On Friday, Salon.com published a wide-ranging interview with “journalist” Chris Hedges, a former reporter for The New York Times who now writes for Truthdig, among others. Hedges recently spoke at a fundraiser to re-elect openly socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant; now he’s calling for a full-scale socialist revolution.
Hedges’ new book, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, argues, according to Salon.com, that “The world is currently at a crisis point the likes of which we’ve never really seen…a revolution is coming; we just don’t yet know when, where, how – or on whose behalf.”
But Hedges has some ideas. Quoting the old communist Antonio Gramsci, who argued that a communist revolution would purify man’s soul, and thus bring into effect a socialist utopia, Hedges says that the world has torn down all the pre-existing cultural architecture. “[B]ut,” he adds, “we haven’t articulated something to take its place.” Hedges says that the pot is boiling for revolution, and specifically cites Ferguson and Baltimore as “sporadic uprisings,” stating that such uprisings will become more common because police kill young black folks for no reason “because it exclusively serves the interest of corporate power.”
How police work for corporations, and why corporations would want to kill potential labor and customers remains unexplained. Nonetheless, Hedges argues:
The normal mechanisms by which we carry out incremental and piecemeal reform through liberal institutions no longer function. They have been seized by corporate power — including the press. That sets the stage for inevitable blowback, because these corporations have no internal constraints, and now they have no external constraints. So they will exploit, because, as Marx understood, that’s their nature, until exhaustion or collapse.
This is gobbledygook. It is straight from Lenin’s Imperalism, but that work, which suggested that capitalism would lead to its own demise, was obviously incorrect – it is only massive government systems that lead to their own demise over and over again throughout history. That inconvenient fact led to the rise of the Frankfurt School movement, which sought to deconstruct all institutions thanks to history’s failure to vindicate Marx. Small government never presages revolution. Large government does.
But Hedges doesn’t worry about a leftwing attempt at revolution (actually, he seeks it). Instead, he worries about a right-wing attempt:
If things unravel [in the U.S.], our backlash may very well be a rightwing backlash — a very frightening rightwing backlash. We who care about populist movements [on the left] are very weak, because in the name of anti-communism these movements have been destroyed; we are almost trying to rebuild them from scratch. We don’t even have the language to describe the class warfare that is being unleashed upon us by this tiny, rapacious, oligarchic elite. But we on the left are very disorganized, unfocused, and without resources.
Apparently, it never occurs to Hedges that there is little need for a left-wing revolution in a country that has moved radically left in terms of governance for years – and it never occurs to Hedges that left-wing populism is a contradiction in terms so long as such populism is expressed as leveling governmental policy. The same state that can rob the rich generally has no problem wiretapping everyone.
Hedges holds out hope for a non-Hillary candidate to emerge from the Democratic field:
If we are not brutal about diagnosing what we are up against, then all of our resistance is futile. If we think that voting for Hillary Clinton…is really going to make a difference, then I would argue we don’t understand corporate power and how it works. If you read the writings of anthropologists, there are studies about how civilizations break down; and we are certainly following that pattern. Unfortunately, there’s nothing within human nature to argue that we won’t go down the ways other civilizations have gone down. The difference is now, of course, that when we go down, the whole planet is going to go with us.
Hedges’ disdain for corporate influence, of course, ends where the Tea Party begins. And that’s why his supposedly revolutionary movement is doomed to fail: there is no real opposition to it from the mainstream left. Hedges is accepted in left-wing circles as a sort of Bernie Sanders-esque oracle of fundamentalist Marxism. His revolution is already underway in the halls of power. But like all good Marxists, he will be shocked – shocked! – to learn that the ideological revolutionaries that took over the White House (and have, to be sure, also read Marx and Gramsci) won’t bring a socialist utopia, but a nightmare that will put him in the crosshairs, too, should he fail to fall in line. For every Lenin, there are a million Trotskys too inconvenient to allow into the revolutionary fold.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.