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Chris Hedges is a Public Menace

The Southwest Political Report

August 29, 2017

By Matt Sedillo

 

 

If 500 Nazis are allowed to march unharassed, 10,000 will march the following the month. Whether Nazis, Confederates, Minutemen, Christian Crusaders, whatever particular strand of white supremacy or combined strands of hate brings the hatemonger to the party they must be confronted immediately.

The self deputizing, vigilante, already quasi-death squads must be confronted. They must be forced to crawl back to their basements and hotel rooms. The threat is real, so must the resistance be. If we are to transform society more work than this need be done. If we are to prevent self deputizing death squads from roaming the street they must fear public gathering. There is no way around this and there is no reason to think of this work as mutually exclusive.

Liberalism by definition is counterrevolutionary. In times of crisis it calls for the pacification of struggle and the return to normalcy. It posits that both right wing calls for ethnic cleansing and the resistance to that as equally menacing to the liberal order of society.

Liberalism is an ideology and practice not a state of being. Anyone can express “both sides ideology”, even eugenicist fascists like Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not a liberal by any means, but his infamous “many sides, many sides” response to the White Supremacist violence of Charlotsville was a textbook liberal response and increasingly is undiscernible from many prominent liberals particularly those posing as “leftists.”

The liberal onslaught of false equivalencies and its war cry of “both sides” is an ideology of death. In times of absolute crisis liberalism it is a death cult most often practiced by those not directly targeted by whatever platform of mass vigilantism is gaining momentum. When practiced by those who are directly targeted by fascist vigilante ideology, be it in White Supremacy, Male Supremacy, Christian Supremacy, American Exceptionalism, to name a few, or various other combinations of hate platforms, liberalism often takes on even greater levels cult like devotion to its cry of “both sides.” The notions that all sides have their point, that all sides know suffering and that all sides can be redeemed becomes the central focus of the liberal argument rather than defense of a given community or even a given self. In times of absolute crisis liberalism is death cult regardless of who is expressing it.

A favorite talking point of the liberal is the common economic pain and social alienation of fascists. The pain of fascist vigilantes is irrelevant to the conversation concerning the threat of fascist vigilante culture and organization.

Chris Hedges recently wrote in the opening paragraph to his latest article attacking Antifa that,

“Behind the rhetoric of the “alt-right” about white nativism and protecting American traditions, history and Christian values is the lust for violence. Behind the rhetoric of antifa, the Black Bloc and the so-called “alt-left” about capitalism, racism, state repression and corporate power is the same lust for violence.”

This is a bizarre statement that makes one wonder is Chris Hedges arguing that there is some kind of peaceful way to go about the organization of “white nativisim” or a non violent way to go about “protecting American traditions, history and Christian values” and if there were it would be respectable. His characterization of the so called “alt-left” is equally absurd. The term “alt-right” was possibly coined but definitely popularized by hipster eugenicist and ethnic cleanser Richard Spencer to obscure the fact that he was calling for ethnic cleansing. The term “alt-left” is a creation of the very same white supremacist politics that produced Richard Spencer and is now  being promoted both by the Ultra White and their liberal enablers to create false equivelancies.

Throughout his article Chris Hedges reaches across the oceans of space and time to make further false equivalencies between right wing death squads of central america and leftist revolutionaries, the Yugoslavian government and CIA sponsored literal Neo Nazis, Argentine fascist generals and leftist revolutionaries, and finally to the actual Nazis as led by Adolf Hitler and the communist resistance to Nazism. In short Chris Hedges gave “many sides, many sides” presentation of much of the 20th century in order to attack the idea of revolution from below.

In Chris Hedges presentation Donald Trump is seen as “a narcissistic kleptocrat, con artist and pathological liar.” He is correct in this. But this is not the basis of his appeal. Donald Trump’s appeal lies not in his casual realtionship with facts, or his vainglorious public persona and certainly not in his personal corruption. The appeal of Donald Trump is his call for a wall on the southern border with the demand that Mexicans pay for the wall. Donald Trump demands that Mexico pays for what they have done to White America. Donald Trump’s legion of vigilantes feast on the promise of vengeance and of putting Mexicans in their place. Mexico will pay and for more than just a wall. Donald Trump’s appeal lies in the fact that he calls MS13 and by fascist extension all Salvadorans “animals.” Donald Trump’s appeal legion of white supremacist vigilantes feast on the promise of this as well. Donald Trump’s appeal is that he calls for a ban on Muslims. That the middle east an area of the world peopled by so many of the victims of US imperialism shall also pay for what they have done to the US appeals to Trump’s Christian Crusader base. Donald Trump’s appeal lies in calling Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization and in calling Black protesters “thugs.” Donald Trump’s appeal is based on the demand that Black protest must be silenced and punished for having offended White America. The Donald Trump appeal is based on false victim narratives of fascists who are calling for ethnic cleansing.

