Politically correct speech and symbols of inclusiveness, without a concerted assault on corporate power, will do nothing to change the system.
By Chris Hedges
The cancel culture — the phenomenon of removing or canceling people, brands or shows from the public domain because of offensive statements or ideologies — is not a threat to the ruling class. Hundreds of corporations, nearly all in the hands of white executives and white board members, enthusiastically pumped out messages on social media condemning racism and demanding justice after George Floyd was choked to death by police in Minneapolis. Police, which along with the prison system are one of the primary instruments of social control over the poor, have taken the knee, along with Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of the serially criminal JPMorgan Chase, where only 4 percent of the top executives are black. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world whose corporation, Amazon, paid no federal income taxes last year and who fires workers that attempt to unionize and tracks warehouse laborers as if they were prisoners, put a “Black Lives Matter” banner on Amazon’s home page.
The rush by the ruling elites to profess solidarity with the protestors and denounce racist rhetoric and racist symbols, supporting the toppling of Confederate statues and banning the Confederate flag, are symbolic assaults on white supremacy. Alone, these gestures will do nothing to reverse the institutional racism that is baked into the DNA of American society. The elites will discuss race. They will not discuss class.
In today’s episode of Reality Collapse we present:
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase
Taking a break from handling the £30bn in fines levied at his company for their role in the financial crash, Mr Dimon took the time to take a solidaristic knee in front of a GIANT BANK VAULT. pic.twitter.com/rIPneN02fW
— Keiran Goddard (@keirangoddard1) June 6, 2020
We must be wary of allowing those wielding the toxic charge of racism, no matter how well intentioned their motives, to decide who has a voice and who does not. Public shaming and denunciation, as any student of the Russian, French or Chinese revolutions knows, is one that leads to absurdism and finally despotism. Virulent racists, such as Richard Spencer, exist. They are dangerous. But racism will not end until we dismantle a class system that was created to empower oligarchic oppression and white supremacy. Racism will not end until we defund the police and abolish the world’s largest system of mass incarceration. Racism will not end until we invest in people rather than systems of control. This means reparations for African-Americans, the unionization of workers, massive government jobs programs, breaking up and nationalizing the big banks along with the for-profit health services, transportation sector, the internet, privatized utilities and the fossil fuel industry, as well as a Green New Deal and the slashing of our war expenditures by 75 percent.
Politically correct speech and symbols of inclusiveness, without a concerted assault on corporate power, will do nothing to change a system that by design casts the poor and working poor, often people of color, aside — Karl Marx called them surplus labor — and forces them into a life of misery and a brutal criminal caste system.
The cancel culture, with its public shaming on social media, is the boutique activism of the liberal elites. It allows faux student radicals to hound and attack those deemed to be racist or transphobic, before these “radicals” graduate to work for corporations such as Goldman Sachs, which last year paid $9 million in fines to settle federal allegations of racial and gender pay bias. Self-styled Marxists in the academy have been pushed out of economic departments and been reborn as irrelevant cultural and literary critics, employing jargon so obscure as to be unreadable. These “radical” theorists invest their energy in linguistic acrobatics and multiculturalism, with branches such as feminism studies, queer studies and African-American studies. The inclusion of voices often left out of the traditional academic canon certainly enriches the university. But multiculturalism, moral absolutism and the public denunciations of apostates, by themselves, too often offer escape routes from critiquing and attacking the class structures and systems of economic oppression that exclude and impoverish the poor and the marginal.
The hedge fund managers, oligarchs and corporate CEOs on college trustee boards don’t care about Marxist critiques of Joseph Conrad. They do care if students are being taught to dissect the lies of the neoliberal ideology used as a cover to orchestrate the largest transference of wealth upwards in American history.
The cancel culture, shorn of class politics, is the parlor game of the overeducated. If we do not examine, as Theodor Adorno wrote, the “societal play of forces that operate beneath the surface of political forms,” we will be continually cursed with a more ruthless and sophisticated form of corporate control, albeit one that is linguistically sensitive and politically correct.
