Chris Hedges Original Ukraine

Chris Hedges: Worthy and Unworthy Victims

Dividing the world into worthy and unworthy victims is a tactic used to justify our crimes and demonize our enemies. Conflicts will not be solved until all nations abide by international law and all victims are deemed worthy.
“Suicide Kings.” [Illustration by Mr. Fish]

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

Rulers divide the world into worthy and unworthy victims, those we are allowed to pity, such as Ukrainians enduring the hell of modern warfare, and those whose suffering is minimized, dismissed, or ignored. The terror we and our allies carry out against Iraqi, Palestinian, Syrian, Libyan, Somali and Yemeni civilians is part of the regrettable cost of war. We, echoing the empty promises from Moscow, claim we do not target civilians. Rulers always paint their militaries as humane, there to serve and protect. Collateral damage happens, but it is regrettable. 

This lie can only be sustained among those who are unfamiliar with the explosive ordinance and large kill zones of missiles, iron fragmentation bombs, mortar, artillery and tank shells, and belt-fed machine guns. This bifurcation into worthy and unworthy victims, as Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky point out in “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” is a key component of propaganda, especially in war. The Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, to Moscow, are worthy victims. Russia is their savior: The 1.5 million refugees and the millions of Ukrainian families cowering in basements, car parks and subway stations, are unworthy “Nazis.” 

Worthy victims allow citizens to see themselves as empathetic, compassionate, and just. Worthy victims are an effective tool to demonize the aggressor. They are used to obliterate nuance and ambiguity. Mention the provocations carried out by the western alliance with the expansion of NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany, a violation of promises made to Moscow in 1990; the stationing of of NATO troops and missile batteries in Eastern Europe; the U.S. involvement in the ouster in 2014 of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, which led to the civil war in the east of Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine’s army, a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, and you are dismissed as a Putin apologist. 

It is to taint the sainthood of the worthy victims, and by extension ourselves. We are good. They are evil. Worthy victims are used not only to express sanctimonious outrage, but to stoke self-adulation and a poisonous nationalism. The cause becomes sacred, a religious crusade. Fact-based evidence is abandoned, as it was during the calls to invade Iraq. Charlatans, liars, con artists, fake defectors, and opportunists become experts, used to fuel the conflict. 

Celebrities, who, like the powerful, carefully orchestrate their public image, pour out their hearts to worthy victims. Hollywood stars such as George Clooney made trips to Darfur to denounce the war crimes being committed by Khartoum at the same time the US was killing scores of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Iraq was as savage as the slaughter in Darfur, but to express outrage at what was happening to unworthy victims was to become branded as the enemy, who of course, like Putin or Saddam Hussein, is always the new Hitler.  

Saddam Hussein’s attacks on the Kurds, considered worthy victims, saw an international outcry while Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, subjected to relentless bombing campaigns by the Israeli air force and its artillery and tank units, with hundreds of dead and wounded, was, at best, an afterthought. At the height of Stalin’s purges in the 1930s, worthy victims were the Republicans battling the fascists in the Spanish civil war. Soviet citizens were mobilized to send aid and assistance. Unworthy victims were the millions of people Stalin executed, sometimes after tawdry show trials, and sent to the gulags.

While I was reporting from El Salvador in 1984, the Catholic priest Jerzy Popiełuszko was murdered by the regime in Poland. His death was used to excoriate the Polish communist government, a stark contrast to the response of the Reagan administration to the rape and murder of four Catholic missionaries in 1980 in El Salvador by the Salvadorean National Guard. President Ronald Reagan’s administration sought to blame the three nuns and a lay worker for their own deaths. Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said, “The nuns were not just nuns. The nuns were also political activists.” Secretary of State Alexander Haig speculated that “perhaps they ran a roadblock.”

For the Reagan administration, the murdered churchwomen were unworthy victims. The right-wing government in El Salvador, armed and backed by the United States, joked at the time, Haz patria, mata un cura (Be a patriot, kill a priest). Archbishop Óscar Romero had been assassinated in March of 1980. Nine years later it would gun down six Jesuits and two others at their residence on the campus of Central American University in San Salvador. Between 1977 and 1989, death squads and soldiers killed 13 priests in El Salvador.

It is not that worthy victims do not suffer, nor that they are not deserving of our support and compassion, it is that worthy victims alone are rendered human, people like us, and unworthy victims are not. It helps, of course, when, as in Ukraine, they are white. But the missionaries murdered in El Salvador were also white and American and yet it was not enough to shake US support for the country’s military dictatorship. 

“The mass media never explain why Andrei Sakharov is worthy and Jose Luis Massera, in Uruguay, is unworthy,” Herman and Chomsky write. “The attention and general dichotomization occur ‘naturally’ as a result of the working of the filters, but the result is the same as if a commissar had instructed the media: ‘Concentrate on the victims of enemy powers and forget about the victims of friends.’ Reports of the abuses of worthy victims not only pass through the filters; they may also become the basis of sustained propaganda campaigns. If the government or corporate community and the media feel that a story is useful as well as dramatic, they focus on it intensively and use it to enlighten the public.”

“This was true, for example, of the shooting down by the Soviets of the Korean airliner KAL 007 in early September 1983, which permitted an extended campaign of denigration of an official enemy and greatly advanced Reagan administration arms plans,” Herman and Chomsky write. “As Bernard Gwertzman noted complacently in the New York Times of August 31, 1984, US officials ‘assert that worldwide criticism of the Soviet handling of the crisis has strengthened the United States in its relations with Moscow.’ In sharp contrast, the shooting down by Israel of a Libyan civilian airliner in February I973 led to no outcry in the West, no denunciations for ‘cold-blooded murder,’ and no boycott. This difference in treatment was explained by the New York Times precisely on the grounds of utility in a 1973 editorial: ‘No useful purpose is served by an acrimonious debate over the assignment of blame for the downing of a Libyan airliner in the Sinai Peninsula last week.’ There was a very ‘useful purpose’ served by focusing on the Soviet act, and a massive propaganda campaign ensued.”

It is impossible to hold those responsible for war crimes accountable if worthy victims are deserving of justice and unworthy victims are not. If Russia should be crippled with sanctions for invading Ukraine, which I believe it should, the United States should have been crippled with sanctions for invading Iraq, a war launched on the basis of lies and fabricated evidence.

Imagine if America’s largest banks, J.P Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo were cut off from the international banking system. Imagine if our oligarchs, Jeff Bezos, Jamie Diamond, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk, as venal as Russian oligarchs, had their assets frozen and estates and luxury yachts seized. (Bezos’ yacht is the largest in the world, cost an estimated $500 million and is about 57 feet longer than a football field.) Imagine if leading political figures, such as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and US “oligarchs” were blocked from traveling under visa restrictions. Imagine if the world’s biggest shipping lines suspended shipments to and from the United States. Imagine if US international media news outlets were forced off the air. Imagine if we were blocked from purchasing spare parts for our commercial airlines and our airliners were banned from European air space. Imagine if our athletes were barred from hosting or participating in international sporting events. Imagine if our symphony conductors and opera stars were forbidden from performing unless they denounced the Iraq war and, in a kind of perverted loyalty oath, condemned George W. Bush. 

The rank hypocrisy is stunning. Some of the same officials that orchestrated the invasion of Iraq, who under international law are war criminals for carrying out a preemptive war, are now chastising Russia for its violation of international law. The US bombing campaign of Iraqi urban centers, called “Shock and Awe,” saw the dropping of 3,000 bombs on civilian areas that killed over 7,000 noncombatants in the first two months of the war. Russia has yet to go to this extreme.

“I have argued that when you invade a sovereign nation, that is a war crime,” a FOX News host said (with a straight face) recently to Condoleezza Rice, who served as Bush’s National Security adviser during the Iraq War.

“It is certainly against every principle of international law and international order and that is why throwing the book at them now in terms of economic sanctions and punishments is also a part of it,” Rice said. “And I think the world is there. Certainly, NATO is there. He’s managed to unite NATO in ways that I didn’t think I would ever see after the end of the Cold War.”

Rice inadvertently made a case for why she should be put on trial with the rest of Bush’s enablers. She famously justified the invasion of Iraq by stating: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Her rationale for preemptive war, which under post-Nuremberg laws is a criminal war of aggression, is no different than that peddled by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who says the Russia invasion is being carried out to prevent Ukraine from obtaining nuclear weapons.

And this brings me to RT America, where I had a show called “On Contact.” RT America is now off the air after being deplatformed and unable to disseminate its content. This was long the plan of the US government. The invasion of Ukraine gave Washington the opening to shut RT down. The network had a tiny media footprint. But it gave a platform to American dissidents who challenged corporate capitalism, imperialism, war, and the American oligarchy. 

My public denunciation of the invasion of Ukraine was treated very differently by RT America than my public denunciation of the Iraq war was treated by my former employer, The New York Times. RT America made no comment, publicly or privately, about my condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine in my ScheerPost column. Nor did RT comment about statements by Jesse Ventura, a Vietnam veteran and former Minnesota governor, who also had a show on RT America, and who wrote: “20 years ago, I lost my job because I opposed the Iraq War and the invasion of Iraq. Today, I still stand for peace. As I’ve said previously, I oppose this war, this invasion, and if standing up for peace costs me another job, so be it. I will always speak out against war.” 

RT America was shut down six days after I denounced the invasion of Ukraine. If the network had continued, Ventura and I might have paid with our jobs, but at least for those six days they kept us on air.

The New York Times issued a formal written reprimand in 2003 that forbade me to speak about the war in Iraq, although I had been the newspaper’s Middle East Bureau Chief, had spent seven years in the Middle East and was an Arabic speaker. This reprimand set me up to be fired. If I violated the prohibition, under guild rules, the paper had grounds to terminate my employment. John Burns, another foreign correspondent at the paper, publicly supported the invasion of Iraq. He did not receive a reprimand. 

My repeated warnings in public forums about the chaos and bloodbath the invasion of Iraq would trigger, which turned out to be correct, was not an opinion. It was an analysis based on years of experience in the region, including in Iraq, and an intimate understanding of the instrument of war those in the Bush White House lacked. But it challenged the dominant narrative and was silenced. This same censorship of anti-war sentiment is happening now in Russia, but we should remember it happened here during the inception and initial stages of the invasion of Iraq. 

Those of us who opposed the Iraq war, no matter how much experience we had in the region, were attacked and vilified. Ventura, who had a three-year contract with MSNBC, saw his show canceled. 

Those who were cheerleaders for the war, such as George Packer, Thomas Friedman, Paul Berman, Michael Ignatieff, Leon Wieseltier and Nick Kristof, who Tony Judt called “Bush’s useful idiots,” dominated the media landscape. They painted the Iraqis as oppressed, worthy victims, who the US military would set free. The plight of women under the Taliban was a rallying cry to bomb and occupy the country. These courtiers to power served the interests of the power elite and the war industry. They differentiated between worthy and unworthy victims. It was a good career move. And they knew it. 

There was very little dispute about the folly of invading Iraq among reporters in the Middle East, but most did not want to jeopardize their positions by speaking publicly. They did not want my fate to become their own, especially after I was booed off a commencement stage in Rockford, Illinois for delivering an antiwar speech and became a punching bag for right-wing media. I would walk through the newsroom and reporters I had known for years looked down or turned their heads, as if I had leprosy. My career was finished. And not just at The New York Times but any major media organization, which is where I was, orphaned, when Robert Scheer recruited me to write for Truthdig, which he then edited.

What Russia is doing militarily in Ukraine, at least up to now, was more than matched by our own savagery in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Vietnam. This is an inconvenient fact the press, awash in moral posturing, will not address.  

No one has mastered the art of technowar and wholesale slaughter like the US military. When atrocities leak out, such as the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians or the prisoners in Abu Ghraib, the press does its duty by branding them aberrations. The truth is that these killings and abuse are deliberate. They are orchestrated at the senior levels of the military. Infantry units, assisted by long ranger artillery, fighter jets, heavy bombers, missiles, drones, and helicopters level vast swaths of “enemy” territory killing most of the inhabitants. The US military during the invasion of Iraq from Kuwait created a six-mile-wide free-fire zone that killed hundreds if not thousands of Iraqis. The indiscriminate killing ignited the Iraqi insurgency. 

When I entered southern Iraq in the first Gulf War it was flattened. Villages and towns were smoldering ruins. Bodies, including women and children, lay scattered on the ground. Water purification systems had been bombed. Power stations had been bombed. Schools and hospitals had been bombed. Bridges had been bombed. The United States military always wages war by “overkill,” which is why it dropped the equivalent of 640 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs on Vietnam, most actually falling on the south where our purported Vietnamese allies resided. It unloaded in Vietnam more than 70 million tons of herbicidal agents, three million white phosphorus rockets — white phosphorus will burn its way entirely through a body — and an estimated 400,000 tons of jellied incendiary napalm. 

“Thirty-five percent of the victims,” Nick Turse writes of the war in Vietnam, “died within 15 to 20 minutes.” Death from the skies, like death on the ground, was often unleashed capriciously. “It was not out of the ordinary for US troops in Vietnam to blast a whole village or bombard a wide area in an effort to kill a single sniper.”

Vietnamese villagers, including women, children, and the elderly, were often herded into tiny, barbed wire enclosures known as “cow cages.” They were subjected to electric shocks, gang raped and tortured by being hung upside down and beaten, euphemistically called “the plane ride,” until unconscious. Fingernails were ripped out. Fingers were dismembered. Detainees were slashed with knives. They were beaten senseless with baseball bats and waterboarded.  Targeted assassinations, orchestrated by CIA death squads, were ubiquitous. 

Wholesale destruction, including of human beings, to the US military, perhaps any military, is orgiastic. The ability to unleash sheets of automatic rifle fire, hundreds of rounds of belt-fed machine-gun fire, 90 mm tank rounds, endless grenades, mortars, and artillery shells on a village, sometimes supplemented by gigantic 2,700-pound explosive projectiles fired from battleships along the coast, was a perverted form of entertainment in Vietnam, as it became later in the Middle East. US troops litter the countryside with claymore mines. Canisters of napalm, daisy-cutter bombs, anti-personnel rockets, high-explosive rockets, incendiary rockets, cluster bombs, high-explosive shells, and iron fragmentation bombs — including the 40,000-pound bomb loads dropped by giant B-52 Strarofortress bombers — along with chemical defoliants and chemical gases dropped from the sky are our calling cards. Vast areas are designated free fire zones — a term later changed by the military to the more neutral sounding “specified strike zone” — where everyone in those zones is considered the enemy, even the elderly, women, and children. 