Chris Hedges is light on specifics when it comes to the content of their cry. Chris Hedges will not address the content. Only throw his hands up in typical liberal fashion in defense of the “grand republic.” Hedges is likely aware that in times of absolute crisis neither side has use of liberals.

False equivalencies spread confusion. Confusion strengthens the fascists. Liberalism is a death cult. Chris Hedges is a public menace.

[The Southwest Political Report was founded by Irene Sanchez and Matt Sedillo. Two Chican@s who were born in and grew up on the Eastside of Los Angeles and call Southern California home.]

The Ugly American Goes to Chiapas: Correcting Hedges on the Zapatistas

Affect

June 29, 2014

by Lorenzo Raymond

 

Marcos bird

Subcomandante Galeano (formerly Marcos) gives a message to the “well-behaved left”

 

A lie not only deceives others, turning them into objects to be manipulated and used, but a lie erodes trust, the cement that holds communities and relationships together. Lies lead to cynicism. This cynicism spreads outward like a disease until it blights the landscape.
– Chris Hedges, “Decalogue VIII: Theft”, Losing Moses on the Freeway

If Hedges was found in a small matter to have further compounded his dishonesty, it makes you wonder about more important matters.
– Thomas Palaima, University of Texas classics professor and discoverer of Chris Hedges serial plagiarism

Well, we hate to say we told you so. Chris Hedges, pseudo-revolutionary, fire-and-brimstone pacifist, and left-liberal personality cultist, was exposed as a plagiarist this month by some of his own former media comrades. In spite of his radical posturing, one capitalist pillar that Hedges has always refused to denounce is the Protestant work ethic, so it’s rather grotesque to find that that he makes a living ripping off lesser-known and harder-working journalists. The cancer of plagiarism runs deep; this appears to be a modus operandi that stretched over a decade, a decade that ironically saw Hedges crafting a reputation as the great moral absolutist of the left.

Last year, we wrote that Hedges “represents a powerful network of liberal recuperators who have been undermining resistance in this country for years while claiming to promote it.” And, indeed, the network is circling its wagons around him, shamefully giving The Great Man a free pass on behavior that would’ve buried a less well-connected journalist. One of the more laughable claims we’ve seen from Hedges supporters is that there’s a government conspiracy against the writer because he brought a lawsuit against the feds for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. In reality, this was one of several ways he undercut the Occupy movement—in the midst of the most sustained wave of direct action the U.S. had seen in years, Hedges assisted in pushing activists “into the courts and out of the streets” ( to use Robert Kennedy’s  description of his goal regarding black rioters and the Civil Rights Act of 1964).[1]  Predictably, the lawsuit was a failure.

Given that Hedges is so intertwined with the left establishment that they will indulge in a cover-up on his behalf, it’s worth looking at just what kind of man they’re covering for. This is a reporter who, unwittingly or not, assisted Iraqi defectors, trained by the CIA, in lying the public into the Iraq War ; a “fearless investigative journalist” who refuses to investigate substantial charges of media censorship by the Lannan Foundation because billionaire Patrick Lannan is a friend of his [2]; an armchair revolutionary who dismissed the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement as “parasites to popular protest”; And, as we’ve noted before, a blind ideologue who will falsify the history of classical anarchism—and more recently, of the Zapatistas—to promote his “nonviolent” agenda.

Hedges’ whitewash of the Zapatistas, published just this month, is a particularly shameful exercise that can’t go unchallenged. It’s one thing for a pacifist propaganda site like Waging Nonviolence to cover the Zapatistas without mentioning the group’s commitment to armed defense; it’s another to completely twist their politics and words to suit the author’s narrow ideology. Hedges charges into the breach though, writing that “The Zapatistas began by using violence, but they soon abandoned it for the slow, laborious work of building 32 autonomous, self-governing municipalities.”  He reiterates throughout the article the organization’s “shift from violence to nonviolence.”

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) abjures recklessness with its bullets and promotes mutual aid programs, to be sure. But the communiqué that the Zapatistas sent out last month in response to deadly attacks by right-wing paramilitaries doesn’t sound very Gandhian: “…it is pain and rage that now again makes us lace up our boots, put on our uniforms, strap on our guns, and cover our faces…”  In the same message they note with pride that the murdered companero named Galeano, though caught unarmed, refused to surrender and “challenged the aggressors to hand-to-hand combat…”

In truth, the EZLN has never seen community organization and the periodic use of violence as mutually exclusive; in fact they see them as mutually reinforcing. Chiapas correspondent Ginna Villarreal wrote of the participants in a Zapatista women’s forum of 2007, “They are members of the five Caracols and work in all areas of government, they are promoters of health and education. They are also insurgents and commanders of the army EZLN.”  Aid worker Hillary Klein writes that:

     As someone who worked in Zapatista communities for many years, my impression is that the people who make up the movement do not distinguish between the work they are doing in their communities and their military leadership; they see it as one integrated movement. Because the military aspect of the Zapatista movement is the most clandestine, perhaps it is the least understood… But there is no denying that without its political-military character, in other words, without its initial commitment to armed struggle and its guerrilla army, the Zapatista movement would not be what it is, 15 years ago or today.

EZLN Aug 2005

Those don’t look like wooden guns: EZLN photographed in August 2005

 

In his article, Hedges extensively quotes Subcomandante Marcos’ recent “farewell address” and its call for thoughtfulness when seeking justice, but he omits these words of the speech, which are a pointed rejection of Hedges’ entire thesis:

     Nothing that we’ve done, for better or for worse, would have been possible without an armed military, the Zapatista Army for National Liberation; without it we would not have risen up against the bad government exercising the right to legitimate violence. The violence of below in the face of the violence of above.

 

     We are warriors and as such we know our role and our moment

Diversity of tactics is about proportionate response, and that is what the EZLN practice; the US government—the power behind the corporations, the Mexican army, and the right-wing paramilitaries—has decreed “low-intensity conflict” as the strategy in Chiapas; thus the Zapatistas keep their responses low-intensity as well, but not, as Hedges would demand, no-intensity. And so the ball sits in the Empire’s court; the EZLN is never willing, but always ready, to go to war.

Mired in the pacifist binary of nonviolence/violence, the well-behaved left cannot make sense of this, yet it is a common view in revolutionary philosophy, particularly in Latin America. Paulo Friere writes that, “paradoxical though it may seem – [it is] precisely in the response of the oppressed to the violence of their oppressors that a gesture of love may be found. Consciously or unconsciously, the act of rebellion by the oppressed (an act which is always, or nearly always, as violent as the initial violence of the oppressors) can initiate love.”

If there are any genuine revolutionaries still aligned with the established left, they should understand very clearly that a defense of Hedges is not a defense of revolt; in fact it is the opposite. One of the best things we can do to restore the spirit of rebellion in this country is to cut ourselves loose of this shady albatross. But at the same time, take this much of his advice to heart: “We must all become Zapatistas”…Remember “the violence of below in the face of the violence of above.”…And as warriors, know your role, and know your moment…

 

1. Thomas F. Jackson, “Jobs and Freedom:  The Black Revolt of 1963 and the
Contested Meanings of the March on Washington” (Virginia Foundation of the Humanities) pg. 12 – http://web1.millercenter.org/apd/colloquia/pdf/col_2008_0410_jackson.pdf

2. John Pilger, “The Censorship that Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Strange Silencing of Liberal America” [unabridged version]  in Project Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times, Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth, eds. (Seven Stories Press, 2013) – http://bit.ly/UdRmPS

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City.]

