Chris Hedges, “America: The Farewell Tour”

t of the mess that
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we’re in just in the first few pages
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Chris notes that civilizations over the
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past six thousand years have the habit
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of eventually squandering their futures
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through acts of colossal stupidity and
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hubris then he adds we are not an
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exception we are entering this final
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phase of civilization Chris and
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experienced journalists goes on to
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detail the evidence of decline and and
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growing despair in the opioid crisis
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increases in gambling the prevalence of
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pornography the spread of magical
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thinking the resurgence of hate groups
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the explosion of xenophobia and so on he
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examines these developments sees the
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rise of Donald Trump and his
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authoritarian populism as an outgrowth a
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natural exploitation of these trends and
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issues a passionate call to action to
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reverse this disintegration while
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there’s still time
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anyone familiar with Chris’s extensive
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writing over the years won’t be
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surprised by the sharpness and
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forcefulness of his critique the detail
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and broad scope of his reporting and the
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many scholarly references woven into the
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book for the first two decades or so of
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Chris’s professional life he reported
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overseas as a correspondent covering
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conflicts in Central America the Middle
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East and the former Yugoslavia much of
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that period he spent with the New York
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Times and he was part of the team of
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times reporters who in 2002 when the
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Pulitzer for explanatory reporting for
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their stories before and after the 9/11
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attacks profiling the global terrorism
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Network and the threats had posed for
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the past decade chris has been a
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columnist for the
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Kress of news and commentary website
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TruthDig
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and he hosts the show on contact on Rt
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America a graduate of Harvard Divinity
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School Chris was ordained a minister in
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the Presbyterian Church four years ago
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he’s also taught at Princeton and
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several other universities and conducts
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college credit courses in the New Jersey
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prison system plus he’s written about a
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dozen previous books over the past
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decade and a half including his first
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war is a force that gives us meaning
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which was a finalist for the National
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Book Critics Circle Award and six years
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ago days of destruction days of revolt
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with cartoonist Joe Sacco which was a
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best-seller Chris has spoken here
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several times before and I’m sure we’re
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in for a very spirited and provocative
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discussion so please join me in
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welcoming and back thank you so I’m
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gonna speak for about a half hour and
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then we’ll open it to questions for half
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hour
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that’s the every book that I’ve written
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has a kind of template and for instance
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days of destruction days of revolt which
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I did with the great cartoonist Joe
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Sacco one of the finest journalists in
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America and if you have not read
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footnotes in Gaza which he spent six
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years on it’s a masterpiece on the
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israel-palestine conflict I knew it was
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it was gonna be a rough one to go
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through and I got up actually got up
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Easter morning before everyone in my
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house was awake so that it would be
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still and quiet and that book just
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reduced me to tears that book was really
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modeled on let us now praise famous men
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the great work by James Agee and what
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are the photographs by Walker Evans this
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book my kind of model was Emile
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Durkheim’s great study of suicide at the
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end of the 19th century in France where
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Dirk
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who was an amazing sociologist very much
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like w eb des bois where he would go out
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he didn’t he didn’t remain trapped in
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his particular academic Enclave but
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really went out and listened and
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interviewed that which is of course what
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made Dubois such remarkable and
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important presence and sociologists
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within the United States writing about
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african-american african-american
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communities and he came to the
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conclusion this is where we get the term
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anomie that societies that disintegrate
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that’s societies and decay communities
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in decay create diseases of despair
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that’s not his term that’s his idea
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pathologies that are expressed that that
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that that that rise up from failed
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states and those would be self-loathing
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a sense of a lack of self-worth
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alienation all as Durkheim says that
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comes when you no longer have faith or
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belief in the established order the
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established ideology and established
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institutions and and and that that those
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kinds of pathologies are expressed in
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very self-destructive activities
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gambling hate crimes sexual sadism which
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is what pornography is and although I
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went to the extreme and my book Empire
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of illusion I had written about the porn
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industry but for this book I went to
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kink.com hopefully none of you know what
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it is I didn’t know what it is
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derekjjensen had to tell me what it was
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they bought the old National Guard
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Armory in San Francisco and run the
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largest BDSM operation in the world
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which is live-streamed
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look Torre it is tortured as clearly I
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mean women are waterboarded and stuff
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and then people will be people
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can stream in and say what they want
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done to the women I mean just appalling
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but anyway I went to these classes for
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like which were held in the basement of
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the armory for Dahms dominate dahm dahm
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what do they call them people who are
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dominant people who like what do they
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call no they’re not dominatrix their
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their their their dweeby guys who dress
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in black and me sitting in the basement
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I was not dressed in black and I
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actually wrote the gambling chapter out
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of the Trump Taj Mahal before I even
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knew Trump was even go to announce which
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was inappropriate decay I mean there was
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mice all over the place the lights were
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burned out and people were shooting up
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in the elevators and most of the Taj
