Scott Horton Interviews Chris Hedges

Scott Horton, May 16, 2010

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Chris Hedges, author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, discusses the antiwar movement’s many mistakes that have rendered it ineffective, the slow-motion fascist coup d’etat in the US, the dangers of unfettered capitalism, the pros and cons of secession movements and the near-unanimous Congressional approval of the extrajudicial assassination of US citizens.

MP3 here. (24:14)

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. In 2009 the Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges’ original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year and granting him the Best Online Column award for his Truthdig essay “Party to Murder,” about the December 2008-January 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza.

He has written nine books, including Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, I Don’t Believe in Atheists and the best-selling American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

36 Responses to “Chris Hedges”

  1. Jay, Chris Hedges. The guy who still complains the "moral cowardice" of the US for not intervening in Bosnia to "stop the genocide".

    What does an interventionist like that have to tell us about the antiwar movement that is worth while?

  2. A good point Karl, isn't that strange. I still haven't quite figured out where he is coming from on that. Also, I find that his essays and complaints about religion are valuable but overblown to the point where they are Un-factual. This is hard to understand because he went to Seminary and Divinity school and he knows where to go to get solid info.

  3. [...] with Scott Horton Antiwar Radio [...]

  4. My ears are always stinging if I hear "unfettered capitalism". What is wrong is _not_ "unfettered captialism", but the fact that corporations are in bed with state and get everything from extraordinary rights, licenses to print money, subsidies and bailouts, regulatory protections to "help innovation" all the way to creation of markets ex nihilo (like the war and ultrasecurity market).

    This is _not_ capitalism, and certainly not _unfettered capitalism_. It is corporatism and pirate economy.

    Talking about "fetters" conjures up the solution of having additional layers of state control the juggernaut, kinda like the "Homeland Security" Cancer: More control, less security but oh so many contracts and cushy jobs. Paid by _your_ tax dollars.

  5. Yes, but then he does talk about "inverted fascism". We need new words for what we are experiencing and If we don't find and use new words we'll always get stuck in a tangle of definitions, delineations, and dissension.

  6. The very existence of corporations is dependent on the state, isn't it? Isn't "capitalism" the takeover of the state by capital? That's what Marx meant, at any rate, I think. I don't see where "free markets" and "capitalism" have much intersection.

    To me, the problem is that the rich and powerful will abuse the rest of us, literally to death, unless they are controlled in some way. But the state cannot be the force to control them, because they easily take over the state. In fact, they set it up in the first place, or took it over very early on, to advance their interests.

    My question is, say you break up the state. How much would you have to break up corporate power to keep them from taking over society outright (e.g. with groups like Blackwater replacing the police?) And HOW would you do that?

    I just don't see any easy answers. Is there any way to resolve this contradiction?

  7. Hack, I agree with you. The link from corporations to government with its bottomless pit of money and power is the real poison.

    If "capitalism" can be defined as economic freedom, then to say that "unfettered capitalism will destroy us" is like saying "too much freedom will destroy us, and we need bigger government so we don't have so much freedom."

    It doesn't even make any sense.

  8. Hacklheber, many would argue that such an arrangement is the inevitable result of any system of “unfettered capitalism” in which private corporations are in a race to accrue infinite wealth and power. This interview is precisely about how the state inevitably becomes a vehicle for such entities. Unfettered capitalism is monopoly capitalism, which we are in an advanced stage of. This is the most fundamental paradox of “free market” ideology.

    Obviously there’s no easy answer, as any honest intellectual will tell you. But having a society that gives a damn about anything is a good place to start.

  9. Scott: You refer to anarchism, or at least say "anarchy," a couple of times here. Are you interested? http://www.infoshop.org http://www.akpress.org
    Many many more…

  10. 80% of population growth since 1980 has been nonwhite. Almost half the children born in U.S. hospitals are nonwhite. Political discussion today in most all forums consists of white people detached from demographic reality. Secession has a future perhaps, but it will be de facto, not de jure, and it will be the step child of anarchy–the disintergration and demise of functioning government. My great grandfather fought to bring down the U.S. government and Yankee dominated America; I have lived to see it.

  11. The U.S. Government is a failed government.
    It’s irrevocably f–ked up, I’m afraid. It’s controlled by Wall Street, Israel, and the military welfare complex.

    When this country implodes, let’s hope that something better emerges. . . .