Soldiers and marines who attempt to report the war crimes they witness can face a fate worse than being pressured, discredited, or ignored. On Sept. 12, 1969, Nick Turse writes in his book “Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam,” George Chunko sent a letter to his parents explaining how his unit had entered a home that had a young Vietnamese woman, four young children, an elderly man, and a military-age male. It appeared the younger man was AWOL from the South Vietnamese army. The young man was stripped naked and tied to a tree. His wife fell to her knees and begged the soldiers for mercy. The prisoner, Chunko wrote, was “ridiculed, slapped around and [had] mud rubbed into this face.” He was then executed. 

A day after he wrote the letter, Chunko was killed. Chunko’s parents, Turse writes, “suspected that their son had been murdered to cover up the crime.”

All of this remains unspoken as we express our anguish for the people of Ukraine and revel in our moral superiority. The life of a Palestinian or an Iraqi child is as precious as the life of a Ukrainian child. No one should live in fear and terror. No one should be sacrificed on the altar of Mars. But until all victims are worthy, until all who wage war are held accountable and brought to justice, this hypocritical game of life and death will continue. Some human beings will be worthy of life. Others will not. Drag Putin off to the International Criminal Court and put him on trial. But make sure George W. Bush is in the cell next to him. If we can’t see ourselves, we can’t see anyone else. And this blindness leads to catastrophe. 

Chris Hedges
Chris HedgesChris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated show On Contact.  Author Link

Copyright 2022 Chris Hedges


  1. It’s seems to be a pattern we never learn from. And I suspect so because it’s drivers and our selective failings to take issue with the cyclical dynamic of these patterns are housed in the human condition itself;

    ‘Fascism, steeped in pathological hypocrisy, superiority entitlement and inveterate victimhood, is the group-characteristic extension of narcissism and is the Machiavellian-patriotic, militarised business model extension of joint Government and corporate engineered crisis-capitalism’.

    ‘Characteristics Of An Individual Narcissist & A Fascist State’ (©2017) by #GaslightingGilligan

    Twitter: @GasGilligan (© 2017) *free download*.

  2. Just FYI….The Ukrainian Straw just broke the camel’s back. The poor camel is down and is not getting back up. System collapse has begun in earnest with nothing but madmen and psychopaths at the controls. Bad doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    1. @JustAMaverick
      Very perceptive analysis of the Russia political situation!

  3. All over the place, for sure. Hedges is naive, or fearful — there are so many sacred cows (or golden calves). This quote: “In sharp contrast, the shooting down by Israel of a Libyan civilian airliner in February I973 led to no outcry in the West, no denunciations for ‘cold-blooded murder,’ and no boycott. This difference in treatment was explained by the New York Times precisely on the grounds of utility in a 1973 editorial: ‘No useful purpose is served by an acrimonious debate over the assignment of blame for the downing of a Libyan airliner in the Sinai Peninsula last week.’ There was a very ‘useful purpose’ served by focusing on the Soviet act, and a massive propaganda campaign ensued.” ”

    Oh, the Goyim. Being played every which way. And, what about that USS Liberty anniversary? Fifty-five years later, this coming June?

    Oh, those banks, man, those elite, those tribal people and their money, the heads of Blackstone and BlackRock, dare we ask?

    Oh, the worldwide suffering — gas prices in the Portland, OR, area — $4.50 a gallon. Europe sees 30 percent increase today in natural gas.

    This is what the Blinkens and Nulands and the other chosen few unleash. Sanctions on everyone, everything, anything, that is “Russian”? Oh, not those diamonds, uh?

    The Big Question on Wall Street Is Which Banks Owe $41 Billion on Credit Default Swaps on Russia

    Put it all together and you have the makings of a replay of the 2008 banking crisis when banks backed away from lending to each other because they didn’t know who would fall next from toxic subprime exposure. That led to a liquidity crisis and the unprecedented involvement of the Federal Reserve secretly pumping trillions of dollars into the megabanks on Wall Street and their foreign derivative counterparties.

    The Wall Street outcome from Joe Biden’s sanctions on Russia, “Ready, Aim, Shoot Yourself in the Head!”

    I’d laugh but the public is always the ones that get stuck with the tab to bail the Wall Street Banksters out.


    Dirty to the core, capitalists, industrialists, resource thieves. It is Women’s “history” Month:

    New Report Exposes Brutal Persecution of Adivasi Women Defending Their Land
    by Survival International / March 7th, 2022

    A devastating new report from Survival International – launched on International Women’s Day, March 8 – exposes how Adivasi (Indigenous) women in India are being brutally persecuted for defending their lands against a massive corporate and governmental mining rush.


    Yeah, the month of honoring women —

    A hell of a thing, corporate heads of the offensive weapons industries females. Now that’s a twist on the baby killer moniker. That’s capitalism, folks, where the Eichmann effect and Faustian Bargain are played out every nanosecond just to “survivie” in this perverted system!

    1. You state :” Hedges is naive, or fearful .” That ignorant comment assures that I will never bother reading another comment by you. Have you been where he’s been, seen what he’s seen ? I seriously doubt it.

      1. Open minds of the american mind. Well. Of course I am not Chris. But of course I have seen a lot and reported on much.

        But then you won’t ne reading this.

        Back to your hole in the ground?

        God help us all if we doubt even Hedges. Cancel us out

        I’ve followed Hedges a long time. No general disrespect goes his way from me.

        Go away now.

      2. Chris couldn’t possibly be fearful, could he?
        The names Assange, Manning, Webb immediately come to mind.
        I own everything that Chris has ever published.
        I appreciate what I have read.
        But, the unwillingness to even consider the idea that Reverend Hedges might be afraid, or fearful is reminiscent of a cult like mindset.
        Similar to trumpers who fly off the handle at any critique of their leader.
        Chris is no Trump.
        He is the antithesis of Trump.
        But, the demigod status that some of his fans accord to him, can best be described as sycophantic.
        Rather than engaging in a healthy debate with Paul+Haeder, in an effort to understand his point of view, and offering your alternative point of view, where a mutual understanding might, and I emphasize, might reach a consensus, instead you have what I see as a tantrum, and say I won’t entertain anything that interferes with my preconceived notions.
        I don’t say that it’s easy.
        But, it’s essential.
        Ask yourself this:
        Do I know either Chris Hedges, or Paul+Haeder well enough to denigrate one, and lionize the other?
        I don’t.
        So I try to keep an open mind.
        I would recommend acquainting yourself with the writings of both authors, before making such a drastic decision, as you have.
        It’s akin to trashing a book that you have never read.
        Think about that for a minute.
        Like an old AA patron once told me, “ take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth.”
        Based upon my experience, I believe that Mr. Chris Hedges would say the same thing.

      3. @Southpaw
        Chris Hedges has been unfairly criticized on this site by people like Paul+Haeder. The critics are basically claiming that Hedges isn’t left enough for them, but what it amounts to is egotistical BS with these people claiming that they’re more left. Demanding that Paul+Haeder provide evidence and support for his childish name-calling would have been a much better response to John Ressler. You’re correct that we shouldn’t worship or lionize anyone, but Ressler made good points while Paul+Haeder didn’t and just called Hedges names.

      4. I love what David Graeber wrote about Hedges’ wrong-headedness with his “cancer of Occupy” crap.

        Thanks goodness David was around, and may he rest in revolution:

        “The Cancer in Occupy.” This statement is not only factually inaccurate, it is quite literally dangerous. This is the sort of misinformation that really can get people killed. In fact, it is far more likely to do so, in my estimation, than anything done by any black-clad teenager throwing rocks.

        Let me just lay out a few initial facts:

        Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group. It is a tactic where activists don masks and black clothing (originally leather jackets in Germany, later, hoodies in America), as a gesture of anonymity, solidarity, and to indicate to others that they are prepared, if the situation calls for it, for militant action. The very nature of the tactic belies the accusation that they are trying to hijack a movement and endanger others. One of the ideas of having a Black Bloc is that everyone who comes to a protest should know where the people likely to engage in militant action are, and thus easily be able to avoid it if that’s what they wish to do.

        Black Blocs do not represent any specific ideological, or for that matter anti-ideological position. Black Blocs have tended in the past to be made up primarily of anarchists but most contain participants whose politics vary from Maoism to Social Democracy. They are not united by ideology, or lack of ideology, but merely a common feeling that creating a bloc of people with explicitly revolutionary politics and ready to confront the forces of the order through more militant tactics if required, is, on the particular occasion when they assemble, a useful thing to do. It follows one can no more speak of “Black Bloc Anarchists,” as a group with an identifiable ideology, than one can speak of “Sign-Carrying Anarchists” or “Mic-Checking Anarchists.”

        Even if you must select a tiny, ultra-radical minority within the Black Bloc and pretend their views are representative of anyone who ever put on a hoodie, you could at least be up-to-date about it. It was back in 1999 that people used to pretend “the Black Bloc” was made up of nihilistic primitivist followers of John Zerzan opposed to all forms of organization. Nowadays, the preferred approach is to pretend “the Black Bloc” is made up of nihilistic insurrectionary followers of The Invisible Committee, opposed to all forms of organization. Both are absurd slurs. Yours is also 12 years out of date.

        Your comment about Black Bloc’ers hating the Zapatistas is one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen. Sure, if you dig around, you can find someone saying almost anything. But I’m guessing that, despite the ideological diversity, if you took a poll of participants in the average Black Bloc and asked what political movement in the world inspired them the most, the EZLN would get about 80% of the vote. In fact I’d be willing to wager that at least a third of participants in the average Black Bloc are wearing or carrying at least one item of Zapatista paraphernalia. (Have you ever actually talked to someone who has taken part in a Black Bloc? Or just to people who dislike them?)

        “Diversity of tactics” is not a “Black Bloc” idea. The original GA in Tompkins Square Park that planned the original occupation, if I remember, adopted the principle of diversity of tactics (at least it was discussed in a very approving fashion), at the same time as we all also concurred that a Gandhian approach would be the best way to go. This is not a contradiction: “diversity of tactics” means leaving such matters up to individual conscience, rather than imposing a code on anyone. Partly,this is because imposing such a code invariably backfires. In practice, it means some groups break off in indignation and do even more militant things than they would have otherwise, without coordinating with anyone else—as happened, for instance, in Seattle. The results are usually disastrous. After the fiasco at Seattle of watching some activists actively turning others over to police—we quickly decided we needed to ensure this never happened again. What we found was that if we declared “we shall all be in solidarity with one another. We will not turn in fellow protestors to the police. We will treat you as brothers and sisters. But we expect you to do the same to us”—then, those who might be disposed to more militant tactics will act in solidarity as well, either by not engaging in militant actions at all for fear they will endanger others (as in many later Global Justice Actions, where Black Blocs merely helped protect the lockdowns, or in Zuccotti Park, where mostly people didn’t bloc up at all) or doing so in ways that run the least risk of endangering fellow activists.

        All this however is secondary. Mainly I am writing as an appeal to conscience. Your conscience, since clearly you are a sincere and well-meaning person who wishes this movement to succeed. I beg you: Please consider what I am saying. Please bear in mind as I say this that I am not a crazy nihilist, but a reasonable person who is one (if just one) of the original authors of the Gandhian strategy OWS adopted—as well as a student of social movements, who has spent many years both participating in such movements, and trying to understand their history and dynamics.

        I am appealing to you because I really do believe the kind of statement you made is profoundly dangerous.

        The reason I say this is because, whatever your intentions, it is very hard to read your statement as anything but an appeal to violence. After all, what are you basically saying about what you call “Black Bloc anarchists”?

    2. Goodness me,… go away and spew your garbage somewhere else. Hedges is the only man that I know that speaks from his experience, and he speaks God Honest TRUTH.

      1. 99 % of the readers here know the truth of your comment Lilith and the reputation and integrity of CH. Others hurl insults and pretend they know it all – clearly they have a fragile ego that requires diminishing others to elevate themselves. Won’t work on this site.

      2. Hedges,Chomsky,Nader and a few others are the prophets of our time but is listening as various forms of doom and extinction of the human Race and most animals quickly approach.Morons are in charge and devoted to quick profits as compared. To survival.

      3. @Wendell ignatin
        Humans as a whole went off the rails thousands of years ago, physically starting with the use of agriculture. Humans should have focused on expanding our consciousness, on wisdom, and on empathy for ALL life, including the Earth itself, as some hunter-gatherers have done. Instead, humans have obsessed on artificially and very harmfully manipulating the natural/physical world, on ego, and on intellect. The end result is that we have a bunch of psychopaths running the planet. If we avoid a nuclear war because of the Ukraine situation, we’ll still be causing the Sixth Great Extinction, wrecking the whole planet with industrial living (which includes the great harms of global warming/climate change and ocean acidification), choking the Earth with gross human overpopulation including unnatural domestic animals like livestock and pets, and choking the Earth and all the life here with unnatural pollution of everything.

        The only solution I can think of would be a major change of attitude of the vast majority of people, and the only possible way I can think of to effect that would be to educate people and hope that it sinks in. All real solutions are long term; we didn’t get into this mess overnight, and we’re not getting out of it overnight either. We could eliminate industrial society in 150-200 years if we lower human population to no more than one billion by that time, and we could get rid of agriculture in maybe 3-5,000 years. But in order for these things to happen, people have to actually want to live in harmony with the Earth and their ecosystems, and to love and respect all life as much as they do humans, and we have to start acting on this. So, we have our work cut out for us!

    3. You have stepped in it again Haeder.
      Listen to what the replies are telling you.
      Chris is identified as a prophet.
      Chris is the only man who, by virtue of his experience, knows, and speaks truth.
      Sure, you have much experience of your own to draw upon.
      But, unlike Chris, you do not possess the gift of prophecy.
      Your implication that Chris may be fearful, or naive, is tantamount to heresy, in these here part of town.
      It’s akin to going to church during lent, and questioning the wisdom, and veracity, of the holy bible.
      Take the events of September 11th, 2001 for example.
      In the twenty+ years since that event, Chris has used his experience, and gifts of eternal truth, and prophecy, to tell all of us what really took place on that fateful day.
      Unfortunately, I have lost all of those articles, and my memory fails me.
      Old, and too much marijuana I guess.
      Maybe someone could be so kind as to refresh my memory about Chris’s thoughts about this matter.
      I am a bit concerned that a prophet didn’t forewarn the world about this calamity, before it took place.
      Well, moderators, it’s $hit or get off the pot time, as far as I am concerned.
      Bury this post, and you confirm, for me, that you are not honest brokers, and are instead protective of sacred cows, and afraid of the consequences of confronting living, breathing evil people, and their loathsome deeds.
      How many dead do you imagine traverse the universe, as a result of those “ plane crashes”?
      I remember when criticizing Obama was met with the same vitriol, as Haeder has experienced here.
      How’s that messiah looking nowadays?
      I wish you well.