“Stripped of a radical idiom, robbed of a utopian hope, liberals and leftists retreat in the name of progress to celebrate diversity,” historian Russell Jacoby writes. “With few ideas on how a future should be shaped, they embrace all ideas. Pluralism becomes a catchall, the alpha and omega of political thinking. Dressed up as multicultural, it has become the opium of disillusioned intellectuals, the ideology of an era without an ideology.”
The cudgel of racism, as I have experienced, is an effective tool to shut down debate. Students for Justice in Palestine organizations, which almost always include Jewish students, are being banned on college campuses in the name of fighting racism. Activists in these outlawed groups are often barred from holding any student leadership positions on campus. Professors that dare to counter the Zionist narrative, such as the Palestinian American scholar Steven Salaita, have had job offers rescinded, been fired or denied tenure and dismissed. Norman Finkelstein, one of the most important scholars on the Israel-Palestine conflict, has been ruthlessly targeted by the Israel lobby throughout his career, making it impossible for him to get tenure or academic appointments. Never mind, that he is not only Jewish but the son of Holocaust survivors. Jews, in this game, are branded as racists, and actual racists, such as Donald Trump, because they back Israel’s refusal to recognize Palestinian rights, are held up as friends of the Jewish people.
I have long been a target of the Israeli lobby. The lobby, usually working through Hillel Houses on college campuses, which function as little more than outposts of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), does not attempt to address my enumeration of the war crimes committed by Israel, many of which I witnessed, the egregious flouting by Israel of international law, exacerbated by the plans to annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank, or the historical record ignored and distorted by the lobby to justify Jewish occupation of a country that from the 7th century until 1948 was Muslim. The lobby prefers not to deal in the world of facts. It misuses the trope of anti-Semitism to ensure that those who speak up for Palestinian rights and denounce Israeli occupation are not invited to events on Israel-Palestine conflict, or are disinvited to speak after invitations have been sent out, as happened to me at the University of Pennsylvania, among other venues.
It does not matter that I spent seven years in the Middle East, or that I was the Middle East Bureau Chief for The New York Times, living for weeks at a time in the Israel-occupied territories. It does not matter that I speak Arabic. My voice and the voices of those, especially Palestinians, who document the violations of Palestinian civil rights are canceled out by the mendacious charge that we are racists. I doubt most of the college administrators who agree to block our appearances believe we are racists, but they don’t also want the controversy. Zionism is the cancel culture on steroids.
The Israel lobby, whose interference in our electoral process dwarfs that of any other country, including Russia, is now attempting to criminalize the activities of those, such as myself, who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The lobby, with its huge financial clout, is pushing state legislatures, in the name of fighting anti-Semitism, to use anti-boycott laws and executive orders to punish companies and individuals that promote BDS. Twenty-seven states have so far enacted laws or policies that penalize businesses, organizations and individuals for supporting BDS.
The debate about the excesses of cancel culture was most recently ignited by a letter signed by 153 prominent and largely privileged writers and intellectuals in Harper’s Magazine, a publication for educated, white liberals. Critics of the letter argue, correctly, that “nowhere in it do the signatories mention how marginalized voices have been silenced for generations in journalism, academia, and publishing.” These critics also point out, correctly, that signatories include those, such as The New York Times columnist David Brooks and Malcolm Gladwell, with access to huge media platforms and who face no danger of being silenced. They finally note that a few of the signatories are the most vicious proponents of the Zionist cancel culture, including The New York Times editor Bari Weiss, who led campaigns while at Columbia University to destroy the careers of Arab professors; literary scholar Cary Nelson, who was one of those who denounced the Palestinian American scholar Salaita as a racist; and political scientist Yascha Mounk, who has attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar as an anti-Semite.
