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Chris Hedges 6-Pack

Program #HEDC010-HEDC009-HEDC008-HEDC007-HEDC006-HEDC005.

Extraction Industries and Sexploitation

The scourge of male violence against women will not end if we dismantle the forces of global capitalism. The scourge of male violence exists independently of capitalism, empire and colonialism. It is a separate evil. The fight to end male violence against women, part of a global struggle by women, must take primacy in our own struggle. Women and girls, especially those who are poor and of color, cannot take part in a liberation movement until they are liberated. They cannot offer to us their wisdom, their leadership and their passion until they are freed from physical coercion and violent domination. This is why the fight to end male violence across the globe is not only fundamental to our movement but will define its success or failure. We cannot stand up for some of the oppressed and ignore others who are oppressed. None of us is free until all of us are free.

Moral Imperatives 

What are individuals to do when faced with a moral imperative? And society at large? Philosophers since ancient times have been wrestling with this question as it involves issues of ethics and conscience. When we see an injustice do we remain passive and silent or do we intervene to try and stop it. Is it our problem or someone else’s? Powerful states and institutions like to cloak themselves in morality and virtue. Citizens are propagandized to let the big boys, since they know what’s best, handle everything. Do we act on our principles? What are our responsibilities? Racial segregation was an obvious immorality. Why did it take so long for it to be eliminated? Same with voting rights. Today the old poisonous wines are being repackaged in new bottles. Once again we are faced with moral imperatives.

Captain Ahab and U.S. Empire

The demonic Captain Ahab in Melville’s epic novel Moby Dick represents a quest for power and domination that is a death wish. Hubris will doom Ahab and his Pequod crew, all perish except for Ishmael. Is there a larger lesson to be learned? Is the United States much different? The U.S. with its obsessive drive for control of oil and other resources, its relentless hunger for profits, its garrisoning the globe with military bases, its arrogant disregard for the environment, is on the same suicidal path as Ahab. Washington’s policies, under both political parties, are always imbued with benevolence and noble intentions. It is innocent of imperialistic designs. Freedom and democracy are its goals. A well-disciplined media and intellectual class rarely challenge these embedded assumptions. We continue to ignore all warnings as to the destruction we are wreaking on the planet. 

Corporate Coup d'Etat

Corporations constitute the most powerful force in society. Their influence has seeped into our classrooms, our newsrooms, our entertainment systems, our consciousness and crucially into our politics. Big money buys access to lawmakers. For sheer arrogance perhaps Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment giant, takes the cake. Its CEO Lloyd Blankfein, blithely advises citizens they will have to “lower” their “expectations” when it comes to Social Security which he calls an “entitlement.” Goldman Sachs, made $5.6 billion in profits last year yet it secured tax breaks for its fancy new HQs in New York as well as tax-free bonuses for its top executives. Corporations reign supreme while most people are simply caught in the rain and are getting soaked. Because of the fiscal cliff deal the average worker this year will take home about a thousand dollars less.

Inverted Totalitarianism

The wedding of state and corporate power is at unprecedented levels. The implications for democracy are ominous. Elections are formalities, often more like auctions to be sold to the highest bidder. There is no proportional representation. In a winner take all system the Dems and Repubs got the game all sewed up. And their sponsors the banks are not only too big to fail they are too big to jail. Meanwhile, the ranks of the out of work and out of house and home continue to swell. Basic freedoms of free speech, right of assembly and the right to privacy are being eroded in the name of protecting them. People are saying enough to inverted totalitarianism. The Occupy movement is a popular citizen response to grievances and inequities not being addressed and a universal feeling the system is rigged to favor the rich.

This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation.

Empire Abroad, Tyranny at Home

All imperial systems eventually collapse. Hubris and arrogance convince great powers the sun will never set on their dominions. Long wars kill and maim many people and deplete not just the treasury but also a nation's moral authority. The U.S. is no different from a long line of hegemons who thought they would last forever. The quest for global domination has domestic consequences. Surveillance, lawlessness, torture and violence overseas migrate home. The vast string of bases and the gargantuan military apparatus are accelerating U.S. decline. Infrastructure rots. Homes and jobs are lost. The economy sinks. No one makes the connections between the external and the internal. Liberals who were once in the forefront of defending the working class have virtually disappeared. They've turned their backs on the idea of economic justice and embrace the elixir of empire. Interviewed by David Barsamian.

Speaker(s):

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has reported from the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.com. He is the author of many books including Death of the Liberal ClassThe World As It Is, Wages of Rebellion and America: The Farewell Tour.

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