  4. “I would walk through the newsroom and reporters I had known for years looked down or turned their heads, as if I had leprosy. My career was finished.”

    I know personally of Hedges’ suffering – and the paycheck is just a tiny part of the ordeal.

    Google “what the scapegoat knows” to get a hint of what it all means.

  5. The devastation we witness afar of Ukraine is much like watching Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, in recent years. War has been waged forever, with the normal pawns having their lives destroyed. And this has reached a point, post WW2, at which the costs may be so great that a sustainable future may be at risk for the entire race of humans. This is not hyperbole, as far as we can tell. Respectable commentary supporting the small risk of a nuclear escalation and the folly of NATO advances into eastern Europe can be found by reputable political science experts on conflict such as John Mearsheimer. Commentary about Putin as an insane dictator are so accepted and repeated in western media, and so compellingly biased and propagandistic, that one in the “West” with even a small amount of skepticism is forced to search on “Ukraine from Russia perspective” just to find anything that will give one hope for a little light on the subject of Russian interests and their recent attack.

    In the past month and year I’ve searched for an understanding of Russia’s decisions ( I won’t use Putin’s decisions here, intentionally) through the lens of biology and a development called eusociality, promoted by EO Wilson, but first posed by David Sloan Wilson (unrelated). Not only to understand Russia’s struggle with the West, but to understand all of human behavior.

    EO Wilson is perhaps one of the greatest scientists of all time, but also one of the greatest pop science writers, so it is his voice that I’ll echo more here when I explain how such an idea as eusociality relates to war that treads close to WW 3.

    The idea so eloquently stated by the Wilsons is that we have perhaps more in common with the ants and bees than we do with antelope, dogs, lions or any of the other animals we share the land with. The way in which we do is in simple biomass and ability to change the environment, and critically, reflected in the way we organize our species into groups. Colony species (on 20 or so lines of these out of 60000 species of bigger plants and animals on the planet), the bees, ants, humans, have a multi-level selective evolutionary advantage over species that only operate on kin selective evolutionary paths. Simply speaking, the two types of selections cause a divergence in behavior. Kin selective individuals compete within their species to pass on the traits through direct competition. But multi-selective species compete in groups to pass on traits. According to the Wilsons, these evolved when species started to divide up the work into specialized tasks (think of the types of worker bees, and think of the types of specialized human activities), and crucially, this all started when our types, the colonizing types, maintained family relationship bonds beyond maturation from childhood to adulthood. The reason is a little ambiguous, but another factor to appreciate.

    What we get is a massive rise in success in a species over others when they sub-divide into competing colonies. It’s success could be the end of us all.

    When we look at it this way, we start to see that language and culture are mere superficial layers upon a deeper meaning. People need the group, and will die for it, with this commitment being the greatest species success story of biological evolution, but it really matters little which group we belong to. Nor does truth matter, often. Truth can be quite inconvenient. If truth, science, brings you guns or transistors, agriculture or medicine, it is useful and will be used. But truth can easily be discarded if it presents a barrier to group think and group behavior, and colony behavior.

    The Wilsons have other wonderful ideas that emerge from this, such how this helps us answer other major questions that religion and philosophy have tried to crack, unsuccessfully, for eons, such as 1) where we came from 2) who we are and 3) where we are going. Not unrelated though to the current question of how we are to make sense of a world in which we still look down the barrel of a 20 megaton nuclear weapon from a people and culture that is surely different, but not so different that it should persist.

    I wished we were talking more about the science of this, of what it means about what we could be. Again, the Wilsons offer us some ideas. The science of those 3 points can be best approached through the following 5 domains of research and development:

    1) Evolutionary Biology
    2) The historical sciences, in particular Anthropology, or to say for this context, the science of the possibilities for organizing human societies
    3) Artificial Intelligence
    4) Robotics
    5) Brain science.

    My apologies to the Wilsons if I got them wrong. I just want to share an alternative and personal perspective as food for thought.

    And I in no way think the morality of the situation should be ignored with intellectual bs. Morality and political science, or just morality and science, must be consistent, and Sam Harris does this well when he debates religious leaders (even if he sometimes is so American Exceptionalist)

    1. Chris,

      Get David Sloan Wilson in an interview and ask him about colonies, the amazing success of eusocial animals, and the implications for a potential WW3. Do humans wipe each other out when the wage war with nuclear weapons, and what keeps us from our eusocial end game? What limit is there to being eusocial? Does it lead to catastrophe? Or is it unrelated? Is deterrence enough to keep us from Armageddon? Do we move beyond nation states, perhaps to corporate states? Do evolutionary biologists have anything useful to say about this?

      Thank you!

    2. @Whoa Hum V
      I greatly respect E.O. Wilson, but I have a different perspective on this. Humans are much slower and weaker than similar-sized mammals, and we are not necessary to the proper functioning of any native ecosystem. However, we do have highly developed intellects and self-consciousness. Therefore, our only proper role on this planet is to expand our consciousness. Instead, we obsessed on artificially and very harmfully manipulating the physical/natural world to our benefit, but to the detriment to the entire rest of the planet. This mostly started with the use of agriculture 10-12,000 years ago.

      Humans should focus on wisdom, empathy, and expanding our consciousness. Instead, we focus on intellect, ego, and materialism. We have evolved (devolved?) into a cancerous tumor on the planet, when we could have been the shining light. It didn’t have to be this way, as many hunter-gatherer groups are very mentally and spiritually evolved, so much so that even our most brilliant scientists wouldn’t be able to understand their mythologies.

      As to what makes humans so “successful” — I also disagree with the use of that term, because it improperly defines success far too narrowly and reductionistically when one considers that our “success” comes at the expense of the rest of the planet on which we depend for survival — it’s the highly developed intellect and self-consciousness combined with opposable thumbs and the ability to walk upright. I’m not saying that Wilson’s reason is not also valid, but let’s use Occam’s razor here.

      1. I doubt any organism doesn’t change the world, isnt’ that the point; we dare not eliminate the mosquito as it wipes out the birds? It’s a false dichotomy that we are necessarily harmful to the world (though we’ll agree there are a multitude of reasonable examples one could cite) Some of us do propagate and convert lands with native plants, rewilding, planting trees. We can’t help but alter the planet and here’s to the due diligence, lest unintended consequences over take our intended projects. Regardless, I’m betting the planet out lasts us.

      2. @ScottinDallas
        I didn’t say that humans are per se harmful to the world, I said that we are so because of the choices we’ve made (as a whole, as I said there are some hunter-gatherer exceptions). The difference between how humans change things and how other beings do so is our immense power because of the factors I stated in my previous post. Humans are the sole cause of the current Sixth Great Extinction, we’re destroying the atmosphere with global warming/climate change, we’ve polluted the entire planet with unnatural gases, solids, and liquids, there are so many of us that other species basically have nowhere to live — humans, their agriculture, and their infrastructure occupy most of the terrestrial land on Earth, and most of the remainder is uninhabitable by all but the most primordial life — ubiquitous cattle, unnatural non-native, very harmful animals, are destroying ecosystems everywhere, etc. No other species has ever done anything even close to even one of these things let alone all of them.

        Thanks for doing the work you do. I’ve volunteered literally thousands of hours as an environmental campaigner (Earth First!), I got rid of my car over 20 years ago, I have no kids, and I replaced the lawn in front of our house with native plants as soon as we bought it. I applaud you and others who are making an effort, but let’s be honest: we are a tiny minority of humans. I look to the most truly evolved people — on Earth, which is hunter-gatherers who focus on things like expanding their consciousness, wisdom, and empathy with all life, and truly spiritual people (not religious!) who eschew the material world — for examples of how to feel about and interact with the planet. If only all humans did this there would be no problem. Unfortunately, humans literally fit the definition of being a cancerous tumor on the Earth, and that’s not my opinion, it’s a provable fact. This is what we need to reverse more than anything.

      3. @Jeff,

        The idea here is to look to the natural world as natural, and find the rules that govern what it does. From this viewpoint, from a naturalist’s viewpoint, there can be no artificial, nor a harming of the physical natural world. Because we and our behaviors, collective, arise from the natural world. I mean, of course there are better paths. When we don’t take them, can we say it is unnatural, or can we look for the rules that govern how these things work? That is my suggestion.

        Another idea in science, that most scientists accept, is that the world you see has a state, and that state evolves through time in a completely deterministic way, even when quantum mechanics of the little things is taken into account. So, what you see is nothing to judge as good or evil. It is just the natural state, doing what it does. And that doesn’t mean I can’t judge, through a certain lens, something as being evil. There are lenses where that also makes sense, and actions can be decided accordingly. But this Ukraine thing is going way beyond that simplistic view, where we think of a few crazed leaders on both sides doing things that are evil. There are great forces at work here giving a catastrophe. What are they?

        Even our discovery of the rules that govern social behaviors, all the way from the local to the global, must be arising from the natural world, the rules of physics and chemistry at the microscopic level. There is no place for judgements of good and evil in such an analysis. What we should do, or what we should have done, …., sort of has no has no place in science, or when we try to understand how we get to the point where the Russian government tries to destroy a people in a buffer state to the NATO countries.

        What is possible is that we will discover more of what makes us unique in the animal kingdom that leads us to a place where billions of individuals break up into groups (linguistically, culturally) and organize in such ways that we put all at stake. We could imagine having a better understanding of what makes us human.

        For example, take a pro Russian narrative for a moment on this war, just for argument sake, not because I feel it is correct. That narrative looks something like this: The Russian people and its leaders find the expansion of NATO an existential threat. And the West has ignored the threat because we don’t see it that way. So, we have just about done everything possible to arm Ukraine and pull them into the Western sphere, antagonistically to Russian leaders and Russian oligarchs and even the Russian people who have their religion and ways. And the West nearly added Ukraine to NATO after many years of trying, with the hope that the Russian regime would ultimately fade and give way to a pro-Western opening up, with markets like ours, travel of goods and people, very liberal looking, with the ability of its citizens to openly criticize their leaders without worry, etc.

        Now, that is a Russian narrative. And it sort of works to a point. But here is the thing that brings one beyond it, rooted in biology. What makes Russian interests Russian interests? Why are they so different from the West at all, to the point of potentially setting off a nuclear exchange? In the end, I believe the point is that to be Russian is to have a language and culture that does really all the same things that any other language and culture does in any other place. The people love their families just like ours. They have religion that isn’t really so different from all the others, except it’s just different names and practices. The main question is this: What is so different about saying niet or no? It’s all superficial. And if you look at what makes one colony of bees different from another, you’ll realize that they surely no the difference from each other. (I’m talking about bees again, because we and they are one of the few lines of organisms that do this eusocial thing) The bees know when a bee from another colony has arrived, and is searching out. But it really looks so much like just another bee to any human. So too for humans as perhaps viewed from a species from another planet, with a bigger brain than ours. That being would look at all our languages and cultures and economic exchanges and so on, and they would just say it is all the same. Kind of Chomskian viewpoint. Think of Chomsky’s Universal Grammar for language. So too, aren’t our kingdoms, Chinese, Russian, Western, aren’t they all just organizations of peoples on a grand scale that resembles ant colonies and bee colonies?

        If we are so similar, why do we point weapons of mass destruction at each other? Why do we create alliances the way we do? Why do we slaughter millions here and there, every few years, in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and now Ukraine, a weak pawn?

        And I think the Wilson’s sort of answer this and provide us with hope to get beyond it. It was just so evolutionarily successful to do this grouping within the species. It works really well at reproducing en mass. Which is why the eusocial ants and bees and others make up so much of the bio-mass. And it is similarly why we were so successful. That eusociality preceded language and writing and technology. It caused those others to develop.

        But, it appears, to me at least, that we really need to appreciate just how alarming this is if the colonies can not just wipe each other out (ant colonies go to war too), but ruin the environment we enjoy with a mass destruction that could bring a winter lasting decades and destroy most plant life for a while. Starvation, 90% death of all you see, including us.

        I only have a glimpse really of what I’m saying. I just hope we try to get to the obvious questions that ask us how we end up with a possible catastrophic WW 3 when all of our interests are at stake, and we aren’t really needing to have 2 or 3 separate kingdoms on Earth, or 5 to 10 that want to wipe out any other when their interests are challenged. How do we get to common shared interests? Love? I think we need more than such things. We need a new order that is grounded in the social sciences and biological sciences of what we do, and how to go beyond.

        It would make sense to see where this kind of new biology (only really accepted in the last 10 to 20 years, see Wilsons papers) leads us, where biological tendencies to group the way we do, and how it can lead to more than just a war, but even an instant acceleration of this next great mass extinction, when we all go up in smoke.

        It’s bad enough that we have been so successful that we released 200 million years of fossil fuel energy in 200 years. That was astounding. But now we might just light up the Earth as though a Sun Ball of Energy on Earth going off in every city was unavoidable.

        I think we need to move beyond all the narratives our news media, in both the East and West, offer us, and try to see this whole thing as natural and potentially something we participate in solving. And that, in my view, goes beyond all the philosophy of good and evil and compassion and kindness, empathy, wisdom and consciousness. The Russian Orthodox church has all those, and do you think it will save the Ukrainians from the Russian devastation taking place? Does it really come down to a madman in power?

        I don’t think it works. It only works as a way to blame and such. Doesn’t really look to any kind of answer beyond. We need answers that go beyond. Wars are just getting to dangerous for the existence of the entire giant bio-organism called life.

      4. @Whoa Hum V
        Your basic premise is false. If everything is “natural,” then the word has no meaning. “Natural” means of nature, as opposed to of humans. Biology, wildlife biology, marine biology, and ecology all show that what humans have done and are still doing to the planet is totally unnatural, and is destroying the Earth and the entire web of life on it. Just because humans came from nature at some point doesn’t make their actions “natural.”

        As to what is evil, I’ll go with Aldo Leopold’s definition: Something is good if it aids the biotic community, and it’s bad if it harms the biotic community. I won’t get into smaller social issues regarding good & evil here, that’s another discussion. The purpose of these distinctions is for humans to make major behavioral and attitude changes, not to blame anyone. We agree that blame is generally useless and counterproductive, that’s not the point.