 

FLASHBACK: If He Can’t Lie, It’s Not His Revolution: Chris Hedges vs. Emma Goldman

Affect

November 6, 2013

by Lorenzo Raymond

emma-goldman

Most people I know who actively work for social justice make an effort to ignore Chris Hedges.  When he puked up a nasty little screed demonizing militancy in the Occupy movement last year, Hedges –  in the words of Occupy Wall Street organizer Amin Husain – “almost derailed us” [1]  (Sadly, Amin was wrong about the “almost” part).  But it’s hard to look the other way when Hedges drags the name of several generations of anarchists through the dirt, as he did in a recent column; and it is perilous to ignore the fact that he represents a powerful network of liberal recuperators who have been undermining resistance in this country for years while claiming to promote it.

A few weeks ago, Hedges wrote a column entitled “Sparks of Rebellion,” which was one of his periodic forays into Grand Movement Strategy. [2]   He opens with a shallow intellectual history of modern radicalism in which virtually none of the statements are true, particularly in regards to anarchists: Kropotkin was not a gradualist but a revolutionary – hence his autobiography is called Memoirs of a Revolutionist; Bakunin did not elevate déclassé intellectuals above the proletariat (or anyone else), but envisioned all oppressed classes making the revolution [3] –  and so on and so forth.  Hedges clearly believes his Pulitzer prize gives him entitlement to stuff a book’s worth of assertions into a paragraph without any supporting evidence.

Equally disconcerting is that once Hedges gets to introducing his own propositions about revolution, none of them are coherent:  We’re told that a modern revolt must not be “reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers”, but will rely on “the dispossessed working poor”, but “It is not the poor who make revolutions.”, but “service workers and fast food workers…will be one of our primary engines of revolt.”  Does anyone have any questions?

In the end, all this name-dropping and sophomoric analysis is a bait-and-switch for what Hedges really wants to talk about: the importance of pacifism – which he finally gets to in paragraph six.  Hedges evokes the much-touted and under-scrutinized Harvard study by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan which “examined 100 years of violent and nonviolent resistance movements and concluded that nonviolent movements succeed twice as often as violent uprisings.”  To judge how accurate this study is, one might want to note that the authors omitted all civil rights and labor struggles from their data set. [4] Even more problematic is Chenoweth’s meaninglessly amorphous criteria of nonviolence which has no relationship to the strictures that Gandhi, Gene Sharp or Chris Hedges would impose on us: One of the study’s featured cases is the Philipine revolt of 1986 which originated as an armed coup, and climaxed with a bomb dropped on the presidential palace. [5] In the wake of the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Chenoweth took to publishing commentaries praising the Egyptian rebellion for its nonviolence even as hundreds of police stations firebombed by protesters were still smoldering. [6]

But the foulest aspect of Hedges’ scribble is the attempt to divide the present generation of militant anarchists from their respected classical forebears.  The liberal journalist has never retracted a word of his “Cancer in Occupy” meltdown, and takes another passing shot at “the Black Bloc” in this article.  In contrast to the cancerous youths, Hedges holds up a mature, mythologized Emma Goldman who “came to be very wary of…the efficacy of violence.”

The tendency of pacifists to co-opt every conceivable radical icon into their ideology never ceases to amaze; thus the new school of pacifist history portrays the Russian Revolution as nonviolent[7]  – even though at least as much property was destroyed there as in Egypt [8] – and now Red Emma is assimilated as an apostate from militancy.  How Goldman could also have been, in the last decade of her life, a key information officer for anarchist militias which executed fascist commanders with regularity isn’t explained. [9]  Her correspondence during the Spanish Civil War shows distaste for the bloodshed, but it also records her explicitly rejecting Gandhian strategy as hopelessly naive.[10]  Goldman was as nonviolent as Sherman was when he lamented that “war is hell” just before he burned down Atlanta – a common sense human impulse, not a strategic analysis; she was wary of every aspect of force except the efficacy of it.  But if Hedges can’t lie, it’s not his revolution.