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Mahal was mothballed it gets a nice
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picture of what’s gonna happen to the
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rest of the country if he remains in
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power and then I was with these white
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hate groups nights the alt-right proud
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boys which of course hate groups or
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product of a diseased society the 3% ORS
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I was actually at one point at night
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around a bonfire with these guys in
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upstate New York and I of course living
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in mortal fear that someone there would
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Google me and at a bathhouse with my
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research assistant who was terrified
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quite justifiably so and at one point
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across the bonfire in the dusk we saw
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two or three of these guys pointing at
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me that’s when like we we got out like
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as fast as we actually when we got to
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the car she was so frightened she she’d
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like crawl down to the floor and and
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their counterpart on the left and I’ve
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been very critical as some of you may
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know of the black bloc and antifa for
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much the same reason I was in these
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de-industrialized pockets Anderson
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Indiana and one of the things I liked
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about as a writer I lie in joy reporting
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I I I like it because it when I go out
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it often shatters my own assumptions
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about what is happening
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and it keeps me intellectually honest so
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sometimes you know I can go into a
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subject and think that I have a great
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body of knowledge I wrote a book on the
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Christian Right which has become
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unfortunately I think fairly relevant to
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our particular political situation it’s
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called American fascists the Christian
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Right and the war on America I was
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trying to reach out to them and but I
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come out of the liberal church my father
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was a Presbyterian minister of course as
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you heard I’m a graduate of Harvard
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Divinity School but I didn’t really know
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much about the Christian right and I
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went in there with all sorts of
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assumptions and and and I would say even
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stereotypes about the kinds of people
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who embrace this form of fundamentalism
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which i think is is heretical it’s
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Christian heresy but I couldn’t listen
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to these stories of dislocation and pain
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sexual domestic abuse struggles with
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addictions evictions bankruptcies
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without having it break my heart and it
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rewrote I rewrote the whole book the
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first chapter is called despair and it
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drove home to me what despair does and
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at the great study of the raw one of the
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great studies of the rise of fascism by
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fred stern is called the politics of
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cultural despair hannah errant in the
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origins of totalitarianism holds up
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despair again i think going back to
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Durkheim
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that sense of worthlessness that sense
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and it propels people into a kind of
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magical thinking I also in the book was
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with Preppers and survivalists in Utah
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who have a little food in their bunker
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and a lot of ammunition but I think that
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magical thinking what anthropologists
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call it crisis cults is a natural
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response to people who are just so
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overwhelmed by reality that they can’t
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cope and when I was in Anderson so
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Anderson Indiana used to have most of
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the big GM plants
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and then Clinton gave the gift of NAFTA
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to the American working class and GM
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hightailed it down to Monterrey Mexico
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where they pay workers without any
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benefits or job security $3 an hour so
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your union salary of 25 and if you were
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a senior level over time you know you
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could be making $50 an hour you had
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benefits you had a pension plan you you
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were medically covered you had you were
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in the UAW at job secured Saul vanished
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and Anderson went into the kind of
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tailspin that many de-industrialized
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pockets of the United States went into
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with all of the attendant problems
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including of course the rise of a casino
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like this whole idea of economic
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development through gambling I watched
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that work try to work in Yugoslavia and
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it doesn’t come to a good end the idea
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that you’re going to fill
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state revenue shortfalls with gambling I
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mean so what was fascinating about
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Anderson is that most of these old UAW
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workers voted for Bernie Sanders but
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when the general election came around
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they voted for Trump because they
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weren’t going to vote for Clinton after
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NAFTA they were acutely aware and
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perhaps their anger was even greater at
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the Democratic Party than the Republican
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Party because it was the Democratic
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Party that had betrayed them that had
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pretended to fight for their interests
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and their concerns that continued to use
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the feel your pain language of
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traditional liberalism but had thrust a
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knife in their back and that betrayal is
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very dangerous it as it is you know two
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Baldwin’s when James Baldwin writes
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about I’m and one of his essays he
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writes about why he thinks
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african-american middle-aged men don’t
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have a midlife crisis the way white
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middle-aged men do he said because
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african-american men are not prone to
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believe in the American Dream given the
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the forms of oppression that
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mutating our protein and exists
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throughout our how to exist and and
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having always existed throughout
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American history and I think that
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there’s a certain wisdom in that that
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that these of course the highest and I
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write about suicide the highest
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percentage of people who commit suicide
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in this country which is an epidemic are
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middle-aged white men people who
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realized that in fact the society has
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there is no place for them they they
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that the American the quote-unquote
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American dream was a lie
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and so what’s happened and and it’s been
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a process over a few decades is that we
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have undergone what John Ralston saw
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calls a coup d’etat in slowmotion a
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corporate coup d’etat and slow-motion
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Sheldon Wolin if you don’t know Sheldon
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Wolin please read him we just lost him a
14:24
couple years ago I did a 3-hour
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interview with him right before he died
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on YouTube which was very humbling
14:32
I had reread all his books I had pages
14:35
of notes there wasn’t you can watch it
14:38
it’s it’s remarkable intellectual
14:41
pyrotechnics there was just nothing that
14:44
I couldn’t throw at that guy it was
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really quite spectacular as we had not
14:49
been interviewed in over a decade was
14:51
the last interview he gave but his book
14:54
democracy incorporated and then his
14:57
masterpiece politics and vision are kind
15:00
of seminal works and politics and vision
15:02
is often considered by political
15:04
scientists as one of the great political
15:08
books on political philosophy produced
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in America and the 20th century and I
15:13
think that’s not hyperbolic Wallen calls
15:17
the system inverted totalitarianism and
15:19
that he means that like the late roman
15:22
republic you still have the facade you
15:24
have the the iconography the language
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the institutions of an open society of a
15:33
democratic state but internally
15:35
corporations have seized all of the
15:37
levers of power to render the citizen
15:39
impotent
15:41
and of course what that does anytime a
15:44
cabal seizes power whether it’s Minh
15:47
Arkell communist fascist corporate is
15:50
and redirects all of the systems of
15:55
government and institutions towards
15:58
their own empowerment and enrichment
16:01
then you you you get a form of political
16:04
paralysis the political system seizes up
16:07
it no longer responds to the rights and
16:11
legitimate grievances of the citizenry
16:14
and in fact extracts more and more and
16:18
more out of a population that is already
16:21
under deep distress and of course that
16:25
is what has happened and that’s one of
16:26
the reasons why it’s important to get
16:29
out to places like Indiana or buy right
16:35
out of Scranton Pennsylvania where the
16:38
city went bankrupt or almost went
16:40
bankrupt and they had to sell off all of
16:42
their utilities their sewer system this
16:45
is not uncommon throughout
16:47
de-industrialized centers in the United
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States and of course corporations buy it
16:51
up and then jack up the prices and these
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are gotting the IFRIC it’s in the book I
16:56
can’t remember the average per capita
16:58
income per family is like forty thousand
17:00
dollars a year or something that’s pence
17:01
not much and and so you’re extracting
17:04
more and more and more from a population
17:08
that has less and less and less and that
17:10
is the process I mean clump Trump sorry
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Trump is as of course turbocharged the
17:17
kleptocracy but it was there before he
17:21
came in and and so what we’re facing and
17:28
what we’re producing and what’s ahead of
17:31
us is the inevitable collapse of the
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American Empire all of the warning signs
17:40
that have brought down other empires
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throughout history are flashing red
17:44
within the American Empire and I’ll just
17:48
take a few of those off one is the
17:50
political paralysis the inability of the
17:52
system to address the
17:55
the injustice –is the economic
17:59
deprivation the loss of rights of the
18:01
population and in fact to make it worse
18:04
the other of course is something that
18:07
even Bernie Sanders doesn’t like to talk
18:08
about and that is the bloated militarism
18:14
and imperialism that is hollowing the
18:17
country out from the inside so you have
18:22
now 17 years of warfare in the Middle
18:24
East there’s a term at RF people have
18:27
read Alfred McCoy wrote a good book I
18:29
think it’s called this American Century
18:31
is a great historian but he talks about
18:34
what he calls micro militarism it’s a
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term that historians use and what it is
18:41
is that late empires inevitably
18:44
overreach they carry out acts of
18:47
military folly in an effort to recapture
18:51
a lost power so for instance the in the
18:56
Athenian Empire they invade Sicily their
18:58
entire fleet is sunk thousands of
19:01
soldiers are killed and the Empire
19:04
unravels their revolts throughout the
19:06
empire or you look at the slow decline
19:08
of the British Empire which really began
19:10
at the end of World War one
19:11
but culminated in 1956 when Nasser
19:16
nationalizes the Suez Canal and the
19:18
British invade attempt to invade and and
19:23
going back to socco’s book the Israelis
19:25
take over Gaza for a hundred days and
19:27
carry out wholesale massacres which is
19:30
what his book is about footnotes in Gaza
19:31
and and they have an Eisenhower and will
19:37
not support them largely because he
19:39
won’t give them credit to carry out this
19:41
act of military adventurism and they
19:43
retreat in humiliation and then what
19:45
happens is the pound sterling is dropped
19:48
as the world’s reserve currency and that
19:49
of course is the deathblow of the
19:51
american empire which is going to happen
19:53
one day the the once the dollar is no
19:56
longer the reserve currency the the
19:59
economy seizes up imports become
20:01
phenomenally expensive we can’t live off
20:05
of the sale of Treasury bonds and
20:08
because nobody wants them
20:09
and you can look at what happened to the
20:11
British economy in the 50s if you want
20:12
to know what’s coming and so you have a
20:16
situation where you’re squeezing your
20:20
population harder and harder and harder
20:23
for less and less and less and and this
20:28
is a characteristic with Joseph Tainter
20:30
writes about it in his great study the
20:35
collapse of complex societies where he
20:37
looks at I think it’s 24 different
20:39
civilizations but he talks about that
20:41
final moment when the elites retreat to
20:43
the equivalent of the Forbidden City or
20:45
Versailles or in our country it’s what a
20:48
writer in The New Yorker called richest
20:49
Stan which means you fly on private jets
20:52
and you never have any contact at all
20:55
with anybody who doesn’t make a few
20:56
million dollars ear and and so they have
21:03
no connection with the reality and they
21:07
squeeze in this case of course it’s
21:09
through debt peonage you know they
21:11
borrowed all these banks all goldman
21:13
sachs which is a criminal organization
21:16
goldman sachs all of these corporations
21:20
were able to borrow from the Fed
21:23
trillions of dollars I mean there’s
21:25
various numbers for seven and at
21:28
virtually zero percent interest but it
21:31
does have to be paid back and so how is
21:33
it paid back it’s it’s extracted from us
21:39
that’s 1.4 trillion dollars in student
21:42
debt that is you’re late on your credit
21:45
card it’s 28% that is you know even if
21:49
you have health insurance as anyone who
21:52
has it can tell you the costs keep
21:55
rising astronomically in terms of copay
21:58
what they don’t cover what the the
22:02
pharmaceutical industry which can jack
22:04
up our you know the mile on but that’s
22:06
just one of many examples in the in the
22:08
EpiPen so so you’re extracting more and
22:12
more from a population and how do you
22:15
how do you deal with this kind of
22:19
calcification or failed
22:23
see and that is that at the same time
22:25
you strip citizens of their rights you
22:30
you reinterpret constitutional rights
22:33
you overturn them by judicial Fiat so
22:36
for instance with Citizens United which
22:39
allows the Koch brothers to control with
22:43
dark money or Sheldon Adelson these
22:47
figures are elections it becomes the
22:51
right to petition the government or a
22:53
form of free speech this is this is how
22:57
citizens united is justified Edward
23:01
Snowden exposes the fact that we are the
23:04
most surveilled watched monitored
23:06
eavesdropped population in human history
23:11
and I covered the Stasi state in East
23:14
Germany and of course nothing is done to
23:19
restore the constitutional right of
23:21
privacy and if you wonder why it’s so
23:25
dangerous that they have everything on
23:28
every one of us including medical
23:31
records you go back to Hannah Arendt’s
23:33
great book origins of totalitarianism
23:35
and she writes about how despotic
23:43
governments take information or have
23:47
files information on every citizen so
23:50
that at the moment that they seek to
23:52
criminalize that person or a group they
23:56
can twist whatever information they have
23:59
to justify it as a crime we also have
24:04
courtesy of Barack Obama’s signing of
24:08
the 2011 National Defense Authorization
24:10
Act section 1021 which overturns the
24:13
1878 Posse Comitatus Act which had
24:16
before prohibited the military from
24:18
acting as a domestic police force and as
24:22
some of you may know I sued Obama in
24:24
federal court and to the chagrin of the
24:28
national security state one and the very
24:34
courageous judge Katherine Forrest
24:36
ruled in our favor and issued a
24:37
temporary injunction and I within hours
24:41
of that injunction lawyers from the NSA
24:44
and had flown up and demanded in the
24:47
name of national security that she
24:48
reinstate this act now this act allows
24:51
the military to seize US citizens
24:56
stripped them of due process and hold
24:58
them indefinitely in military facilities
25:01
and in her opinion which is worth
25:04
reading she said this opens the path for
25:07
the government to criminalize an entire
25:09
group of people and she cites the
25:12
110,000 japanese-americans who were
25:14
interned in World War two
25:17
you militarized police forces and you
25:22
create legal and physical mechanisms
25:25
among demon ah the demonized segments of
25:29
your population so that at a moment that
25:33
the country becomes restive with a flick
25:36
of a switch
25:38
you can impose martial law or tyranny
25:41
so in marginal communities you have
25:43
already reins of terror 94% of the
25:48
people in our prison system never get a
25:50
jury trial they’re forced to plea out
25:53
and I have taught her in prison for 10
25:56
years and my the students I have with
25:58
the longest sentences invariably went to
26:02
trial did not commit the crime for which
26:05
they are charged went to trial though
26:07
many people who are forced to plea
26:08
guilty didn’t commit the crime and
26:09
nobody deserves almost no one in the
26:12
system deserves the length of sentences
26:15
or the conditions they’re held under and
26:19
and they get the longest sentences
26:21
because it has is a message sent to
26:23
everyone else which is basically don’t
26:25
try this I mean they won’t peel off the
26:28
the charges and that’s how a plea works
26:32
they stack all sorts of try and they
26:34
know you didn’t do it I mean they love
26:35
to put kidnapping on no matter what you
26:37
did because it’s 25 years so and and it
26:41
will go back to Aaron so Aaron writes
26:43
about she herself is expelled from
26:46
Germany strip diverse German citizenship
26:48
find yourself in France and
26:50
writes about the plight of the stateless
26:51
and she said once you create a mechanism
26:54
within your society whereby for a
26:57
segment of that society rights become
26:59
privileges and we see it with what’s
27:02
happening to undocumented people around
27:04
us then you have the infrastructure and
27:10
the legal tools so that those privileges
27:13
can be taken away from everyone and
27:14
let’s be very clear just to conclude
27:18
that these corporate our corporate
27:23
masters will stop at nothing if they
27:28
feel that their profits are being
27:30
impeded and the great example of that
27:33
and I was out there as standing rock so
27:36
here you had a nonviolent protest by
27:39
water protectors to safeguard their own
27:43
not only their water but their land and
27:48
the response of the state this was under
27:51
Obama was incredible incredibly violent
27:57
so over 700 arrests the use of attack
28:02
dogs we’re all talking about nonviolent
28:03
protesters sub-freezing temperatures
28:06
you’re using water cannons laced with
28:09
pepper spray against people constant
28:12
infiltration and this is something that
28:14
I keep telling the kids who I loved in
28:17
Zuccotti they weren’t quite aware of the
28:19
extent to which the state is able to
28:22
monitor and infiltrate although there
28:25
were moments in Zuccotti when it was out
28:27
of a Doonesbury cartoon because some guy
28:29
who clearly lifted weights and was in
28:32
his 30s would show up in a baseball cap
28:34
and and tell everyone he was at Reed
28:37
College but he forgot his ID card and
28:39
the question was always the same after a
28:43
few a little chitchat he goes so who are
28:46
the leaders that was all with him and I
28:51
mean the great the power of occupy was
28:54
that everything was transparent we’re
28:56
not going to win this game unless we’re
28:57
transparent and it gets the whole issue
28:59
if somebody wanted to ask about it about
29:01
non-violence which is the only way we’re
29:03
going to win
29:03
this game and so I remember one of these
29:07
cops went to the head of the medical it
29:09
was a medical tent in there and said to
29:11
the woman running in the medical tent so
29:13
eventually came us so who are the
29:14
leaders and she goes I am he goes oh
29:20
really he goes well what’s your title
29:22
she goes god but what’s not funny is
29:30
that because these activists were using
29:33
electronic media but you know digital
29:36
communication they knew who was
29:39
important and after the under Obama
29:42
coordinated national effort they shut
29:44
down
29:44
occupy which for me was one of the great
29:46
tragedies of our time because if the
29:51
state had responded rationally to the
29:56
very moderate demands of the Occupy
30:00
movement forgiving student debt
30:04
universal health care a jobs program
30:08
especially targeted people under the age
30:11
of 25 it would have actually gone a long
30:16
way to ameliorating the pressure which
30:19
has now only gotten worse
30:22
but unfortunately the state did not
30:23
respond rationally and I know I’m a
30:28
little over but just let me close by
30:29
talking about Trump Trump is the symptom
30:35
he’s not the disease and I watched this
30:39
same kind of political deformity and
30:44
deterioration in Yugoslavia and you can
30:47
go back and look at vimar Eric vogelin
30:51
writes about it in the in Hitler and the
30:54
Germans where he talks about how you
30:57
know this idea that Hitler mesmerised or
31:00
hypnotizes ridiculous what it tapped
31:05
into was a kind of in Kohei rage and
31:09
frustration and sense of betrayal
31:12
because after the 1929 crash the
31:15
socialist government the
31:17
social-democrats under Ebert in Vai Mar
31:20
imposed the same kinds of programs of
31:24
austerity that were pushed on him by the
31:27
banks so they even suspended if you can
31:29
believe it unemployment insurance people
31:32
could even get unemployment insurance
31:33
and that Nazis were in twenty eight were
31:35
polling in the single digits after the
31:37
crash of course and and the policy of
31:40
austerity and I and then it gets into
31:45
the whole we can go back to Rosa
31:46
Luxemburg on the fry Corps and all that
31:48
but the they they people embraced these
31:54
figures who were everybody knew they
31:56
were buffoonish in the same way that
31:57
everyone knows Trump is buffoonish as
32:00
the same way that everybody knew Radovan
32:02
Karadzic are slobodan milosevic our
32:04
friend your twos men were buffoonish
32:06
because they because of the anger at the
32:08
system and my fear as I watched the
32:13
Democratic Party and the mainstream
32:16
commercial media is that they don’t get
32:19
it they continue to play this reality
32:23
show game did Russia try and interfere
32:27
that well yeah probably but Trump is not
32:29
a product of of Russian interference
32:32
Trump is a product of grotesque social
32:35
inequality and of course the Democratic
32:39
Party doesn’t want to address that issue
32:41
because they are an appendage of
32:43
corporate power yes they’re not the they
32:47
are in the spectrum of corporate power
32:49
that doesn’t want to be identified as a
32:50
racist or xenophobe or a homophobe but
32:55
they do nothing to halt the
32:57
cannibalization
32:59
of corporations Nord and and of course
33:03
that a part of that is the wars that we
33:06
are waging it makes no sense to remain
33:10
with the Taliban now controls more
33:12
territory in Afghanistan they did than
33:14
they did when we went in so why are we
33:16
still there well I mean look at the
33:18
stock prices of Raytheon Halliburton you
33:21
know cruise missile costs what 1.1
33:23
million dollars let’s drop 50 of them on
33:26
Libya it’s it’s good for money it’s good
33:29
for profit for
33:31
the war industry but it’s not good for
33:33
anyone over there and it’s certainly not
33:34
good for us and then I guess I’ll happy
33:39
to take any any questions anyone else
33:42
[Applause]
33:50
and I agree with you for the most part
33:52
it’s very depressing and you didn’t even
33:55
mention climate you know I didn’t it’s
33:56
in the book
33:57
that’s the pick-me-up chapter but I
34:03
think I’m older than you and yes you
34:06
know the empires have collapsed but this
34:09
happened very quickly I mean within the
34:12
scope of my lifetime I was born in the
34:14
40s I grew up in the 50s in
34:16
Massachusetts and the country was on a
34:20
roll
34:20
not everyone not not the blacks in the
34:23
south we didn’t know about well I didn’t
34:25
know about it but the people who were
34:29
left had gotten through the depression
34:31
they had gotten through the war they had
34:33
been led by Roosevelt and we felt that
34:36
progress was just inevitable and in the
34:40
60s because the country was doing so
34:42
well
34:42
it seemed okay to open things up my late
34:46
husband was at the EEOC the whole idea
34:50
was to be more inclusive and it all sort
34:55
of began to turn in 1980 or in the 70s
34:58
with Nixon in 1980 with Ronald Reagan
35:01
and Milton Friedman which gave you this
35:08
corporate culture but it’s happened so
35:12
fast that I don’t see why it can’t still
35:15
be turned around okay
35:16
I mean it’s a good question it started
35:18
actually earlier because it started with
35:22
I mean you had the collapse of
35:23
capitalism in the 1930s right Roosevelt
35:26
was a product of the radical movements
35:29
the Communist Party we’ve kind of erased
35:31
the Communist Party from American
35:33
history I’m not a communist but they you
35:35
know the whole whole sit-ins that Martin
35:37
Luther King used you know Ruskin was
35:40
aware of this they’d been be used in the
35:42
1920s by the Communist Party would you
35:44
and that’s why paul robeson or w/e two
35:46
boys join the Communist Party because
35:48
even the Socialists under Debs were
35:50
hostile to African Americans and and so
35:55
we Roosevelt astutely understood I mean
35:59
Roosevelt said that his greatest
36:00
achievement was that he saved capitalism
36:01
and he understood that if the private
36:04
sector didn’t create jobs for American
36:06
citizens given the unemployment good job
36:10
we better create jobs so he created
36:12
twelve minute jobs if if elderly people
36:15
are slit early starving and malnourished
36:17
in their apartments then we better
36:19
create Social Security and the corporate
36:23
oligarchs made two fatal mistakes one
36:27
they went after the radicals in the they
36:32
recreated the red scares of the 1920s in
36:35
the 1950s and Shrek err Ellen trekker
36:38
has written two very fine books on this
36:40
and you forget how pervasive that
36:43
purging was and we’re not talking about
36:45
necessarily Communists we’re talking
36:47
about anybody with a social conscience
36:48
so the FBI was going into high schools
36:51
with a list this is in trekkers book
36:52
saying him him hurt her out no evidence
36:56
nothing and they’re blacklisted the the
36:59
assault on journalism it’s how I have
37:01
stone ends up in his basement writing I
37:03
have stones weekly the assault on
37:06
Hollywood on entertainment so that began
37:10
to destroy the the the popular radical
37:14
movements which has in points out were
37:18
the forces that opened up our democracy
37:20
we had a we have a closed system every
37:23
time I hear by the deification of the
37:25
founding fathers I just want to fall
37:27
over I’m these people were racist they
37:31
supported the genocide I mean read what
37:33
they wrote about eradicating the Indians
37:35
Washington was the wealthiest man in the
37:37
United States they were misogynist you
37:41
know on and on and on and we paid for
37:43
with blood we had the bloodiest labor
37:44
Wars of any industrialized country so
37:47
they went after the radical movements
37:49
then they went after the liberal class
37:51
and I wrote a book on it called death of
37:53
the liberal class where and as Chomsky
37:56
points out I told Noam for
37:57
the liberal class everything I learned
37:59
about the liberal class I learned from
38:00
Noam Chomsky so I should have put by
38:02
Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky except I
38:04
didn’t get his permission to do it as
38:07
Chomsky points out the liberal class was
38:09
never designed to be the political left
38:11
it was designed to be the safety valve
38:13
what Karl Popper writes about in the the
38:17
enemies of the open society it was
38:19
designed to ameliorate to adjust the
38:21
system the way Roosevelt did and so they
38:24
have Visser ated the liberal
38:26
establishment and then we got the great
38:28
traitor of liberalism Bill Clinton who
38:33
really sold American people down the
38:36
river oh and we can just take it off
38:38
NAFTA the greatest betrayal of working
38:41
men and women since the taft-hartley Act
38:45
deregulating the FCC so these
38:47
troglodytes from Clear Channel and Fox
38:50
News can consolidate control we have
38:53
about six corporations are five control
38:56
90% of what people listen to and it’s
38:59
indoctrinated trap talk about it’s fake
39:02
news I mean real fake news he passes the
39:06
94 omnibus crime bill so the prison
39:09
population explodes from 700,000 he
39:11
destroys glass-steagall he destroys
39:13
welfare and 70% of the original
39:16
recipients in the old welfare program
39:19
were children and every time I heard
39:21
Hillary Clinton talk about her concern
39:23
for mothers so and Obama went any better
39:25
but that’s another story
39:27
so that the the the we we created this
39:32
it was a gradual process and in that
39:35
process we D industrialized so as
39:37
Charles Mayer the Harvard historian says
39:39
by the 1970s we had shifted from an
39:43
empire of production to an empire of
39:44
consumption meaning that we were
39:46
borrowing to maintain both a lifestyle
39:48
and a military we could no loan afford
39:52
and now we’re paying for it that’s a
39:54
long answer go ahead thank you
39:55
I agree with every word that you spoken
39:57
tonight mm-hmm
39:59
but I want to pick up with what that
40:01
lady said at the very end we must not
40:05
get defeatist we have to think that
40:08
there is a way out of this and
40:11
to describe it is very important but we
40:14
have to start structuring our thought I
40:16
mean for example all of us are many
40:20
people are in the system so there excuse
40:23
me there is a leverage of people to
40:26
change their minds to change the
40:29
philosophy and I’d like you to speak a
40:31
little bit about that because I don’t
40:34
want us to get so down that we really
40:37
think we can’t I mean this this gets to
40:40
the whole issue of hope I you know I
40:43
come out of war I spent 20 years
40:45
covering war i I don’t share the
40:47
cultures mania for hope
40:50
I heard very bleak situations I was in
40:53
Sarajevo during the war and my job as a
40:56
war correspondent was to make a very
40:59
cold rational calculation about the
41:04
weapons systems around me and the
41:06
possibility for destruction and then to
41:09
act and we mentioned she mentioned
41:12
climate change which I haven’t spoken
41:13
about but I mean we’ve known about
41:17
climate change since 1902 and we’ve done
41:21
nothing which kind of implodes the New
41:24
Atheists now I can’t the Chomsky calls
41:28
them the religious fanatics for the
41:30
state religion sam harris etc the the it
41:34
implodes this idea that we’re rational
41:36
human beings and I think that you know
41:38
Reinhold Niebuhr has her are you inside
41:42
no let me are you in such despair
41:44
yourself I mean there’s not as a
41:47
criticism but have you given up so much
41:50
hope but I have but but the fact is you
41:53
can’t use the word hope if you don’t
41:56
resist
41:57
oh but and so we have to we have to
42:00
carry out because the very act of
42:04
resistance or rebellion at that moment
42:06
makes you a free human being but at the
42:09
same time it doesn’t do us any good not
42:12
to grasp the crisis the the the mortal
42:17
crisis that we face not only as a nation
42:20
but as a species and I think that is the
42:23
great existential struggle of the
42:25
whereby we we have to see reality for
42:28
what it is and then we have to resist
42:31
but most people who rebel the great you
42:35
know the great rebels Toussaint
42:38
L’Ouverture are Sitting Bull or Malcolm
42:42
or they they you know but in the eyes of
42:45
the world they didn’t succeed but in
42:48
fact what they did is hold up that other
42:51
narrative and I would then go into my
42:56
own background as a seminarian I once
43:00
asked Daniel Berrigan the great radical
43:02
priest and poet how he defined faith and
43:08
he said faith is the belief that the
43:12
good draws to it the good even if
43:15
empirically everyone everything around
43:18
us says otherwise and I think that if we
43:21
are going to resist successfully we are
43:25
going to have to do so in a not in an
43:27
orthodox way emma goldman fundamentally
43:30
i think had a deep religious impulse we
43:34
are going to have to believe as beragon
43:39
says that the good draws to it the good
43:40
even if empirically everything around us
43:43
gets worse but you know Sartre writes
43:46
about it the the utopianism of the
43:49
practical I can’t remember his exact
43:50
phrase my son’s here you can tell us but
