Broadcast 7/16/2015 at 18:37:50
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast
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Chris Hedges has been on this show four or five times, he's a Pulitzer Prize--winning journalist who spent nearly two decades as a correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans, with fifteen years at the New York Times. He is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Empire of Illusion; Death of the Liberal Class; War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning; and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt which he co-wrote with Joe Sacco. He writes a weekly column for the online magazine Truthdig. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey. He's on tonight to discuss his newest book, Wages of Rebellion, the Moral Imperative of Revolt
Rob: What's the goal of your book? If it's successful, what will it do?
focus people on what rebellion looks like the cost you have to pay, the moment in time in which rebellion works, the mechanisms by which and revolt or revolution is successful, which is fundamentally non-violent-- and finally that revolt is a moral imperative for " who it is allowing us to become in the face of the attack on the ecosystem.
Rob: tell us a story about a rebel
Ronnie Casriels who was involved in South Africa
A characteristic of a rebel-- you need rebels to prime radical movements, yet the DNA of rebels does not fit for after
Liberalism is to weak to confront monolithic systems of power.
Baldwin also writes about this
earlier books were diagnostic books, looking at where we are.
System itself is irredeemable and we have to"
Rob: Who are these people who succumb to or embrace sublime madness.
Vaclav Havel-- people who have the capacity to live in truth-- to understand the configurations of power and name them
Manufactured candidates are presented to us and we are supposed to vote for them" this is not politics. It is antipolitics. A systems that has long since stopped being democratic.
Legally and physically, especially with the rise of militarized police forces-- the facade of our constitutional rights, of a functioning democracy, of electoral politics is a facade-- underneath it is completely hollow.
Sublime madness-- the ability to hold fast to a moral imp erative even if it seems that there's no hope, even if it seems that things have gotten worse.
Finally you rebel in moments of extremity not for what you can achieve but for who you can become.
Rob: "not for what you can achieve but for who you can become" talk about that more please.
facing death-- you stand up to affirm life. Even if you fail, the succeeding generations say that you tried. I speak as a father"
In moments like this, to be innocent is to be
Rob: I met your daughter-- where's she at on this?
I want my children to be kind of schooled in that kind of social responsibility- and active campaigns of dissent. I consider that part of their education.
Rob: Can you talk more about this, because I think this is not something we talk about much
You don't teach children this-- you show them. My son saw me booed.
Rob: What else can parents do?
You have to spend time with kids when they get older.
Rob: Talk about "remaining grounded in a print-based society.
if you're grappling with issues of how power works, human nature, you're going to have to get that out of books. That loss of a print-based culture has been devastated
need to reed Marx, Sheldon Wolin, Hannah Arrendt, Chomsky" Chekov
I worry that" especially as the zeitgeist of the age continues, books are relegated to a very marginal place.
Rob: One thing you do in the book is to go through the anatomy of the stages that lead to revolution. Could you describe it.
Crane Brinton, Davies
an elite cabal begins to plunder" wall street firms-- Lehman Brothers, Goldman" you see that at the end of a society that's in terminal decline. You have a significant section of the bourgeoisie and even the nobility turn on the power..
symptoms of system that no longer functions and exists by pillaging its own.
In the final stage of capitalism, as Marx grasped, capitalist forces are cannibalizing forces that make capitalism possible.
Joseph Tainer, Redmond-- have written
We're replicating that final rot of empire.
On top of this is added the disaster of climate change and the refusal of co
Rob: How does that fit in to stages of revolution
those whose expectations are taken from them start revolutions
sons and daughters who were expecting to enter the middle class-- this was taken from them.
Defection, finally of security forces-- to protect a discredited elite-- no revolution is successful unless significant forces of security refuse to protect the regime-- seen in russia, nicaragua
It's about the recognition of the illegitimacy of a system.
Rob: Explain Gramsci's Interregnum
period where you've lost faith in the ruling elites (congress's 7% approval level)
that period where have not yet articulated a new vision.
