In this two-part series from The Real News Network, Paul Jay interviews veteran journalist Chris Hedges, who has reported for many of America’s elite newspapers, most recently as the Mideast Bureau Chief of the New York Times.
In this discussion, Jay and Hedges focus on the elite and their capture and corruption of power.
From The Real News Network:
The Pathology of the Rich – Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself, part 1
From the transcript:
PAUL JAY: This is a piece you wrote called “Let’s Get This Class War Started”, which I guess is a play on Pink’s song, is it? “Let’s Get This Party Started”. The quote is: “The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults.” What are you talking about?
HEDGES: Because we don’t understand the pathology of the rich. We’ve been saturated with cultural images and a kind of cultural deification of wealth and those who have wealth. We are being—you know, they present people of immense wealth as somehow leaders—oracles, even. And we don’t grasp internally what it is an oligarchic class is finally about or how venal and morally bankrupt they are.
We need to recover the language of class warfare and grasp what is happening to us, and we need to shatter this self-delusion that somehow if, as Obama says, we work hard enough and study hard enough, we can be one of them. The fact is, the people who created the economic mess that we’re in were the best-educated people in the country—Larry Summers, a former president of Harvard, and others. The issue is not education. The issue is greed.
And I, unfortunately, had the experience of being shipped off to a private boarding school at the age of ten as a scholarship student and live—I was one of 16 kids on scholarship, and I lived among the super-rich and I watched them. And I think much of my hatred of authority and my repugnance for the ruling elite comes from having been among them for so long.
Credibility of the Ruling Elite is Being Shredded – Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself, part 2
From the transcript:
JAY: So you wrote a column in Truthdig. The title of it is “Our Invisible Revolution”, and you quote, to start with, Alexander Berkman: “Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?”
And let me add to that. We’ve had these enormous revelations recently, WikiLeaks and Snowden, and Hammond’s leaks of the Stratfor files. And it should, one would think–and enough of this has gotten into the mainstream media, you know, enough of the revelations, that you would have had, you’d think, a fundamental shaking of masses of people’s belief in the American narrative. But not so much. Like, we’ve not really seen a change in the political landscape at the mass scale that one might have thought.
HEDGES: Well, this was what Berkman–this essay is called “The Idea Is the Thing”–is playing out, that as long as the ideas that sustain the power elite have currency or relevancy, the institutions that hold up that system of power are unassailable. Once those ideas are utterly discredited, those institutions collapse.
And Berkman draws the analogy of heating water on a kettle, that you can’t make a revolution, you can’t decide that next Monday is the revolution. Revolutions are organic. And they take place through this change within the culture whereby the ideas that sustain a particular ruling class are so thoroughly discredited that the ruling class is finally only able to sustain itself through the use of force and violence, that it’s kind of–it resorts to the most naked forms of repression to hold on to power, which, as you can see with the rise of the security and surveillance state, we are moving towards.
And so what you have in a pre-revolutionary society, which I think we’re in, is a kind of invisible revolution, whereby the state, the ideology of the state, in this case capitalism, the fiction of American democracy, larger and larger numbers of people–and I think we are also seeing this across the political spectrum–wake up and understand the hollowness of the language that’s used to describe their own economic, political, and social reality.
What’s important is that in this process you need to present an alternative vision, an alternative language, so that people can orient themselves toward something. Otherwise, any kind of eruption is nihilistic. Without that kind of vision, ultimately it doesn’t represent any kind of a threat to the ruling elite, because it doesn’t drive towards something. And I think that, you know, opinion polls point this out in terms of, like, the approval rating of Congress, which is below 10 percent, the utter disgust at the inability of the centers of power to respond to the most basic concerns and needs of the citizenry. All of that is there.