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Hedges bets on radical progressives to force change

March 2nd, 2014

“It made me take sides” were the last words Chris Hedges spoke when he addressed an almost full house at the Brilliant Cultural Center  in Castlegar on Friday night. 

He was referring to his decades of experience as a war correspondent, and about the role of corporations and an elitist ruling class in propagating suffering and environmental destruction around the world.

Hedges is an icon of  revolutionary progressives, having direct experience organizing for the Occupy movement in New York and writing a number of popular books that have become pillars of progressive revolutionary dogma.

His Friday night talk was largely about the inability of governments to address critical issues that he said have us on a direct path to imminent environmental and social collapse, and how we can respond even in the absence of a hope of success.

While he is an advocate of non-violent resistance as the most effective means of effecting change, he spoke of the need for a critical mass of engaged citizens to force a revolution, and of the need to attack and destroy corporate structures.  That critical mass, he said, could be as little as 1 to 5 percent of the population.

Hedges feels the only hope we have left is to build mass protest movements large enough to terrify ruling elites and force change.

While Hedges says that the Occupy movement was destroyed by a coordinated effort by the Obama Administration, the movement was also hindered by significant internal struggles.  Occupiers were well-known for attempting to create alternative forms of democratic governance in their camps and testing radical systems that ran counter to the status-quo.

Many may look at the anarchic nature of the Occupy camps, wondering how this would translate to real governance if the revolution were to succeed, and have difficulty supporting the Occupiers.

Audience member Keith Wiley asked:  ‘After Occupy, what is the next wave?” to which Hedges did not have a clear answer, yet was insistent that it is on it’s way.

The public have a capacity to understand the scale and seriousness of problems involved, and even the root causes. But another round of nebulous, unfocused protests that struggle with their own purpose and self-regulation is not likely to change a prevalent mistrust of the movement.

Until revolutionaries are able to articulate viable solutions that resonate with ordinary people, rather than  just voicing problems and engaging in democratic experimentation, Hedges and his ‘side’ will likely continue their battle with their ruling-class foes, while the general public remains somewhere in the middle.

Even so, according to Hedges, there is no longer an excuse for anyone to sit on the sidelines.

Categories: Op/Ed

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