  12. Technically the human creation of an entity like a corporation is to add vampires with endless greed to the population. One corporation for example has a general goal of growing 13% per year economically. A completely absurd one, for what transformation of the entire world could in any way ever succeed in perpetual growth. If eventually everybody on earth gave everything to that purpose. What then next year? (Well, of course killing people to minimize costs, but that ends by itself also)

    But those zombies and vampires rests ultimately on the legal illusion of being a sort of real entity. So any sane politician acting in the face of a corporation becoming too big to fall, should be to actively hinder the very existence of such a danger to society's survival, E.g. removing their patents, rights etc. And if necessary state limits to the allowed size, e.g. in number of employess, and/or some economic limitations.

    Instead one finds the very "representatives" for the LIVING persons storming to the rescue of the GHOSTS, by taking blood (money, efforts AND spirits – like using known facts and ideas) from the living and giving it to the dead, Indeed a strange semi-religous behavior, to state it politely.

  13. Well put. The only thing I can think of is having an informed citizenry, by use of the internet.

  14. I may be a libertarian, but my main focus and concerns relate to peace and civil liberties. There are already an abundance of advocates in the economic arena.

    What I would be mainly do in economic activism is fight privilege and corporate personhood. Before we can deregulate, we need to de-corporatise.

  15. [...] [...]

  16. I'm disappointed in Scott. Barring extraordinary circumstances, it's immoral to conduct a friendly interview with a lowlife from The Duranty Times. And he spent 15 years with them !

    David Duke probably has some interesting things to say about the ME-given his intense interest in the Palestine question- but I wouldn't expect you to to interview him.

  17. The populist Right is being coopted the way the populist Left has been coopted by Obama. It sucks for all of us who give a damn.

  18. To me, there is a difference between privatize, and for profit.
    I will use the intelligence services as an example, much of that is
    being resourced out to private "for profit" agencies, however the
    money comes from the federal government so it is not really a private
    company, it is still dependent on federal dollars to exist.
    This is where I start having trouble with libertarianism. Same with
    the school systems. Most libertarians have seemed to endorse
    Ron Paul of the Republican Party. While his peace and banking
    policy is admirable, enough to make me look at him as a presidential
    candidate, within that party , he has voted many times on issues
    against policies that would benifit the working class. There is little
    difference between Kucinach and Paul on issues of the Federal Reserve
    and the resource wars. What is it about Kucinach that scares
    libertarians? He is against NAFTA as is Ron Paul.

  19. If the State didn't exist, capitalists would create it, to maintain a buffer between Corporatism and the will of the people.
    (…and when I say "will of the people", I don't mean it in the collectivist sense. People have a natural tendency to want to be left unmolested by systems of power).

    It's like having a private, brutal security force that you get your victims to staff and pay for.

  20. RE: Defining Capitalism … I get so frustrated by people saying capitalism is THIS, or capitalism is THAT, as if there were only one possible definition or interpretation. But a large number of people grew up on the Marxian definition, another number (probably much smaller) grew up on the Randian or more **Early Americanist** definition. Marx's was, essentially, about state-protected corporatism or mercantilism, Rand's was about what we can call natural rights-based free enterprise (which is absolutely NOT the same as so-called **unfettered capitalism, ** a term often used by highly educated yet ill-informed individuals). But both groups think THEIR definition is the **correct** one. Technically speaking, they are BOTH wrong; or only right if they are speaking to an audience that is already in tune with and very sympathetic to their views .

    While both interpretations have the core feature of **capital** itself, that is like a murderer, a surgeon and a chef sharing the core feature of a knife. One kills, one heals, the other feeds. The different knife user's mind's see/think very different, even opposing, things when they hear the word *knife.** This vast difference means one is just ASKING for disagreements and trouble by using the word capitalism by itself. A partial solution to this problem of language and interpretation is … ADJECTIVES!!!

    American-style or Ayn Rand's capitalism is, generally speaking, about free-markets and common law, or natural law, if you prefer. For everyone to freely trade, everyone must respect everyone else to the greatest extent possible, and thoroughly observe the Non-Aggression Principle. And as human society evolved, natural rights and common law (the law common among the people) evolved over many generations to facilitate the development of and respect for other's rights, providing the largest amount of freedom for the largest amount of people, most of the time. …

    Perfect? NO. That's why a court system developed (although it should have remained truly private in nature). But it was better than known alternatives as far as I know, until we all but abandoned it in America over the last many decades.

