Chris Hedges is a useless windbag who harms the left. He is a businessman-journalist peddling liberalism and failure to the populist left. He occupies a position between anti-capitalism and naked power, a space where he can use the arbitrage of his understanding of the mechanisms of the dominant ideology to turn a profit. He knows the dimensions of this space down to the width of a dollar bill. We are ready to call Hedges a bullshitter.
Take this addition to brand Hedges, published on 2 July by the liberal media site truthdig, entitled “Time to get Crazy”. Under a Mr. Fish cartoon of Crazy Horse wearing a mask used by right-wing populists in the occupy movement and on the internet that is disturbingly reminiscent of minstrel vaudeville paint, Hedges writes the following:
Crazy Horse was bayoneted to death on Sept. 5, 1877, after being tricked into walking toward the jail at Fort Robinson in Nebraska. The moment he understood the trap he pulled out a knife and fought back. Gen. Phil Sheridan had intended to ship Crazy Horse to the Dry Tortugas, a group of small islands in the Gulf of Mexico, where a U.S. Army garrison ran a prison with cells dug out of the coral. Crazy Horse, even when dying, refused to lie on the white man’s cot. He insisted on being placed on the floor. Armed soldiers stood by until he died. And when he breathed his last, Touch the Clouds, Crazy Horse’s seven-foot-tall Miniconjou friend, pointed to the blanket that covered the chief’s body and said, “This is the lodge of Crazy Horse.” His grieving parents buried Crazy Horse in an undisclosed location. Legend says that his bones turned to rocks and his joints to flint. His ferocity of spirit remains a guiding light for all who seek lives of defiance.
This is the story of the heroic martyrdom of a great human that any person who wants to fight the colonial-capitalist system should cherish and remember. So what is it doing in an article by a guy who in February of this year called militants in the occupy movement who merely harmed private property “The Cancer of Occupy.” Militants participating in black or red bloc tactics are breaking shop windows, throwing bottles at kettling pigs, and generally causing a nuisance to property and its defenders. Bloc tactics are a far cry from putting one’s knife in an oppressor’s throat, or massacring a column of oppressor soldiers. But bloc tactics are far beyond the pale for Hedges. So why is he talking about “Crazy Horse?” What is he asking the progressive left to do when it “gets crazy.” Well, he has another quote in the article:
Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power,” wrote the philosopher John Locke, “they put themselves into a state of war with the people who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.”
John Locke is the philosopher of private property. He is certainly no leftist. A good liberal, though, is John Locke. He argues for property, the sovereign man, his sovereign rights, and all of that ideology used to deny oppressed groups the ability to organize as a group in the face of systemic capitalist exploitation. One of those Europeans who were happy enough to break their word with any “members of a primitive cult,” as Hedges so unhappily describes someone else given the context, Locke would have put a bullet in Crazy Horse. Or more likely paid someone to do so.
Suddenly his previous attack on those participants in #occupy, whose tactics of struggle include hurting property makes sense. They are actually doing what Hedges merely romanticizes in order to get attention. He says:
And while I do not advocate violence, indeed will seek every way to avoid it, I have no intention of accommodating corporate power whether it hides behind the mask of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that resistance may ultimately be in vain. Yet to resist is to say something about us as human beings. It keeps alive the possibility of hope, even as all empirical evidence points to inevitable destruction. It makes victory, however remote, possible. And it makes life a little more difficult for the ruling class, which satisfies the very human emotion of vengeance.
Except he has no intention of doing anything but selling copy and books. He’s not going to actively resist, he’s going to put native heroes in masks and use their stories to enrich himself. I don’t give a shit if he profit shares with “progressive media” (a topic for another post), this guy is a poisonous liar profiting off of other people’s struggles. Yeah, he’s been arrested. Sometimes getting arrested at a protest is about selling books that are ultimately about reproducing the ideology of the oppressor among those of us who get arrested. Hedges is that guy on the margins of the dominant ideology, but the dominant ideology is what he is selling. Don’t buy it.