States of America. The quote in question may seem inflammatory and radical but it is at the tail end of a long and ghastly series of essays detailing all of the communities we have failed, all of the corruption we have supported, all of the exploitation we have endured. In light of the evidence it is not only not an extreme statement but possibly the only sensible response to a power structure that has rotted away a truly bewildering amount of civil liberties and basic human rights. I have so much to reexamine about my way of life.
“Corporations let 50,000 people die last year because they could not pay them for proper medical care. They have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis, Palestinians and Pakistanis, and gleefully watched as the stock price of weapons contractors quadrupled. They have turned cancer into an epidemic in the coal fields of West Virginia where families breathe polluted air, drink poisoned water and watch the Appalachian Mountains blasted into a desolate wasteland while coal companies can make billions. And after looting the U.S. treasury these corporations demand, in the name of austerity, that we abolish food programs for children, heating assistance and medical care for our elderly, and good public education. They demand that we tolerate a permanent underclass that will leave one in six workers without jobs, that condemns tens of millions of Americans to poverty and tosses our mentally ill onto heating grates. Those without power, those whom these corporations deem to be ordinary, are cast aside like human refuse. It is what the god of the market demands.”—Chris Hedges
“The electoral process has been hijacked by corporations. The judiciary has been corrupted and bought. The press shuts out the most important voices in the country and feeds us the banal and the absurd. Universities prostitute themselves for corporate dollars. Labor unions are marginal and ineffectual forces. The economy is in the hands of corporate swindlers and speculators. And the public, enchanted by electronic hallucinations, remains largely passive and supine. We have no tools left within the power structure in our fight to halt unchecked corporate pillage.”—Chris Hedges on why revolt is all we have left
“Get back into your cages, they are telling us. Return to watching the lies, absurdities, trivia and celebrity gossip we feed you in 24-hour cycles on television. Invest your emotional energy in the vast system of popular entertainment. Run up your credit card debt. Pay your loans. Be thankful for the scraps we toss. Chant back to us our phrases about democracy, greatness and freedom. Vote in our rigged political theater. Send your young men and women to fight and die in useless, unwinnable wars that provide corporations with huge profits. Stand by mutely as our bipartisan congressional supercommittee, either through consensus or cynical dysfunction, plunges you into a society without basic social services including unemployment benefits. Pay for the crimes of Wall Street. ”—Chris Hedges
“Towering about us are banks and other financial institutions that profit from war. War, for some, is a business. And across this country lies a labyrinth of military industries that produce nothing but instruments of death. And some of us once served these forces. It is death we defy, not our own death, but the vast enterprise of death. The dark, primeval lusts for power and personal wealth, the hypermasculine language of war and patriotism, are used to justify the slaughter of the weak and the innocent and mock justice. ... And we will not use these words of war. We cannot flee from evil. Some of us have tried through drink and drugs and self-destructiveness. Evil is always with us. It is because we know evil, our own evil, that we do not let go, do not surrender. It is because we know evil that we resist. It is because we know violence that we are nonviolent. And we know that it is not about us; war taught us that. It is about the other, lying by the side of the road. It is about reaching down in defiance of creeds and oaths, in defiance of religion and nationality, and lifting our enemy up. All acts of healing and love—and the defiance of war is an affirmation of love—allow us to shout out to the vast powers of the universe that, however broken we are, we are not yet helpless, however much we despair we are not yet without hope, however weak we may feel, we will always, always, always resist. And it is in this act of resistance that we find our salvation.”—
Chris Hedges, from a talk given Sunday night in New York City at a protest denouncing the 11th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. The event, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was led by Veterans for Peace.
Members of the organization were later arrested by the NYPD as they read the names of the war dead, including 85-year-old World War II veteran Jay Wenk.
Image from warisacrime.org