Rob: You say, "No revolutionist can challenge power if he or she does not understand how power works. "
How does power work?
We live in what Sheldon Wolin calls inverted totalitarianism-- expressed in the anonymity of the corporate state-- corporate forces that purport to pay fealty" but have seized. all the level.
Nelson Betancourt Why do people wait to act until conditions change, instead of acting to create the change?
Beacause most people have a very hard time grasping that the structures around them are as fragile as they are. The STASI structures appeared to be in place" when structures of power like that crumble they appear to crumble with dizzying speed. Situations of disintegrations are not seen until the final moment, so people function as though those systems of power are eternal. I saw that in war, in places like Sarajevo, where people couldn't see that there was war coming. it's a kind of emotional blindness.
Kevin Tully How does a revolution empower, cultivate or motivate Middle Class Americans to participate?
The middle class is shrinking rapidly-- sons and daughters, burdened with debt can only get low wage jobs in most cases" we're outsourcing even professional jobs
gunnar kullenberg:What do you believe are the most important issues facing the world today -- ultimately, what is it that truly matters?
...and can anything realistically be done about them?
The most important issue facing all of us is the destruction being wrought by corporate power on a global level-- if we don't deal with it we're going to have to consider the end of the human species.. We've shifted from an empire of production to an empire of destruction
It's really about destroying corporate power.
Rob: Psychopaths and psych-- what are your thoughts
They are psychopathic and you say that ideology disseminated through popular culture-- reality shows-- primacy for self at expense of others, ability to carry out acts of deceit and in the end you get fleeting fame and money. The culture at large disdains the communal and peddles the primacy of the cult of the self. We have to rebuild the communal== the sense that it's not about our self it's about our neighbor.
We have created an economic system that has destroyed possibilities
Rob: ABCD Festival is about story and individual resources as communities' greatest asset"
any totalitarian system seeks to destroy history, to destroy memory
We have to understand how we got here, which involves understanding the social and economic and corporate history"
Robert S. Becker: Why, if things are moving close to disruption, isn't there more traditional evidence, esp. in the conflicted west (strikes, boycotts, street protests)? Since inequality seems insufficient, what triggers major disruptions?
Usually a crisis-- if you take yugoslavia, hyperinflation, which was also true with Weimar. You see protests with black lives, matter, $15 minimum wage and anti-fracking-- usually you need a crisis.
Rob: do you see a crisis coming
either climate change or economic collapse.
Kevin Tully What will the country look like after the revolution?
Kevin Shults What is your informed, worst-case nightmare for our country if the corporate-governance cabal is allowed to exist and grow unchecked? What does that nightmare look like for the majority of us in the middle and lower class?
Robert S. Becker: How will "revolutions" be like and unlike what came before? Is our notion of "revolution" not perhaps in need of major rethinking, considering the power held by the government and the arsenals held by potential, rightwing rebels?
How does the Progressive Era provide frameworks, even strategies, for systemic change? Or doesn't it?
Nelson Wight what do you do to avoid burnout and get recharged?
I spend two hours a day at the gym. I don't have a TV, don't do social media-- I retreat into a very private world where the intrusion of the wider world doesn't enter.
intotheabyss AKA Lois Gagnon How much of an impact does the online alternative press is having on public opinion and in countering corporate media's imperialist propaganda?
I don't think very much-- because we tend to gravitate to our own online ideological ghetto.
Rob:Havel says: powerlessness is our strength. What does that mean?
our ability to articulate a truth about the system-- get people to recognize, so once they do they will no longer defend a discredited elite.
Kevin Shults What is your informed, worst-case nightmare for our country if the corporate-governance cabal is allowed to exist and grow unchecked? What does that nightmare look like
This creeping tyranny-- criminalizing of dissent, end of habeus corpus". will lead us to a very frightening corporate tyranny where we've already seen our most basic civil liberties already stripped from us"
Given the configurations of the American landscape that may be where we're going.
