“In the promulgation of the totalitarian belief system, at first we are told we all have a right to an opinion, in short, a right to believe anything. Soon, under the iron control of an empowered totalitarian movement, facts become worthless, kept or discarded…Lies become true. And once the totalitarians are in power, facts are ruthlessly manipulated or kept hidden to support the lie.” — Chris Hedges, American Fascists
Once the effects of the earlier gassing wore off I got up, flipped on KPFT and listened to an interview with Chris Hedges on Sonali Kolhatkar’s show Uprising. While listening to it I did my mix of Yoga, strength training, jujitsu and Shaolin Qi Gong. I find Chris Hedges’ work interesting and thought provoking—though I do not agree with all of his positions and tactics and strategy—and several thoughts came to mind while working out and listening to the interview.
He was mainly talking about his new book Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt, in which he details the psychosociopolitical realities of what he calls “sacrifice zones” in the U.S.—particular areas of the country where communities have been devastated. Hedges talked about Immokalee, Florida where the social situation of produce workers is absolutely deplorable. He also spoke about the Pine Ridge Reservation, which has the social welfare statistics of a third world country. The environmental and social situation in the West Virginia coal mining areas is terrible. I remember when I first learned about this, I was quite shocked and thought, “I had no idea places like this exist where white folks live so very bad!” Hedges mentioned these areas of West Virginia and also spoke about a “sacrifice zone” in New Jersey and talked about how his new book discusses the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS). Quite interesting.
I’d like to especially suggest that people overseas check out this interview. “America bashing” is quite popular in Europe and while I certainly do not have any subconscious, blindly patriotic indoctrination issues and most certainly do recognize the many problems within the U.S. society, it’s always good to remember that average everyday U.S. citizens suffer greatly when those in positions of power abuse that power. Chris Hedges details this well.
He also spoke about how he believes that true social change will only come about when people start engaging in non-violent civil disobedience that leads to arrest. I’ve dedicatedly lived a philosophy of non-violence in a highly volatile, extremely chaotic, very violent and absolutely insane Orwellian Hell of an environment for years. I appreciate his position on non-violence very much—from a strategic and personal moral perspective—but is direct action protest the only way to go? Is civil disobedience the only viable option? I don’t think so.
And I also think that true and powerful change can occur by working within our current societal systems of government. I’m certainly not an indoctrinated middle-of-the-road starry-eyed, don’t-wanna-cause-no-trouble centrist but I think the idea that the “system must be dismantled!” for positive social change to occur is illogical and rather delusional. And I have permanent scars from my face on down to my legs from years and years of facing SWAT teams, having violence thrust upon me, while engaging in peaceful protest.
Damn—they just flipped off the big exhaust fans and the inner-building circulation vents are on which means the remnants of the tear gas just started flowing back into the cells. I’m coughing and my eyes are involuntarily clamping shut again…so I’ll sign off from this wretched little totalitarian Kafkaesque fiefdom...
In the Spirit of the Power Of Truth, With Strength & Love: