Wednesday, May 08, 2013

"We believe this childish mantra . . . which says that we can have anything we want, that reality is not an impediment to what we desire."

[This is one of my meandering posts as one thing leads to another.  It started with the video, but as I tried to get more on the speaker, I found something more profound from the most insightful thinker I've encountered lately - Chris Hedges.  Which, probably not coincidentally, led right back to yesterday's cryptoquote which I left unfinished and I'm guessing most of you didn't take the time to complete.]

So, here's where this all began:  Bill McKibben gives a great overview of the condition of the earth and the battle over climate change at New York's Riverside Church.  [Something I found out about, for the record, because I'm now on Twitter, though I can't reconstruct how.]

His website bio begins:
Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him 'the planet's best green journalist' and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was 'probably the country's most important environmentalist.'
Most of the criticism I found on him tended to be friendly fire - disagreements on details or approach by other environmentalists who claimed they basically were on the same side.

I also found a Mount Royal University interview with Chris Hedges and Derrick Jensen that includes a critique of an earlier McKibben work on the grounds that he didn't address the underlying issue - the corporate totalitarianism that has taken over the world.

I've had my eye on Chris Hedges for about a year now.  There's an unfinished blog post that I've felt wasn't good enough post yet.  Everything I've heard from Hedges, to me,  is a spot on critique of what's wrong with society today.  He has a great macro understanding plus his years as a top tier foreign correspondent give him knowledge of the details to back up his narrative. 

Here's Truthdig's description of the audio:
What is it going to take for concerned and engaged citizens to finally feel as though some crucial threshold has been crossed—that our nation’s political system and the global corporate culture it both serves and feeds into will never represent them or serve their needs? Continuing along that line, what’s to be done once that realization has hit home, as it has for authors Chris Hedges and Derrick Jensen? Both Hedges and Jensen offer their ideas in this July 5 [2010] interview with Mount Royal University professor Michael Truscello.

This audio is really worth listening to

Hedges and Jensen were asked why, despite the development of skillful alternative media, there didn’t seem to be much of an effect on the consolidation of corporate media and the consolidation of the messages.

 Here’s the beginning of Chris Hedges’ response (17:09 into the audio):
“We’re arguably the most illusioned culture or society on the planet.  We believe this childish mantra which is fed to us across the political and cultural spectrum, which says that we can have anything we want, that reality is not an impediment to what we desire.  All we have to do is find our inner strength or focus on happiness or dig deep enough within ourselves or grasp that we are truly exceptional or believe that Jesus really can carry out miracles. . . This . . . keeps the mass of the population in a perpetual infantilism where they never grow up.  What’s happening now is that the illusion of who we are, the illusion of where we are going, and the reality - that gap is widening to such an extent so that as collapse begins to appear, and it is beginning to appear as 2.8 million Americans lost their homes last year to bank repossessions and foreclosures.  That’s 8,000 people a day.  Over 2.4 million will this year [2010].  Half of all bankruptcies are caused by inability to pay for medical bills.

As this gap opens up and we confront personal disintegration as well as ecological and economic disintegration, we’re not prepared emotionally, psychologically, or intellectually for what’s happening.  And so we react as children. Which is to reach out for a demagogue or a savior.  Somebody who promises new glory, moral renewal, and vengeance.  And then I think . . . we could swiftly revert to a much more classical form of totalitarianism, although this would not in any way disrupt the engines of globalism and corporate power.”  [to hear the full interview]

It's this sort of thing that the cryptoquote from yesterday seems to encapsulate for me:

"Reality is that which, when you stop 
believing in it, doesn't go away"

Exactly what Hedges is saying - enough people in our country believe in illusions that are disconnected from reality, but the consequences of not believing in reality won't go away.  So, despite people's beliefs in American exceptionalism, their own right to the American dream, that Jesus will make things good, the consequences of economic (losing their homes and savings) and environmental reality (increasing severe weather disasters) don't stop. 


  1. Tried both links for truthdig radio above and they're dead from here (UK). It happens. I may try through originating links later.


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