This is not the kind of post I usually write, but I heard this on a podcast the other day and thought it was worth transcribing. There are a lot of different things going on there in Liberty Park, and people are choosing to participate in the Occupy Wall Street protest for a lot of different reasons, with lot of different goals (and some with no particular goal at all). And in any case, Chris Hedges isn't speaking on behalf of any of them, but I thought he did a good job talking about what's going on there, at least as I understand it.
Iâ€™ve been following whatâ€™s been happening here, and this is really where the hope of America lies. And all of the efforts of intimidation that weâ€™ve seen by the police in New York, the disproportionate amount of force, and the disproportionate numbers that have been deployed to contain the protests here, for me, illustrate that the real people who are scared are the power elite. Of course theyâ€™re trying to make you scared and us scared, but I can tell you, having been a reporter for the New York Times, that on the inside, theyâ€™re very, very frightened. The do not want movements like this to grow.
And they understand on some level, whether itâ€™s subconscious or in other cases even overt, that the criminal class in this country has seized power. That those people in this plaza, those people carrying out these protests, in the true definition of the political spectrum are conservatives in this sense--they call for the rule of law. They call for the restoration of the rule of law. And whatâ€™s happened is that the real radicals have seized power, and they are decimating all legal impediments to the creation of a neo-feudalistic corporate state. One in which there is a rapacious oligarchic class, a thin managerial elite, and two-thirds of this country live in conditions that increasingly push families to subsistence level.
And one of the reasons that I went to Amocoli, and the reasons Amocoli is important, is because in this race to the bottom, Amocoli is the bottom. Itâ€™s where they want the working, and even the middle class, to end up. And that is a place where they have no rights, where because of massive unemployment and work that is part-time, poorly-paid work, they can reduce the working class to a status equivalent of serfdom. Where there are no pensions, no health benefits. Collective bargaining in Florida is illegal, a legacy of Jim Crow, and Amocoli isnâ€™t just a horrific pocket of essentially third-world abuse, but is a vision of what the corporate state wants to impose upon the rest of us.
And what they want is for us to remain passive, and to remain frightened. And as long as we remain passive and frightened, entranced with their electronic hallucinations, we are not a threat. The moment people come out and do this, the corporate state is terrified. And if you doubt me, look around you at the huge numbers of cops, and not only that but the kind of brutality that the cops have visited upon peaceful protesters.
Iâ€™m sitting in a park with the only free people in New York City. This is it. Fear is a potent force and the security state and the corporate state has worked overtime to make us afraid. Because when youâ€™re afraid you think with a different part of your brain. You become politically, emotionally, intellectually, and even physically disempowered. And we have to stop being afraid. And if we stop being afraid, then these nefarious forces that are destroying our ecosystem and destroying our country, then their fragility will be exposed. So get out here and come with us to Washington on October 6th when weâ€™re gonna again occupy a plaza because the only mechanism we have left for reform is civil disobedience.
Any belief that the formal structures of power, including the democratic party are going to ameliorate the injustices being visited upon us, is self-delusion.
Itâ€™s about physically throwing your body in front of the machine. Iâ€™m not a big fan of--social networking is useful in terms of forms of communication, but I donâ€™t believe itâ€™s useful in terms of forms of activism. Activism requires us to do what all of the great movements throughout history have done, and that is physically get out and obstruct the forces of control. And thatâ€™s it. This is really the only option we have left.
And itâ€™s extremely important, because the system doesnâ€™t work any more. Because there is no way for incremental or piece-meal reform to be carried out within the system. Since weâ€™ve undergone a sort of corporate coup-de-tat in slow motion, itâ€™s imperative that those of us who care about democracy and civil society engage in these acts of civil disobedience, which I have.
And to be honest, going to jail is more time that I care to donate to the US government. On the other hand, I have children, and I look at my children and I wonder what kind of a world weâ€™re going to leave them.
My youngest son is three years old and his favorite book is Out of the Blue, which are these huge pictures of narwhals and dolphins and he will sit on the floor of his room and flip through these pages, and I look at him and when I see him do that it breaks my heart, because I know that if there is not a radical change in human behavior, all of those great sea creatures will be dead within his lifetime.
Corporate systems are in theological terms, and Iâ€™m a seminary graduate, are systems of death. They turn everything into a commodity, human beings become commodities, the natural world because a commodity, that they exploit until exhaustion or collapse. And in that sense, Karl Marx was right. It is a revolutionary force and the revolution has happened. Theyâ€™ve won. And to appeal to the systems of power, or the illusory systems of power that they place before us, is to essentially become complicitous in the radical reconfiguration of the corporate stateâ€™s intents. They know no limits.
The only word corporations understand is â€œmoreâ€. They will push and push and push, until human capital is destroyed. Until the ecosystem itself is destroyed. Â And if we donâ€™t carry out acts of civil disobedience, then the rage that is being expressed by the working class, and itâ€™s a legitimate rage, will be channelled by proto-fascist movements like the Tea Party, militia, and other groups. And these are groups that celebrate violence. They celebrate the gun culture. They are racist toward Muslims, undocumented workers homosexuals, intellectuals. And thatâ€™s really the choice before us. Either those of us who care about an egalitarian, open society get out into the streets, or we cede power to movements that will seek to snuff out what is left of our anemic democracy.
Yeats got it. We live in a moment when the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity. And the reason that whatâ€™s happening today is so vital, Â and so important and even monumental is that to my mind, everyone in this park are the best.