Tag Archives: Chris Hedges

American Fascists: The Christian Right and The War on America by Chris Hedges

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American Fascists: The Christian Right and The War on America by Chris Hedges, graduate from seminary at Harvard Divinity School and two decade war correspondent, points out the elephant in the room. Much of the country is aware of the extreme Christian Right’s agenda for dominating our government, education, private life, and foreign policy. In short, their aim is to turn the US into a Christian theocracy and thereby enforce a Christian global rule. Their buffoonish rhetoric would be laughable if it wasn’t for the significant influence they’ve seized. Hedges gives an in depth look into the inner working of the Christian Right. He attends conversion seminars, conventions, and interviews current and past members. His main argument is that the figureheads of the Christian Right are purposely distorting Christianity to serve their grab for raw power and institutionalize a Christo-fascist state.

The acceptance of Islamophobia, creationism as a viable science, and blurring definition between church and state are real victories of the Christian Right’s attacks on rational argument and a free society. The real importance of this book is that Hedges addresses the idea of tolerance. How tolerant should a free society be towards intolerance? The question is paradoxical. On one hand if we fully tolerate groups with a fascist agenda we risk having them ending our open society. Yet if we are intolerant and oppress their freedom of speech, then we will have ultimately lost.

Voltaire is quoted saying “I don’t agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Being that I have highly unpopular views, freedom of speech is a civil liberty I refuse to live without. For that reason I agree with Voltaire’s view of universal tolerance. But when a fascist group, be it the Christian Right or any leftist group, is actively trying to instill intolerance it will be our duty to never become passively tolerant. That is the reason I respect this book, it is a call for every anti-fascist person to realize there are fascist movements in this country and to stand up and denounce them for what they are, American Fascists.

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in an American flag and carrying a cross.”

– Sinclair Lewis

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War is a force that gives us meaning by Chris Hedges

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Chis Hedges was a war correspondent for the New York Times in many of the defining warzones of our times: the Balkans, Central America, and the Middle East. He has reported on wars from the inside, surviving ambushes, diving for cover alongside his military escorts, and witnessing the aftermath of every atrocity imaginable. The psychological scars from knowing the face of mass produced death are still with him. In his travels around the world he’s found a recurring dynamic at work, the addiction of soldiers and citizens to the ecstasy of war. Hedges covers this topic exclusively in his book, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.

This book is journalistic, philosophical, and part social critique. It is effectiveness rests in analyzing the myth of war. He explains how it’s created, who perpetuates it, how it’s disseminated in society, what function it serves, its psychological effects, how it’s maintained, and what happens when it’s finally punctured by the undeniable reality of war. He cites his own experiences and the accounts of soldiers and citizens in war to illustrate where and how these recurring themes unfold in real life. These accounts include graphic accounts of murder, rape, torture, suicide, genocide that deflate the glorious lie which herds generations of men into battle. Yet amongst all this carnage there is a lust for combat and its incomparable rush that fills the emptiness felt by entire nations. No longer is anyone insignificant in the theater of war, we are elevated to the calling of destiny, and to push back against it feels almost impossible. To avoid its intoxicating effects is outright hopeless.

I have often wondered how people I’ve greatly respected for their intelligence and wisdom, people I have personally known, would become incapable of discussing war in any rational way. Their responses on every aspect of the War on Terror would be variations of the empty, clichéd reasons parroted from mainstream media; “they hate us for our freedom”, “Muslims are evil”, and “torture is permissible when we do it.” I wouldn’t accept such absurd reasons for going to war, and so I turned away from the news and began reading writers like Noam Chomsky who gave a grimmer picture of what’s going on. When I approached people with this newfound evidence they’d dismiss it all and hold tighter to robotic ways of thinking. I increasingly became an outsider, an intellectual minority. The whole time I’ve been wondering what this hypnotic like way of thinking is. Could it simply be effective propaganda? The answer is that war is a force that gives us meaning. It is a longing for death that is inside us all. We decorate and justify it with patriotic and glorious gestures, but that death drive is always there. This is a work that lays bare our naked desire for death and recognition. Nobody in our generation can afford to miss out on this highly enlightening work.

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Empire of Illusion: The end of literacy and the triumph of spectacle by Chris Hedges

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Chris Hedges presents the social gutter of America in Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. Hedges argues that we have become a disposable culture. We throw away our education, environment, and values in exchange for stereotypes that make us feel empowered. This massive stereotype replaces reality, never explains it, and is corporate owned.

Hedges visits the sources of popular culture to let it speak for itself. He interviews people in the porn industry, pro-wrestling, reality televisions shows, psychiatrists who claim to “engineer happiness”, and others. Most people believe they understand their culture because they’re bombarded by media images, but what goes on behind the scenes, away from the glamour and spotlight, will disturb any sane person.

A pattern of exploitation becomes clear; an agenda becomes obvious. An intellectual and moral wasteland sets us up for a totalitarian state. We cannot argue for ourselves if we lack the rhetorical skills and social conviction to do so. We cannot be and think for ourselves if our self-image is determined by a board of directors trying to make a maximum profit.

Knowledge is confused with how we are made to feel. Commercial brands are mistaken for expressions of individuality. And in this precipitous decline of values and literacy, among those who cannot read and those who have given up reading, fertile ground for a new totalitarianism is being seeded.”

Hedges stays objective and doesn’t resort to a “holier than thou” manner. His reflections are insightful and lead readers to make their own judgments. There will surely be areas in which readers will disagree with varying degrees, it’s impossible not to since this book covers such a broad range of contemporary culture, but in the least he’ll persuade you to challenge your ideas. I recommend this book to anyone who is socially aware and is interested in the ugly un-reality that is peddled to us all.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize recipient. His other works include War is a Force that gives us meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

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