Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt
a book by Chris Hedges
(our site's book review)
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. He spent nearly two decades as a correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans, with fifteen years at the New York Times. He is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Empire of Illusion; Death of the Liberal Class; War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning; and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt which he co-wrote with Joe Sacco. He writes a weekly column for the online magazine Truthdig. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Chris Hedges is also the author of Unspeakable, about his truth telling in spite of it getting him in trouble with the powers-that-be.
In the face of modern conditions, revolution is inevitable. The rampant inequality that exists between the political and corporate elites and the struggling masses; the destruction wreaked upon our environment by faceless, careless corporations; the steady stripping away of our civil liberties and the creation of a monstrous surveillance system—all of these have combined to spark a profound revolutionary moment. Corporate capitalists, dismissive of the popular will, do not see the fires they are igniting.
In Wages of Rebellion, Chris Hedges—a renowned chronicler of the malaise and sickness of a society in terminal moral decline—investigates what social and psychological factors cause revolution and resistance. Focusing on the stories of radicals and dissenters from around the world and throughout history, and drawing on an ambitious overview of prominent philosophers, historians, and novelists, Hedges explores what it takes to be a rebel in modern times. Hedges, using a term coined by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, cites “sublime madness” as the essential force that guides the actions of rebels—the state of passion that causes the rebel to engage in an unwavering fight against overwhelmingly powerful and oppressive forces.
Put away your gun—that won't work this time around
From South African activists who dedicated their lives to ending apartheid, to contemporary anti-fracking protestors in Canada, to whistleblowers in pursuit of transparency, Wages of Rebellion shows the cost of a life committed to speaking truth to power and demanding justice. This is a fight that requires us to find in acts of rebellion the sparks of life, an intrinsic meaning that lies beyond the possibility of success. For Hedges, resistance is not finally defined by what we achieve, but by what we become.
With his usual brilliance and amazing ability to draw parallels in literature and philosophy, Hedges educates his readers on the historical prerequisites for revolution and on the signs of degenerating power structures. The book is full of inspiring stories, historical details, and quotes that stir passions and imaginations.
Hedges believes that politicians are no longer concerned with serving the interests of American citizens. Their job is to serve what he calls the corporate state, which the majority of us citizens already know. He believes that large corporations like Goldman Sachs, Exxon-Mobil, and Raytheon now call the shots. He points out that since the 1970s real wages have been in decline and claims that about half the country is now living in poverty. Hedges predicts that we face a dystopian future, with Orwellian surveillance to keep us in line. He also believes “we live in a revolutionary moment” and rising inequality could eventually push us over a cliff into revolution like France in 1789 and Russia in 1917. Unless we are very rich, we do not have representation at any level of government here in America. See The Rise of the American Corporate Security State, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government, and When Corporations Rule the World.
Rising inequality could eventually push us over a cliff into revolution like France in 1789 and Russia in 1917—goodbye democracy, hello Feudalism
Rising income gap
Feudalism—serfs carry royalty
Hedges claims that the oligarchs are greedy and are creating a form of neo-feudalism. They exploit workers and have created pliable, corrupt governments that have abandoned the common good to serve corporate profit. Much of Wages of Rebellion is focused on listing the injustices doled out by the government in recent years. He is sympathetic towards whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. See Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden.
Edward Snowden, a man we can all admire as a hero
Hedges believes that most successful revolutions are nonviolent. He argues that ordinary people should rise up and rebel, but peacefully. He seems to favor large-scale acts of civil disobedience and strikes. Hedges’ purpose is to get readers to see the choice between rebellion and doom before it’s too late. "The world has been turned upside down. The pestilence of corporate totalitarianism is spreading over the earth. The criminals have seized power… The persecution of these rebels is the harbinger of what is to come: the rise of a bitter world where criminals in tailored suits and gangsters in beribboned military uniforms—propped up by a vast internal and external security apparatus, a compliant press, and a morally bankrupt political elite—hunt down and cage all who resist."
Before it's too late, resist—and never give up
We desperately need more courageous truth-telling from individuals of strong character and moral compass like Hedges. Hedges speaks truth to power with eloquence and conviction. He's one of the greatest of progressive voices today. Chris Hedges is surely our best investigative reporter—in a class by himself.
The relentless drive by the fossil fuel industry for profits is destroying the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species
According to the author, "The relentless drive by the fossil fuel industry for profits is destroying the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species. And no mechanisms to institute genuine reform or halt the corporate assault are left within the structures of power, which have surrendered to corporate control. . . . History has demonstrated that the seizure of power by a tiny cabal, whether a political party or a clique of oligarchs, leads to despotism. Governments that cater exclusively to a narrow interest group and redirect the machinery of state to furthering the interests of that interest group are no longer capable of responding rationally in times of crisis."
Hedges says there is a crisis of disappointed expectations within the American middle class which has occurred because the elite oligarchs have found clever ways to rob this class of its wealth, because they are sick with greed. We are being screwed by liars, posers, fakers and hypocrites that are selling out to the corporatocracy in order to get a bigger share at the hog trough.