I find the cancel culture and its public denunciations as distasteful as those who signed the letter. But these critics are battling a monster of their own creation. The institutional and professional power of those targeted by the Harper’s letter is insignificant, especially when set against that of the signatories or the Israel lobby. Those singled out for attack pose little threat to the systems of entrenched power, which the signatories ironically represent, and indeed are more often its victims. I suspect this is the reason for the widespread ire the letter provoked.
The most ominous threats to free speech and public debate do not come from the cancel culture of the left, which rarely succeeds in removing its targets from power, despite a few high profile firings such as James Bennet, who oversaw a series of tone-deaf editorial decisions as the opinion page editor at The New York Times. These corporate forces, which assure us that Black Lives Matter, understand that the left’s witch hunts are a harmless diversion.
Corporations have seized control of the news industry and turned it into burlesque. They have corrupted academic scholarship. They make war on science and the rule of law. They have used their wealth to destroy our democracy and replace it with a system of legalized bribery. They have created a world of masters and serfs who struggle at subsistence level and endure crippling debt peonage. The commodification of the natural world by corporations has triggered an ecocide that is pushing the human species closer and closer towards extinction. Anyone who attempts to state these truths and fight back was long ago driven from the mainstream and relegated to the margins of the internet by Silicon Valley algorithms. As cancel culture goes, corporate power makes the Israel lobby look like amateurs.
The current obsession with moral purity, devoid of a political vision and incubated by self-referential academics and educated elites, is easily co-opted by the ruling class who will say anything, as long as the mechanisms of corporate control remain untouched. We have enemies. They run Silicon Valley and sit on corporate boards. They make up the two ruling political parties. They manage the war industry. They chatter endlessly on corporate-owned airwaves about trivia and celebrity gossip. Our enemies are now showering us with politically correct messages. But until they are overthrown, until we wrest power back from our corporate masters, the most insidious forms of racism in America will continue to flourish.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He wrote a weekly column for the progressive website Truthdig for 14 years until he was fired along with all of the editorial staff in March 2020. [Hedges and the staff had gone on strike earlier in the month to protest the publisher’s attempt to fire the Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer, demand an end to a series of unfair labor practices and the right to form a union.] He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show “On Contact.”
This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular column twice a month. Click here to sign up for email alerts.
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“Peter in Seattle”
Good point! Except for this:
> France has the option of appealing the decision to the European Supreme Court.
There is no such body. The ECHR is the court of final instance with respect to violations of the European Convention on Human Rights; it is a body of the Council of Europe, a pan-European body.
You may be confusing this with the Court of Justice of the European Union, which rules on violations of European Union law. The European Union includes many, but by no means all, of the European states that also belong to the Council of Europe.
The current obsession with moral purity, devoid of a political vision and incubated by self-referential academics and educated elites, is easily co-opted by the ruling class who will say anything, as long as the mechanisms of corporate control remain untouched…
The BLM was born “co-opted” by corporate money. The slogans are so Madison Avenue.
Chris, I am a huge fan and love your work. I think you have a blind spot re: Israel. I noticed you mentioned that the land had been in Muslim hands since the 7th century. Fair! But if you want to lean into history, why is it that you don’t affirm Jewish identity as inextricably linked to the land too? The Jews were expelled by the Romans from the land in the 1st and 2nd centuries! and thus began the long otherization of then Jewish people. This is not to condone Israeli policies that are unjust. I merely ask that you not erase the Jewish connection to the land. They are not Europeans! To suggest they are is a deep insult and is ahistorical!
There is not group with a claim to the Mideast beyond the last few generations. All of humanity migrated through the Mideast from its origins in SE Africa over one million years ago, enroute to Europe and Asia. So there have likely been thousands of empires there, each controlled by ancestors of every present group of humanity. To claim that one group hardly present before 1930 has priority is the most extreme racism.
