Has Chris Hedges Been Reading ATS? 15

He sure sounds like it. Hedges is an example of what a serious Left would look like, although he’s still obviously not as radical as ARV-ATS.

15 comments

  1. This video by Hedges is well worth taking the time to watch. The four parts together are nearly an hour long.

    Hedges comes much closer to getting it than much of the Left. He knows what the big issues are, and understands the direction the system is headed in, both internationally and domestically.

    He is anti-Democrat, anti-Obama, anti-Communist, and criticizes the center-left much more extensively than what is normal among leftists nowadays. He also seems to instinctively realize that “diversity politics” is a ruse used as a tactic by the system. He doesn’t seem to buy into the usual white guilt/privilege checking stuff, and he doesn’t denounce “straight white males” and all the usual leftist bullshit. He also has a very good understanding of class, and understands that class conflict is trans-ethnic. He also seems fairly skeptical of the state.

    • He makes perfect sense!
      Our enemy is the same – no matter what camp we have chosen. There are no political parties – they are the same and they are controlled by our enemy.

      • I never really followed that debate.

        Don’t take this personally because I know you were heavily involved in Occupy, but Occupy wasn’t really something that I was all that impressed with. I thought it was basically the Left’s answer to the Tea Party, which I also wasn’t very impressed with. Plus. I’d seen it all before, with anti-globalization ten years earlier and having been involved in the radical left subculture in the 80s. It just seemed to me to be the same old laundry list of progressive issues and rhetoric. Plus, the on the ground intelligence I got from participants indicated to me much of it was just a ridiculous PC fest, which is what I would have expected. I liked OWS in the sense I thought it might be a gateway drug to something more radical. OWS is like smoking weed and eating ‘shrooms, ATS is heroin or methamphetamine.

        The Black Block tactics have always been controversial. The same issues came up with anti-globalization. My personal take on them is probably somewhat ambivalent. Of course, I prefer militancy over passivity. So in that sense I like them. But I doubt most of them are that sophisticated politically. If you asked them what their actual objectives were, it would probably be just the usual leftist talking points.

        • Don’t take this personally because I know you were heavily involved in Occupy, but Occupy wasn’t really something that I was all that impressed with.

          Oh, I don’t take it personally at all. My defense of Occupy has to do with the things I think it got right, not trying to paper over the very substantial things it got wrong.

          I thought it was basically the Left’s answer to the Tea Party, which I also wasn’t very impressed with.

          Sure, and I’d probably be right there with you if I hadn’t participated and had instead only understood what the media told me. And it’s not like that analysis is wrong per se; just that it glosses over things that I think are worth recognizing, like the anarchist decision making principles and the beginnings of a strategic, militant orientation on the left once more.

          Plus. I’d seen it all before, with anti-globalization ten years earlier and having been involved in the radical left subculture in the 80s.

          Well, IMHO Occupy was much closer to Seattle 99 than anything in the 80s (say, anti-nuke movement or protesting U.S. interventions). It had much of the leaderless tactics institutionalized in it, but by institutionalizing those tactics it tried to maximize the inclusiveness that generally tears these things apart with PC criticism.

          Plus, the on the ground intelligence I got from participants indicated to me much of it was just a ridiculous PC fest, which is what I would have expected. I liked OWS in the sense I thought it might be a gateway drug to something more radical. OWS is like smoking weed and eating ‘shrooms, ATS is heroin or methamphetamine.

          So I share that thinking; I just think that there are people who see the PC bullshit and go, “welp, I’m going home” vs. people who see the PC bullshit and go, “OK, we have a lot of work to do”. If anything, Occupy convinced me that there are MANY on the left who reject the PC inclusiveness-at-any-cost priorities of many progressives.

          The Black Block tactics have always been controversial. The same issues came up with anti-globalization. My personal take on them is probably somewhat ambivalent. Of course, I prefer militancy over passivity. So in that sense I like them. But I doubt most of them are that sophisticated politically. If you asked them what their actual objectives were, it would probably be just the usual leftist talking points.