        We end up at the brink of nuclear war because we have a bunch of psychopaths running the planet. We have a bunch of psychopaths running the planet for multiple reasons, starting with human overpopulation (i.e., if we lived in naturally small groups, everyone would know each other and no psychopaths would become leaders). Another reason is that human priorities are all wrong, so we end up with bad leaders.

      5. I think the idolization of hunter gatherers and prophet-complaining about us has gone to far, as has the worship of the “natural.” In saying this, i am not disagreeing with people’s just complaints that humans have become dangerous to themselves and to other animals, and that civilization gives power to unworthy individuals. Aside from the usual powerful examples, I was personally shocked to read that in Napoleon’s time, the leading aristocrat of Russia owned one million people: three hundred thousand male serfs and by law, their families. What kind of species insanity allows such a thing to be legalized and “normalized”? So, I am certainly on board with all these revulsions and fears.
        But, here are some things I think are worth considering.
        1) “Natural” is not all that great, and there is no reason to lionize it: One of the central facts of the “natural” world is death. Most animals, often overwhelmingly so, die before reaching adulthood. Even an advanced, high-care animal like lions has a fatality rate such that 80% of male lions die before maturity. Ratios are far worse for many other animals. As the great evolutionary scholar Ernst Mayr wrote, “natural selection” might be reword as “death avoidance.” Humans, as hunter gatherers, probably saw half their children die before adulthood. One of the things modern knowledge made possible is societies in which most children overwhelmingly live to maturity. Even in poorer countries, rates of survival are higher than they were for prosperous humans before. I realize there are things to be unhappy about here: the contribution of this situation to human overpopulation and the damage to other animals. (It is a good thing that birth rates have come down drastically in most of the world, including non-replacement rates in many places). Yet I cannot help but think that it is reasonable for parents to want to see their children live – indeed it is “natural” (by the way) – and our “unnatural” state is the one that can fulfill this desire
        Back to “natural” being so wonderful. I think there is an idea that “natural” means good psychological being. Here is something: because death is so omnipresent, evolution has selected for organisms which are highly motivated to avoid their own death and their children’s death, for being hugely distressed at death. So the “natural” world sets up a situation where its basic condition – high death – leads to psychologies that are more distressed by this natural condition, because these psychologies do better at avoid it. Our “unnatural” world, as I have remarked, does better at fulfilling this “natural” desire, installed by natural selection, to avoid death for ourselves and our children. I don’t draw a general harmonious conclusion from this: I think paradox is part of the core of “nature” here. I would say some “natural” things are good, some are bad, and some are both at the same time.
        As to the wonderfulness of hunter gatherers. I agree, again, that there is something to preferring some of the characteristics of hunter gatherer society: greater equality, more respect for nature, less death for animals (though they did apparently wipe out large mammals through hunting). On the other hand, some things about them are not so wonderful. In his book on the paradoxes of human goodness, Wrangham tells about an anthropologist who interviewed Australian aborigine women. Something they had to experience was that when a band of men who might be aiming for conflict approached a band’s territory, the band set the women out. The idea was that if the approaching band had in mind a possibility of negotiation rather than fighting, they would rape the women. If they bypassed the women, it showed they were not interested in negotiation. The women said this terrified them, not surprisingly. Present-day Australian aboriginals are highly abusive towards their women in all sorts of ways. It has been proposed that their behavior has been degraded by the effects of Western conquest. But archaeological investigations have shown evidence of abuse going back thousands of years, in the frequently broken and damaged bones of womens’ remains. People praise the ideal infancy-early childhoods of young hunter gatherers, who are breast fed and kept close by their mothers for around three years (partly because there is nothing else to feed them). Adults and older children are also friendly to them, and their fathers pay them more attention, on average, than any other known human group. This is all good. But when a new baby comes along, the mother very abruptly weans the child and sends it away, cutting her contact with it completely. Konners reports that the resulting tantrums are monumental. If we were not determined to see everything hunter gatherers do as being ideal, we might wonder if this situation would not set up a permanent fear of betrayal by the people closest to you, a psychodynamic permanent scar. In fact, according to anthropologists (Collier and Rosaldo give a good summary) hunter gatherer marriages are not emotionally close (men get married for status and sex), divorce is common, and jealousy over suspected infidelity leads to fmen’s ights that over time, cause a murder rate a few times higher than Detroit’s, in the best studied bands. I’m not seeing an ideal way of life here. These are just a few examples (though I think they are important ones).
        Finally, the writer seems to think that because being intelligent and imaginative is humanity’s strong point, we should dwell on expanding those things. But according to Wrangham, another of our evolutionary “strong points” is the ability to use group moral feeling and conformity to enforce internal order, and to engage in group organized action. But these abilities also make us especially good at engaging in planned, organized and sustained aggression against other groups. Organized warfare is possible because of our uniquely human characteristics too. Perhaps we should strive to extend our powers here (well, actually, we’re doing that, aren’t we? – so that must be good). Or to take another case, our particular kind of mental abilities make us especially good at deceiving others and setting up massive, organized deceptions. Perhaps we should work even harder at these things, too. The idea that expanding an animal’s “natural” evolutionary strengths is automatically desirable (the underlying premise here, apparently) is, quite simply, absurd as a basis for moral life. (Apply it to mosquitoes and see what you get).
        I will belabor things with a final moral argument. My impression is that most people want to have had their chance at life, even when life is hard. I really don’t blame them for that. Without agriculture and industrialization, most humans who have been alive, wouldn’t have been. The world can only support a relatively small number of hunter gatherers, who require huge amounts of space per person. I fully sympathize with the plight of the animals, who would be much better off without us, except maybe for dogs, cats and rats. I fully agree with many of the complaints about what bad things agriculture brought on and enabled in human life. But I also sympathize with people’s desire to have had their chance at living too, and for all its problems, I think that higher fulfillment of that “natural” desire can be counted at least partly as a good, even while admitting all its problems.
        Our society has really devolved into one in which sounding completely confident about one’s point of view, painting it as flawless, is what is valued, or what works for the good. I think this is what people do when things are both important and certain: they turn to religion, so to speak (or, if one prefers, tribalism, another “natural” characteristic of humans). One of the examples of this has become the unqualified praise of hunter gatherers and “nature” and “the natural state of things.” I suggest that like most of human life, these things are morally complicated and often paradoxical.

      6. @Michael Maratsos
        I never idolized hunter-gatherers. The point is that hunting & gathering is the only natural and therefore the only ecologically friendly way to live. Agriculture, by definition, means killing native plants, and thereby the animals that depend on them, in order to plant crops. That’s major ecological destruction and is totally immoral. Agriculture is the physical root cause of human overpopulation, the biggest and worst problem on the planet, and one of the twin physical root causes of all environmental problems (and almost all other problems).

        Yes, in nature the large majority of animals, including humans, die before reaching breeding age. That’s a natural and necessary population control. Humans have circumvented natural population controls, and that has resulted in extreme human overpopulation, which is strangling the planet and leaving no room for other species. It’s only OK for most humans to live to breeding age if humans also control their breeding in order to not increase their numbers, but humans didn’t do that. Only people who worship themselves and their own species to the exclusion of all else are OK with most humans living to breeding age without humans limiting their breeding and overpopulating the planet. That totally immoral attitude is called “anthropocentrism,” and it’s every bit as bad if not worse than racism.

        Your argument, in which you equivocate constantly and which is self-contradictory, seems to be that humans are better and more important than other species, and therefore it’s OK for them to wreck the planet with agriculture, overpopulation, and industrial society, all so we can have more humans. Not only is that argument morally reprehensible, it’s also factually wrong. There is nothing in science that says that humans are better or more important than any other species. To the contrary, humans fit the medical definition of being a cancerous tumor on the planet. Basic biology also shows that species that overpopulate wreck their environments. Furthermore, what you totally ignore is that all other animals live as hunters and/or gatherers. and that humans lived that way for 95% of our existence. It’s the only way to live in proper ecological balance with your ecosystem, and therefore the only moral way to live. It will take thousands of years to reduce human population and take other actions to be able to return to living as hunter-gatherers, but this should be our goal.

        If you refuse to accept natural controls and limits, you do great harm. You are a perfect example of a person who has a highly developed intellect, but who has no wisdom or empathy. Your focus is solely on humans, with small equivocations that you feel bad for all the harms that we cause to other animals. A proper attitude would be to value ALL LIFE equally, as science shows that it’s all equally important, and which is the only moral position to take. But if you lack wisdom and empathy, you’ll never feel that way.

        And to reiterate, humans’ ONLY proper role on this planet is to expand our consciousness. Overbreeding in order to provide more people with life is totally immoral, because it deprives other species of life. Humans are causing the Sixth Great Extinction, are heating up the atmosphere to the point where life as we know it on Earth could end, are acidifying the oceans to the point where they will devolve by 200 MILLION years if we don’t stop polluting the planet with unnatural carbon dioxide emissions, etc. These destructive results added to those I listed above are all results of humans using agriculture, and of not being willing to live naturally. If humans cause their own extinction, the rest of the planet will be dancing for joy. The problem is that we’re taking the rest of the planet with us.

      7. Regardless of style of living, any population will expand to achieve a balance with available resources. Hunter gatherers had limited resources comparable with agriculturists, but all natural constraints seemingly disappeared with the exploitation of fossil fuels . These gave humans an enormous stock of energy, enormous quantity of resources, and thus the human population has expanded drastically with ever increased fossil fuel exploitation to provide the resources. It is no accident that artificial fertilizers are key elements in the Green Revolution.
        Therefore, when energy use is once again constrained by global heating, population will reduce. Whether or not we have to return to hunter-gatherer lifestyle is perhaps an open question.

      8. @Ted+Tripp
        That’s simply not true, you’re practicing false equivalence. Before agriculture, there were only 5-10 million humans on Earth. Just before the industrial revolution, there were one billion humans. That’s an increase of 100-200 TIMES. You talk as if this was some minor change, but it was a very major one. One of the big problems with agriculture is that it circumvents natural population controls. Of course extracting and burning fossil fuels made things even worse, and among the problems were another increase of human population to almost 8 billion. This was caused by using artificial fertilizer, without which the Earth can “only” support 1 billion people (still far too many in ecological terms). However, the population increase that was caused by using artificial fertilizer was much smaller by percentage of increase than the population increase caused by using agriculture.

        Saying that population expands to achieve balance with the available resources totally misses the point and is not applicable to agriculture. Agriculture circumvents natural population constraints and totally perverts the who process, throwing it out of balance by definition.

        Humans don’t “have” to return to living as hunter-gatherers. Humans don’t even have to avoid nuclear war, lower their population & consumption in order to address climate change, stop causing extinctions, stop polluting the Earth, or do anything else. But we do have to return to living as hunter-gatherers if we want to stop immorally killing other species and unnaturally harming the Earth. That’s the choice.

    3. Simply put, you, the Wilsons and I advocate cooperation over competition. The view presented by Libertarians such as Ayn Rand about individuality are patently wrong as our species survived and thrived due to cooperation.

      1. if you’re not conservative, you don’t have a brain, if you’re not liberal, you don’t have a heart, if you’re not libertarian you have no restraint or limits. It takes balance of all 3 instincts.

    4. just read Brent Scowcroft, James A Baker or George HW Bush; squeezing Russia is folly, it’s why we promised Gorbechev we wouldn’t do it; it’s crazy that wisdom isnt’ being addressed in the media coverage. You don’t need to look to arcane theories; it’s pretty basic stuff. Think you’re off on a pointless academic tangent.

      1. “squeezing Russia is folly, it’s why we promised Gorbechev we wouldn’t do it”

        Oh my. “We” keep all of our promises, don’t we? 😉 That is the main reason “we” are at this point today. “We” suckered Gorbachev big-time, and, here “we” are. The big panic is about U.S. dollar hegemony fading into the Asian distance. The only way TPTB know to stave off that inevitability is sowing more chaos, because that’s the only way they know how to make money these days and keep collecting their rents. Hence the soulless ghouls that inhabit the State Department now.

  6. Yes, and we are witnessing the catastrophe, Chris. For most of the 50 years since I was in a war your words have given me hope that there would be some change and yet here we are (and there we have been over and over in the last 50 years).

    So, what do I make of those facts and those happenings? We are simpilistic animals easily led by the sociopaths in our midst. We are tribal and it is the color of our skin that is THE indicator of which tribe we belong to.

    I once thought that the ONLY way we would survive as a species would be that we are all the same color of beige — but we won’t make it that long as we are also animals that too easily foul our nests.

    1. Whether in kindergarten or among nation states, humans are extremely capable at turning small differences into huge excuses for identity and vilification and dehumanizing the enemy. What language you say the Mass in, whether you are nomad or farmer, where your ancestors came from…plenty of people the same color have attempted genocide on each other (Rwana, Yugoslavia, Armenia, etc. etc. etc.)

      1. Yes, I was naive to think there would be an answer. Long ears and short ears on Easter Island and what’s left of the statue of Osymandias is everywhere.

  7. Mass hysteria has taken over the world regarding the outright vilification of all things Russian. For god’s sake, now Russian Blue cats are banned from cat shows. Really?! Yes Russia has done a horrific thing by invading Ukraine, but it pales in comparison to what the USA has wrought around the world in recent years. Where was the outrage of the USA illegally attacking Iraq as one example. That whole invasion was based on fabricated lies. Over 500,000 children died and Madeline Albright famously and grotesquely said those deaths were worth it. Libya was destroyed by the USA and is now literally an open air slave market. What else would you expect from a nation founded on Native American genocide and African slavery. But yet the USA (and the rest of the world) have the gall to get all bent out of shape around Russian while cheering on their own illegal wars a of destruction. It’s complete hysteria and it will kill us all in the end. The only issue the world should be outraged around is exponential climate catastrophe which is here now and ramping up rapidly. It will likely lead to most life on earth going extinct but somehow humanity just can’t seem to care about such a thing. I’ve never witnessed such a case of mass hysteria as folks right on cue spew such hatred against Russia while cheering on the same behaviors when their own countries do such things. It goes well beyond hypocrisy now and it is further fueled by racism and outright bloodlust. And it is a perfect example of psychological projection to blame others for war mongering while denying one’s own same actions which have been far more deadlier. I detest the USA and all it has done to destroy the world while proclaiming itself to be a beacon for humanity. The USA is as evil as it comes when it comes to illegally attacking and destroying sovereign nations.