The grotesque irony here is that Emma Goldman rejected this game of demonize-and-assimilate whenever it was applied in her own time.  Hedges claims to be “reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries,” but somehow he missed the debate between Goldman and V.I. Lenin during the Russian Civil War.  In her autobiography, Goldman recounts how she and Alexander Berkman went to the Kremlin to protest the mass arrests of anarchists during the Bolshevik terror.  Lenin dismisses the objections saying responsible anarchists like her are respected in Russia, and he only attacks “bandits” and “Makhnovtsy” (supporters of militia leader Nestor Makhno).  Goldman recognizes the psychology of counterinsurgency immediately –

Imagine,” I broke in, “capitalist America also divides the anarchists into two categories, philosophic and criminal. The first are accepted in highest circles; one of them is even high in the councils of the Wilson Administration. The second category, to which we have the honor of belonging, is persecuted and often imprisoned. Yours also seems to be a distinction without a difference. Don’t you think so? [11]

Reading this passage, it’s striking how little has changed.  It isn’t difficult to imagine, say, Rebecca Solnit – “philosophic” anarchist and Obama campaigner [12] – being feted at the White House in reward for her work bashing radicals, while at the same time “criminal” anarchists like Marie Mason and Oso Blanco rot in prison.

The revolution may not start tomorrow, and we hope it won’t be a bloodbath when it does.  But diverse tactics are needed to end the assaults on the water, the air, the climate, on all our lives and dignity.  The moribund pacifism of the establishment left has failed, and the failure is so terminal that they must stoop to falsifying history in order to even make a case for themselves.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City.]

 

Notes:

1. Democracy Now, “No Work, No Shopping, Occupy Everywhere”, May 1, 2012 – http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/1/no_work_no_shopping_occupy_everywhere

2.  https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/30-6

3.   As Paul Avrich has noted, Bakunin had a “conception of an all-encompassing class war.”  This definitely included “fervent, energetic youths, totally declasse, with no career or way out,” but they were only one part of an ” ‘all-embracing’ revolution… including, besides the working class, the darkest elements of society…the unemployed, the vagrants and outlaws…the instinct of rebellion was the common property of all the oppressed classes of the population.”  Avrich also writes that, “While entrusting the intellectuals with a critical role in the forthcoming revolution, Bakunin at the same time cautioned them against attempting to seize political power on their own…On this point Bakunin was most emphatic.” Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (1967)  – http://www.ditext.com/avrich/russian/1.html

4. Note 35 of Chenoweth, Stephan “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict”  International Security, Vol. 33, Issue 1, Summer 2008 – http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/isec.2008.33.1.7

5. Monina Allarey Mercado, Francisco S. Tatad, People Power: Eyewitness to History (James B. Reuter, S.J., Foundation, 1986) p202-209

6. Erica Chenoweth, “Give Peaceful Resistance a Chance” The New York Times, March 9, 2001-  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/opinion/10chenoweth.html?_r=0  ;  David D. Kirkpatrick, “Mubarak orders crackdown with revolt sweeping Egypt” The New York Times, January 28, 2011;  Lorenzo Dubois, “PEACE AND FIRE: Diversity of Tactics in the Egyptian Revolution (Jan-Feb 2011)” -http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/214110/index.php

7. Jonathan Schell, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People (Metropolitan, 2003) p169-170

8. Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams : Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution  (Oxford University Press, 1988), p67

9. David Porter, editor, Vision on Fire: Emma Goldman on the Spanish Revolution (AK Press, 2006) p226 – http://zinelibrary.info/files/Goldman%20-%20Vision%20on%20Fire%20-%20Emma%20Goldman%20on%20the%20Spanish%20Revolution.pdf

10. Goldman wrote to a young US anarchist in 1936: “…the organized force used against the followers of Gandhi has finally forced them to use violence, much to the distress of Gandhi…Most important of all is that mechanized warfare and violence used by the state make non-resistance utterly futile.  What do you think non-resistance could do during bombardment from the air – a daily occurrence in Spanish cities and towns?”  She concludes that “…as a method of combating the complex social injustices and inequalities, non-resistance cannot be a decisive factor.”  David Porter, Vision on Fire, p239-240;  Goldman also attributes the collapse of the social revolution to the CNT “suddenly turning pacifist” when it came to resisting internal repression from the Stalinists.  “Gandhi could not have done better,” she notes with bitterness. Vision on Fire, p228 – –    http://zinelibrary.info/files/Goldman%20-%20Vision%20on%20Fire%20-%20Emma%20Goldman%20on%20the%20Spanish%20Revolution.pdf

11.  Emma Goldman, Living My Life (Alfred K. Knopf, 1931), p766 – http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/goldman/living/living2_52a.html

12. http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175598/

Let Them Eat Pizza [“People’s Climate March” & “Flood Wallstreet”]

Wits End

September 25, 2014

by Gail Zawacki

I would have gone to the People’s Climate March in Manhattan, even though, as a permitted Sunday parade, I didn’t expect it to amount to anything more than tilting at windmills (ha!) – but I had already missed all of first daughter’s competitions this season, and her last show for the year, in Saugerties, NY was scheduled for the same day.  I had a lovely weekend with her and was very glad I went, especially as she took two firsts.