    That OTHER kind of capitalism — corporatism, fascism, public/private-ism, etc. — is about coercion, fraud, and even violence, if necessary, to insulate certain self-chosen people from the disciplines of the market (be it in commerce or political ideas) and the challenges of maintaining a competitive edge. And they can seldom, if ever, do this for long without securing the protection and cooperation of The State and its Police Power. And this always devolves, eventually, into tyranny and worse.

    This vast difference between these two systems, both using the core feature of capital, led to some old-line libertarian theorists stating that there is an American-style capitalism (free-enterprise), and a United States-style capitalism (corporate or fascist). Therefore it is no longer the United States **OF** America, it is the United States **OR** America. … And if we were able to re-create our vision of a truly non-aggressive, free-enterprise society, it would not last very long until enough of The People know enough to take personal responsibility for maintaining and protecting it, meaning resist the efforts of the fascist capitalists. No Constitution or government can be trusted to do that for lone. Meaning that The People must STOP looking for a Dear Leader!!! … As Ron Paul says, he can help, but it is up to US to actually make it happen and, as Ben Franklin is said to have said, keep it!!!

    So we need to ALWAYS use the appropriate adjectives with the word capitalism. For the liberty/freedom oriented, it would be something along the lines of **free-enterprise, common law capitalism.** The other, corporate- or state- or fascist- or whatever-capitalism. Your choice of adjectives depends on whom you are talking to and where, and what their prior understandings are, which WE are responsible for discovering BEFORE we open our mouths too widely.

    Yeah, this is all going to take some thinking and some work and education as well as communication skills. But as long as so many people are so indoctrinated in the Marxian-style definition, it is intellectual suicide to use — and insist upon — our preferred definition of capitalism without getting into the mind(s) of the people we are talking to, and adjusting our terminology accordingly.

    Sorry for the lecture, but I think this is an essential first step in communicating the Enlightened, non-Aggression, Free-Enterprise message, which starts by clarifying our ideas and terminology in our own minds so we can better relate and communicate to other minds without triggering their pre-existing, negative connotations so many people have about so-called capitalism.

  21. Damn, does he really call the Oathkeepers a neo-fascist movement in there?

  22. It's cringe-inducing to listen to Chris's excellent anti-war statements mixed in with his abysmally ignorant and confused statements about economics and politics….Welfare reform and free trade destroyed the middle class..working in a steal mill was awesome!…everyone in the South is RACIST!…

  23. Who cares what the Marxist Yankee windbag Hedges has to say? His kind has done more than anyone else – barring the Zionists, of course – to create a dystopian hell on earth. With regard to the lame Marxist terminology, capital is merely a pile of money. It takes amoral and immoral swine, coupled with corrupt scum, to create a hellhole. The money – and the state, for that matter – are just means to their end, control of all life on the planet.

  24. Screw Marx and his capitalism! What capital is there in this quasi-fascist economy? Do you mean the the capital the Federal Reserve creates out of thin air, which destroys the real "capital" of savers and producers? Like someone currently running for Senate said, if you think this is a free-market then you have got to believe in Santa Clause and the tooth fairy.

    Your bring up the idea on security, i.e. Blackwater. I suggest you take a look at Hans Hermann Hoppe and Robert Murphy from the Mises Institute to explore the theories on how such security forces, for instance, a military against foreign aggressors, can be achieved in a free-market.

  25. So, what has Chris Hedges done to build the antiwar movement? The arm chair critic is easy to come by, the front line activist harder to find.

  26. [...] recent apocalyptic tear (which has resonance for at least some libertarians, not to mention Pagans) includes urging on sabotage two months ago, and calling corporations [...]

  27. [...] Reason's Matt Welch points out, Hedeges' recent apocalyptic tear (which has resonance for at least some libertarians, not to mention Pagans) includes urging on sabotage two months ago, and calling corporations [...]

  28. You have not read his book. We are quickly passing the point of no return. NO matter demo or publican, the military does what it wants.

  29. You dont mention Progressives in your list of enemies, but you should. They are the main ones that made our gov big enough to be the threat it is today. Big gov is the best friend big corporations can have. Its called crony capitalism, and progressives were a major force in building it.

  30. To some of you people here who are pretending to call yourselves libertarians, while calling for more gov power to do something about reigning in big corporations. You are either delusional, or you are leftists trying to pose as libertarians and hoping to decieve some real libertarians into becomming leftists. Big gov is the best friend big corporations have. They are never restrained by big gov regulation because they easily capture the regulators and politicians with lobbying. The only people harmed by big gov regulations are innovative small and middle sized firms who are trying to compete and become bigger. Thus big gov enhances and protects concentration of corporate power, it does not restrain it.

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