    1. Excellent and very true comment by Schrodinger’s+Cat. I’ve been thinking about all of the things you pointed out and could have written this myself. Thank you.

    2. I can honestly agree with you and say that I am not proud to be an American.

    3. Unbelievable,te amount of hypocrisy tat Americans can digest without pukeing.This has bee going on since the Reagon years and even earlier.We are the rulers of the planet and what we say goes backed up by trillions spent on weapons to.impose our Capitalistic will Where or when will it stop.Citizens at home are dying,starving and homeless.Black people are killed by cops every day.I am.not a believer in religion but if there was a Jesus,this is not what he wanted.

  8. The media is widely responsible for our misunderstanding and the media relies on government sources to tell it What to Say.

  9. It all boils down to the God Damned Dollar and the Corporate control over it. We the People must Eliminate Corporations especially Global Corporations and the Global Space Conglomerate that runs the Secret Space Program and has run it since the 1950’s.
    Secrecy is rampant and we have been lied to and deceived about EVERYTHING!!!!!!! All of this must be exposed.

      1. @ScottinDallas
        You’re both right. War is a result of civilization (living densely in urban areas), but corporations make everything worse.

      2. We had farms before corporations, but now the corporate, industrial agriculture system is destroying farmland, eliminating farmers, and producing food with diminished nutritional value.
        We now have vast militaries, corporatized by fossil fuels and military hardware that consume enormous amounts of energy. Militarism is arguably the number one impediment to solving global heating (consumerism is easily the second).

    1. You are SOO right! Scary, I am also ashamed of being American. What can be done? We have been deceived and lied to forever! I am afraid that WWIII cannot be avoided… The US is the biggest war monger!

  10. Chris:

    Like others have said, our culture is in the process of destroying itself for profit (or even, convenience). Those with conscience do not have any god-like power to reverse what is being done. It would still be a mistake to accept either nihilism (or blind hope), because none of us knows the future with certainty.

    However, whether or not a person can make any meaningful impact (outside their own life), I would not want this “culture of death” to continue even if circumstances allowed it to. Predatory capitalism and systemic greed will burn itself out, but that doesn’t absolve us from confronting these forces while they persist, which I believe is a big part of what you asking of us, in your writings.

  11. The US officially started their war on Iraq in 2003 and left after mass murders and the country razed in 2011. But the depleted uranium they used in their large weaponry, with a half life of something like 4.5 million years, was killing and poisoning Iraqi civilians, especially children, a large portion of whom, especially near Basra, in southern Iraq, died of cancer.

  12. This COULD be a description of “work” done by the Einstatzgruppen or Pinochet or Franco or the Shah or Stasi … but it is a description or “work” done by the armed forces of the City in a Hill, the Exceptional Nation, Amerika. Nauseating! And SAD!:

    “… villagers, including women, children, and the elderly, were often herded into tiny, barbed wire enclosures known as “cow cages.” They were subjected to electric shocks, gang raped and tortured by being hung upside down and beaten, euphemistically called “the plane ride,” until unconscious. Fingernails were ripped out. Fingers were dismembered. Detainees were slashed with knives. They were beaten senseless with baseball bats and waterboarded. Targeted assassinations, orchestrated by … death squads, were ubiquitous.”

    Amerika has NO standing to say *anything* in moral judgement against ANY other nation or person AT ALL.

  13. “Rulers divide the world into worthy and unworthy victims…”

    Never let someone with bad intent ever be allowed to define you in any way. However, you have every right (and the absolute imperative) to define THEM.

    ‘You’ are not a Group. You are not a Thing. You are not a chess piece to be moved around by someone with filthy hands and a dark heart. You are a precious human being.

    “We are good. They are evil.”

    The American People were brought up on TV Westerns. Cartoonish, simplistic stories of simple Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. The Good Guys were all virtuous and wonderful. The Bad Guys were all bad and worthless.

    And so, People grew up on these simplistic notions that all of real life is like that. Someone or something is either wearing the white hat or the dark one. Someone is always looking like a paragon of virtue, or is dirty, in bad need of a shave and bath, and cannot ever do anything that is not evil or at least not very nice.

    So, People today never grew up. They learned that Life is a Cartoon filled with cartoon figures and easy answers. People carry their childish notions of easy lines of demarcation and who to root for or jeer with them their entire lives.

    And ‘Those Who Move Us Around Like Chattel’ are very happy with that arrangement. Those Dark Forces have worked tirelessly to keep us all dumb, happy, and dumb.

    Today, maybe not so much happy. But certainly, dumb.

    The problem is… Real Life is not that simple. Real Life is NEVER that simple. And there are stories and motivations that go on within both the ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ side of things that People never get to learn or hear about because The Narrative must be tightly controlled so that We are herded into the proper pens.

    NEWS FLASH: Real Life is SHADES OF GREY. There was only one person who was said to be All Good and He lived a long time ago. That means, all the rest of us are Gray. We don’t get to wear the White hat. Or if we try to, we are damn hypocrites.

    And of course, so it is with World events. Nothing is as simple as State Corporate Media or certain people and groups paint them to be. If someone is making something sound simple, run the other way. They are PLAYING you.

    “… worthy victims alone are rendered human, people like us, and unworthy victims are not.”

    ‘Worthy victims’ are worthy only so long as they serve The Agenda and The Narrative. Once they don’t, they quickly become Unworthy.

    “If we can’t see ourselves, we can’t see anyone else. And this blindness leads to catastrophe. “

    We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes’.

    Today, the ongoing social and empathy practice is… ‘Walk OVER Somebody and Take Their Shoes’.

    The computer virus has overtaken Humanity’s Operating System and has become its default program.

    1. so, defining someone else isn’t your imperative, that is hypocritical and it ignores the point that no one is good or bad, and so defining/judging them is to claim a false dichotomy. People may be helpful, benign, indifferent, opposed or malign and that doesn’t mean anything. Take all the criticism you can get, that’s invaluable, compliments aren’t near as valuable. Challenges are opportunities to hone the project or yourself or what have you. Be open to all fair critiques; and know that not all can be served, satisfied with any particular result/choice.

      1. My Sentence: “Never let someone with bad intent ever be allowed to define you in any way. However, you have every right (and the absolute imperative) to define THEM.”

        As stated, here I’m talking about defining them AS someone with bad intent (if They are so), not in other ways. One must always discern whether he or she in engaged with someone of honorable intent or not. This must be ascertained before you can know how to approach them further.

      2. @ScottinDallas
        I advocate Aldo Leopold’s definitions of “good” and “bad.” If something aids the biotic community (i.e., all life), it’s good. If it harms the biotic community, it’s bad.

  14. Oil shortages are nothing. The rapidly accelerating cost of foods of all kinds should be the biggest worry, particularly in drought struck nations like the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, and critical food growing regions of Africa, to name a few. Scarce and affordable food supplies should be scaring the heck out of all politicians and the global financial industry. So far, however, the media appears to be ignoring this evolving crisis that will make the regional Ukraine war seem like peanuts to borrow a Western expression meaning “no problem”.

  15. Cynical Rex is absolutely correct, war for the Yankee Empire is all about profits for our war economy and validates our war culture. Very much money is inserted into our media for advocating more and more war.

    War provides a lot of employment, benefits and pensions, but the best deal is that war heroes easily get elected or are highly paid consultants for weapons manufacturers.

    The most important reasons for expanding Nato is that $billions in weapons sales are foisted onto the new members.
    The rest of the world ( non west friendly) realize that Pentagon is a ‘pusher’ of armaments and in the business of ‘ mafia style’ protection rackets, that uses any means to continue the criminal acts. The media is vital to this immoral activity and the public ( mostly Nato / and allies) are willfully blind and ignorant.

  16. “If Russia should be crippled with sanctions for invading Ukraine, which I believe it should,…”

    Although I respect his position, Chris Hedges seems to suggest that Russia’s rescue and defense of Russian aligned east Ukraine by Russian troops is equivalent to U.S. wars of aggression in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc.

    I would argue against equating NATO’s destruction of whole countries and the murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians with the suffering and death as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign against the mostly Russian people of Eastern Ukraine. This genocide has been ongoing for 8+years and has been carried out by the Western supported (CIA) Ukrainian military and backed by the Ukraine government in Kiev. Amongst the Ukraine military are a sizable number of Neo-Nazi and white supremacists from the Azov Battalion.

    This, in addition to the existential threat posed by the intentions for NATO missiles on Russia’s border has been the catalyst for Russia’s actions against Ukraine.

    It raises the question, does not any Head of State have a responsibility to defend his/her people, both at home and abroad?

    Twenty-seven million Russian citizens died defending their country on Russian soil against an invading Nazi army in the defining battle of WWII. Must Putin wait while former Soviet satellite countries fall to anti-Russian, CIA backed insurgencies? Should Putin wait for war to be fought, again, on Russian soil? And if so, how many Russian lives must be lost before Putin is considered to be justified in the defense of his people?

    Rather than a war of aggression, I would argue that Russia’s involvement in Ukraine is more humanitarian. As such, crippling sanctions are not only not justified, but are illegal, and as such, an aggressive act of war.

    1. This is a completely one-sided interpretation of events in Ukraine and the WWII argument is basically the same that Israel abuses to escape sanction for its Apartheid regime. Past suffering is no excuse for future repression. And by the end of this war, after both sides flood it with weapons, Ukraine may well look like Iraq after the US invasion… or Syria or Grozny or Kosovo or Beirut…

      1. The intent of my comment was to present an alternative view of the crisis apart from the one put forth by western propaganda. In that regard, yes, it’s one-sided.

        I don’t see the parallels with Apartheid Israel that you propose. If we take Putin at his word, which I thought was clearly stated, he has no intention of repressing the Ukrainian population.

        But since you brought up Israel, acknowledging the differences in scale, would you argue against U.S. forces invading Germany to liberate the Jews in WWII?

      2. well, Putin’s demands are basically enforcement of Minsk2, and US/NATO hold to promise to not move NATO East, restoration of ABM treaty with regard to Polish (and Baltic) missile platforms that can shoot Tomahawk missiles. All those are things we agreed to, and we consider them red-lines. We refused to listen to Putin, with Zelensky recently threatening to retake Crimea (they voted 97% to join Russia) and overtake the Donbass; Zelensky also said he wanted to pull out of NPT and seek Nukes for Ukraine. Those are all facts; we’re saying our promises, commitments and treaties are non-starters? C’mon.

      3. How about the current suffering of the people of Donbass? It has gone on for 8 years with no end in sight. It had to be stopped, or not? If the West doesn’t want Ukraine to end up looking like Iraq, well, don’t flood it with weapons. The Russians will not destroy more than absolutely necessary. You know what slogan the Russian military is Ukraine uses – “We are not the Americans”.

    2. Excellent summary of the context surrounding this war. Patrick Lawrence in todayʻs Consortium News gives a figure of 14,000 killed since 2014 in Eastern Ukraine by the Ukrainian army. Just one thought makes me agree with the suggestion by Lawrence that this war may be an unfortunate necessity. The US empire has been deliberately encircling Russia with new NATO members, bases and missile launching platforms just to provoke a war. It was not going to stop until either the war happened or Russia agreed to become a client state in an empire with over 750 overseas bases – primarily around Russia and China. The US is using Ukraine as a sacrificial pawn. I believe Russia reluctantly came to that same conclusion.

      1. To Charles Badal: I appreciate the broader context that you bring up. But the ongoing attacks at present in the Ukraine are not just on the east or to liberate the east. They are shelling cities all over the country and are killing everyday Ukrainians all over the country. Logically that does not fit into the narrative that you have laid out, that the attacks are to “defend” against Ukrainian aggression in the eastern parts of Ukraine. This is something bigger and is also NOT characterizable as “humanitarian.” (How one cannot see the blatant contrast between the 400+ Ukrainian civilians killed in the past few days and the description of this military venture as “humanitarian” is beyond me.)

      2. deanna-los-angeles: You could be very correct, and the civilian casualty numbers we are being given every day in the MSM could even be on the low side. On the other hand, I would certainly not take the numbers offered by RT as accurate either. We have no way of knowing at this point. What I do know is that the 2021 Cognitive Warfare report by NATO described by Patrick Lawrence is being implemented against us, American citizens, in order to control the narrative and our perceptions of who is to blame. If one steps just slightly outside the matrix, it becomes clear that the US is responsible for the military provocations that led up to the Russian invasion – like the major base we are constructing in Poland just 100 miles from the Russian border. If you want to blame someone for those civilian casualties, blame the madmen in Washington.

      3. The extension of NATO in Eastern Europe took place more than 15 years ago.
        Talking about NATO encircling Russia denotes a shocking ignorance of geography as about 5% or less of Russia borders are with a grand total of 4 NATO countries (5 if we also consider the Kaliningrad enclave).

      4. You are correct. The Baltic and Eastern European states joined NATO around 15 years ago. However, it is not necessary from a military perspective to be on Russiaʻs border to pose a first-strike threat. It was Obama that began moving offensive nuclear missile capability into the new NATO states of, I believe, Estonia, Romania and Poland. Or maybe it is Lithuania. And now we learn that the US is constructing a major base in Poland just 100 miles from Russia. It is not just that these states were invited to join NATO 15 years ago, despite promises made to Russia. It is that the US is actively constructing a first-strike military capability that will soon become doubly effective when there are US hypersonic missiles. The US is clearly not going to stop. We are truly governed by madmen. I suggest again that you read the essay by Patrick Lawrence.

  17. Thank you for this nuanced column, especially for
    the personal reflections and the uncontestable examples that make your point. I hope you land on another platform with RT America now silenced.

    1. deanna-los-angeles –

      Thank you for your response. One must be very careful when interpreting what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine. Certainly, if one believes in the western propaganda machine, Russia is committing grave atrocities against Ukraine civilians. But we don’t really know if this is true, and given the media’s track record of lies, I would be extremely suspect.

      We do know from independent sources that the CIA backed Neo-Nazi, anti-semitic, and white supremacist forces that make up a large percentage of the Ukraine military are using civilians as shields against Russian attacks. This is being done with the knowledge that, as President Putin stated, unlike the West, Russia would not be attacking civilian enclaves, but targeting only military installations and infrastructure.

      Putin’s goals are to liberate ethnic Russians in east Ukraine, bring those responsible for this mass murder to justice, and ensure that NATO is not a threatening presence on Russia’s border.

