Chris Hedges 3-Pack
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.
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.
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.
Chris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has covered wars in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.com and is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He is the author of many books including Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class, The World As It Is, and Wages of Rebellion.