Journalist Chris Hedges discusses his recent book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. In it, he charts the dramatic rise of a post-literate society that craves fantasy, ecstasy, and illusion.
Hedges argues we now live in two societies: one, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world and can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth; the other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic where serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins.
Chris Hedges, author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University. He writes for many publications, including Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, Granta, and Mother Jones. He is also a columnist for Truthdig.com.
Co-sponsored by the Writing Program, Department of Media Studies and Film, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.
Chris Hedges is a journalist and author, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and society. He has written for Foreign Affairs, Granta, Harpers, Mother Jones, National Geographic and The New York Review of Books.
He is the author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning - a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His other books are What Every Person Should Know About War and Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America.
"An important note is that our manufacturing output has increased many fold because of increased productivity and automation. Fewer people can produce far more goods than was possible in the past. You do not suggest we suspend ways to make production more efficient, do you, Mr. Hedges? "
This partly why capitalism is failing. Less and less labor but more and more crap. No no one has jobs to buy anything and people with money can just invest in robots and not need to hire anyone...which is great, if we fed or educated those people. Instead they end up jobless/homeless. Our capitalism is based on cyclical consumption. People actually design products to break so they have to be bought more often. They create problems so they can sell the solution. You are being Jingoistic and myopic.
It's difficult for me to understand why so many people posting here appear to portray govt intervention as evil doing. Capitalism's dream from inception has been to let corporations run untethered and unchecked without any body of intervention or regulation. Obviously, this pipe dream has failed in the US, given the largest financial bailout (govt intervention) the world has ever seen by any govt (communist or socialist). It think Marx would be rolling in his grave, should he see how some of his theories on extreem capitalism (written in the late 1800's), have materialized.
Yes, its possible that Mr Hedges is a tad more pessimistic then certain apologists would like. And it is also possible that his worst nightmares will not happen the way he imagines. But I think that without a certain amount of public awareness, much of it may unfold. Mostly likely because the majority of people will not take time to listen to these type of lectures, will not read his book, but will simply lull back to a drone like sleep perpetually bombarded by video games, stupid movies, strip malls, car ads and the pursuit of an elusive form of happiness. All Of which they may never gain, no matter how many self help tapes they buy from this or that guru. I would listen to the lecture again. Cheers!
Am-Expat writes... "Everyone was optimistic and believed that the natural order of things was that children would surpass their parents in opportunities, security and happiness. We did have that until about 1970 when the middle class reached its peak. Since that time and the shift to corporate domination of policy it has been a downhill slide. Now compare that reason for optimism to US in today's world. Well, India, China, Brazil, Russia and others are 1956 USA. The whole economic center of the universe is shifting from the west to the east. The demagogues armed with a corporate controlled media have rewritten history and even the meaning of words. The US is living a delusion and no change can occur unless that insular bubble is popped. "
And he goes on to suggest that the rest of the world will now take over as the "economic centre" of the "universe".
I have another perspective on this whole shift, and, while it does not exonerate the role of corporations, it does place the fate of the economic project I often call the "globalization of industrialization" into another context. This context is energy. 1971 did not just mark the "peak of the middle class", it also marked the peak oil production within the USA. Hedges does correctly identify the alliance between the military-industrial complex and the oil companies. The way this particular partnership has played out within the United States has crippled not only the middle class and the entire country, it was the beginning of a long process that will play out within the entire world. There is considerable evidence that the world has reached Peak OIl (probably in 2005) and is poised on the edge of a long descent. this process will likely usher in the gradual collapse not only of the United States, but of the entire industrial economy.
Hedges speaks of a depression within American economy. But this is very possibly the fate of us all.
Pretty interesting, atleast from 45min and on, the beginning was a little over the top. Completely agree on the main points, unregulated free markets will wreck society, which in turn wrecks the market back.
Not all corporations are virulent types like the oil and weapons merchants. Putting all of them in the same basket is not good. Maybe a better approach would be putting a wedge between the good and bad ones.
Technology phobia is not right either. Humans are best in innovation and adaptation. "Thought is done solitude and silence" is not fully correct. We also think and feel together. While isolating your children may be good sometimes, it is best to educate them in the modern ways.
Have a look at the fast evolution of Huffington Post readers' comments, and you may see that the internet can be a powerful force for good.
Very informative talk, but a bit too gloomy and misdirected.
Your criticism of Hedges fails massively on several glaring and obvious points, all of which reveal your own utterly vacant morality.
Calling Hedges "post-Christian" is the most laughably idiotic of your criticisms because, anyone who has read the jacket copy of a Hedges book, or watched and listened to any number of Hedges talks uploaded to the web, can tell you Hedges earned a master's degree from the Harvard Divinity School. Furthermore, Hedges own father was a Presbyterian minister in the small upstate New York town where Hedges was reared. And STILL furthermore Hedges is the author of a recent book titled "I Don't Believe in Atheism."
So tell us, you worthless jackass of an apologist for corporate venality: Tell us all what a believer in Jesus Christ you are.
"Union demands for uncompetitive compensation packages, regardless of the profitability of the companies they worked for have sent manufacturing jobs elsewhere."
That's what you right wing goofs have been disseminating throughout the culture for decades now ... ever since Ronald The-Greatest-Union-Buster-Who-Ever-Lived Reagan threw the traffic controllers off the job and decertified Phelps-Dodge, it's been a blame-the-unions free-for-all. It's union's fault that jobs have gone overseas; not the deregulation and NAFTA passed by Clinton to which Hedges makes reference in his talk. The financial solvency of the corporation and its profits are what are paramount to you, not worker's rights or compensation. Have the balls to admit it like the crypto-fascist you are.
Where do you get off? Where? Be thankful this exchange is taking place over the internet. If I'd have met you in person and you mouthed the slavish arrogant corporate idolatry you have here on this post, I'd rearrange your face, you worthless scum.
Let's get right to the point. Mr. Hedges is a totalitarian dressed up in quasi-intellectual, faux-compassion. He believes HE knows how we should live and if we all just trusted brilliant people like himself, he could save us all from our greed, corporatism and decadence. I have heard him speak numerous times and read many of his pieces. Based on what I hear from him time after time, Marx and Hegel are his primary influences, and we all klnow what that leads to. I do not believe a thing he says and beloieve he is simnply wrong in his macro assumptions about economics.
Does the fact that he is speaking at an anti war rally with Cynthia McKinney, Mike Gravell, Dennis Kucinich say anything about him?
You've got my vote. It's refreshing to hear a person speak about political theories based on the results rather than the intentions. Excellent insights.
Do you realize that nearly 50% of American taxpayers pay NO federal income tax? Do you oppose this as well? Corporations play by rules created by our legislators. Most business are a net positive for the communities in which they operate. They employ people. They expand the tax base. I have no problem with corpoprate taxation per se, but I believe that members of corporations have a right to speak out when the government creates punitive regulation or taxation to negatively impact their mission - to build sales and generate profits for future growth and to return shareholder value.