      To repeat, the West tells only lies, as evidenced here:

      1. @Charles Badal
        Is Amnesty International also part of the western propaganda machine?
        “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is grave, severe and defined by one characteristic only: aggression. Russia is invading into the heart of Ukraine, seeking to depose its lawfully elected government, with a real and potential massive impact on civilians’ lives, safety and well-being; its acts cannot remotely be justified on any of the grounds that Russia has offered. Yet all of this is being committed by a permanent member of the UN Security Council,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
        Since the Russia invasion began on 24 February, Amnesty has been documenting the escalation in violations of humanitarian and human rights law, including deaths of civilians resulting from indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure. Strikes on protected objects such as hospitals and schools, the use of indiscriminate weapons such as ballistic missiles and the use of banned weapons such as cluster bombs, may all qualify as war crimes.

      2. Is your question rhetorical? The answer is yes, Amnesty International is definitely part of the US government media propaganda machine. Occasionally they are allowed to stray and offer the truth of a situation, such as apartheid in Israel, but otherwise they just commit to the dominant narrative.

  18. 99 % of the readers here know the truth of your comment Lilith and the reputation and integrity of CH. Others hurl insults and pretend they know it all – clearly they have a fragile ego that requires diminishing others to elevate themselves. Won’t work on this site.

  19. Thank you Chris for another great one. I have saved it under a bookmark folder titled “U.S Imperialism”. A very full folder.

  20. Until all humans deem their fellow human beings as creatures worthy of life, liberty, and happiness, there will be war. We need to disarm and de-escalate all war zones, but we also need to work on our hearts of stone. Empathy is the strongest protection against future conflicts

  21. I have missed the clarity and reply substantial writings of Chris Hedges.. no Truthout.Scheerpost subscritionis an awakening and challenge for me.

  22. Aptly brutal recounting of what should be obvious to all us Americans. We heard each cycle of lies and later learned the horrifying truth. How in God’s name have so many Americans forgotten?

  23. I needed this eloquent rebuttal to the hypocrisy we are witnessing. Thanks, Chris. And Bob. Your clarity a balm against tense anger. An absolutely terrific essay.

  24. The duplicity of victimhood and the mechanism of scapegoats is very telling. I don’t agree with Chris on Russia and sanctions. It is a failure of both the west in not helping Russia and Ukraine. If West tried meditating and didn’t send weapons and Russia was unwilling to talk sanctions would be justified. I am against all types of wars, Chris is not. But a case can very well be made that Russia’s invasion is a just war. Fascist next door government with nuclea weapons(as per Max Blumenthal).

    I would appreciate if Mr. Hedges or Scheerpost covered the important topic of pandemic origins. It is crucial and has important implications please see:

    “ What happens when dangerous and unproven scientific research techniques meet the military-industrial complex? Are modern research scientists still controlled by any code of ethics at all?

    Is the COVID-19 Pandemic an inevitable product of the “Publish-or-Perish” mentality that’s turning both academia and popular journalism into factory farms whose primary goal is monetization – not the public good?

    Answering these questions will reveal the ties that bind together the histories of mysterious military illnesses, the emergence of HIV, the source of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic, anal swabs, COVID-19’s origins, Original Antigenic Sin, both the SARS and MERS Outbreaks, the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic, as well as experimental but profitable vaccination protocols – all to the fates of those who would put fame and fortune over human life and academic ethics.”

    1. @ManInBlack
      So Israel invading Iran would also be a just war ? Theocratic regime next door with nuclear weapons

      1. There are certain requirements, but it would be a much weaker case than Russia-Ukraine war. With Russia-Ukraine you had the US coup of the Ukrainian government with Maidan revolution. So technically the case could be made that the Ukranian government is illegitimate. Not the case for Iran and Israel.
        1.Ukraine’s alliance with west(NATO) and common history and culture with Russia threatens its security.
        2. Ukraine is an artificial country cooked by Soviet regime, many which used to be a part of Russia Federation. Example Crimea.
        3. There is a sizeable Russian speaking minorities and these minorities want autonomy. Luhansk and Donetsk. Ukrainian government has been murdering these people. Russia is obligated to help them, because its the big brother.

        See this conversation to look at the intricacies of the theory:

      2. You’ve got it backwards.
        Israel is the one with nuclear weapons, not Iran.
        As for theocracy, I’m not certain if the Zionists fit into that words parameters, or not.
        I do know which nation has been perpetrating a genocide against a different ethnic group for the past seventy+ years , and it ain’t the Persians.

  25. According to Scott Ritter in several recent articles, most notably Consortium News, the Russian Way of War is not like the American way in any respect. We have seen this recently in Syria’s Aleppo where the Syrian army as advised by Russian commanders surrounded the city then established a corridor for combatants to leave. Ritter claims this is the very tactic now employed in the Ukraine to minimize civilian death and damage to infrastructure as we see Russian forces surrounding cities but not destroying them in the American Way of War. This strategy will only work if the combatants are willing to surrender and if there is a place where they can go. Western Ukraine?

    1. indeed, it’s also fairly new tactic, perfected in Syria, Russian Army before Syria had a brutal legacy in Grozny and elsewhere. But, indeed, they avoid the Shock and Awe of blowing cities to bits that the US has seemed to prefer.

    2. @Ted+Tripp”
      “The Russian-Syrian coalition committed war crimes during a month-long aerial bombing campaign of opposition-controlled territory in Aleppo in September and October 2016.
      The Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian civil monitoring organization, documented that the bombing campaign killed more than 440 civilians, including more than 90 children. Airstrikes often appeared to be recklessly indiscriminate, deliberately targeted at least one medical facility, and included the use of indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions and incendiary weapons.”
      This is the model perfected in Syria ( and before that in Grozny) that is being applied in Ukraine

      1. You seem to miss the historical reality; you also seem to credit the “Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian civil monitoring organization” with some kind of validity. As an opposition research agency, undoubtedly they are funded by the same sources as fund the White Helmets, not to be trusted by any thinking person. Also, in any war, in all wars, civilians suffer and are killed. The point of the Russian way is to minimize civilian deaths. This desire in Aleppo, just as now in Mariupol, is often thwarted by the opposing military forces. In Aleppo it was the jihadists, in Mariupol it is the Nazis.

  26. Chris will be back with more sports after a short break following these words from our sponsors . . .

  27. Thank you Chris Hedges for this truth, equating the war in Ukraine with the US war in Iraq. And also now the war in Yemen!
    Julie M. Finch

  28. god bless you; (I think we share the bewildered disillusion about That; “love even thine enemies”)

  29. “Dividing the world into worthy and unworthy victims is a tactic used to justify our crimes and demonize our enemies. ”

    All humanity has the same intrinsic worth, and right to free will, and all want universal respect for these, therefore no ethical/rational judgment of worth based on any other criterion whatsoever, and this will never change, so we have true terra firma to start from here, and so, let’s get started, and let’s get traction.

  30. Chrisʻ minister collar is showing in this piece, but thatʻs OK. There need to be people to condemn all war. However, Bryce Greeneʻs recent Scheerpost essay “Calling Russia’s Attack ‘Unprovoked’ Lets U.S. Off the Hook” provides critical contextual information we all need before we can even begin to have opinions.

    I also highly recommend todayʻs piece by Patrick Lawrence, “The Casualties of Empire” at Consortium News. There are so few reasonable voices out there at this point – those who have the insight and courage to exist need to be read and supported. I was not aware of the Cognitive Warfare report by NATO that Lawrence describes. I can sure see brains getting hacked right and left, even on progressive news sites.

    And finally, I hope that everyone is making the effort to read RT, which has proven more objective and balanced than our MSM. Iʻm still getting news feeds on my iPhone app.

  31. “RT America is now off the air after being deplatformed and unable to disseminate its content. ”
    Really? I’m confused. Every time I receive another announcement of the disappearance of RT, I do a YouTube search. I have found no indication that the channel has been deplatformed.

    1. First, RT is different than RT America, although obviously they share a home/funding. The deplatforming was not total, but it was on key cable networks…and RT America decided to fold its tent for whatever its own analysis was. There were MANY content creators beyond Hedges who instantly lost shows they worked on independently than the central RT America office (you can read various descriptions of this out on the Web). RT (formerly: Russia Today) still exists internationally. RT America archive content … I am not sure how much survives or can be salvaged.

      1. You can do the YouTube search for RT America specifically and easily discover that YouTube has not deplatformed the channel.

        If you perform the simple search, you will also find that neither YouTube nor the Russian Government appears to have deleted the archive of more than 33,000 videos.

        The only platform I have ever used to view RT is YouTube. If it was carried and has now been dropped by Comcast or some other “key cable network” that’s news to me. It’s hard for me to imagine Comcast marketing the RT America channel to its subscribers – not that the content is any less appealing than the channels Comcast is selling.

        Sorry to see Chris Hedges and others may have lost a lucrative gig, but it appears to be due to getting shitcanned by the Russian Government, not deplatformed by YouTube.

        YouTube is the only significant RT America platform I’m aware of.

  32. No mention of Israeli civilian victims of terror bombings, stabbings, missiles launched from Gaza and Lebanon.
    Freudian slip?

  33. “The rank hypocrisy is stunning.” (Hedges) Yes, so stunning as to be obvious, and thus convenient for manufacturing consent among all those who imagine themselves dissenters, who keep understanding the world in terms of two-dimensional chess between nation-states consistently ‘inconsistent’ with their professed ideals, instead of consistent with their noble lies in service to ruling class agenda played on a three-dimensional chessboard. Binary opposition boilerplate like that between worthy and unworthy victims has been a pastime of professional managers of public perception reducing patent propaganda purposes to ‘hypocrisy’ long before Chomsky and Herman’s now dated, pre-digital work on the Matrix.

    (Curiously, that work’s bizzness model monopolization of media is missing any adequate attention to CIA/deep-state infiltration (e.g., Operation Mockingbird, Operation Naomi, et al.) which might illumine the nature of the totalitarian psyops to which we’re now subjected. Perhaps, however, that does throw some light on Chomsky’s long-devoted promotion of CIA programming like ‘conspiracy theory’ all the way to his current support for police state fascism with the scamdemic.)

    As dutiful pundits and yellow journalists could hype and hystericize of most any modern conflict of advanced monopoly and imperial capital, will war in Ukraine lead to WW3? Too late, that’s already begun with the biowar on humanity. And as popular resistance rose to that war (as foreseen by the Rockefeller Lockstep playbook and p(l)andemic simulations over the past twenty years), this war now becomes the new fear factor to beat back down the restless masses in order to still be led like sheeple to the slaughterhouse of the Great Reset.

    On the one hand, this war serves as distraction from covid coup strategy and its own temporarily and selectively relaxed restrictions at present, even as more draconian regulations are in the works with the WHO (new pandemic treaty), the EU (universalized ‘vaccination’ and passport schemes led by WEF’s EC president Ursula von der Leyen), and the US (back to the drawing board at OSHA and other state agencies for revised labor mandates while in the unfree market BlackRock-and-Vanguard company cartels enforce them upon larger swaths of employees), among other backstage schemes for imposing the ‘rule of law’.

    On the other hand, this war serves as further destruction upon all us useless eaters, as sanctions lead to more supply chain crises crippling common people (contrary to Hedges’ useful idiocy), increased inflation and austerity, and likelier cyberwarfare, false flag or not, to implement greater digital dictatorship under Newspeak of security (the last WEF Cyberpolygon exercise was run by Russia’s ‘Fed’, Sperbank). WEF puppets Putin and Biden both use people of Ukraine, like us all, as cannon fodder and pawns on the “Grand Chessboard” (Zbigniew Brzezinski) for geopolitical maneuvering into further destabilization of nation-state governance and US hegemony on behalf of the New World Order’s global rule, aka ‘international law’ as applied by corrupt institutions of criminal elites like the UN. (“Western values (like so-called liberal democracy) will have been tested to the breaking point,” as Klaus Schwab prescribes.)

    Meanwhile, the “masters (monsters) of mankind” (Adam Smith) bide their time, preparing for the next ‘pandemic’, the one that will really get our attention as Doktor Gates has predicted, when the longer-term effects of the bioweaponized injection campaign kick in across the world. And as if that’s not nearly enough, many more weapons of war may be found from financial CBDCs, ESGs, natural assets ownership, social credit scores…to 5/6G EMFs, geoengineered weather, ‘climate change’ lockdown, full spectrum dominance from space, brains as battlefield of the future (James Giordano)…to…well, you get the picture, or not: we now are all prisoners of war.

    Welcome to the new abnormal. Resist with whatever humanity you have left, or die a slave.

  34. This should be assigned to every history class in the US, if most schools actually taught history. There is more information on this article than American students will ever learn.
    So much admiration for Chris Hedges.

  35. The best bet for solving the crisis of Ukraine is to look at it honestly in the context of all we know about how people organize themselves. We need to hunt for the truth like a good intelligence agency would hunt for the mole.

    As you sit and think about Ukraine, keep in mind that most will just move on with their lives and focus on their own survival, to feed and house themselves and their families. Most of us in the US will not stop long to try to understand it. What would be the point to do research of your own, when you can get a simple narrative from one of the news outlets, Fox or CNN or NY Times or LA Times. And with that, you can get back to your busy life, which is all consuming for most.

    A few of us will stop a little longer. Perhaps we have more time on our hands, or we are more interested in the political realm. We may even want to avoid the existential threat of dying in a conflict involving nuclear weapons.

    What is our best hope for avoiding this, from our desk in our home, detached from any decisions made on the larger scale?

    For one, we can perhaps take stock of just how much political opinion there is on such a subject as Ukraine. YouTube is filled with hours and hours of lectures on the subject.

    If we get a glimpse of understanding, we can publish it along with everyone else. And I will here, in this far away place that might never be read. But just for practice, I will.

    A theory that appeals to me is that Russia and the NATO countries are not that much different. Russia had even attempted to become part of NATO several times over. The interests of the Russian elites is to maintain their power, much the same with every nation state. The borders are drawn along cultural and linguistic boundaries. If you took the languages of the world alone and drew lines to demark them in 180 or so ways, your borders would not look much different than what we have. A bit, but not so different to an observer from another planet.

    Keep in mind that linguistic differences are quite superficial in the Chomskian sense. There are real differences, but there is universality too which is more important in considering the implications of borders, alliances, culture and wars. Language is universal in allowing a people group to transmit important ideas in a truly humanist sense. Ideas are no less abundant in Russia, China, India and Mexico as any where else. A handful of languages dominate in geopolitical realms. Perhaps 20 language groups (first languages learned early in life) make up a large portion of first languages and geopolitically important ones.

