Chris Hedges on crackdown on dissent - then and now

Discussion in 'Civil Rights & Privacy' started by Lisa Simeone, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    On January 9th, Pulitzer-Prize-winner Chris Hedges spoke at the Occupation at Freedom Plaza about one of his books, "Death of the Liberal Class."
    He compared the World War I-era crackdown on dissent to what's happening today.
    Complete audio at the link, but I took these notes and also did some verbatim transcript; look for the quotation marks. -Lisa

    Remarks by Chris Hedges on The Decline of the Liberal Class
    Monday, January 9, 2012, at Freedom Plaza in Washington DC

    Lead-up to World War I - first use of mass propaganda, understanding of mass psychology, Walter Lippman esp. advised Woodrow Wilson on taking this approach rather than the heavy-handed laws like the Espionage Act, which also were used

    In the letters and books from that time, you see this despair that so many people have been seduced by this mass propaganda -- even the intellectual class -- that so few people have been able to hold out against the sway -- you have a film division making trashy movies, a news division, every newspaper has to be pro-war or it gets shut down, manufactured atrocities, and the press was far more diversified then than it is today -- but all had to run this pro-war propaganda

    it was very easy to marginalize these progressive groups, these radical groups

    almost immediately after the war, you see the "dreaded Hun" becomes the "dreaded Red"

    the harsh measures of the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act are used to jail, deport, even execute people

    publications get shut down

    Committee for Public Information, the Creel Committee - after the war, they all go to Madison Ave & Wall Street -- Goebbels learned from these men, carried a copy of one of their books around with him

    the cult of the self, hedonism, is then trumpeted ever after

    the self-sacrifice that made those social progressive movements popular is derided and replaced by this corporate culture - it wasn't American culture, it's corporate culture

    the Red Scare -- this kind of permanent war psychosis – McCarthyism

    empire of consumption

    Politicians like Obama speak in that "feel your pain" language, but they have walked out on every basic value of liberalism - Clinton being the poster child for it - Clinton pushed through NAFTA, the greatest betrayal of the working class in this country since the Taft-Hartley Act, he deregulated the banks - Canada didn't have the crisis we had because they never tore down the firewalls between investment & commercial banks, Clinton destroyed welfare, Clinton deregulated the FCC, so the corporate consolidation of the media took place

    "It culminates with Obama, a figure who essentially codifies the destruction of int'l and domestic law put in place by the Bush admin, he hasn't found it in him to restore habeas corpus, he supports the FISA reform act which retroactively under our Constitution makes legal what has always been illegal - the warrantless wiretapping, monitoring, and eavesdropping of 10s of millions of Americans; of course he has pushed through legislation to make it legal to assassinate American citizens, the military detentions act, which also just went through.

    "These are utterly terrifying measures of state control - and anybody who understands how despotic or totalitarian regimes work - go back and look at what was happening in Germany in 1933, and I think this is what leads intellectuals like Noam Chomsky to compare our present state to Weimar - the first thing they do is destroy the legal system - there's actually quite a fine book - memoir by Sebastian Haffner, 'Defying Hitler' - he was a warrior in the law courts in '33 and he saw precisely what the fascists did - that you walk in and essentially make legal what before was illegal - and at that point the state has the control to use those measures as their will, as they have already with environmentalists and others -- there's circumstantial evidence that Homeland Security was tangentially involved in the shut-down of the 18 Occupy - you end up with a situation whereby in the name of the 'war on terror', in the name of 'homeland security', in the name of national security, we can all end up like Bradley Manning.

    "And that's precisely where we've come to today, it's why for me the Occupy movement is absolutely vital, because the only weapon we have left is civil disobedience. I don't have to tell anyone in this crowd that jail is not a pleasant experience - as I think the great moral voices - Wendell Berry, or Bill McKibben, and others have discovered, this is the only weapon left. Wendell 77 years old - occupies along with others the governor's office in Kentucky to protest mountaintop removal -- Wendell says going to jail is more time than I care to donate to the U.S. government, but frankly that is all we have left. That is why this movement for me is the last best hope to protect what is left of our democracy, and finally to save our ecosystem, because unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force as Karl Marx understood - turns everything into a commodity, human beings become commodities, the natural world becomes a commodity -- it exploits until exhaustion or collapse, which is why the environmental crisis is intimately twinned to the economic crisis" - latest scientific work, we have very little time left.

    "So in many ways, it's not hyperbolic to say that this movement is on many, many profound levels a fight for life, and it's why I say I enthusiastically and passionately support you and what you're doing, and -- I have a court, I'm trying to ration my court dates, I was arrested in front of Goldman Sachs -- and when I get through that, then I promise to get another one. Thanks."
  2. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Great article.

    I feel the same way about the occupy movement, btw.
  3. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Even for people who don't support the Occupy movement, what he says about dissent and despotic regimes is important.
  4. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Very true.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    How the Occupy movement is treated is a good indicator of how the rest of will be treated if have something to protest about.

    It's incredibly presumptuous of them to claim that they represent 99% of us, and it's hilarious when they get one in front of a camera who has no clue as to why he's there, but it's important that they be allowed to have their say.

    2012 promises to be a very contentious year. :D
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  6. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Precisely. We've been saying this from the beginning. Watch out quickly the provisions of the NDAA are rolled out in 2012.
    Sunny Goth and Elizabeth Conley like this.
  7. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    Yep. They're rebels without a clue, but how they're treated is an indicator of to what extent all our Constitutional Rights have been whittled away.
  8. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Maybe we'll all finally meet up in Gitmo! :D
  9. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Forget the Occupy stuff. That's not the point of Hedges' talk or his book. He was speaking at an Occupation so he talked about Occupy at the end. I did a transcript because I did a transcript.

    The important stuff -- and what his book is about -- is at the beginning through middle. Dissent in this country and the crushing of it. How it's been done historically, and how it's being done now. The similarities between the 1930s and now. The same things we talk about all the time on TUG. The same things Sinclair Lewis observed and wrote about in the '30s. The use of mass propaganda. The effectiveness of mass propaganda. The failure of "just the facts, ma'am" in swaying people. The warning signs of worse violations to come.

    We never know who's reading these pages. There are many readers who aren't members. A lot of this stuff might be new to them. Will be new to them. That's the point.
    Sunny Goth likes this.

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