Thus, I was happy having learned there was to be another protest on Monday that I could join, #FloodWallStreet, especially because the plan was for mass civil disobedience and arrests.  I met up with a Wit’s End reader, Lucas, who had come all the way from Hawaii and was willing to serve as jail support for me.

However, the march from Battery Park to the Stock Exchange was deflected, and the big banner buckled backwards around the barricaded Bull while we watched, incredulous, as the organizers negotiated with police.  Apparently the Mayor informed them that there would be no arrests, and we could have the street space AROUND the Bull, but were blocked from approaching Wall Street.  Astonishingly, the organizers informed the crowd that they had made a decision to stay obediently in place, and…declare victory!  Whatever happened to consensus?  There was no discussion, no mic check, we were just informed that rather than exercising our rights, we were to behave just like the Sunday Paraders and, as one commenter phrased it, whimper in a fucking free speech zone.

source

At one point they encouraged us to sit and thump our chests like our beating hearts, I’m not sure why.  Was I the only one who found the comparison with this scene just a tad ironic?

Reactions to the capitulation ranged from indifference to mild surprise to utter fury.  Luckily I had come across a friend from the Age of Limits Conference, Cameron Kelly, who also had traveled a great distance at non-trivial expense to take part in the mass civil disobedience.  She was decidedly in the latter category.  We pointed out to the organizers that the action was presented as mass CD – and the response was that if we still wanted to get arrested, we were free to dive over the barricades flanking the Bull.  However, if my goal was to be arrested for a single personal criminal act, I would rather choose my own symbolic icon…and it wouldn’t be about capitalism.  When I pointed out that the action was titled #Flood WALL STREET, and we were stymied at Broadway and Morris, I was informed by several indignant organizers that we actually were *on Wall Street*  – since the financial district and Wall Street are synonymous.  So they conveniently redefined the very meaning of the words “Wall Street”…uhhhh, but what about this MAP they handed out to the marchers (that Camus so rightly wishes to chew up into mush)?   Do you see the arrow for the 12 PM ACTION pointing directly to the NYSE on the actual WALL STREET??

Apparently to mollify the disgruntled, we were informed that 100 free pizzas were being delivered, and that we would sing and dance.  Finally one courageous fellow named Sparks who, having come all the way from Fridley, Minnesota was not about to slink meekly away, bellowed “MIC CHECK” and urged the boisterous but confused assembly to move along to Wall Street.  Here he is with the famous firecracker Cameron, having finally made it to the intersection.

Even after we arrived though, other than a short tussle over the barricades leading to one incident of pepper spray, the pizza party continued in place for hours unmolested, presided over by glowering phalanxes of billyclub-wielding and mounted police.   Not wanting to wait hours more for the order to disperse and having long trips home, Cameron and Lucas and I left around sunset.  It wasn’t until after darkness had fallen that finally about 100 people were “allowed” to relinquish their freedom, and were cuffed and bussed to jail.   The Sans Culottes must be rolling in their graves at this pathetic excuse for a revolution.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know why the protest turned into a cheesy picnic – whether the organizers were outsmarted by the Mayor, lost their nerve, or are completely intoxicated with ego gratification from media attention – “…oh, we’re on the front page of HuffPo right now!” one told me, by way of explaining that no further action on our part was necessary.  Actually, some of the slick promotional material makes the project smell suspiciously of moveon.org funding, which makes me wonder if the Sunday and Monday events, despite their ostensible differences, aren’t both just mirrors of each other’s deliberate ineffectiveness, like the two political parties in the USA.