43:53
III we are gonna have to see how dire it
43:57
is and look I’m not the only one in this
43:59
room who has kids and even if we fail we
44:04
have to I want my kids to look back and
44:07
say he tried so I think on the one hand
44:11
we do have to face how bleak it is on
44:14
the other hand we can’t let that despair
44:16
cripple us but I look at this you know
44:19
this kind of inevitable human progress
44:21
or technology will save us as as foolish
44:24
as the denial of global warming thank
44:28
you
44:31
[Applause]
44:35
two quick questions
44:38
if Trump for a chance is impeached do
44:42
you feel that the backlash could result
44:44
in on civil strife and the second
44:48
question is you are on RT and I do watch
44:51
our tea for time time things I have some
44:54
interesting programming but I do feel a
44:56
little one-sided
44:57
I was wondering what is your experience
44:58
with art okay well in terms of Trump
45:01
Trump skills go back to Noam Chomsky and
45:04
he Trotsky says correctly that if we
45:06
lose Trump and get Pence it’s gonna be
45:08
worse why because and that’s why I
45:11
mentioned my book on the Christian Right
45:14
the the Trump has no ideology it’s an
45:18
ideological vacuum he doesn’t I mean as
45:20
far as I can tell he’s in the early
45:22
stages of dementia and it certainly
45:24
appears that way
45:25
Ronald Reagan had it but they covered it
45:28
up a little better so what he is filling
45:33
that vacuum with is the fascist ideology
45:36
of the Christian Right and if you think
45:39
it’s not fascist flick on the TV and
45:41
watch Sarah Sanders who lies like the
45:45
day is long and then tells you what a
45:47
great Christian she is I come back
45:50
another time and talk about the
45:51
Christian Right but let me just say at
45:53
its core it’s it’s about heat at its
45:55
core it’s a very frightening movement it
45:58
has all the hallmarks of a totalitarian
46:00
movement and it is fused the Christian
46:03
religion with the state which the German
46:05
Christian Church did as far as RT excuse
46:09
me uh isn’t quite answered the question
46:11
the question was if he’s in peace will
46:13
there be civil strife well yeah but I’m
46:15
saying that one it’ll be worse and I’m
46:18
not sure that there will be civil strife
46:20
because they will have pence pence is is
46:25
a product of the Christian Right and
46:28
while Trump caters to the Christian
46:31
Right you have to remember the crib a
46:34
have all these institutions they built
46:36
Liberty University with its own law
46:38
school and its own systems of
46:42
indoctrination through cable channels
46:45
and so
46:46
IIIi don’t think there’ll be civil
46:49
strife because in fact that
46:51
Christianized fascism which this segment
46:55
of the population yearns for will become
46:57
more pronounced in terms of our tea look
47:00
if we had a functioning public
47:02
broadcasting system
47:04
critics of corporate capitalism and
47:06
imperialism would have a voice but PBS
47:09
in particular is a wholly owned
47:11
subsidiary of the Koch brothers and and
47:15
and the destruction of public
47:17
broadcasting in the 60s you could watch
47:20
Baldwin Malcolm
47:22
they were all on Zinn Chomsky it’s
47:25
vanished and so critics such as myself
47:29
are being pushed to the margins not only
47:32
of the electronic media landscape but
47:35
the Internet now they’ve imposed all
47:37
these algorithms in the name of fake
47:39
news of course proper not thank you the
47:41
Washington Post this anonymous site that
47:44
listed us as tools of Russia right for
47:47
TruthDig but all of the sites that
47:49
reprint my stuff common dreams
47:51
counterpunch they’ve all been targeted
47:53
and alternate so you get what they call
47:56
impression so before they impose the
47:59
algorithms if you typed in imperialism
48:01
and I had written an article recently on
48:03
imperialism it would come up now it
48:05
doesn’t now we have we charted it in
48:08
truth dig the impressions have fallen in
48:09
the last year from over 700,000 to below
48:12
200,000 as they perfect the algorithm
48:15
alternates traffic has fallen by 63%
48:17
world socialist website then we have to
48:20
add net neutrality and the question is
48:22
why the reason is because nobody is
48:25
buying this neoliberal crap this
48:28
ideology read David Harvey spoke on
48:30
neoliberalism that has just been a kind
48:34
of ideological veneer for unadulterated
48:37
greed by the 1% was your experience
48:40
though well my experience is that they
48:43
allow me you know to express these views
48:46
remember I covered Eastern Europe so if
48:48
you wanted to hear Vaslav Havel the only
48:51
place you were gonna hear Havel was
48:52
Voice of America Havel didn’t support
48:54
American imperialism or the US war but
48:56
that was the only space that he had
48:59
and I’m you know critics such as my
49:02
gnomes completely blacked out Nader I
49:04
mean these people are just blocked out
49:05
and that’s the goal and and once we
49:09
throw in net neutrality on the goal is
49:12
to create tears on the internet so that
49:15
these left-wing sites become harder and
49:17
harder to access go ahead so with our
49:21
mainstream media increasingly
49:23
corporatized and spewing out false
49:26
narratives with no one speaking up about
49:29
the fate of people like Julian Assange
49:31
yeah with no one talking about what
49:34
Edward Snowden tried to warn us about
49:36
and with Google and Yahoo shutting down
49:39
websites and d-flat do the platforming
49:42
controversial sources every day how can
49:46
we possibly extricate ourselves from
49:48
this situation without any broad voice I
49:52
mean there’s there’s no kind of well
49:56
anything we can turn okay so it’s not
49:58
like there aren’t huge segments of the
50:01
population that are conscious I mean you
50:04
see the group here tonight there are
50:07
people who are conscious and they know
50:10
they’re being lied to and I you know in
50:13
in the start let’s go back to the Stasi
50:15
state of East Germany or the old Czech
50:18
Republic both of which I covered as I
50:20
covered the Velvet Revolution so what
50:23
was amazing was how conscious people
50:27
were even with the imposition of the
50:31
iron control of information so when the
50:35
Velvet Revolution took place everyone
50:37
knew that Havel and you know there’s
50:39
something about Havel I was in the Magic
50:41
Lantern theater with him every night in
50:43
Prague the interesting thing about habul
50:45
is that he wasn’t charismatic he wasn’t
50:47
a particularly good speaker but they
50:49
knew he won gonna sell them out he had
50:52
the moral authority
oh and and I’ve told
50:55
this story but I’ll tell it again there
50:58
there is you know and fear will make
51:01
people quiet
but they know and so that
51:04
whole winter there were posters all over
51:06
Prague of Yann Pollock who had a charles
51:09
university student who to protest the
51:11
1968
51:13
Soviet invasion had gone to vents less
51:15
square lit himself on fire
51:17
four days later died of his burns they
51:20
his funeral was which attracted hundreds
51:23
of people mostly students was never
51:24
broadcast by state media or covered his
51:27
grave became a shrine they exhumed his
51:28
remains cremated his remains gave them
51:30
to his mother said she couldn’t bury
51:32
them that winter his poster was
51:34
everywhere when the communist government
51:36
fell 10,000 people marched to Red Army
51:39
Square and renamed it Yan Pollock square
51:41
mark tacuba shaiva the great singer sang
51:45
the prayer from our toe the anthem of
51:47
defiance that was broadcast on the
51:49
airwaves as the Soviet tanks rolled in
51:52
after the overthrow of Dubcek in the
51:54
imposition of the pro-soviet government
51:56
she her recording stock is destroyed
51:59
she’s banned from the airwaves between
52:01
1968 and 1989 she works at an assembly
52:05
line at a toy factory
52:06
I was invent celeste square she walked
52:08
out on the balcony she began to sing the
52:10
prayer for Marta and every check in that
52:12
crowd knew every word that is the power
52:15
of resistance what Auden calls the
52:17
ironic point of light that flashes out
52:20
wherever the just exchanged the messages
52:23
and that’s why tyrants and despots
52:25
are terrified of the truth because
52:28
people see it people feel it and there’s
52:32
more people out there that yeah I mean
52:34
you’re right I mean and they are trying
52:36
to shut it down but the the lies are now
52:39
so egregious and so transparent that you
52:43
know a marginal critic such as myself
52:46
suddenly becomes a threat because that
52:49
truth is a threat and so totalitarian
52:54
systems are quite effective at and the
52:57
corporate state is quite effective at
52:59
controlling the message but I and I just
53:03
traveled all over the country for this
53:05
book I can tell you people are far more
53:06
conscious but with the internet
53:09
completely in the power of these
53:11
corporations and knowing everything
53:13
about us and using it against us
53:16
how can we know that wasn’t around in in
53:19
1969 and this is what we face today how
53:23
can we overcome that and and
53:26
that parallel your experience you know
53:29
as despotic regimes deteriorate they
53:33
force resistance to create parallel
53:35
systems so I write about Anderson
53:38
Indiana where they these old former
53:41
Catholic Worker people have bought a
53:43
warehouse does the end of the book
53:44
chapter freedom and they are literally
53:48
because their stories are not told
53:50
people trapped in the gig economy they
53:52
literally print they print they print it
53:54
up and write it and disseminate it I’m
53:57
not saying I mean you’re right to be
53:59
concerned about it
54:01
but that doesn’t mean they’re gonna win
54:03
so broad question 2016 was probably the
54:09
first time I had been politically
54:11
engaged after being in the Army for some
54:14
time and being deployed just that’s a
54:17
whole another world to even explain that
54:19
to people that a culture that really
54:21
doesn’t want the story of what happens
54:24
overseas in the name of empire to be
54:26
told at all that’s right um but where
54:29
where does the left go from go from here
54:32
um if I find it to be a very sad state
54:36
Jill Stein’s name has pretty much been
54:38
drug through the mud she she can
54:41
probably no longer effectively
54:43
participate in the political system the
54:46
Democratic Party as much as Ocasio
54:48
Cortez seems like she’ll bring change
54:50
she she still has to go up against a
54:53
huge apparatus yeah that will silence
54:56
her I think where we go where do we go
54:59
um we go to the street we look at people
55:04
like Standing Rock we look at the all of
55:07
the great radical movements that were
55:08
shut out of power I mean we’ve gone
55:10
through vicious periods of American
55:13
history you know people I was I don’t
55:16
know if you know James Caan but if you
55:18
don’t you should read them cross Anna
55:19
Lynch and we’ve just lost him just a
55:21
most important theologian in America and
55:23
one of the great moral voices of our
55:25
time but as James kept saying you know
55:28
people will say Malcolm was so radical
55:30
Malcolm Malcolm said what he said in
55:33
Harlem when King got up and said what he
55:36
said in Montgomery it meant that
55:40
the next day walking down the street he
55:41
could be dead and I think that we have
55:45
to uncover or find again with us that
55:48
kind of moral courage represented by the
55:51
great figures of resistance and we have
55:56
to begin what we saw in South Africa
55:58
which brought down apartheid which is
56:00
non-cooperation we have to do everything
56:03
in our power to build alternative
56:05
structures to pit power against power
56:07
and we have to do everything in our
56:09
power to obstruct the workings of the
56:11
corporate state and that’s what the
56:15
Wobblies did that’s what the old CIO did
56:18
that’s what they did in the civil rights
56:19
movement that’s what the Communist Party
56:22
did that’s what the Progressive Party
56:24
did we have antecedents they erase this
56:26
from American history that’s what the
56:28
bonus marchers did which of course
56:30
MacArthur went in and evicted them by
56:32
force and you know we have the politics
56:36
is a game of fear and we have to make
56:39
them frightened of us that’s our goal
56:41
that’s the only way they’re kept in
56:44
check
so there’s a passage in
56:47
Kissinger’s memoirs which hopefully is
56:49
not being sold in this bookstore do not
56:51
go buy it
56:52
it’s 1971 tens of thousands of anti-war
56:56
protesters around the White House Nixon
56:59
has put empty city buses and and around
57:01
the White House’s barricades and he’s
57:03
standing at the window looking out
57:04
wringing his hands next to Kissinger
57:06
going Henry they’re going to break
57:07
through the barricades and get us it’s
57:09
our job to make people in power feel
57:12
fear that’s our job
57:14
and until we do that and believe me you
57:17
know I so I have relatives who are on
57:20
Wall Street and Zuccotti which was
57:22
absolutely did not pose any physical
57:25
threat to these predators on Wall Street
57:28
