The Courage of Chris Hedges’ Convictions


I’ve opined repeatedly in my posts that Chris Hedges is the clearest thinking writer around. His weekly column at Truthdig is high on my Monday morning agenda. When he releases a book, I read it.

Hedges believes our elections are a farce, designed by corporate America to create the false impression that we choose our leaders. Here’s a small part of his reasoning, from his recent post, Where is Our Jeremy Corbin?:

I will not support a politician who sells out the Palestinians and panders to the Israel lobby any more than I will support a politician who refuses to confront the bloated military and arms industry or white supremacy and racial injustice. The Palestinian issue is not a tangential issue. It is an integral part of Americans’ efforts to dismantle our war machine, the neoliberal policies that see austerity and violence as the primary language for speaking to the rest of the world, and the corroding influence of money in the U.S. political system. Stand up to the masters of war and the Israel lobby and you will probably stand up to every other corporate and neoliberal force that is cannibalizing the United States. This is what leadership is about. It is about having a vision. And it is about fighting for that vision.

Here’s more, from The Imperative of Revolt:

The corporate state, Wolin told me at his Oregon home, is “legitimated by elections it controls.” It exploits laws that once protected democracy to extinguish democracy; one example is allowing unlimited corporate campaign contributions in the name of our First Amendment right to free speech and our right to petition the government as citizens. “It perpetuates politics all the time,” Wolin said, “but a politics that is not political.” The endless election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics, driven not by substantive issues but manufactured political personalities and opinion polls. There is no national institution in the United States “that can be described as democratic,” he said.

The mechanisms that once allowed the citizen to be a participant in power—from participating in elections to enjoying the rights of dissent and privacy—have been nullified. Money has replaced the vote, Wolin said, and corporations have garnered total power without using the cruder forms of traditional totalitarian control: concentration camps, enforced ideological conformity and the physical suppression of dissent. They will avoid such measures “as long as that dissent remains ineffectual,” he said. “The government does not need to stamp out dissent. The uniformity of imposed public opinion through the corporate media does a very effective job.”

Hedges won’t take a lesser of evils approach. He typically votes for the Green Party candidate in the presidential election.

Contrast that to Cornel West, also an intellectual giant. West’s views line up almost precisely with those of Hedges. But West has endorsed and appeared with Bernie Sanders.

Which brings me to the title of this post. In my head, I know Hedges is right.

But, like West, I’m supporting Sanders. And, if it comes to this, I might even find myself supporting Clinton.

You see, when I listen to the Republicans, as I did tonight, my convictions weaken. The thought of any one of them gaining power frightens me too much.

That seems rational on the surface. But it isn’t. It virtually precludes the possibility of real change occurring peacefully, through the electoral process. So, Hedges, in my mind, is right. He and I (and maybe West) have the same convictions. His are just stronger.


  1. If elections were a farce then it would be counterproductive to try and sot people from voting as it just makes them angry. The corporate state would be like stalin who said I don’t care who votes I only care who will count the votes! It was not the corporate state but rich old white establishment democrats who put up fred duval to run to appeal to republiscum and discourage young latinos from voting! The fault is not in our stars dear brutus it is in ourselves! Look at all the criticism bernie sanders gets from democrats!

    • I’m guessing there’s a Lewis Carroll quote that applies here. I’ll try a different approach: If elections weren’t a farce, the top .1% of the population would not control as much wealth as the bottom 90%.

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