Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chris Hedges, U. S. Self-Annihilation

Chris Hedges: The World As It Is Dispatches On the Myth of Human Progress

At First Congregational Church of Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges writes a hugely influential weekly column for the progressive news site Truthdig. In it he discusses many of the most urgent issues of our times including our imperial wars in the Middle East, the problems of peace in Israel and Palestine, and the abject failure of American liberalism in the face of the corporate takeover of the American government. This collection of essays, The World As It Is, draws on the unique experiences of a deeply educated individual a student of Christian ethics and the classics at Harvard - who has spent nearly twenty years as a foreign correspondent in the most troubled areas of Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans.

Chris Hedges is a fellow of The Nation Institute. He spent fifteen years reporting for the New York Times. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,
American Fascists, Empire of Illusion, I Don't Believe in Atheists, and Death of the Liberal Class. Currently he writes for Harper's, The New York Review of Books, Granta and Mother Jones- as well as Truthdig.

He insists that unless we begin to stand fast around moral imperatives, ones we cannot abandon while remaining willing to fight the formal systems of power, we will be complicit in our self-annihilation.  "As the centers of American power were seized and hijacked by corporations, the media continued to pay deference to systems of power that could no longer be considered honest or democratic. The media treat criminals on Wall Street as responsible members of the ruling class. They treat the criminals in the White House and the Pentagon as statesmen."

The World As it Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress

By Chris Hedges

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    • Kirkus Reviews

      March 1, 2011
      Hectoring collection of Internet jeremiads by the former Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times war correspondent.

      Since leaving the Times, Hedges (Death of the Liberal Class, 2010, etc.), perhaps best known for his 2002 bestseller War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, has gained a following on the American left for his weekly essays on Truthdig, from which this anthology was assembled. Taken in that dose of once per week, the author’s mordant critiques—of American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East; of the news media and its obsequious relationship to power; of the two American political parties, which, despite their noisy disagreements, share the same corporatist agenda—come across as bracing and bold. Read in one sitting, however, they grow to be strident, repetitive, humorless and sanctimonious. In his introduction, Hedges quotes a colleague who told him, “You’re not a journalist. You’re a minister pretending to be a journalist.” In fact, the author, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was working toward a divinity degree at Harvard before he decided to switch to journalism, and Hedges shakes his finger at everybody: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, the Times, Fox News, right-wing Christians, left-wing atheists, etc. Many of his well-aimed barbs hit their targets, but there is precious little relief in this self-righteous collection. By far, his best pieces are two lengthy bits of reporting, one from the Palestinian side of the Green Zone wall in the West Bank, the other from Hosni Mubarak’s security state in Egypt. Here, Hedges shows why his journalism won awards, as he takes us to places few dare to go.

      Best either for serious Hedges fans or read in small doses.
    • Publisher's Weekly

      March 7, 2011
      Former New York Times correspondent Hedges (The Death of the Liberal Class) offers a collection of his recent articles (many culled from his regular column at Truthdig.com), grouped under a handful of topics: "Politics," "Israel and Palestine," "The Middle East," "The Decay of Empire." It's indicative of the longtime war correspondent's experienced eye and commitment to social justice that these areas include subject matter of especially pressing concern, whether the task is understanding the assault underway on organized labor in Wisconsin and elsewhere, liberal disillusionment with Obama, or the dynamics of foreign dictatorships subsidized by the U.S., as in the timely "Inside Egypt" and other dispatches providing vivid background and astute observations on a roiling Middle East. Hedges is equally direct and damning in assessments of Israel's ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestine, including some stirring reportage from within the shadow of the mammoth and destructive separation wall. While things may be changing given the current international upsurge of mass public democratic action, the author's pointed descriptions of the dangers of American "political passivity" deserve careful consideration along with much else in these powerfully written pages. (Apr.)

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