they were terrified
57:29
they wouldn’t even go out for lunch they
57:31
were getting they had all their private
57:32
security firms tweeting or telling them
57:35
every hour they’re on Bond Street now
57:37
they have a giant puppet octopus in
57:41
front of Goldman Sachs you know really
57:43
you know they’re a lot you know you know
57:45
why they’re so scared because they know
57:46
even better than we do
57:48
how corrupt and fixed the system is
57:51
that’s why Bernanke was on his knee
57:54
and unfortunately Obama didn’t stand up
57:58
for us he stood up for the bankers so
57:59
that’s it that’s the only Hubbell we we
58:02
didn’t talked about climate change I
58:04
mean that’s why Standing Rock is so
58:06
important that’s why blocking the
58:08
railroad tracks in the North West who
58:10
are bringing down the pediment isn’t
58:11
that’s what we got to do that’s it and
58:13
and and I think they they understand how
58:16
hated they are and and that makes them
58:19
weak and that’s gets into the whole
58:21
issue of violence as the great and they
58:23
were talking about revolution by the way
58:24
I’m talking about the overthrow of the
58:26
corporate state and for the homeland
58:28
security person who’s here that’s
58:30
overthrow Oh Vee are because these
58:35
people are going to kill us and they’re
58:37
gonna kill my children and and in the
58:39
end you know they these corporate forces
58:42
have us they have us by the throat and
58:46
they have my kids by the throat and I
58:49
don’t know if we’re gonna win I don’t
58:51
even know if we’re gonna survive as a
58:52
species but in the end I don’t fight
58:56
fascism because I win I fight fascists
58:59
because they are fascists and that moral
59:02
almost religious quality is one that we
59:05
have to embrace what Niebuhr called
59:06
sublime madness that understanding that
59:09
radical evil must be opposed even if
59:12
everything around us says that we will
59:14
fail and when we find that and when we
59:18
have the courage to stand up and defy it
59:20
we may not win in an ultimate sense but
59:24
we will be free I mean I teach in a
59:26
prison they imposed a rule in the prison
59:28
that although my students had to walk
59:31
past the guards down the corridors with
59:33
their eyes down and they refused they
59:36
walk down the quarters with their eyes
59:37
up it sounds a little but it’s not
59:41
that’s what we have to do and we have to
59:44
understand that not the Democratic Party
59:47
no but no system now there are no
59:50
institutions in this country left that
59:52
are authentically democratic there are
59:54
no institutions that are going to
59:56
protect us or protect our children or
59:58
protect the ecosystem on which we depend
60:00
for life it’s up to us and at least let
60:04
us find that courage so that whatever
60:07
generation comes after us will say they
60:10
were not passive and they were not
60:11
complicit as a fundamentalist say say on
60:25
prophet I think you mister calling but
60:28
that’s why I came here tonight was to
60:30
get the answer on dealing with despair
60:34
and your latest article by the way in
60:37
truth peg is about climate change yeah
60:40
and you go all the way to the wall
60:43
basically implying that no matter what
60:45
we do we’re gonna lose this battle and
60:48
that’s um I would like you to do an
60:53
article and TruthDig about what you said
60:56
tonight because I’ve never heard you say
60:59
all this stuff before so I have said it
61:02
before and and I but I think the point
61:04
is I mean if we take the climate the
61:07
global warming I mean just a factual
61:11
understanding I mean even if we stop all
61:14
carbon admissions today we are still
61:16
going to be dealing with catastrophic
61:18
effects of climate change and of course
61:21
under the the Trump administration
61:23
they’re rolling back whatever tea pad
61:26
before they have and we don’t have any
61:29
time left and I think part of it’s an
61:33
imperative for us to grasp how little
61:36
time we have left
61:37
I mean climate scientists are quite
61:39
clear that once we get below 2% above 2%
61:43
Celsius we may get into the kinds of
61:46
feedback loops that have that create of
61:49
the temperatures on Venus which are 800
61:51
degrees that that and it rains sulfuric
61:55
acid um that that’s where we are and and
61:58
there is no serious climate scientist
62:01
that disputes that and yet you know I
62:05
think I talk about the mania for hope I
62:07
think if we understood the emergency
62:09
that we’re in we might begin to react
62:13
but it’s of course it fills me I mean my
62:16
youngest son will his favorite book is
62:18
out of the blue so it’s like NARR Wales
62:20
and I’m thing
62:21
it may very well and probably will be
62:23
that in your lifetime everything single
62:25
one of those species doesn’t exist
62:27
that’s and I think that when we
62:30
understand how precarious our situation
62:34
is and stop fooling ourselves we will
62:38
react and and it goes back to that
62:41
sublime madness I mean that in the end
62:45
it is most revolutionaries rebels
62:49
throughout history don’t succeed but we
62:53
have to and and I think that way we
62:55
actually overcome despair by resisting I
62:59
mean I do I mean I was been a Ritz
63:01
boutique a rat never heard that from
63:03
that statement from you before I mean
63:07
look you know I’ve been arrested in
63:09
front of the White House I’ve been
63:10
arrested in front of goldman sachs and
63:13
it that that kind of solid eras rested
63:17
with a hundred and thirty three vets in
63:19
front of the White House and in the
63:24
winter snowing and so as Vietnam vets
63:28
Iraqi war vets Afghan vets and it was I
63:32
mean it was a religious experience it
63:36
was so moving these people knew the
63:38
horror of war the poison of militarism
63:41
and when it when it came time to walk to
63:45
the White House fence and get arrested
63:46
it’s on YouTube somebody’s beating a
63:48
drum that’s it nobody speaks in fact
63:53
most of the people in the crowd are
63:54
crying and when you sit home alone when
64:00
you attempt as an individual to cope
64:02
with the profound despair that we almost
64:05
feel it will conquer you but when you
64:08
build relationships and not
64:10
electronically but the way relationships
64:13
can only be built and that is
64:15
person-to-person when you build
64:17
community and when you carry out acts of
64:20
resistance that act of resistance is the
64:23
best antidote to despair thank you
64:32
we have one more yes I I
64:35
okay I actually had a serious question
64:37
but it’s I realized time is short
64:39
basically you never hear anything about
64:43
the money system in progressive
64:45
discussions and I would love that to be
64:48
addressed more not the money system
64:51
he’ll talk about banks and so on but
64:53
it’s much more complex than that
64:54
but I do want to take this opportunity
64:56
to thank you personally I realized as
64:59
that progressive about two years ago
65:01
that I could no longer continue to kill
65:05
and exploit animals for my pleasure
65:07
you know you don’t get to talk about it
65:09
that much but you inspired me to go
65:12
vegan and it’s it’s changed my life
65:14
completely so I just say thank you
65:16
well let me if you care about climate
65:18
change the animal agriculture industry
65:22
many people argue is the greatest
65:24
contributor to global warming and you
65:26
can get up tomorrow and that’s something
65:27
you can do it’s also healthier but that
65:31
I mean it was it the environmental
65:32
factor that pushed me to become vegan
65:34
because whatever I do in my life it’s
65:37
it’s an act it was an easy action to
65:39
take and again it it is part of that
65:43
assault that we all must carry out
65:45
against corporate power and then we get
65:49
into a whole issue of how they treat
65:50
animals and the and the antibiotics they
65:54
pump into them and everything else but
65:56
yeah thank you for bringing that up I
65:58
think it’s an important thing that we
65:59
can all do I am in light of your
66:04
comments about resisting taking it to
66:06
the streets shutting it down I know that
66:08
buzzword now is we all need to choose
66:10
civility but I just noticed when you
66:13
when you began you’ve made some comments
66:15
about the antifa demonstrators and they
66:18
didn’t sound very positive could you
66:20
sort of expand on that a bit well I’ve
66:23
written about it I movement I wrote
66:27
about the black bloc and I call them the
66:29
cancer of Occupy look the problem with
66:32
an Tifa and the black bloc is that in
66:37
the name of diversity of tactics they
66:40
really only have one tactic
66:41
they serve the interests of the state
66:43
and the interests of the state is to
66:45
demonize the resistance movement make
66:48
people afraid of it and in infiltrated
66:53
and I would argue that the huge
66:55
percentage of these people are cops
66:56
infiltrate it and get them to carry out
67:00
acts of violence to justify state
67:03
repression you want to know who wrote
67:05
the best about an anarchist violence is
67:08
Lenin he got it he understood how
67:11
dangerous that was to the revolution and
67:14
look resistance is not a form of
67:18
catharsis it’s a form it’s tactics its
67:22
strategic our job is to bring them down
67:24
and as the great theorist of revolution
67:27
crane Brinton Jeffrey Davies have all
67:30
and others have pointed out no
67:32
revolution succeeds
and this was true in
67:35
the revolutions I covered in Eastern
67:36
Europe until a significant percentage of
67:39
the the security apparatus and the civil
67:43
bureaucracy defects
because once they
67:46
defect it creates paralysis so I was in
67:49
East Germany you have demonstrations in
67:53
leipzig erich honecker the communist
67:55
dictator for 19 years
67:57
sends down an elite paratroop division
68:00
which is gonna fire on the crowd they
68:02
get there the local communist
68:03
authorities block it Hahn occurs out of
68:05
power within a week that’s because these
68:09
people no I mean these you know I used
68:12
to get in a battle about taunting the
cops in Zuccotti and I remember kind of
flippantly which I shouldn’t have done
you know saying to a group in Zuccotti
the people who carried out the most
egregious abuses in Zuccotti were the
white church they were the officers
once
68:31
the white shirts weren’t around the
68:33
there was a lot of almost fraternization
68:37
between the blue uniformed and the kids
68:39
so I in this talk I said look you know
68:44
you’ll we only have to deal with the
68:45
white shirts for a couple of these white
68:47
shirt at assholes for a couple hours a
68:49
day
68:49
these cops have to deal with them all
68:50
day long so they’ve shut down Zuccotti
68:53
and I’m giving a talk in New York
68:55
and at the end this man comes up to me
68:58
and he goes I’m a white shirt at asshole
69:00
and I read all of your books now he
69:03
might be the only one but I shouldn’t
69:06
have said that because we will not
69:09
succeed unless we bring with us
69:14
substantial sections of those within the
69:17
power system
and look I think they
69:21
passed section 1021 of the National
69:23
Defense Authorization Act because
69:25
ultimately the elites don’t trust the
police to protect them
and when we in
this two-year legal battle we went
69:32
before the it was Obama appealed it to
69:35
the Second Circuit the appellate and of
69:38
course they were stuck because it’s
69:39
totally unconstitutional so they don’t
69:41
want to have to rule on it and they four
69:44
months they sit on it sit on it and sit
on it and I was also a plaintiff in
clapper versus Amnesty International
about wholesale surveillance before the
Snowden revelations where government
lawyers got up and said that I and the
other plaintiffs were just speculating
about government surveillance and then
added if the government was monitoring
them we would tell them okay so they
threw it out because we didn’t have
standing that’s the way they deny our
rights and so then the Second Circuit
said he doesn’t have standing he can’t
70:17
bring the case and we filed a cert but
70:21
during that whole to the Supreme Court
70:23
they wouldn’t take it but during that
70:25
two-year battle we went to the
70:26
Democratic leadership we went to Pelosi
70:27
the lawyers we said look they passed
70:30
section 1021 every year
70:32
boy if they do is pass it and say it
70:33
doesn’t apply to u.s. citizens and we
70:35
drop the lawsuit but of course they
70:37
weren’t going to put because it does
apply to u.s. citizens and I forgot your
question and Tifa oh yeah so an Tifa
plays into what they want which is a
militarized states
and as I tell look I
was overseas somebody that asked
70:58
question was overseas he’ll second me
71:00
having been around special forces we
71:04
have 60,000 of them they’re called death
71:06
squads
71:07
the state has the capacity to inflict
71:11
levels of violence that we can’t even
71:13
begin to imagine and that’s just a route
71:16
that is utterly self-destructive and so
71:19
I have been quite vocal in my attacks
71:23
against an T from the Black Bloc because
71:25
I see them as counterproductive to what
71:27
we’re trying to accomplish
71:29
[Music]
71:30
[Applause]
71:46
you

