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Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer Assess the Merits of a Life of Virtue in a Careerist's World

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Reprinted from Truthdig

Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer in Philadelphia in July.
Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer in Philadelphia in July.
(Image by (Joshua Scheer))
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In this week's episode of "Scheer Intelligence" on KCRW, Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer speaks with Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges about the rewards of Hedges' unorthodox career as a minister and journalist covering the disintegration of societies on multiple continents, his working habits, and the consequences of elite neglect of the forces that turn civilized populations barbarian.

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The two spoke in Philadelphia in late July as Democrats pilloried Republicans and their presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

"The Nazis before 1933 were buffoonish figures, as were Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia," Hedges remarked. "And as Trump is. But when these buffoonish figures take power, they become extremely frightening."

"They are frightening," Scheer replied. But "what you're saying is they didn't come from nowhere."

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"Right," said Hedges. "The Nazis came out of the collapse of Weimar. And Radovan Karadzic came out of the economic collapse of Yugoslavia."

"And Donald Trump came out of the collapse of the American economy," added Scheer.

"There you go," said Hedges. "That's how fascism -- and voting for Hillary Clinton's not going to make it better. We may get rid of Trump; we're not getting rid of the phenomenon. Trump is not the phenomenon. Trump is responding to the phenomenon. Unless we radically change that phenomenon, we're finished."

What is the phenomenon? Neoliberalism, a regime of economic policies supported and embodied by the Clintons that destroy the supply of jobs and good wages that ensures social order by satisfying a public's basic needs.


--Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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Transcript:

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of "Scheer Intelligence," where the intelligence comes from my guests. And I certainly have an intelligent one now, and it's part of a series I call "American originals"--people that have somehow come out of our crazy-quilt of a culture and actually have integrity, have an interesting point of view. And Chris Hedges is certainly such a person. We're going to talk about events of -- we're doing this in Philadelphia at the time of the Democratic convention. Chris has been leading demonstrations, as well as writing about it. I've been covering this for Truthdig. And we're going to get to that. But I'd like to pick up on the theme of the American original, and basically address one question, [which] is: Why didn't you sell out? The culture leads people to have careerism trump everything. You certainly were the good student, you ended up at Harvard Divinity School. The other day, in one of these demonstrations, you wore your clerical collar --

Chris Hedges: They asked me to; I don't usually wear it.

RS: OK, but you actually -- and as I understand it, in order to be in the prisons, teaching prisoners, it's convenient for you to have finished your degree. But you did finish; you're a Presbyterian minister. And you've certainly written bestselling books; you've been enormously successful. I remember going to see "The Hurt Locker" movie, and it begins with a quote from you, from the book "War [Is a Force That] Gives Us Meaning." And you know, you have it all, and yet you have -- I don't want to get too mushy here, but you have a heavy dose of integrity. And I want to begin with something I know about you and your relation to your father. So let's begin there: I mean, the making of Chris Hedges.

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Robert Scheer is editor in chief of the progressive Internet site Truthdig. He has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. He conducted the famous Playboy magazine interview in which Jimmy (more...)
 

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