    This is important. If any analysis of this is missing in analysis of the potential for WW 3, then it is glaringly missing.

    What are important things might be missing from discussion of Ukraine and the potential for WW3? Obviously, the idea of liberal democracies vs illiberal undemocratic ones. But one should ask a mainland Chinese (in private, anonymously) or Russian just what it means to live in such a place and what the implications are for their lives. You might be surprised if you have lived in both the West and these other places just how democratically equal they are. In China, you will not be posting anything about the government. You will not be giving political commentary on anything, unless you are a puppet of the state, a member of the CCP with a particular line to spew; similar for Russia. But life otherwise may be very much like anywhere else. You will feel democracy, and you will feel your rights being protected whenever you walk the streets of China, for example. You will feel your rights as you are inculcated in your dependence on all that makes your life possible. You won’t question or consciously reflect on the safety you feel (no guns in China). Nor will you much reflect on all that occurs in the society at the government level that makes for quality water and food, trains, etc. But you’ll know that you have rights and a society that you belong to that provides quality at a level that is acceptable.

    Then what in fact is the reason that we are pointing nuclear missiles at each other, and potential waging a war that would completely destroy all that? What is the line in the sand that is worth destroying all that?

    Some will answer by getting into how despots threaten it all. I just think it is too simplistic.

    We should appreciate how these sort of minor differences of language and culture and government even (however arguably flawed the Russian and Chinese forms are compared to liberal Western democracies) play such an outsized role in the warfare we wage. I think it can easily be argued that the destruction of Ukraine is just as much an outcome of Western weapons we give the Ukrainians as it is Russian opposition and imposition on Ukraine. It looks like a Russian slaughter, but it is really a civil war backed by 2 sides, that has been developing for about 15 years.

    What is it that leads people groups to divide up and struggle the way we do, when it would make more sense to cooperate? Why do we seek out the battle over these things? What is the tendency toward destruction over cooperation that is human? Why do we stop at cooperation with our own side, rather than find a solution that allows for something better, in the game theory sense?

    As I write this, I almost concede that no one will take up a scientific approach to conflict resolution and optimal outcomes because we just have to go through the horrible nightmare we are seeing in so many places still; Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya. It’s like we just have to watch this unfolding before we allow future players to clean up the mess and put in place something beyond the nation state. What is there to do but lament, think a bit, hope for something different, and even run for safety somewhere at the end of a continent, free of the constant buzzing of human behavior that allows for shells to drop in city centers with images of children and families being cut down.

  36. Just wanted to say I’m done with this site. Not that you should care as I haven’t contributed much, if anything.

    I’ve read enough of Hedges’ books & columns to know he is so far up his own ass he will never see the light.

    I remember watching a lecture he gave that was aired on LinkTV some years back. The audience was entirely upper-class, sipping wine. He joked about how U.S. prisoners weren’t exactly the most dedicated students or some such… har, har, har…

    Fuck him, and fuck this B.S. site.

    1. I fully understand what you are saying regarding Worthy and Unworthy victims and why the media can bathe itself in righteousness when it decides to have Worthy victims. However this does not explain why Chechnya civilians – Russia’s other main victims in recent times – were never promotied to Worthy status. The British press more or less ignored them.. I do not understand the differential treatment: any Ideas?

  37. Unlike KP, I am impressed that Scheerpost will publish comments that are critical, or contrary, to the narrative of the piece being discussed.
    I was quite surprised to see my comment regarding the Haeder post.
    I believe that airing all points of view, can foster the search for truth.
    I have repeatedly watched the Chris Hedges commencement address, where he was booed, and attacked, by an angry mob, for his stance against the US invasion of Iraq.
    I fear that crazed mobs are not confined to right wingers.
    Per baseball parlance, I tip my cap to Scheerpost.
    Unlike KP, I like the site a great deal.
    However, intercourse is out of the question.

  38. Good points here:

    What’s Wrong with Chris Hedges view that ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’
    What’s Wrong with Hedges view that ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’

    I am quoting here most of the recent essay by Hedges on truthdig, interspersed with my own comments in italics explaining why his ideas and definitions are false, incorrect and misguided–MN

    ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’

    Chris Hedges

    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.

    FALSE. First, nobody calls the antifa the “alt-left” except Trump and the white nationalists, and people who buy into their rhetoric. “Alt-right,” not modified by Hedges as “so-called,” is a propagandistic self-moniker adopted by the neo-nazis to disguise and sanitize their racism and white nationalism.

    Second, the antifa are not motivated by a “lust for violence,” but by a desire to defend themselves and others who are targets of racist, sexist violence by fascists, and to disrupt the strategic, intimidating use of violence by fascists.

    Third, as Hedges well-knows and has written himself, fascist talk of “white nativism and …American …history” is not mere rhetoric, but is in fact directly related to their roots in the use of violence to establish white ‘nativism’ (an oxymoron) through settler-colonial ‘American’ history.

    The two opposing groups, largely made up of people who have been cast aside by the cruelty of corporate capitalism, have embraced holy war.

    FALSE: The bulk of the fascist forces marching in Charlottesville and elsewhere have been, not people thrust aside by capitalism, but quite privileged white males, many collegians or petty bourgeois intent on proving they are not just Internet trolls but IRL fascists. The antifa have in no way embraced ‘holy war’ but thoughtfully adopted security culture and physical disruption of fascists among many other perfectly non-violent tactics, based on their proven efficacy on other occasions and in other countries in disorienting and defeating fascists.

    No antifa caused Dylann Roof to get a gun, go to a Black church in South Carolina, and cold-bloodedly execute 9 unarmed women and men he had just attended a prayer and bible study session with.

    Conversely, I defy Hedges to name a single white racist killed or maimed by any antifa or other resisters, even in self-defense, let alone an ambush, assassination or execution.

    Their lives, battered by economic misery and social marginalization, have suddenly been filled with meaning. They hold themselves up as the vanguard of the oppressed. They arrogate to themselves the right to use force to silence those they define as the enemy. They sanctify anger. They are infected with the dark, adrenaline-driven urge for confrontation that arises among the disenfranchised when a democracy ceases to function.

    They are separated, as Sigmund Freud wrote of those who engage in fratricide, by the “narcissism of minor differences.”

    FALSE: For Hedges to say the differences between fascists and antifa are ‘minor,’ is to equate resistance with oppression. Fascists glorify violence as proof of white supremacy, and uphold genocide, ethnic cleansing and a white ethno-nationalist state. Antifa, whose ranks include people of color, women, Jews, queer and trans people and others targeted by the Nazis, are anti-racist and mostly anti-capitalist. Equating the two is being an apologist for racism, fascism and genocide, and must be denounced. Also, antifa do not see themselves as a “vanguard,” and most oppose vanguardism. Antifa see themselves as practitioners of one strategic or tactical approach to dealing with fascism in public spaces, cyber space and elsewhere, and hope that others whom they defend and whose backs they have, will treat and welcome them as such. They are willing to and capable of working with others who have a non-violent approach (but not “peace police” types who in the name of non-violence turn antifa over to the cops).

    They mirror each other, not only ideologically but also physically—armed and dressed in black, the color of fascism and the color of death.

    FALSE: Black is beautiful.

    It was inevitable that we would reach this point.

    FALSE: This is Hedges’s constant litany of despair and defeatism, a refusal to examine the political choices, complacency and complicity that have empowered the neo-Nazis

    The corporate state has seized and corrupted all democratic institutions, including the two main political parties, to serve the interests of corporate power and maximize global corporate profits. There is no justice in the courts. There is no possibility for reform in the legislative bodies. The executive branch is a dysfunctional mess headed by a narcissistic kleptocrat, con artist and pathological liar. Money has replaced the vote. The consent of the governed is a joke. Our most basic constitutional rights, including the rights to privacy and due process, have been taken from us by judicial fiat. The economically marginalized, now a majority of the country, have been rendered invisible by a corporate media dominated by highly paid courtiers spewing out meaningless political and celebrity gossip and trivia as if it were news. The corporate state, unimpeded, is pillaging and looting the carcass of the country and government, along with the natural world, for the personal gain of the 1 percent. It daily locks away in cages the poor, especially poor people of color, discarding the vulnerable as human refuse.

    A government that is paralyzed and unable and unwilling to address the rudimentary needs of its citizens, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia and as history has shown with the Weimar Republic and czarist Russia, eventually empowers violent extremists.

    FALSE: The US government is not weak or paralyzed but is in fact, throughout the federal system, an active agent of oppression and repression, and enforcer of exploitation; and this fundamental reality has not changed since the establishment of the European settler colonies here, or their consolidation into a federal empire state.

    Also, posing the problem as “extremism,” is part of the false equivalence of the left and right and presumes an answer will arise from some mythological center or from restoration of “Constitutional” government.

    Economic and social marginalization is the lifeblood of extremist groups. Without it they wither and die. Extremism, as the social critic Christopher Lasch wrote, is “a refuge from the terrors of inner life.”

    Germany’s Nazi stormtroopers had their counterparts in that nation’s communist Alliance of Red Front Fighters. The far-right anti-communist death squad Alliance of Argentina had its counterpart in the guerrilla group the People’s Revolutionary Army during the “Dirty War.” The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebels during the war I covered in El Salvador had their counterparts in the right-wing death squads, whose eventual demise seriously impeded the FMLN’s ability to recruit. The Serbian nationalists, or Chetniks, in Yugoslavia had their counterparts in the Croatian nationalists, or Ustaše. The killing by one side justifies the killing by the other. And the killing is always sanctified in the name of each side’s martyrs.

    FALSE: The unutterable mendacity of Hedges is unconscionable, equating as he does the Nazi storm-troopers with working-class resistance fighters in Germany, or FMLN guerrillas with the Salvadoran death squads trained and financed by the US. What children of military officers orphaned by having their parents killed and dropped into the sea by helicopters were adopted and raised by Argentine leftists? What genocide or terrorist attacks on unarmed Jewish, Roma, or trade-unionist civilians were ever carried out by Germany’s Red Front Fighters? What mass executions of peasants or workers, or assassinations of priests and nuns, were ever carried out by the FMLN? None.

    The violence by antifa—short for anti-fascist or anti-fascist action—in Charlottesville, Va., saw a surge in interest and support for the movement, especially after the murder of Heather Heyer. The Black Bloc was applauded by some of the counterprotesters in Boston during an alt-right rally there Aug. 19. In Charlottesville, antifa activists filled the vacuum left by a passive police force, holding off neo-Nazi thugs who threatened Cornel West and clergy who were protesting against the white nationalist event.

    FALSE: The state, embodied in law enforcement, is not and has never been passive in these situations. Their refusal to protect anti-fascists, their protective cordons for fascists, and their use of brutality, militarized weaponry and criminalization of protest against the left is long-standing and routine.

    This was a propaganda coup for antifa, which seeks to portray its use of violence as legitimate self-defense. Protecting West and the clergy members from physical assault was admirable. But this single act no more legitimizes antifa violence than the turkeys, Christmas gifts and Fourth of July fireworks that John Gotti gave to his neighbors legitimized the violence of the Gambino crime family. Antifa, like the alt-right, is the product of a diseased society.

    FALSE: Hedges’s use of ‘disease’ as a descriptor of ‘society’ is another give-away of the fascistic bent of his own thinking. Antifa are neither diseased nor a product of a ‘disease’ in society. It is the fascists and the US ruling class who are like the Mafia, not antifa.

    The white racists and neo-Nazis may be unsavory, but they too are victims. They too lost jobs and often live in poverty in deindustrialized wastelands. They too often are plagued by debt, foreclosures, bank repossessions and inability to repay student loans. They too often suffer from evictions, opioid addictions, domestic violence and despair. They too sometimes face bankruptcy because of medical bills. They too have seen social services gutted, public education degraded and privatized and the infrastructure around them decay. They too often suffer from police abuse and mass incarceration. They too are often in despair and suffer from hopelessness. And they too have the right to free speech, however repugnant their views.

    FALSE: White racists and neo-Nazis are not just ‘unsavory,’ and it’s not a question of taste. This sympathetic treatment of a litany of alleged woes they face reinforces their attempt to cast themselves as injured victims. None of their concerns or demands speak to any of these issues that he alleges they face. They perceive themselves as victims of feminism and race-mixing, a so-called and non-existent ‘white genocide.’ And their ‘speech’ is designed to threaten and incite violence against Black people, Mexican@s and other migrants, Jews, Muslims, Asians, women, LGBTQ and disabled people (and Hedges).

    Street clashes do not distress the ruling elites. These clashes divide the underclass. They divert activists from threatening the actual structures of power. They give the corporate state the ammunition to impose harsher forms of control and expand the powers of internal security. When antifa assumes the right to curtail free speech it becomes a weapon in the hands of its enemies to take that freedom away from everyone, especially the anti-capitalists.

    FALSE: The state needs no excuses to expand the powers of ‘internal security.’ And such an argument could and has been as easily made, including by the state, against the non-violent disruptive civil disobedience tactics of Black Lives Matter (or for that matter, Martin Luther King, Jr.). In fact, Martin Luther King Sr. (father of the civil rights icon), was the target of surveillance by federal law enforcement and military intelligence operatives before World War II.

    The focus on street violence diverts activists from the far less glamorous building of relationships and alternative institutions and community organizing that alone will make effective resistance possible. We will defeat the corporate state only when we take back and empower our communities, as is happening with Cooperation Jackson, a grass-roots cooperative movement in Jackson, Miss. As long as acts of resistance are forms of personal catharsis, the corporate state is secure. Indeed, the corporate state welcomes this violence because violence is a language it can speak with a proficiency and ruthlessness that none of these groups can match.

    FALSE: I support Cooperation Jackson. I have been in solidarity with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement that helped initiate it for decades. They, as I, have always expressly supported armed self-defense against white supremacist violence in the South and elsewhere. They, as I, have long supported the political prisoners of US imperialism, including the freedom-fighters of the Black Liberation Army. They called a demonstration here in Los Angeles in 1992 to protest and shut down a forum called by a Black pseudo-nationalist fronting for a group of neo-Nazis and Hitler apologists. (That Black-led community demonstration was attacked by the LAPD in an incident that helped set the stage for the rebellion later that year, after the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King and slap on the wrist for a grocer who killed Black teenager Latasha Harlins.)

    Also, antifa are A) not engaged in street fighting because it is any way ‘glamorous;’ and B) also engaged in the equally unglamorous programs of community gardening, political education and study, community defense, cop-watching, self-defense classes, tenant organizing, etc. etc. (just like Cooperation Jackson and the MXGM).