Trump Has Made Us All Stupid

The decline of discourse in the anti-Trump echo chamber.

Donald Trump is impulse-driven, ignorant, narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. So you’d think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would go out of our way to show we’re not like him — that we are judicious, informed, mature and reasonable.

But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.

For example, there’s a complex policy problem at the heart of this week’s Iran episode. Iran is not powerful because it has a strong economy or military. It is powerful because it sponsors militias across the Middle East, destabilizing regimes and spreading genocide and sectarian cleansing. Over the past few years those militias, orchestrated by Qassim Suleimani, have felt free to operate more in the open with greater destructive effect.

We’re not going to go in and destroy the militias. So how can we keep them in check so they don’t destabilize the region? That’s the hard problem — one that stymied past administrations.

In the Middle East, and wherever there are protracted conflicts, nations have a way to address this problem. They use violence as a form of communication. A nation trying to maintain order will assassinate a terrorism leader or destroy a terrorism facility. The attack says: “Hey, we know we’re in a long-term conflict, but let’s not let it get out of hand. That’s not in either of our interests.”

The attack is a way to seize control of the escalation process and set a boundary marker.

These sorts of operations have risks and rewards. A risk is that it won’t cease the escalation, just accelerate it. The radicals on the other side will get enraged and take to the streets. Their leaders will have to appease that rage.

A reward is that maybe you do halt the escalation. The other side implicitly says: “Message received. We’ll do some face-saving things to appease the streets, but we don’t want this to get out of hand, either.” Another reward is that you’ve managed to eliminate an effective terrorist like Soleimani. Talent doesn’t grow on trees.

The decision to undertake this sort of operation is a matter of weighing risk and reward. And after the Soleimani killing, you saw American security professionals talk in the language of balancing risk and reward. Stanley McChrystal, a retired general, and Michael Mullen, a retired admiral, thought it was worth the risk. Susan Rice, a former national security adviser, thought it wasn’t.

But in the anti-Trump echo chamber, that’s not how most people were thinking. Led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, they avoided the hard, complex problem of how to set boundaries around militias. Instead, they pontificated on the easy question not actually on the table: Should we have a massive invasion of Iran?

A great cry went up from the echo chamber. We’re on the brink of war! Trump is leading us to more endless wars in the Middle East! We’re on the precipice of total chaos! This was not the calibrated language of risk and reward. It was fear-stoking apocalyptic language. By being so overwrought and exaggerated, the echo chamber drowned out any practical conversation about how to stabilize the Middle East so we could have another righteous chorus of “Donald Trump is a monster!”

This is Trump’s ultimate victory. Every argument on every topic is now all about him. Hating Trump together has become the ultimate bonding, attention-grabbing and profit-maximization mechanism for those of us in anti-Trump world. So you get a series of exaggerated fervors

  • the Mueller report!
  • Impeachment!
  • The Steele dossier!

that lead ultimately nowhere.

