From the author’s address at the anti-war demonstration on Feb. 19 in Washington: “A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.”
By Chris Hedges
Idolatry is the primal sin from which all other sins derive. Idols tempt us to become God. They demand the sacrifice of others in the mad quest for wealth, fame or power. But the idol always ends by requiring self-sacrifice, leaving us to perish on the blood-soaked altars we erected for others.
For empires are not murdered, they commit suicide at the feet of the idols that entrance them.
We are here today to denounce the unelected, unaccountable high priests of Empire, who funnel the bodies of millions of victims, along with trillions of our national wealth, into the bowels of our own version of the Canaanite idol, Moloch.
The political class, the media, the entertainment industry, the financiers and even religious institutions bay like wolves for the blood of Muslims or Russians or Chinese, or whoever the idol has demonized as unworthy of life. There were no rational objectives in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Somalia. There are none in Ukraine. Permanent war and industrial slaughter are their own justification.
[Related: WATCH: Anti-War Rally at Lincoln Memorial]
Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman earn billions of dollars in profits. The vast expenditures demanded by the Pentagon are sacrosanct. The cabal of warmongering pundits, diplomats and technocrats, who smugly dodge responsibility for the array of military disasters they orchestrate, are protean, shifting adroitly with the political tides, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Julien Benda called these courtiers to power “the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia.”
These pimps of war do not see the corpses of their victims. I did. Including children. Every lifeless body I stood over as a reporter in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Bosnia, or Kosovo, month after month, year after year, exposed their moral bankruptcy, intellectual dishonesty, sick bloodlust and delusional fantasies.
They are puppets of the Pentagon, a state within a state, and the weapons manufacturers who lavishly fund their think tanks: Project for the New American Century, Foreign Policy Initiative, American Enterprise Institute, Center for a New American Security, Institute for the Study of War, Atlantic Council and Brookings Institute. Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished. It does not matter how wrong they are, how absurd their theories of global dominance, how many times they lie or denigrate other cultures and societies as uncivilized or how many they condemn to death. They are immovable props, parasites vomited up in the dying days of all empires, ready to sell us the next virtuous war against whoever they have decided is the new Hitler. The map changes. The game is the same.
Pity our prophets, those who wander the desolate landscape crying out in the darkness. Pity Julian Assange, undergoing a slow-motion execution in a high-security prison in London. He committed Empire’s fatal sin. He exposed its crimes, its machinery of death, its moral depravity.
A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.
Some here today might like to think of themselves as radicals, maybe even revolutionaries. But what we are demanding on the political spectrum is, in fact, conservative: the restoration of the rule of law. It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning republic, be incendiary. But living in truth in a despotic system, one the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin called “inverted totalitarianism,” is subversive.
The architects of imperialism, the masters of war, the corporate-controlled legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and their obsequious mouth pieces in the media and academia, are illegitimate. Say this simple truth and you are banished, as many of us have been, to the margins. Prove this truth, as Julian did, and you are crucified.
“Red Rosa now has vanished too…” Bertolt Brecht wrote of the murdered socialist Rosa Luxemburg. “She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out.”
We have undergone a corporate coup d’état, where the poor and working men and women, half of whom lack $400 to cover an emergency expense, are reduced to chronic instability. Joblessness and food insecurity are endemic. Our communities and cities are desolate.
War, financial speculation, constant surveillance and militarized police that function as internal armies of occupation are the only real concerns of the state. Even habeas corpus no longer exists. We, as citizens, are commodities to corporate systems of power, used and discarded. And the endless wars we fight overseas have spawned the wars we fight at home, as the students I teach in the New Jersey prison system are acutely aware. All empires die in the same act of self-immolation. The tyranny the Athenian empire imposed on others, Thucydides noted in his history of the Peloponnesian war, it finally imposed on itself.
To fight back, to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet from ecocide, to decry the domestic and international crimes of the ruling class, to demand justice, to live in truth, to smash the graven images, is to bear the mark of Cain.
Those in power must feel our wrath, which means constant acts of non-violent civil disobedience, social and political disruption. Organized power from below is the only power that can save us. Politics is a game of fear. It is our duty to make those in power very, very afraid.
The ruling oligarchy has us locked in its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It obscures and falsifies the truth. It is on a maniacal quest to increase its obscene wealth and unchecked power. It forces us to kneel before its false gods. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically, of course, I say, “Off with their heads!”
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 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 is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”
Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”
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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
Awh, Spot On, “the author’s address at the anti-war demonstration on Feb. 19 in Washington:”
“A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.” CHRIS HEDGES!
“Transcripts,” imo, are f/GOLDEN,”
Hedges’ had me @“ IDOLATRY.” My initial thought was “No $h*t, “a sign,” i.e., “We asked for signs; and the signs were sent;” BUT, the Livestream i tuned into was still @ Branna’s welcoming Hedges. Hedges’ being there rocked their world! They were stoked!!! Consequently, their exuberance “pure joy” muffled the initial minutes of Hedges’ address. Then, silence. Everyone’s listening. Until, Hedges’ delivered the Resolution, “THOSE IN POWER MUST FEEL OUR WRATH, which means constant acts of non-violent civil disobedience, social and political disruption.” (FULL Text, above)
The LIVEStream f/Roared!!!