I’m certain Chris would never suggest or erase Jewish connections to the lands of Israel and Palestine. Even the Balfour Declaration stated the purpose of the document was to guarantee that land as a “ homeland” for the Jewish people. But not to exclusion or displacement of the inhabitants from the 7th century til the present day. Ultra Orthodox Jews completely understand that concept and disavow the political entity known as Israel ,which is essentially a secular state that now officially gives favoured status to Jews to the exclusion of non Jews.
So in that sense he doesn’t have “a blind spot” but clearly has a firm grasp of the injustice Palestinians have endured since 1948. Finally, to suggest that Jews from Europe are not Europeans is actually an insult to the memory of those Jews who viewed themselves as loyal citizens from the countries from which they came. If not for WW2 most of those Jews would never have gone to Israel at all and Palestinians wouldn’t be paying the price for the sins of Nazi Germany.
An aside: one nice thing about a Chris Hedges article is the number of intelligent commentators who take the time to respond.
Hedges is the best at getting right to the heart of the matter. And I think that it’s the Zionist lobby that mostly owns and orchestrates that cancel culture. The faux activists that they present to us day after day after day are allowed, indeed encouraged, to rant and rave about any notable white person who may have uttered the “n” word on some tweet or something 20 years ago, but tell me how many times they dig in to the story of the Sackler family of Purdue pharma? Who has killed and ruined, and basically imprisoned with their lies and false advertising more black lives than the Sackler family? But what you will see in the culture, is museums like the Louvre associating with Sacklers blood money so as to give the visitors an impression of their sublime character. I remember listening to a country singer Tim Mcgraw talking about his friendship with a black artist, Nelly, and he talked about how much common ground they had both growing up POOR and that they are the victimized surplus labor. It’s all about the enormous wealth transfer, Hedges is right. And it’s even worse, than just stealing our money, they are billing us, for killing us, in wars all over the world and at home, but we are not enlightened to this fact very often, because the ruling class owns almost all of the media.
“All around I hear the sound of money
But I ain’t got a nickel to my name
And everywhere I look I see temptation
She stands on every corner and calls my name
Now won’t you tell me if you can
‘Cause life’s so hard to understand
Why’s the rich man busy dancing
While the poor man pays the band
Oh they’re billing me for killing me
Lord have mercy on the working man
Uncle Sam’s got his hands in my pockets
And he helps himself each time he needs a dime
Them politicians treat me like a mushroom
‘Cause they feed me bull and keep me in the blind” – Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man
This is excellent. Takes the discussion beyond the level of propaganda by addressing the propaganda aspect of the controversy. The propagandists for the reach win by a landslide over the propagandists of every other sort, including the real racists. Another excellent discussion is Max Blumenthal’s at Aaron Maté’s program, “PushBack.”
Academics will continue to carp and complain, yet nothing will change but the nomenclature. Granted; the notion that “corporations” control the debate has some legitimacy, but the debate is nothing but clever wordage and another form of elitism in and of itself.
The stratification of society into worn memes of slavery and chaste will continue until Federal courts are pressured into banning ALL corporate held franchises from State licensing Nation wide. Corporatism and subsidiary franchise should not be allowed, period.
It’s a shame that Hedges cannot see the totality of how cancel culture – aka: wokeness, identity politics, critical theory – actually infects all of society, not just the elites. Hedges makes several errors in this article:
— “institutional racism that is baked into the DNA of American society” – here he repeats the mantra of liberal Democrats. This claim, like the entire NY Times/Democratic Party 1619 Project, would have us living in a time warp where “nothing has changed” since the 1800s. The DNA analogy is particularly interesting – a biological basis for racism, an original sin, an eternal problem. This is exactly the underlying assumption of “woke/cancel” culture.
–“Racism will not end until we defund the police and abolish the world’s largest system of mass incarceration.” – spoken like a true privileged white liberal. He should ask Black leaders – not the Al Sharptons or Jesse Jacksons, but those active in their own neighborhoods — if they want to defund/abolish the police and prison system. One thing one isn’t allowed to talk about in “cancel culture” is non-police violence in Black neighborhoods, but this is exactly what concerns the people in those neighborhoods, according to interviews done after shootings have occurred. They want reform of police, but not defunding or abolishment.