Most of this week’s argument about the Middle East wasn’t really about the Middle East. It was all narcissistically about ourselves! Democrats defend terrorists! Republicans are warmongers! Actual Iranians are just bit players in our imperialistic soap opera, the passive recipients of our greatness or perfidy.

The world is more complicated than this cartoon. Love or hate him, Trump has used military force less than any other president since Jimmy Carter. When it comes to foreign policy, he is not like recent Republicans. He is, as my colleague Ross Douthat put it, a Jacksonian figure, wanting to get America out of foreign entanglements while lobbing a few long-distance attacks to ensure the crazy foreigners stick to killing one another and not us.

And this is the final paradox. For all the Sturm und Drang that surrounds Trump, populist Republicans and Democrats are gravitating toward the same foreign policy: We’re in the middle of a clash of civilizations; the Middle East is so screwed up, we should just get out; we’re too stupid/ineffective/racist/imperialistic to do any good there anyway.

We fight viciously about Trump, but underneath, a populist left-right curtain is descending around America, separating us from the Mideast, China, even Europe. The real high-risk move is the one both parties are making together: that if we ignore the world it will ignore us. (It won’t.)

Maybe once the Inflammatory One is finally gone from the scene we can have an intelligent conversation about that.

The Media Is Broken

And not for the reasons you think.

Those of us in journalism primarily do one thing: cover events. We report and opine about events like election campaigns, wars and crimes. A lot of the events we cover are decisions — a decision to reform health care or write a tweet — so we tend to congregate in the cities where decision makers live. The internet has sped up the news cycle. Now we put more emphasis on covering the last event that just happened. But it’s still mostly events.

But a funny thing has happened to events in this era. They have ceased to drive politics the way they used to. We’ve seen gigantic events like impeachment, the Kavanaugh hearings, the Mueller investigation and the “Access Hollywood” tapes. They come and go and barely leave a trace on the polls, the political landscape or evaluations of Donald Trump.

Events don’t seem to be driving politics. Increasingly, sociology is.

Do you want to predict how a certain region is going to vote in the 2020 presidential race? Discover who settled the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. If the settlers were from the East Anglia section of Britain, then that region is probably going Democratic. If the settlers were from the north of Britain, that region is very likely to vote for Donald Trump.

Do you want to predict how a state is going to vote? Find out how that state voted in the 1896 presidential election. As Washington University political scientists Gary Miller and Norman Schofield have observed, 22 out of the 23 states that voted Democratic in 1896 had turned Republican by 2000. Similarly, 17 of the 22 states that voted Republican in 1896 had turned Democratic by 2000. The parties have flipped regions.

Do you want to predict how an individual is going to vote? Ask a simple question: Is she urban or rural?

Geographic and psycho-sociological patterns now overshadow events in driving political loyalties and national electoral outcomes. Demography is destiny.

There’s a more precise way to put this. An event is really two things. It’s the event itself and then it’s the process by which we make meaning of the event. As Aldous Huxley put it, “Experience is not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens to you.”

When a whole country sees events through a similar lens, then you don’t have to think a lot about the process people use to make meaning. It’s similar across the land. But when people in different regions and subcultures have nonoverlapping lenses, the process by which people make sense of events is more important than the event itself.

For reasons I don’t understand, we’ve had an epistemic explosion over the past few decades. Different American regions and subcultures now see reality through nonoverlapping lenses. They make meaning in radically different ways. Psycho-social categories have hardened.

We in the media will continue to cover events, which, of course, is absolutely necessary. But with some noble exceptions (I’m thinking of Thomas Edsall of The Times and Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic), we underreport on how meaning is made in different subcultures. You can’t make sense of reality without that. Often we throw up our hands: “Can’t these people see the facts?!?” I’m as guilty as anyone.

In this new context, I’m curious to know how lenses get crafted. For example, intersectionality is a lens that was created by theorists decades ago and is now a way of seeing that many people use to organize their view of reality. How did that happen?

I’m curious to know how a man in rural Idaho who has lost a son to suicide and a brother to fentanyl sees the impeachment hearing. How does he make meaning of that event in real time?

I’m curious to know how you can change another person’s lens. Can you do it by writing and talking or do you have to move her to a different place and immerse her in a different reality?

I’m curious to know how power inequality shapes people’s lenses. As Jonathan Rauch suggests in the current issue of National Affairs, ideological polarization is not on the rise, emotional polarization is on the rise. We don’t necessarily disagree more. We perceive our opponents to be more menacing. We see more fearfully.

The big difference for those of us in media is that the main story is not only where the decision makers are creating events. It’s also and maybe more so in the eyes of those doing the perceiving.

Obviously, in this era it’s even more important to have a news organization that is ideologically, culturally and geographically diverse, so you can surface and explore the different unconscious ways groups see

It’s also important to ask different questions. It’s not enough to simply ask people’s opinions through polls and interviews. Epistemology is deeper than opinions. It’s found through deeper probing.

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to think about our jobs in more profound ways. The core insight is that in a hyper-pluralistic society you can’t know people in other groups until you know how they know you.

The Media Is Broken

And not for the reasons you think.

Those of us in journalism primarily do one thing: cover events. We report and opine about events like election campaigns, wars and crimes. A lot of the events we cover are decisions — a decision to reform health care or write a tweet — so we tend to congregate in the cities where decision makers live. The internet has sped up the news cycle. Now we put more emphasis on covering the last event that just happened. But it’s still mostly events.

But a funny thing has happened to events in this era. They have ceased to drive politics the way they used to. We’ve seen gigantic events like impeachment, the Kavanaugh hearings, the Mueller investigation and the “Access Hollywood” tapes. They come and go and barely leave a trace on the polls, the political landscape or evaluations of Donald Trump.

Events don’t seem to be driving politics. Increasingly, sociology is.

Do you want to predict how a certain region is going to vote in the 2020 presidential race? Discover who settled the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. If the settlers were from the East Anglia section of Britain, then that region is probably going Democratic. If the settlers were from the north of Britain, that region is very likely to vote for Donald Trump.

Do you want to predict how a state is going to vote? Find out how that state voted in the 1896 presidential election. As Washington University political scientists Gary Miller and Norman Schofield have observed, 22 out of the 23 states that voted Democratic in 1896 had turned Republican by 2000. Similarly, 17 of the 22 states that voted Republican in 1896 had turned Democratic by 2000. The parties have flipped regions.

Do you want to predict how an individual is going to vote? Ask a simple question: Is she urban or rural?

Geographic and psycho-sociological patterns now overshadow events in driving political loyalties and national electoral outcomes.  

There’s a more precise way to put this. An event is really two things. It’s the event itself and then it’s the process by which we make meaning of the event. As Aldous Huxley put it, “Experience is not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens to you.”

When a whole country sees events through a similar lens, then you don’t have to think a lot about the process people use to make meaning. It’s similar across the land. But when people in different regions and subcultures have nonoverlapping lenses, the process by which people make sense of events is more important than the event itself.

For reasons I don’t understand, we’ve had an epistemic explosion over the past few decades. Different American regions and subcultures now see reality through nonoverlapping lenses. They make meaning in radically different ways. Psycho-social categories have hardened.

We in the media will continue to cover events, which, of course, is absolutely necessary. But with some noble exceptions (I’m thinking of Thomas Edsall of The Times and Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic), we underreport on how meaning is made in different subcultures. You can’t make sense of reality without that. Often we throw up our hands: “Can’t these people see the facts?!?” I’m as guilty as anyone.

In this new context, I’m curious to know how lenses get crafted. For example, intersectionality is a lens that was created by theorists decades ago and is now a way of seeing that many people use to organize their view of reality. How did that happen?

I’m curious to know how a man in rural Idaho who has lost a son to suicide and a brother to fentanyl sees the impeachment hearing. How does he make meaning of that event in real time?

I’m curious to know how you can change another person’s lens. Can you do it by writing and talking or do you have to move her to a different place and immerse her in a different reality?

I’m curious to know how power inequality shapes people’s lenses. As Jonathan Rauch suggests in the current issue of National Affairs, ideological polarization is not on the rise, emotional polarization is on the rise. We don’t necessarily disagree more. We perceive our opponents to be more menacing. We see more fearfully.

The big difference for those of us in media is that the main story is not only where the decision makers are creating events. It’s also and maybe more so in the eyes of those doing the perceiving.

Obviously, in this era it’s even more important to have a news organization that is ideologically, culturally and geographically diverse, so you can surface and explore the different unconscious ways groups see.

It’s also important to ask different questions. It’s not enough to simply ask people’s opinions through polls and interviews. Epistemology is deeper than opinions. It’s found through deeper probing.

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to think about our jobs in more profound ways. The core insight is that in a hyper-pluralistic society you can’t know people in other groups until you know how they know you.