AND, when CHRIS HEDGES, closed with “THE RULING OLIGARCHY HAS US LOCKED its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It obscures and falsifies the truth. It is on a maniacal quest to increase its obscene wealth and unchecked power. It forces us to kneel before its false gods. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically, of course, I say, “Off with their heads!”
The LIVEStream f/Lost It! The applause was thunderous. The cheers! All in agreement, “ORGANIZED POWER FROM BELOW is the only power that can save us. Politics is a game of fear. It is our duty to make those in power very, very afraid.” CHRIS HEDGES, Rock’n the Resolution Engaged the Rally Against The War Machine!
Imo, the next Rally’s Sign is gonna read, “Off with their heads!” (‘to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically, of course,’ CHRIS HEDGES). TY. Now I got Hedges quote, verbatim!!! “Keep It Lit.”
…p.s., About “IDOLATRY”….and idols, “the idol always ends by requiring self-sacrifice, leaving us to perish on the blood-soaked altars we erected for others.” This is f/freaky, Not exactly where i was going w”Idolizing,” one or more persons, professions, etc;” but, clearly, answers, “Is it Right?” OR “Is it Wrong?” (Julian Assange).
It is amazing to me how the WSWS attacked the anti-war rally of 19.02, just because it included, they claimed, right wing and the so called “fascists”, which is ironic if you think about fascists that are rallying against supporting war and Ukrainian neo-nazi groups. I believe that behind the socialist attack there is a more subtle goal; I believe that for so much the criticize that war, they supported it even more; Socialism DNA is based on hypocrisy, I’ve always believed that socialism (and progressim its radicalization) is the result of the mutation of christianity, from a religion movement to a political movement, retaining bigotry, apocalyptism, hypocrisy… till we have parties, like socialists, progressist, democrats that separate humans in who is good, who is bad, that perpetuate a christian religion well-known practice of dehumanizing whoever do not kneel in front of the church, our culture and society won’t move forward a inch in the next centuries… and the funny thing is that socialists champion themselves as anti-prejudice and anti-close-mindedness
Wow,.Chris Hedges, powerful and potent assessment of our world, and not a moment too soon,
Damn, we are going to fry, by our own hand, god need not be involved.
“Deeds not Words”. For all your words, real change has come from action. When will the brave writers take up their rifles and guns? Never. They’ll talk a great fight and retire to a cozy café, to write epics.. Puh!
You need to realize that your macho rhetoric of taking up rifles and handguns against the government would stand little chance against the overwhelming firepower of the United States military, as your army of Second Amendment patriots and fanatics would be wiped out by U.S. fighter jets and tanks. Wishing to see more Jan. 6 attacks against the government is not the wisest course of action for intelligent and rational people to take. As a bumper sticker accurately points out:
Bury Guns, Not Children
And don’t forget Frank Gaffney and his Center for Security Policy.
Gaffney originally worked with Richard Perle in the office of Senator Henry Jackson. He then worked with Perle in the Reagan administration.
Two recent appalling comments from his website.
“Last night, Joe Biden reprised in the Capitol the false narrative that election deniers brought us an insurrection aimed at overthrowing our government.”
“Throughout Joe’s five decades in Washington, there have been few politicians more obsessed with promoting Kremlin-backed arms control agreements that had the effect of unilaterally disarming the United States.”
Like the other organisations listed, the CSP has received donations form the principal military contractors in the United States.
Perhaps it still does.
How many of our ‘leaders’ could write a speech like that! Even their speech writers couldn’t. I can’t think of any world leaders who have Chris’s knowledge of history and literature, his experience, his morality, his honesty, and his eloquence.
Brilliant as always. I hope Chris attracted some new followers.
You don’t mean those self-same oligarch mo’fo’s who don’t mind in the least driving the whole world insane to get what they want, do you? Yes, I’m afraid you do. Only too true.
What? somebody sez : Truth is dead. But if that were true, how could I believe you?
“I am sped,” Mercutio said. I’m with him: “A plague o’ both your houses.”
Update: on all houses everywhere inhabited by howling ghosts of war-makers past, present & future. Dip your fingers in blood. Mark their doors. Metaphorically speaking.
I’m with Lennon, too. Gimme some truth.
I’ve had enough of readin’ things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
Stop The War
“Politics is a game of fear. It is our duty to make those in power very, very afraid.”
They are already afraid. That is why there is so much control of our so called “freedom”.
That is why there is continual subversion by way of “agent provocateur”.
That is why it is virtually impossible to even obtain any coherent communication by any means with large enterprises, energy companies or banking entities.
Let’s talk about electronic attack inside the US, for starters.
There’s not much to add to Chris Hedges’ brilliant (and truthful) commentary on the state of things in our undeclared Empire. I would only say that when hope is taken from the present (and therefore the future) by elitist powers that recognize no living thing except their own deathly greed, the force of life will still find a way back into the light. Between God and Moloch (as between all our gods) only a true equality can exist, since both are the machines of the same will to power. To dissent is to turn inward and begin the struggle toward a living light that others may follow. This is a time to say no to all masters and let the blows fall were they shall. Harm to others is a part of that mystery being sold to us as a necessary truth. Since the blows will fall anyway, let them count for something to those receiving them.