–“reparations for African-Americans” – because that worked so well for the Germans? Just throw money/charity/welfare at African-Americans and maybe they’ll stop complaining?
–“forces them into a life of misery and a brutal criminal caste system” – because the poor have no other choice but crime? If poverty is the cause of criminality, then how do you explain white collar crime?
–“The cancel culture, with its public shaming on social media, is the boutique activism of the liberal elites” – here Hedges demonstrates how ignorant he is of “cancel culture” and its pervasive reach. Nor does he understand the chilling effect it’s having throughout academia, including the hard sciences. Cancel culture is an attack on liberal ideas about tolerance and freedom of speech, and infects every aspect of society, not just academics or “faux student radicals.” Zionist attacks on pro-Palestinian activists is only one form. But cancel culture trickles down into everyday life. Ordinary people may not fear losing jobs – although some have – but they will be “named” as racist is they so much as whisper “all lives matter.” Children in grade schools are being indoctrinated to believe that, if white, they are bad and must forever atone for that sin. Cancel culture is an insidious form of indoctrination that affects everyone.
–Hedges’ attack on the Harper’s letter suffers from the usual cliches: the signers are prominent, privileged, and have access to huge media platforms; Harper’s is “a publication for educated, white liberals”; and then follows a laundry list of everything the signers left out of the letter. These are all typical academic forms of criticism: ad hominem attacks and criticizing what wasn’t in the letter, rather than what was (you should have written this book, rather than the book you wrote). Hedges, like the rest of the liberal literati who never signed the letter and never criticized the intolerant and authoritarian left that holds voice today, is killing the messengers because he really can’t take issue with the message.
Thanks for your succinct deconstruction of Hedges weak points in this article. Especially his ill considered defunding and abolishing police departments. The military could certainly use a trimming but not policing. Reform and a return to real community policing requires more money not less. I couldn’t agree more with your counterpoints to his musings on the points you addressed.
Agreed, however there are some deep rooted misunderstandings, even deeper than what Chris Hedges and many other say.
Class systems don’t just go away because we wish them to nor does racism until we find a new race to ism against. It’s like the neo-fascism that popped up like a jack-in-the-box after Golda Meier died and that has been largely followed by American politicians, Jewish or not. Why fascism took root in Israel is a story Hedges knows well. Why it took root here is a story of religious fanaticism in part, but largely, it has been due to money, legal and illegal, above and under the table.
America has no modern day class. If you go to a land of kings, there is a long, powerful, class history. Some strong, battle-winning leaders rose to power; became king; kept or lost his (occasionally her) riches and the inheritors inherited class. There is a root problem. America not only had no such system, we denied it with the Constitution. Since the industrial revolution, we have replaced it with money. That has allowed vulgar, barely educated, anti-public welfare people to increasingly take charge. Money is our class system and gives all the powers that come with follows it.
Then, consider that all of our ideas about racism ignore its foundation. If the police are reigned in, certainly, fewer blacks may be cop killed, but that’s just a blip in the overall of racism’s damage. It has nothing to do with inequality in education, income, employment or social status.
Mr. Hedges, please cite me a major country that demonstrates no racism. There was a moment when I first moved to France when there was little of it. I met a man who was of a brilliance and culture that I’ve rarely seen and he was very black. We moved through the world’s chessboard like two brothers until he died, so my life has been keenly aware of what racism is. Racial prejudice is, unfortunately, deeply based in human societies. It is a horror that wishful thinking and immediate balms won’t cure. Throwing money and anger at it isn’t enough.
Evolution happens very slowly and no magic formula will root out racism in a hurry. What can be done is to recognize it, reduce it, and shut up about it. We have become shards of glass at the foot of a broken window, everyone has been suddenly classed as a racist victim, even the white 1% in a way.
