Monday, March 1, 2010

Reply to Chris Hedges "Zero Point of Systemic Collapse"

Aleksandr Herzen, speaking a century ago to a group of anarchists about how to overthrow the czar, reminded his listeners that it was not their job to save a dying system but to replace it: “We think we are the doctors. We are the disease.” All resistance must recognize that the body politic and global capitalism are dead. We should stop wasting energy trying to reform or appeal to it. This does not mean the end of resistance, but it does mean very different forms of resistance. It means turning our energies toward building sustainable communities to weather the coming crisis, since we will be unable to survive and resist without a cooperative effort.

These communities, if they retreat into a pure survivalist mode without linking themselves to the concentric circles of the wider community, the state and the planet, will become as morally and spiritually bankrupt as the corporate forces arrayed against us. All infrastructures we build, like the monasteries in the Middle Ages, should seek to keep alive the intellectual and artistic traditions that make a civil society, humanism and the common good possible. Access to parcels of agricultural land will be paramount. We will have to grasp, as the medieval monks did, that we cannot alter the larger culture around us, at least in the short term, but we may be able to retain the moral codes and culture for generations beyond ours. Resistance will be reduced to small, often imperceptible acts of defiance, as those who retained their integrity discovered in the long night of 20th-century fascism and communism.- From Chris Hedges "Zero Point of Systemic Collapse" https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/88/chris-hedges.html

I've followed Mr. Hedge's journalistic contributions and his more recent polemical jeremiads. He speaks out of a informed and outraged sense of injustice undoubtedly shared by many perceptive individuals and commentators. I must admit, though I have a great respect for his endeavors, that this particular piece seemed a little tired and overwrought as if he had perhaps unconsciously succumbed to the enormity of the issues which he has so zealously confronted all these years. Whether or not this is the case, the testimony of many of those posting on this thread reveal the same kind of agitated expectation casting about for answers to a whole range of perplexing anomalies. As with any crisis, the responses are as many and varied as the whole range of emotion, verging from the dismissive and even hostile to the more quiescent and reflective. The internet forum, while allowing an elaborate and extensive breadth of opinion, at the same time tends to dilute and attenuate meaning, often at the expense of depth and lasting significance. People can only be awakened and informed so much before even the most trenchant and cutting edge insights lose their inherent relevance. At that point I suppose my backyard compost pile or Mr Hedges Canadian farmland might deservedly become all that more inviting.

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