We are being screwed by liars, posers, fakers and hypocrites that are selling out to the corporatocracy in order to get a bigger share at the hog trough
Two good examples are the Obama and Trump presidencies. Both perpetrated massive political fraud. And what is perhaps most striking is how quickly each of them backtracked on their winning core campaign messages, particularly since they were both proclaimed as representing “movements” meant to shake up the system, stop wars and attend to America first, not imperial empire building. Trump posed as a populist and anti-interventionist “America Firster.” OBomb'em promised “hope and change” and ending the war, but he soon accelerated the conflict, proving he's the worst liar to ever hold the presidency. Predictably, the Obama years saw a dramatic escalation of the U.S. global assassination program using drones. Obama bombed more countries than any other president since World War II: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. He was Dubya Bush 2.0 on steroids. Obama had talked about a nuclear-weapons-free world—a key reason he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize—but he later geared up to spend $1 trillion in upgrading the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.
Trump’s election generated hope that he would live up to his populist promises and at least pursue U.S. policies that reflected his “America First” ideas and minimize U.S. military actions abroad. Instead there have been a series of key reversals, and then when his popularity kept slipping he used the often used trick of military action to rally the U.S. citizens behind him and our troops' war actions. On April 6 he launched 59 cruise missiles against the Syrian government, which "may" have used chemical weapons against its people. But his sudden, dangerous, impulsive military intervention, reversing his plans to focus on defeating ISIS, was not alone. The reversing of campaign promises is part of a whole host of Trump “flip-flops” on the Export-Import Bank, NATO, China, Russia and the Federal Reserve. (Source: Deceivers in Chief: How Donald Trump and Barack Obama Are Alike , Truthdig)
These two Deceivers in Chief perpetrated massive political fraud, according to Truthdig
We are being screwed by liars, posers, fakers and hypocrites that are selling us out
Elites are shaking us down
Hedges is rightfully angry about the condition of our capitalist totalitarian state. His book makes a great case. He has seen a lot of abuse of people by the police state and predicts it will all self-destruct. If the country doesn't take care of its citizens then people will recognize that and stop participating. Boycott elections and, above all, RESIST the oppression, fake news, lying leaders and elite corporatocracy lackeys masquerading as good people who have our interests at heart. THEY only have a few yachts, diamonds or gold bars to lose. WE have a country to lose. See Delusional Democracy—Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government.
"Hedges is an esteemed voice from the left whose articles circulate widely throughout social media and elsewhere. For this reason his latest work, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, is particularly intriguing. Here we have an important thinker and activist taking a position on the age-old question in radical politics: reform or revolution? As the book’s title suggests, Hedges comes down on the side of revolution. . . . Hedges is trying to lay out the moral justification for revolution, which he sees as forthcoming, desirable, and necessary. . . . [however] Hedges articulates not even an outline of his envisioned revolution or of the new and improved social-political environment it presumably would deliver. In this sense the book will disappoint those who were looking for Hedges to utilize his stature and intellect to lead in a substantive way in the revolution that he imagines." (Source: Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, David Niose, The Humanist)
‘By the People’ and ‘Wages of Rebellion’ presents a snarky review of Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt in which, like Niose from The Humanist, he asks "Where's the Beef?" with regards to Hedges intellectualizing to cover up the fact he failed to conjure up any solutions.
Hedges, in truth, doesn’t present a solution, per se, but shows examples of successful nonviolent rebellions in other nations that can inspire and serve as somewhat nebulous roadmaps. This book needed to do more and go farther, but his knowledge of where to go from here was lacking, even though the set-up was fine and the intent was solid gold. So we continue below where he left off:
Resist neocon warmongers using us as cannon fodder to promote wars that line their pockets with blood money—refuse to participate
Our own take on revolution is a bit more clear and coherent. We agree with his nonviolent revolution concept which is shared by nearly everyone who intuits the growing need for revolution. Guns and violence merely push us toward a police state, which is a huge step down from where we are now. So, we need to do what he and we already said: Boycott elections and, above all, RESIST the oppression, fake news, lying leaders and elite corporatocracy lackeys masquerading as good people who have our interests at heart. Resist neocon warmongers using us as cannon fodder to promote wars that line their pockets with blood money. Refuse to participate. Resist environment wrecking policies as well as tax reform that takes more from us only to give more to wealthy, elite oligarchs and their lackeys.