It’s not who screams the loudest, but they who are most hurt who must be be triaged by the few thinkers we have left. It’s time to convene groups to consider the fundamentals of our racial, social and political problems, then seek solutions. Not politicians, but real, educated human beings should take charge! Objective think tanks led by people like Chris Hedges and Matt Taibbi who think beyond politics to public interest.
Anonymot, the country with no racism is Cuba. I’ve been in over 30 countries and when I finally got to Cuba, the soothing peacefulness at first was incomprehensible until I realized it was the lack of racism. No one shouting obscenities in the streets, no one being rude to one another, no sudden shoving and fistfights. Rarely police in sight. Also, Cuba sends medical teams to (last count to over 164) countries when there’s a disaster…earthquake, floods, tsunamis, pandemic, fire, etc. and asks nothing in return. It’s their philosophy of medicine.
The best thing that happened to Cuba was (the highly educated) Castro and the Revolution, followed by the embargo by the US. It made it what it is today. Wish I lived there permanently. I apologize for going off subject and, BTW, Chris Hedges has the knack of being right, time and time again.
The middle class are dependent on the corporate state, US job losses well surpassed job gains, we’re 25 years into the Democrats’ war on the poor, and this pretty well sums things up.
A generally excellent essay. Indeed the rich have seized control of mass media, judicial, legislative, and executive branches with a legalized bribery behind the illusion of democracy, and silence their critics while waving the flag and religious symbols. All forms of discrimination will continue to flourish until the rich are ‘overthrown.”
As to the suppression of extreme views, of course it is dangerous because the views that prove to have been correct after disastrous errors had been swept into the margins. The worst fools and extremists have some right to be heard, so long as cautious minds can ignore them. But moderation of statements without evidence or argument is necessary to coherent debate.
So the issue is proper management of each type of forum:
1. Echo chambers of ideologues: discouraging broader considerations, and perhaps inflammatory;
2. Essays, studies, and treatises, more or less partisan;
3. Moderated discussion groups of nonspecialists;
4. Moderated expert debates, not always seeking consensus;
5. Moderated efforts of consensus, as in uncorrupted legislatures.
Well, yes. But there are some fundamental misunderstandings in much of what Chris Hedges and many other say. Class systems don’t just go away because we wish them to nor does racism until we find a new race to ism against. It’s like the neo-fascism that popped up like a jack-in-the-box after Golda Meier died and that has been largely followed by American politicians, Jewish or not. Why fascism took root in Israel is a story Hedges knows well. Why it took root here is a story of religious fanaticism in part, but largely, it has been due to bulging bank accounts.
America has no modern day class. If you go to a land of kings, there is a long, powerful, class history. Some strong, battle-winning leaders rose to power; became king; kept or lost his (occasionnaliste her) riches and the inheritors inherited. There is a root problem, my friends. America not only had no such system, we denied it. Slowly and since the industrial revolution, we have replaced it with money. That allows vulgar, barely educated, anti-public welfare people to take charge. Money defines our class system and all that follows it.
Then, consider that all of our ideas about racism ignore its foundation. If the police are reigned in, certainly, fewer blacks may be cop killed, but that’s just a blip in the overall of racism and its damage. It has nothing to do with inequality in education, income, employment or social status.
Mr. Hedges, please cite me a major country that demonstrates no racism. There was a moment when I first moved to France when there was little of it. I met a man who was of a brilliance and culture that I’ve rarely seen and he was very black. We moved through the world’s chessboard like two brothers until he died, so my life has been keenly aware of what racism is. It is, unfortunately deeply based in human societies, but racism can be converted by changing the victims as the English and French did when their colons came home and they acquired a new set of prey.
Evolution happens very slowly and no magic formula will root out racism in a hurry. What can be done is to recognize it, reduce it, and shut up about it. We have become shards of glass at the foot of a broken window, everyone a victim, even the white 1% in a way.