          It would be refreshing to discuss those tactics based on their actual results. My problem with Hedges is that he’s so sloppy in his criticisms, saying that black bloc tactics encourage mainstream rejection of radicalism, as if that weren’t already going on. People don’t look at, say, property being smashed and say “well there’s no way I can be part of that”. They look at it and say, “what’s really going on there?” and only then decide whether they agree or not. The idea that OWS should have been some sort of middle class mainstream movement reflects, in other words, the secret or not-so-secret desire for OWS to have been a left-wing tea party, and that was something OWS fought at every turn. Regardless of the differing priorities of lefties and progressives in OWS, only a very slim minority wanted anything to do with participating in the traditional left/right political shit show. That’s not something anybody could see from mainstream coverage, or even for that matter the kind of coverage that a Democracy Now! did.

          • I loved a lot of what Occupy did. They just got one thing wrong. Standing in the street is not going to bring the system down. It may do if some third world country where the elite have at least some sense of shame, but that is not the case here in the West.

            Once the thing had peaked, the mission of the public demo in publicizing the scale of opposition had been achieved. At that point the only advantage in holding on was to force the establishment to show its colours by breaking the thing up. However the obvious strategy for them was to allow attrition from infighting and boredom to wear it down first.

            At some point such a movement must transition from “protesting” to engaging at community level in practical projects aimed at degrading the capability of the system as well as empowering those communities. That is, of course, hard slow work; at least until someone wins, then its going to be a lot more fun.

            • I don’t intend to fisk out a defense of Occupy, but I would like to address one thing.

              Standing in the street is not going to bring the system down.

              I imagine there were some hippies who thought that, but most of us didn’t. Standing in the street was more about keeping our movement motivated than “changing the system”. I’d be the first to criticize Occupy for a glut of symbolic, performance-y actions, but a great deal of that was intended more as team-building than system-changing. The point was never to compel but to harass, disrupt, and create the spectacle of ungoverned people on the move.

              Meanwhile, look to the on-the-ground things happening at the occupations: homeless people getting food and medical care, strategic organizing to route around and avoid cops, kids learning how to manipulate the mainstream media, real tests for anarchist conflict resolution in some of the most obnoxious conditions possible, etc. Occupy Sandy was able to provide crucial aid to hurricane victims before FEMA could mobilize because Occupy Wall St had already learned how to agilely move supplies from donor to those in need quickly. If you want a Hezbollah-style 4th generation warfare group that can provide services to the people and displace the state, OWS was not sufficient, but it was one of the biggest steps in that direction. And I used to go shooting with many folks from Occupy, so it’s not like everybody was a bunch of non-violent crusties.

              OK, one more thing:

              However the obvious strategy for them was to allow attrition from infighting and boredom to wear it down first.

              This is so true. I know shit was unravelling at Zuccotti before the raid, but that energized everybody and gave them a common enemy. We experienced the same thing in Richmond. The night of our raid, we were in the worst shape yet. An element had moved in that was getting drunk and just threatening people. The PC shit was ripping us apart. People were tired of interminable GA meetings. After the raid, we ended up re-occupying next door to the Mayor’s residence for another month and some activities are still ongoing.

              It was not perfect, but in terms of showing what was possible, it meant a lot to me. I spend a lot of time trying to think about what Occupy meant and what the next step is.

  2. Well it’s a nice speech. However I didn’t hear anything other than the bog standard leftie progressive BS which has bored radicalism in the West to the verge of extinction. The quote from Popper, on the import of being intolerant towards the intolerant, was the pure distillation of the very thing Keith criticized in his essay on the Frankfurt School.

    About the only novel thing I recognized was Hedge’s implicit acceptance that the same tired piety of the Left was doomed to fail even if the usual smug white middle class assholes did actual respond to his entreaty to resist. Which apparently we should do because Jesus and Chris’s dad said we should.