We're supposed to have minds of our own capable of thinking and seeing what's going on so we can act and drain our government's swamp, and yet our inaction and apathy speak volumes
But that's just the start. The U.S. is full of people who are alienated, win-lose addicts. They are raised to be win-lose, so they make good warriors. When our so-called leaders (Ronnie, Billie, Dubya, OBomb'em) lead us into policies and actions that result in the deaths of millions—mostly innocents—we barely bat an eye. Where is our moral indignation and where is our calling of the "war on terror" a vicious fraud used as a cover story for the real action: robbing the middle class of its wealth and transferring immense wealth into the coffers of the corporatocracy's military industrial complex, the defense industry co-conspirators in the fraud? Where are our impeachments of corrupt leaders? We're supposed to have minds of our own capable of thinking and seeing what's going on so we can act and drain our government's swamp. And yet our inaction and apathy speak volumes. We have a clueless citizenry of nonthinking sheep who are glued to TV screens, and they're not just drinking the Kool-Aid, they're guzzling the stuff.
We have a clueless citizenry of nonthinking sheep who are glued to TV screens, and they're not just drinking the Kool-Aid, they're guzzling the stuff
Those of us whose heads are not up our asses (like those who buy the fraudulent line Cheney, Rumsfeld, Dubya, OBomb'em, and the other neocon fanatics are profering) clearly see that the "terror" was purposely generated as an excuse to fulfill neocon wet dreams of empire building, power, and riches. The more the U.S. kills Middle Eastern citizens, the more desperate and frustrated Islamic citizens vow vengeance and join ISIS. Our fanatic, ignorant "leaders" are setting up the conditions for ISIS or similar groups sending terrorists to the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction such as killer plagues or even an uncontrolled nuke goten from fanatics in North Korea, Russia, or China. And when Iran builds nukes in their mountain hideouts, they'll happily hand one over to ISIS. They've never forgiven us for our shameful Shah of Iran debacle, as we learned from the 1979 hostage crisis.
Those of us whose heads are not up our asses see the neocon scam; the rest of us are finding that everything seems to stink
Note that regardless of whom we vote for, we keep getting neocon-led decisions running the show. Hillary was going to be OBomb'em 2.0 and Trump attacked Syria—with Hillary's blessing. Trump is a businessman, not a neocon, but he quickly bought the party line on war and seems to have forgotten his anti-war campaign rhetoric. Big surprise. He's putty in the neocons' hands.
In other words, since none of us want these wars, our democracy is broken and it has been replaced by an ugly oligarchy controlled by an unacknowledged shadow government.
Since the win-lose-addicted citizens in the U.S. have been brainwashed that the war on terror, the warmongering, the empire building, the spying on U.S. citizens, the plunging us into hopeless debt to support a useless war, and the loss of many of our rights and freedoms are all for our own good—to keep us "safe", they seem apathetic about the war crimes perpetrated by our fearless "leaders." All experts agree we are much LESS safe than we were before the "war on terror" farce began, yet the neocons keep doing what does NOT WORK, regardless. The only consequence of all the murdering is we are less safe and our country is 20 trillion bucks in debt and the debt continues to grow, which corporatocracy banks leverage into profits NOT shared with citizens via higher CD rates. Folks, we are being scammed just as surely as if we had sent our money to Nigeria to aid a Nigerian Princess! The Nigerian scammer and the neocon fanatic scammers were cut from the same cloth, the only difference being that the neocons' scam has much more dire consequences to us, the U.S., and the world.
The REAL Nigerian 'princess' is laughing at you
So why are we raising win-lose warriors that are comfortable making war rather than peace? Why are we not raising win-win peacemakers that help the world be a safe and happy peaceful place of love, not hate, and cooperation, not violence? It takes win-win people to make democracy, freedom, family, and community work well. Which is why democracy, freedom, family, and community are all degenerating. See Flat-gradient Nurturance versus Steep-gradient Nurturance, Teachers Say Unnurtured Kids Aren't Ready for School—We Say Unnurtured People Aren't Ready for Survival, Building a Community of Citizens: Civil Society in the 21st Century and The Responsive Communitarian Platform.
The U.S. is raising win-lose-obsessed warriors who are making perfect cannon fodder for neocons' warmongering wet dreams
Now for some Q and A.
Q: If we raise angry, frustrated, win-lose warriors itching for a fight, what are they going to be like when they become responsible adults? If they become leaders, what are they likely to lead us into (with the neocons cheerleading them from the side)? If they become politicians, will they support peace proposals or war proposals, including those that manifest being at war with the environment? What effect will all of this have on our world?
A: If we raise warriors, what will happen is war. Warrior-minded leaders will start wars. Warrior-minded politicians will support starting wars. A world full of win-lose, angry warriors will continue to act like warriors until tragedies of massive magnitude scare us into peace or until our war with the environment backfires and we kill the oceans and lakes and wildlife and soil and plants and atmosphere and then the few of us that are left lay around gasping, starving, shivering and bleeding, asking ourselves: Well—did we WIN yet?
Once our war with the environment and each other kills the world, the few of us that are left will lay around gasping, starving, shivering and bleeding, asking ourselves: Well—did we WIN yet?
By the way, the map that is a way out of the world going to hell isn't a recipe for revolution, but for evolution, as you'll see here: The Forest Through The Trees.
The Forest Through The Trees