Chris Hedges lives in the political wilderness formerly known as the Left with Cornel West, Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader. As such, they are above the petty squabbles of day to day affairs, and inhabit a high place where they can presumably see for miles. Today’s post, like several before it, sees Trump coming for miles, last week as a demagogue and today guilty of pre-McCarthyism. Indeed Hedges and many on the left , like the Philip K. Dick novel, Minority Report, are able to see way into the future and anticipate actions of the PEOTUS before he takes office.
I call bullshit on all that. However, given Hedges’ unmatched pedigree, his contentions deserve to be considered. Son of a Vermont Presbyterian minister, he learned to preach from Coleman Brown, a descendant of abolitionist, John Brown. He earned a Masters of Divinity from Harvard. From his bio at Truthdig, where his column appears on Mondays:
Hedges began his career reporting on the Falkland War from Argentina for National Public Radio. He went on to cover the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua for five years, first for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio and later The Dallas Morning News. After six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later.
In the fight against right wing authoritarians, he has been my guru, always citing the pantheon of social justice thought, including Malcom X. So excuse me if I take a moment to reflect on Hedges’ words, as he appears to return to the forest of political irrelevance by horribly also embracing authoritarianism.
Rather than go into the ministry, Hedges spent twenty years as a journalist, witnessing US violence against regimes in Central America and the Middle East. He was in Berlin when the wall came down. He’s written over a dozen books, which stand on the shoulders of those who’ve come before him, largely codifying the morality of the Left, abandoned as it may currently be, politically.
I’ve watched a lot my heroes, like Matt Taibbi, drink the Koolaid, lose their perspective and wither. Hedges was finally ordained, a few years ago, but continues writing, speaking, getting arrested and working with prisoners. His body of work in field of contemporary social justice is without peer, so I hate to lose him.
From Hedges in October:
In the 1990s I watched an impotent, nominally democratic liberal elite in the former Yugoslavia fail to understand and act against the population’s profound economic distress. The fringe demagogues whom the political and educated elites dismissed as buffoons—Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudman—rode an anti-liberal tide to power…
Any system of prolonged political paralysis and failed liberalism vomits up monsters.
That’s the problem with Hedges: you can’t dismiss him because he synthesizes Arendt, Popper etc… into these magnificent heavy metal licks.
Fascism, at its core, is an amorphous and incoherent ideology that perpetuates itself by celebrating a grotesque hypermasculinity, elements of which are captured in Trump’s misogyny.
And so we descend into demonization, unlike anything I’ve ever seen Hedges do.
The Democratic and Republican parties may be able to disappear Trump, but they won’t disappear the phenomena that gave rise to Trump. And unless the downward spiral is reversed—unless the half of the country now living in poverty is lifted out of poverty—the cynical game the elites are playing will backfire. Out of the morass will appear a genuine “Christian” fascist endowed with political skill, intelligence, self-discipline, ruthlessness and charisma. The monster the elites will again unwittingly elevate, as a foil to keep themselves in power, will consume them. There would be some justice in this if we did not all have to pay.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Hedges for years and live in North Carolina, test tube for the ALEC-driven, Koch brothers-financed, fascist neoliberal experiment in social engineering, but I realized some years ago they were trying to kill us. And Trump is nothing but NC totalitarianism writ large.
Given my somewhat unique perspective, I’m prepared to take Hedges at his word: and with stories about how Mini-Trump, an avid hunter, wanted a Navy Seal for SecInt, it’s not hard to see PEOTUS as a monster.
The Trump administration will hand our Christian jihadists a platform to champion a repugnant religious chauvinism that fuses the symbols and language of the Christian religion with American capitalism, imperialism and white supremacy.
I contend Hedges has seen into the future, where a very short war will be fought and won by the Christofascists, just as is currently and will be for some years in NC. After all, they not only have more guns, but 4X4s. Hedges wrote a great book about Christians, but I can’t recall him calling them jihadists until now. And given the rapprochement with Russia, imperialism seems less likely.
Hedges is among the least hopeful. I’ve been a doomer for years, but I don’t live in NJ and visit prisons regularly, so my outlook is not so Dickensian.