The climate activist insiders were in short-lived heaven following the huge turnout for the PCM in New York and other cities around the world.  (Short-lived because nobody has the vaguest idea what to do next and the UN meeting is being widely denounced as a useless corporate festival.) Privately they are rejoicing what they see as the triumph of the climate movement over the environmental movement, something they been trying to eclipse for years. To put the rosiest perspective on this, you might say that they have shunned any association with holistic ecology simply because they believe that being tainted by tree-huggers is detrimental to progress – since hippies have a bad reputation for extremism and dirty toes.

To look at it in a slightly more cynical way, you might conclude that the motivation stems from two pernicious influences…first, that climate change in theory lends itself to continued growth via a technological fix (if you ignore the fact that it’s too late to avoid catastrophe, which virtually all activists and scientists do), which leads to the second motivation, a corollary to the first…there is oodles of money from corporate foundations, governments, book sales and speaking engagements for research and political activism in climate “solutions”, as long as none of them include reducing population and consumption.

source 

This strategy has always struck me as an epic failure, since climate change is only one symptom of a more general, lethal overshoot.  The single-minded focus on carbon emissions over other issues, such as pollution, habitat destruction, and overextraction of everything from lumber to fish to minerals simply enables more of the same destruction to proceed even as it pretends to challenge the status quo, Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges notwithstanding.  In fact their supposedly more radical critique of capitalism is a red herring, and an insidious deflection of the true dimensions of the tragedy of the commons that has ensnared humans into ecocide.  Underlying their exhortations to change or even dismantle the economic system is the false belief that “green energy” will ensure free pizza forever.  While chants like “We are Unstoppable, Another World is Possible” and “Put up Your Fist, Resist, Resist” are rousing good fun, really, as Candide would say, we ALREADY are in the best of all possible worlds…as in, it ain’t gonna get any better than this…and there is no obvious way to resist OURSELVES.  Here’s all you need to see of Naomi Klein and her own special brand of bullshit.  (Well, hey, it sells books, apparently.)  [update:   OMG this is too funny.  This video has been taken down – in it, Klein is interviewed on HuffPo saying that so many people have reacted to her book by saying IT’S TOO LATE.  I guess that message was too scary so the record has been deleted.  TOO hilarious!]

Here’s a screenshot from the video that has been removed, and here is a link to the clip still up.  This quote from John Gray’s Straw Dogs sums up why the narrative she peddles is so wrong:  “The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialisation, “Western civilisation” or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.”

It seems like this cohort of so-called activists, whether prancing in costumes for Sunday’s celebrity climatepalooza photo-ops or moaning ineffectually about capitalism on Monday, is persuaded that all we have to do is WANT things to be different (you know, close your eyes and say I DO believe in fairies!  I DO!  I DO!) which is really just an extension of everything that is wrong with the very consumerist society we are urged to reject.  Mention the word “sacrifice” and the entire spectrum frowns.  When I was on my way to the city I was thinking about how many in the doomer community (invariably white middle-class) appropriate the culture of indigenous peoples and claim affinity with their supposed peaceful, sustainable, harmonious and spiritual relationship with nature when actually, most if not all hunter-gatherers (other than those who were defeated by overshoot, natural disaster or neighboring tribes) were proud warriors who trained boys from an early age to be fierce, and to defeat enemies.  The accumulation of ancient weapons, armor, fortifications, skeletal remains and artifacts testify to this universal human attribute.  Contemplating arrest with its very real potential for bodily injury is nerve-wracking, to say the least, and I took comfort from thinking about how tribal people prepared for conflict with an infinite variety of rituals to embolden them.  Too bad this willingness to confront harm isn’t the inspiration taken by so many who claim to be “fighting” climate change by tapping on their computer keyboards or designing posters and t-shirts.  Hell, most of them can’t even be inconvenienced, let alone put their safety in jeopardy (Tim DeChristopher being a shining exception).  I don’t know if it is iphones or football or Cheetoes, but something has turned us into spineless wimps.

Following are some pictures of trees and leaves around Wit’s End.

Remember the trees?

They are supposed to hit peak autumn color around the third week of October hereabouts.

Instead the leaves are falling off even earlier than they did last year, and those that remain look terrible.

The Virginia creeper lit by the setting sun into a bright scarlet from a distance actually looks dreadful close up.

The world is dying all around us, and most people still think there is time, if they think at all.

Let Them Eat Pizza!

 

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