It’s not who screams the loudest, but they who are most hurt who must be be triaged by the few thinkers we have left. It’s time to convene groups to consider solutions. Not politicians, but real, educated human beings! Objective think tanks.
:::stands up slowly::: :::starts a slow clap::: Reading Chris Hedges is like dancing with the truth. Well done, sir.
Cancel culture comes across as more of a form of woke guerilla marketing than as a phenomenon supported by the economically exploited. Ex. all the FAANG companies that are essentially propping up the stock market – see how quickly they’ve embraced this “culture” when they realized it was excellent for business.
IMO, such is a trend, and it too, will pass — when folks realize that the powers that be have hijacked their ideas for profit. Lesson learned: when fringe goes mainstream it’s all over – 1960’s redux.
there is a very simple and very honest way to “cure” the movement from the “white” mainstream hijacking and corrupting its goals, and it seems like BLM learned the “trick”, it only takes to state “FREE PALESTINE”, rise The Flag and the mainstream will magically disappear
“I find the cancel culture and its public denunciations as distasteful as those who signed the letter. But these critics are battling a monster of their own creation. The institutional and professional power of those targeted by the Harper’s letter is insignificant, especially when set against that of the signatories or the Israel lobby. Those singled out for attack pose little threat to the systems of entrenched power, which the signatories ironically represent, and indeed are more often its victims. I suspect this is the reason for the widespread ire the letter provoked.”
Basically I agree with Hedges. But I cannot follwo what he is saying in this graf.
“As cancel culture goes, corporate power makes the Israel lobby look like amateurs.”
What? I thought the beginning portion of the piece was about the power of AIPAC and other Israel Lobby entities to shape narrative and cancel out those who defend Palestinian rights.
IMO and for my understanding t he essay wanders toward the end until I am not sure who Hedges thinks is doing the actual canceling and who is actually powerful: Israel lobby? corporate interests? Misguided young people?
Litchfield please see the link below to help you understand the new ploy of the old and newer neocon cabal which has been “seen through” by the likes of Max Blumenthal, Aaron Matte and Chris Hedges. Once you do, you will recognize the same old tricks and lies. Many thanks to Consortiumnews…
A beautifully written argument. Cheers to Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer and Consortium News.
Great article as always from Chris Hedges. Jonathan Cook also has an excellent article published today at Global Research regarding the open letter from Harper’s. Censorship is never the answer.
Chris Hedges and Cornel West are always worth listening to and/or reading. Very pleased to have the actual situation with “cancel culture” brought into light with such clarity. We are living in the rarefied air of late-stage capitalism, in which an identifying feature is more important than our collective humanity. When someone argues over their right to their particular piece of pie while arguing against sharing the whole pie, I can’t tell if they’re an academic or a billionaire. All I hear is the ca-ching of people protecting the last scraps thrown to them by an inhuman system.
Chris Hedges, in this article, lays out substantial portions of the many corruptions people of conscience and actual principle must confront if a sane, humane, and sustainable global human society is to be established.
He briefly suggests that, in academia in particular, there are to be found very few articulated visions of what that society could, should, and must be premised upon, how it might function, and what forms of critically necessary participatory democracy, guiding such a society, would look, and feel, like.
He makes very clear that symbolic “progress” is simply a rhetorical deceit employed to ensure that the currently destructive, and fully corrupt, “system” may prevail, even as many are lulled into believing that “things” are “improving”, that semantic fiddling will keep the fire, next time, harmlessly contained and its energy bent and dissipated into meaningless gesture.
As Hedges points out, were universities, indeed, all of education, dedicated to developing critical thinking, rather than to breathlessly proclaiming the sandbox “politics” of childish bullies as being highly evolved example of social competence, or of praising private equity as proof that vulture capitalism is the “end of history”, or of touting Panglossian pronouncements of U$ian virtue and exceptionalism as inevitably placing all of humankind in the pinker regions of a rose-colored present, then the young might, intentionally, be provided with the tools of actually comprehending the massive fraud and corruption which controls and curtails the lives of most human beings on this planet, to the immense benefit of approximately two thousand kakistocratic elites.