    No-one gets a round of applause for telling us what the problem is anymore. You don’t need a doctor to tell you what’s causing you to feel ill when you’ve a got a massive sucking gunshot wound to the chest. We know the NSA and Goldman Sacs are not on our team, that question has been definitively resolved for anyone whose cerebral cortex is connected by any means to the outside world.

    • The quote from Popper, on the import of being intolerant towards the intolerant, was the pure distillation of the very thing Keith criticized in his essay on the Frankfurt School.

      I thought the same thing.

  3. Well, there’s no doubt that Hedges is a standard brand left-progressive, crypto-pseudo-neo-Marxist, progressive Christian, yadda, yadda, yadda. He’s basically a variation of the Chomsky-Zinn crowd.

    I did think his bromide against “tolerating the intolerant” was interesting given that he seems to have some glimmer of insight into the fact that diversity politics is a ruse meant to deflect attention from more substantive issues, even if it’s only a glimmer. He also mentioned the poor white underclass favorably, as opposed to a blanket demonization of the white working class as racist rednecks. I thought it was something at least.

    Obviously, he’s not on our page yet, and a long way from being so.

    It’s been an interesting life experience for me personally to start as a political radical with views that were not dissimilar to the one’s Hedges now holds, and then move so far out of the mainstream that Hedges now seems to be basically middle of the road. It reminds me of a time in grad school when a professor noticed some of my unusual opinions asked me what my political views were, and I replied, “Hard-core extremist.”

    • I did think his bromide against “tolerating the intolerant” was interesting given that he seems to have some glimmer of insight into the fact that diversity politics is a ruse meant to deflect attention from more substantive issues, even if it’s only a glimmer.

      It seemed like red meat he was throwing to the audience. So in some ways, that kind of thinking reminds me of my own approach, a sort of leftism-as-process: that in fighting for a more open society we sort of wash out the potency of intolerance in a cleansing flood of free debate and free association.

      The problem with Hedges is that he still believes the only real solutions come from formally constituted institutions, even though he seems to understand the danger these institutional means have incurred in the past (i.e. Dem party politics). He wants a left populism the same way you want an anarchist populism, Keith, but Hedges seems wishy washy on whether state politics are the means or the end.

    • The problem is Keith that when Hedge’s summons the ghosts of Blair Mountain those ghosts are his hosed down version of what they “should” have been. Much as in the UK establishment politicians frequently remind us that “those boys stormed up the Normandy Beaches for gay rights, women’s lib and the displacement of the indigenous population from every major city in the country”. No doubt they actually believe that to have been the case, but I’d bet a full set of bollocks they’re wrong.

      You can see this when Hedge’s talks about the workers going off to fight the civil war. “They not only demanded the abolition of slavery, BUT also they wanted anarcho-syndicalism for themselves as well!” (paraphrase). What kind of idiot thinks that anyone goes off to fight a war exclusively for someone else’s rights when they have serious problems of their own? More to the point; if they had to have picked one from the two?

      Like you when I was in my late teens I totally bought into this progressive “radicalism” and one of the reasons I rapidly was disabused of the illusion was that actual workers I knew, like actually classical proletarians, almost universally were having none of it. Not because they were particularly averse to the idea of setting their bosses on fire but because the conditions, all of which were obviously inimical to their clear interest, which that ideology comes along with.

      I can’t see how anyone who had made the slightest attempt to radicalise the white working classes with progressive leftism could possibly believe it was a viable proposition. Which is why, with this rare exception from Hedges, we so rarely hear such a proposition advanced.

      I think Hedges did mention tactics and strategy in the interview, something about “we’ll come up with that stuff later?” That is simply not good enough, you can not say to any reasonable person, “let’s go fuck with the system and we’ll work out how we might win later”. You must, absolutely must, have at least some workable strategy in place first. If that requires some adjustment in ideological values well then those adjustment are either made or you resign yourself to losing. That’s what makes ATS different from the self indulgence of conventional radicalism of right and left in my opinion.

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