    “Politics isn’t made of individuals,” Sophia Burns writes in “Catharsis Is Counter-Revolutionary.” “It’s made of classes. Political change doesn’t come from feeling individually validated. It comes from collective action and organization within the working class. That means creating new institutions that meet our needs and defend against oppression.”

    TRUE, BUT IRRELEVANT: Antifa are not aiming at individual catharsis or self-validation; they are building exactly that sort of class-struggle organization and network.

    The protests by the radical left now sweeping America, as Aviva Chomsky points out, are too often little more than self-advertisements for moral purity.

    FALSE: Hedges, one of the most sanctimonious and self-righteous of all commentators in what passes for a ‘left’ in the US, is here simply projecting his own need for self-advertisement and moral purity, conveniently doing so by quoting a woman.

    They are products of a social media culture in which each of us is the star of his or her own life movie. They are infected with the American belief in regeneration through violence and the cult of the gun. They represent a clash between the bankruptcy of identity politics, which produced, as Dr. West has said, a president who was “a black mascot for Wall Street,” and the bankruptcy of a white, Christianized fascism that produced Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.

    FALSE: Before I call it a day on Hedges and his tedious, tendentious obfuscations that serve to echo right-wing self-justifications and propaganda against resistance, let me point out that ‘Identity politics’ and ‘political correctness’ were both slogans that originated within sectors of the (mostly academic) left resistant to self-criticism and to the self-determined liberation struggles of colonized and other oppressed people. The slogans were then taken up by and popularized by George H. W. Bush and a host of right-wing talk radio commentators and then FOX News, while still being persisted in by reactionaries in left clothing like Todd Gitlin and apparently by Hedges, Aviva Chomsky and Noam Chomsky, among others. Corporate liberalism and neo-liberalism are responsible for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (and therefore, to a great extent, for DJ Chump). Antifa or other radicals are not to blame.

    The corporate state seeks to discredit and shut down the anti-capitalist left. Its natural allies are the neo-Nazis and the Christian fascists. The alt-right is bankrolled, after all, by the most retrograde forces in American capitalism. It has huge media platforms. It has placed its ideologues and sympathizers in positions of power, including in law enforcement and the military. And it has carried out acts of domestic terrorism that dwarf anything carried out by the left. White supremacists were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks in the United States from 2006 to 2016, far more than those committed by members of any other extremist group, according to a report issued in May by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. There is no moral equivalency between antifa and the alt-right.

    TRUE, BUT TOO LITTLE TOO LATE: After spending most of his essay equating antifa and fascists, Hedges gets around to acknowledging that there is no “moral equivalency” between the two. But he undercuts his argument by saying the Nazis’ terrorism “ dwarf[s] anything carried out by the left,” without citing any terrorism carried out by the left; (he can’t because there is none).

    But by brawling in the streets antifa allows the corporate state, which is terrified of a popular anti-capitalist uprising, to use the false argument of moral equivalency to criminalize the work of all anti-capitalists.

    FALSE: Hedges is just using the state as a stalking horse for his own argument for the ‘moral equivalency’ of antifa and fascists. The state has always criminalized any effective resistance, and to the degree that any anti-capitalist work actually threatens the empire, it will be criminalized and/or attacked by fascists.

    As the Southern Poverty Law Center states categorically in its pamphlet “Ten Ways to Fight Hate,” “Do not attend a hate rally.”

    “Find another outlet for anger and frustration and for people’s desire to do something,” it recommends. “Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate. Hate has a First Amendment right. Courts have routinely upheld the constitutional right of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups to hold rallies and say whatever they want. Communities can restrict group movements to avoid conflicts with other citizens, but hate rallies will continue. Your efforts should focus on channeling people away from hate rallies.”

    FALSE: The “let them eat sheet-cake” argument satirized by Tina Fey. Ignoring the racist right and giving it unopposed freedom to claim to speak for white people, or to augment their ranks through IRL recruiting as they have been doing in cyber-space is the worst possible response. Also, the SPLC works closely with federal and local law enforcement, who are also sources and practitioners of racialized violence, and, under Hedges’s same rubric of “extremism,” they lump together Black radicals of various political persuasions with KKK and neo-nazi hate groups, while ignoring terrorist activities that have been carried out by groups like the so-called Jewish Defense League.

    The Nazis were as unsavory to the German political and economic elites as Donald Trump is to most Americans who hold power or influence. But the German elites chose to work with the fascists, whom they naively thought they could control, rather than risk a destruction of capitalism. Street brawls, actively sought out by the Nazis, always furthered the interests of the fascists, who promised to restore law and order and protect traditional values. The violence contributed to their mystique and the yearning among the public for a strongman who would impose stability.

    FALSE: Fascism in Germany, as here, was built from above and below. Fascism on its path to power was facilitated by big German (and US/UK) capital, and had sympathizers in US, Britain and elsewhere. The Nazis distinguished themselves from others on the right by their willingness to use extra-legal violence to pursue their goals, with an acceptance of this by the existing German state, and inadequate resistance by left and labor forces, who were divided among themselves, and especially demobilized by social-democratic elements willing to participate in parliamentary farces. The precedent for Nazi attacks on the left was set by the earlier use of demobilized World War I veterans against the revolutionary left by the social democrats.

    The conflict will not end until the followers of the alt-right and the anti-capitalist left are given a living wage and a voice in how we are governed. Take away a person’s dignity, agency and self-esteem and this is what you get. As political power devolves into a more naked form of corporate totalitarianism, as unemployment and underemployment expand, so will extremist groups. They will attract more sympathy and support as the wider population realizes, correctly, that Americans have been stripped of all ability to influence the decisions that affect their lives, lives that are getting steadily worse.

    FALSE: The conflict is not caused by the lack of a living wage. The conflict arises out of the irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism itself, and the implacable enmity that the exploiters and oppressors have for the people they exploit and oppress. Nor will we be “given a voice in how we are governed.”

    The ecocide by the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries alone makes revolt a moral imperative. The question is how to make it succeed. Taking to the street to fight fascists ensures our defeat. Antifa violence, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, is a “major gift to the right, including the militant right.” It fuels the right wing’s paranoid rants about the white race being persecuted and under attack. And it strips anti-capitalists of their moral capital.

    FALSE: Revolt is indeed a moral imperative, not least because of ecocide (and genocide) but Hedges here, as everywhere, offers no strategy or even hint as to how revolt, let along revolution, is to begin, be pursued or to triumph. That is because Hedges, blinded by his own privileges, his liberalism and moralistic approach to politics, is incapable of seeing or appreciating the capacities and agency of the exploited and oppressed, from whom the power and wealth of the state and the rulers in fact derive.

    Many in the feckless and bankrupt liberal class, deeply complicit in the corporate assault on the country and embracing the dead end of identity politics, will seek to regain credibility by defending the violence by groups such as antifa.

    FALSE: The predominant liberal response to antifa efforts has been identical to the pap that Hedges is peddling here – condemning the antifa while defending the Nazis’ supposed “free speech.” Also, there is no “liberal class” – classes are defined by the relationship of sectors of society to ownership or control of land, productive resources, etc., not by (perhaps fleeting) ideologies. This has always been a key part of the obscurantism Hedges promotes, disguising actual class relationships and complicity with imperialism, capitalism and settler colonialism within the US, or how to uproot and overturn it.

    Natasha Lennard, for example, in The Nation calls the “video of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting punched in the face” an act of “kinetic beauty.” She writes “if we recognize fascism in Trump’s ascendance, our response must be anti-fascist in nature. The history of anti-fascist action is not one of polite protest, nor failed appeals to reasoned debate with racists, but direct, aggressive confrontation.”

    This violence-as-beauty rhetoric is at the core of these movements. It saturates the vocabulary of the right-wing corporate oligarchs, including Donald Trump. Talk like this poisons national discourse. It dehumanizes whole segments of the population. It shuts out those who speak with nuance and compassion, especially when they attempt to explain the motives and conditions of opponents. It thrusts the society into a binary and demented universe of them and us.

    FALSE: Society is turned into a “binary … of them and us” by colonialism and capitalism, oppression and exploitation. We can recognize the humanity of exploiters, oppressors, and even fascists, and even seek to rescue individual members of such groups, but we cannot afford to deny that there is an irreconcilable contradiction between the exploiter and the exploited, the oppressor and the oppressed, and that the way to end that contradiction is by ending exploitation and oppression, which will eliminate the exploiters and oppressors AS SUCH. Committing class suicide is the best way for members of the exploiting and oppressing class to save themselves as individuals, because exploitation and oppression are parasitic and necrotic, spreading death to others and to the natural world to maintain the few. Exploiters cannot live without those they exploit and oppress. People being exploited and oppressed, on the other hand can do just fine. thank you, without exploiters or oppressors.

    It elevates violence to the highest aesthetic. It eschews self-criticism and self-reflection. It is the prelude to widespread suffering and death. And that, I fear, is where we are headed.

    FALSE: Widespread suffering and death is already with us, and has been for at least the half-millennium since Europeans invaded the Western Hemisphere and Oceania. It is caused, not by the ‘aesthetic of violence,’ but by colonialism and capitalism, land theft, slavery and genocide, all on-going. Despite Hedges and his fears and pessimism, it will be ended by revolutionary, ant-fascist, anti-capitalist, anti-colonial solidarity, resistance and liberation struggle.

    If you want an authentic Christian pacifist response to the antifa in Charlottesville, consider this, from one who went to there: “I never felt safer than when I was near antifa. They came to defend people, to put their bodies between these armed white supremacists and those of us who could not or would not fight. They protected a lot of people that day, including groups of clergy. My safety (and safety is relative in these situations) was dependent upon their willingness to commit violence. In effect, I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean. Do you understand? They took that up for me, for the clergy they shielded, for those of us in danger. We cannot claim to be pacifists or nonviolent when our safety requires another to commit violence, and we ask for that safety.” Whole thing here:

    Different version of this, with a lot less Hedges to wade through, is posted here:

  39. I was wondering what happened to RT America. I use Roku, and for a couple days, when I tried to access RT, the logo just hung there and it wouldn’t download. Then it disappeared completely from the list of channels I could access. Truthdig goes, then this. Anyone who doubts there’s serious censorship going on needs to wake up.

    1. RT America was booted off cable networks and immediately laid off all staff

  40. Let’s not forget “Iran Air Flight 655 shot down on 3 July 1988 by the USS Vincennes with all 290 people on board were killed. The jet was hit while flying over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, along the flight’s usual route, shortly after departing Bandar Abbas International Airport.” The captain and other crew members were rewarded with medals.

    Billy Bragg, “If you’re not getting flak, you’re not over the target.”

    Fintan O’Toole: “If lies were flies, the swarm around him would be so thick that Boris Johnson would be invisible.”

    As an example of Western media bias I offer Monbiot: We must confront Russian propaganda – The Guardian. After all the obvious lies uttered by US and NATO politicians, Monbiot still expects us to swallow their crap, with flies and maggots. The first lie: “…dismissing the revolution as a US coup. Ukraine, of course, is not a Nato member.” He has never heard Nuland tell the US Ambassador who would be the next President of the Ukraine. The second lie: ” Pilger, the late Robert Fisk and the celebrated journalist Seymour Hersh have all helped undermine well-attested reports of Assad’s use of chemical weapons.” These reports are widely known to be corrupt and denied by those who actually investigated on the site itself. Chris Hedges, Pilger, Fisk and Hersh know war and the Middle East for decades up close and personal. Monbiot has never been closer than his surround sound TV.

    Can Monbiot remember these lies and atrocities:

    ‘FALLUJAH’ where an entire city was systematically obliterated;
    ‘LOS ZETAS’ Mexico’s cruellest narco gang trained and armed by US Special Forces;
    ‘WEST AFRICA’ where US trained gangsters have made 8 military coups in the past few years;
    ‘HONDURAS’ whose democracy was recently restored after a US-OAS sponsored coup installed a drug dealing president and family;

    ‘EL SALVADOR’ where its former president is charged with murdering 6 priests;
    ‘SALVADOR SOLUTION’ term used to describe merciless cruelty terrorizing citizens demanding democracy and human rights;

    ‘NACHT UND NEBEL ERLASS’ Hitler’s infamous 1942 order to the Gestapo directing that enemies of the Reich disappear into night and fog with no admission of their arrest, location, sentence, or death. The only thing ever learned by Western ‘intelligence agencies’ from the Nazis, and standard intelligence practice world wide since WWII;

    ‘LIBYA’ destroyed by NATO and still in bloody turmoil;
    ‘AFGHANISTAN’ where Special Forces and drone strikes have killed thousands of civilians;
    ‘GITMO’ where prisoners are tortured and held for 20 years without rights AFTER being found innocent;
    ‘CIA BLACK SITES’ where the world’s governments conspired to please the US by handing over innocents for torture;
    ‘CAMBODIA’ where the genocidal Khmer Rouge are still in power because it suits the US to support murderers who earned Vietnamese contempt and disgust.

    Western atrocities are endless and stretch back to Colonialism, First Nations genocides, and slavery. It is easily traced through every Presidency and Western country. The US began with Washington, who would rather sell his slaves to support his army than free them so they could fight in his ranks. Here in Canada, police routinely set lethal sniper over watches on First Nations protests, while hundreds of children are found buried anonymously in residential school mass graves.

    Jesse Ventura, “When the government lies, the truth becomes a traitor.” Just cause true progressives understand and accept Russian security concerns regarding Ukraine doesn’t mean we support or believe anything else. This subtlety is lost on those who would rather swallow flies.

    Monbiot supports European bigotries by ignoring them. He feels safe inside Western hypocrisy.

    Anna Wiener, Uncanny Valley: A Memoir: “Certain unflattering truths: I had felt unassailable behind the walls of power. Society was shifting, and I felt safer inside the empire, inside the machine. It was preferable to be on the side that did the watching than the side being watched.” …or the side that gets tortured and murdered.

    Homer: “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.”

    Nobody should listen to corporate rent boys like Monbiot.

  41. Truly a brilliant and passionate moral argument. Love the ending especially:

    ” No one should live in fear and terror. No one should be sacrificed on the altar of Mars. But until all victims are worthy, until all who wage war are held accountable and brought to justice, this hypocritical game of life and death will continue. Some human beings will be worthy of life. Others will not.”

    Keep ’em coming, Mr. Hedges!!

  42. No matter which party is in power, the Armenians are considered “unworthy victims.” They have always lived on valuable real estate that got in the way of the plans of their “betters.”

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