In other articles, over the years, Hedges has stressed, time and again, that there is no guarantee of success in the struggle which must be undertaken if humanity is to have any future at all.
Some may regard such sober assessment as “negative” or even “defeatist”.
However, considering what we are up against, beyond the relatively “easy” target of symbols, it is the deeper recognition that Hedges provides, which is the first real step toward understanding what must be changed and why.
And, unless, there is a clearly articulated destination, a coherent idea of where we wish to arrive, of the pathways, maps, and a developed sense of the terrain that must be crossed, fraught, as it will be, with pitfalls and land mines of distraction, and of being maliciously led astray, with “movements” being absorbed into dead end detours and dissipation, then a very real risk of going nowhere, of becoming disoriented and fatally lost, is more than likely.
We may not envision defeat, yet it is foolhardy to assume success.
As there are, quite literally, no existing forums for such discussions and considerations as we must enjoin, it is to be hoped that “education” will be understood as a group effort which, of necessity, involves listening quite as much as talking.
Frankly, we are not even to square #1, yet.
Getting there will not be easy.
And that, rather than toppling symbols, is only the beginning.
Clear strategy must evolve, which cannot happen until organization with the intent of engaging a coherent sense of collective plight is first undertaken.
This process is not about saviors or awaiting some “one” who will magically provide a guaranteed plan of success.
Rather, it is about the hard slog of getting from the untenable moment of increasing precarity, to an shared awareness of individual competence and wholeness, among the many.
That is the basis of the power and energy which we must bring into being.
We must find it in each of our selves and then encourage it in each other.
That may well sound both trite and obvious.
Yet it leads to a beginning, not of following, but of becoming.
Well said! It really is time for the “transvaluation of all values.” Nietzsche saw it coming, albeit culturally more than by means of climate change or pandemic, one-hundred and forty years ago. He gave the process two hundred years. We can’t take the time to match the great philosopher’s, highly educated guess.
Not trite or obvious.
Buckminster Fuller talked of that realization (that we all share competence and wholeness – among other virtues) as a “light switch” turning on in one’s head. Unfortunately, that switch has been on ‘off’ for so long, most can’t imagine how easy it really is to flip the switch.
Powerfully put, DW. Thank you.
Thanks to Chris Hedges for this informative article.
“Twenty-seven states have so far enacted laws or policies that penalize businesses, organizations and individuals for supporting BDS.”
BDS is also illegal in France since 2015 (not the fault of the dreadful president Macron, it was the “socialist” Hollande president at that time). A reference is
which seems now to be no longer available, but the link indicates the content.
A little over a month ago, the European Court of Human Rights held (in Baldassi v. France) that France’s criminal conviction of BDS activists violated Article 10 (“Freedom of expression”) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
France has the option of appealing the decision to the European Supreme Court. I have no idea whether France intends to do so or what their odds of success would be. (According to some commentators, France’s odds would be poor, knock on wood.)
I don’t want to risk getting spiked for posting links, but you can find a good article on the decision at BDSmovement dot net, dated 11 June 2020, and a good 27-minute video discussing it (in English!) on the acTVism Munich YouTube channel, dated 25 June 2020.
Wouldn’t it be nice if a US federal court held that state and local anti-BDS laws violate the First Amendment? But how far back in time would we have to go to find a majority of actual jurists sitting on a US Court of Appeals or on the US Supreme Court?
Yes, Chris Hedges has it exactly right.
But look at so very much of American society – especially the young – involved in the almost game-like empty battles about slogans on t-shirts.
Social media could almost have been a security services invention.
I don’t know whose words can reach those people.
I’m afraid a great many have little more grasp of the realities of history and the shaping of their society than Trump has.
And in a sense, I think it is a continuation of a politics that rarely struggles with anything important. Too much invested in wealth and serving wealth, as with the empire.