Today’s sermon is a guest post from Todd Freeman, I am approving it not necessarily because it is a part of the neo-Buddhist belief system, if asked in a court room setting I would say it is not. But as a part of our series on critical thinking skills, you have to watch it to see the biases that Chris hedges succumbs to despite over an hour of cogent and well thought out arguments. Ultimately it is a result of his experience as a journalist of revolutionary movements instead of as a participant.
Because of his historical attachment to the more romanticized aspects of revolutionary struggle, mostly due it’s history of successes, he finds the idea of investing with integrity. to be something akin to something the neoliberal elite would embrace. So his casual and slightly arrogent dismissal of it, primarily because he feels like it would be a capitulation instead of revolution, seems to me at least, to be a result of conflating strategy with tactics. There are significant and large differences between them. Before I get too far into this I just want to put a disclaimer up front. This was written at 3am because I felt the incredible urge to let the world know that chris hedges is wrong about something, after eating a whole lot of High Fructose CornSyrup (HFCS) which is not normal for me.
So back to ChrisH here. The most astounding part, to me, about the timing of this, is that earlier, almost at the beginning of his talk he mentions some very poinginet observations about previous successful revolutions vs ones that failed. He mentions that in successful revolutions a large portion of the ruling class has to “defect”, before that however, significant portions of the “private interests” lets call them, of the upper echelon of society has to “defect”. I will explain what I mean by defect, but first I want to explain what makes the difference that exists in this seeming homogeneous group referred to as the 1%. CH does refer to this but does not come out and say it. That this group is selected for because of their predatory nature which is promoted in a hyper-competitive ideology which is social Darwinism made up in the image of markets. 2 broad strategies typically are able to rise to the top, one which trump does not actually represent, but his “real” supporters do. Trump himself is of the 2nd variety, he is an opportunist that is willing to get his hands dirty. So a narcissistic opportunist. Which is fortunate because they have limits. The people who empower him however, are on the antisocial narcissist variety. When confronted with something like decades in prison or the loss of their fortunes, one group will be likely to defect to save their own ass, so they are willing to lose major portions of their fortunes to avoid prison. The other side will fight to the death, by which I mean sending younger men to wars to distract and disrupt those attempts. Because loss of their fortune is all they have because the materialism has replaced their humanity, they have placed the value of property over the value of people, and to loose it is worse than loosing their own life because in their mind it represents the loss of their own life and prison is just the coffin. “All is fair in love and war” they tell themselves, because they never had a realistic concept of love in the first place.
Anyway, I am ranting now, see what too much HFCS at 3am does ?
While reading the rest of this listen to:
and just replace the word blood with lead.
We’ll never get free
Lamb to the slaughter
What you gon’ do
When there’s lead in the water
The price of your greed
Is your son and your daughter
What you gon’ do
When there’s lead in the water
So yes, back to why CH is WRONG! that’s right kids, someone is wrong on the internet! Serious business. He seems to think that the defectors are going to start meeting in pubs or someshit ? Like really guy ? c’mon. That is some romanticized shit. Sure sure, say I am just a debbie downer and its just the depression talking, My problem is that I wasn’t hugged enough as a child. We can’t win without blind optimism or someshit. Go … tell it to your dog.
They won’t defect to a guillotine. You have to give them something they can use to rally behind and slowly become comfortable even with the idea. So get out of here with that vanguardist bullshit.
Sure green washing has felt like a raw deal in the face of what climate change has wrought, but you think for a second that a hard “brexit” for the US, isn’t exactly what authoritarians that started this shit in the first place want ? IT’S THE METHOD BY WHICH THEY SEIZE POWER. Like seriously. This is the part where I laugh about how little people actually understand russian history from the 90’s to now, always some part of their distant past. How did putin get to where he is ? From where I see it, what is happening in the US, is just a replay.
So the PROPER way to “do the hard work” which at least CH refers to, is by creating those spaces and alliances where actions speak louder than words. Which, and it’s ok to laugh at this, is in a large part a branding issue. So what I am saying is, “ethical capitalism” is actually a required first step of “The hard work”. Ok now, finally, what does he mean by “defect”. Well you may have noticed, with globalization and all, that supply chains are quite complex. And the way the system is now. Unless you are on enough drugs to think that somehow you can take on the armed forces, or that it would be a good idea and not potentially lead accidentally to what we will refer to as “live operation of the missile defense shield” you have to recognize that you need resources which are organized, into non-violent struggle of sustained civil disobedience. Which CH himself says IS REQUIRED. So these thing still need resources, and in the world today, that is still obtained with money. Not blind rage, that only leads to the wrong path, which history is shown that the means create the ends, the ends do not justify the means. No matter what ends you aim for, if you choose the wrong means, the ends will change. I call it “The invisible hand of fascism” The the flip side of the coin, to other’s it is the true face of late stage capitalism. You have to give the defectors and off-ramp and you will only be able to differentiate between the defectors and fake defectors, aka wolves in sheep’s clothing, by their actions. So for a little while this place may start to look a bit like Russia. But so long as people understand the differences between strategy and tactics, which is that strategy thinks LONG TERM and encompasses the whole battlefield (Would a battle field earth joke be funny here or too much ?) where as tactics are of limited range and scope, they only work for small or short term objectives, such as rallying or signaling, but without an overarching strategy, it’s like an octopus on roller skates, you don’t know if it’s making progress or just flailing around until it runs out of energy (is this a reference to peak oil, or climate change ? You decide! it’s like a choose your own adventure. Isn’t that exciting ? Karen laughed.)
So therefore and in conclusion, it’s a multi stage process and sorry you can’t just jump to the end.
Building coalitions takes time, and a lot more acceptance to a diversity of tactics than arrogance that because capitalism cause these problems, that it somehow means you cannot dismantle the masters house with the masters tools. I am a repairman, and that saying never made sense to me, you totally can. That’s what is causing it to self destruct in the first place. So while he feels that many acts of philanthropy are meaningless, it’s because, as the title of this article says, he doesn’t have a solid grasp of the difference between strategy and tactics, and feels he would loose credibility if he was seen to be capitulating in any way to capitalism, instead of trying to make appeals for resources. I can understand that, and this is why we embrace a diversity of tactics on the left. It’s not like this one thing will suddenly cause me to dismiss him and his ideas wholly. And (I started with an and to piss of the grammar nazi’s, must be all this talk of revolution, so I can’t resist rustlin some jimmies) his response to this article if he ever sees it, is probably not going to be a condemnation of me or my ideas, well maybe some because this wouldn’t really be the left if there wasn’t any disagreement, those places where everyone conforms to a demagogue don’t work the way you want. That is the difference between lenninism and stalinism, BECAUSE LIKE NONE SEEMS TO KNOW THE DAMN DIFFERENCE, some jackasses like to pretend like Russia is still communist, (I am looking at you, 16th CPC, too obvious ) so the distinction would be lost on them. He encapsulates this well at 1:23 when he says “Vasily Grossman quoted in ‘life and fate’: ““This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil, struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.””
That is why we are on the same side, because the dalai lama said it might be necessary.