Rob: Getting police to side with revolution
protest at whitehouse gate I covered-- police whispered to you and others
Police whispered "keep protesting" as they tightened the restraints on our wrists
Rob: did you see other examples
city of Denton-- police congratulate.
Daniel Geery: Difference between liberal and progressive?
the difference between a liberal and radical will not question the virtues of power.
a radical will step beyond criticism
on media you're not allowed to the system of power itself
Rob: how would you attack power itself
you can't attack power unless you understand it.
Rob: What did you learn from sub commander Marcos of the Zappatistas
they broke the old, calcified Marxist left, like ANC started as violent movement, became non-violent-- started with tiny number, seven or eight people-- were communal
building alternative structures by which communities can sustain themselves
Rob: What comes after the rebellion-- that is sustainable
break monopolies, declare war on the fossil fuel industry, radically reduce or military footprint,
We have to take control of our own resources and make sure they're not diverted.
Rob: what would we have
energy independence, sustainable agriculture, have to confront the animal agriculture industry-- that's why I'm a vegan in large part. we have to ask significant questions.
Rob: Who are your living heroes-- george orwell and James Baldwin
CHomsky, Ralph Nader
Notes I did not use: (from reading the book and listening to or viewing talks and interviews)
Wiebo Ludwig first anti-fracking activist
Assault on mechanisms of power by global speculators
Lethal assault by police on unarmed citizens.
Mechanisms for incremental and piecemeal reform are not there.
WE have the facade of electoral politics.
We are in a time which Antonio Gramsci calls an interregnum. We've lost faith in the mechanisms by which we controlled our own fate. But we have yet to articulate another vision.
We are seeing, through
Black lives matter
struggle to raise the minimum wage to 15
These movements that are challenging the entire power structure to create change.
Significant change is not longer going to come through Dems, Republican party, the courts, the press-- but by building organizations of mass resistance.
severance from a print based culture-- effects
"The dynamics of revolution-- violence is often a part of revolution but revolution can only succeed by appealing to the conscience of those within the structures of power who see that the regime is discredited and not worth defending. At that point, no regime... can sustain itself."
OVer and over the state is carrying out activities with a kind of willful blindness even when citizens rise up. So you see it with the black lives movement and yet the police continue to kill with impunity.
And that's very dangerous" and the longer that continues the more it builds this inchoate and legitimate rage.
For me rebellion is a moral imperative.
teaching in prison
We have to look at rebellion because we may not succeed.
It is incumbent for those of us who care about justice to rise up, because otherwise we become complicit.
Rebellion is carried out not finally for what we can achieve but for who it allows us to become.
It requires an act of faith.
Those who rise up are endowed with sublime madness.
Mumia Abu Jamal, Julian Assange, Jeremy Hammond, Lynne Stewart
The only reliable people who stand up to tyranny are not those who say it shouldn't be done or this oughtn't to be done but those who say, "I can't."
Buy old junk cars, block streets, take battery out and walk away.
We have no time left.
I don't fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.
Facade of power and how it looks as if revolution is impossible. I was in the Stasi state, which was the most sophisticated security and surveillance state until our own. -- and it appeared monolithic-- experience with Stasi
Yet that state crumbled and the way it crumbled was enough citizens rising up nonviolently to name the state for what it was, and those tasked with carrying out coercion and violence to protect a discredited elite refusing to do so. And we are seeing that.
Police who were arresting protesters told them-- keep protesting.
Devolution of our political system.
Protesters in Denton TX-- police shook hands with protesters, then released them.
I am interested in overthrowing the corporate state.
oppose taunting the police
most of the egregious acts of violence were carried out by the white shirts.
I should not have never even disparaged the white shirts. What will break the system are enough people of conscience within the system-- the civil service, the police, people like Edward Snowden, who finally take the risk to defect to our side.
These facades of power crumble with such a dizzying speed that you can't even fathom what's happened.
WE have to remain rooted in print.
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