Chris Hedges: Who Killed the American Dream? | On Civil Society | August 27, 2018.

Chris Hedges: But all of the attendant problems
that come with societal decay, the opioid crisis is rampant. Hate groups, I spend hate groups are a product
of a decayed society, and I spend time with these groups. The Proud Boys, Knights of the Alt-Right,
The 3 Percenters as well as the Antifa and the Black Bloc which I have been very critical
of. And I think that kind of pornography of violence,
that kind of violence as a form of catharsis is common to both the left and the right. The radical left I’d say. [music] Habiba Nosheen: I was saying to the organizers
there is really no way I could have declined this request to be here because my very first
job when I was 14, was working for the Toronto Public Library for $6.85 an hour. So we’re very honoured to have Chris Hedges
here I don’t think he needs an introduction because I’m also told by the organizer that
this when the tickets went up for 500 people, it sold out within four hours. So you probably know, who he is but in case
you don’t he’s a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen
years for the New York Times where he also served as the Middle East bureau chief for
the paper. He previously worked overseas for the Dallas
Morning News, the Christian Science Monitor and NPR, he writes a weekly column for the
online magazine, Truthdig and is the host of the Emmy award winning RT America show
on contact. HN: Hedges holds a Master of Divinity from
Harvard University, he has taught at University, Princeton University, Columbia University,
NYU and the University of “Toronto He currently teaches courses in the New Jersey prison system. He’s the author of a number of best selling
books, including his latest book which is America: The Farewell Tour. Please welcome Chris. [applause] HN: So Chris to many the United States is
a global power with a firm hold on the world. But in the book you say short of a sudden
and widespread popular revolt, the death spiral appears unstoppable meaning the United States
as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or at most two. That’s quite a statement. What makes you say that? CH: Because it’s pegged to the end of the
dollar as the world’s reserve currency. That at that point the Empire becomes unsustainable. And the economy goes into free fall. And we can see what happened in the 1950s
when the pound sterling after the debacle of the Suez crisis was dropped as the world’s
currency. We are following all the familiar trajectories
of dying empires. We’re just ticking everything off the list
including that final, what historians called micro-militarism when you carry out in this
case, the 17 years of warfare in the Middle East, these feudal self destructive conflicts,
which is very difficult to extract yourself from. So, yeah, on all levels, the America, as we
know it is terminal when all of this will happen I mean of course we’re barrelling towards
another financial crisis which even establishment organs like the New York Times, which had
an editorial the other day on the removal of the Trump administration of the very tepid
regulations imposed by Dodd-Frank. Even that we read Paul Krugman and I read
Paul Krugman, I read the story of The Times every day and there are columns that he sounds
like me, I mean, it’s people are very worried and then we haven’t even dealt with the issue
of climate change. HN: The Dodd-Frank regulations that went into
place post the financial crisis, the implementation of that has been slow to say the least, how
does that factor into your prediction that… CH: Well, we the mishandled the 2008 global
financial collapse. HN: How so? CH: We bailed out the banks, to anywhere between
four to seven trillion dollars we manufactured money what Marx calls “fictitious capital”. We not only lend that money at virtually zero
percent interest, and there were several banks in Europe that it was actually negative. They would pay you to take money, and… We re-inflated the speculative economy. None of this money went towards infrastructure. I mean China’s reaction after 2008 was the
opposite, none of it went to infrastructure projects, none of it bailed out the pension
funds, the municipal funds, all of which drops sometimes by 40%, not to mention all those
people at IRAs. So the victims were left with nothing, the
victimizers were bailed out. And that mechanism of re-inflating the market
through 0% interest means that there’s no plan B. That the next time around, they don’t
know what they’re gonna do. And then we have watched this massive tax
cut, which over the next 10 years will bleed an estimated $1.5 trillion out of revenue
from the US budget. CH: And what have they done with the money? They bought back their own stock to inflate
the value of the stock, which is why you have an overheated stock market, because that feeds
the compensation. The compensation packages of CEOs and senior
management is tied to the value of the stock. So, it all looks pretty grim, financially,
and Dodd-Frank, we just saw the other day that they essentially removed controls for
most banks. This was a very recent development, which
has left most of the financial market now completely unregulated. So it’s extremely dangerous and when we get
hit this time, I don’t know how they’re gonna be able to respond in a kind of… I don’t know how they’re gonna be able to
re-inflate the market. They can try and turn around, and manufacture
money again, but then you’re flirting with hyperinflation. HN: So in your estimation, what would a world
post United States as a super power look like then? CH: Probably a multi-polar world. HN: Explain. CH: So you have certain spheres of influence,
China for instance. Maybe in the Middle East, Turkey would like
to play that role. That’s why they’re messing around in Syria. HN: I’m surprised to hear you say Turkey. CH: Well, in the Middle East. I mean Erdoğan clearly has visions of recreating
the Ottoman reach, whether he can or not, I don’t know. And if Turkey, of course, has got its own
financial crisis at the moment. But, yeah, I suspect a multi-polar world. There are some questions and that is what
will be the power of international finance? Which has been able to essentially seize control
of economies quite effectively. You see it in India, for instance, countries
like India, Pakistan, where people don’t have control because of the IMF and the World Bank,
and Goldman Sachs. Greece is the most egregious example of this. These states can’t control their own economies
and so they revert to these politics of national identity. That economic decline is interpreted, Reagan
and Thatcher started this, is an assault against our national identity, against our values
and that’s where you get the Islamophobia, the anti-immigrant stance, the rise of these
right-wing proto-fascist, and countries like Hungary or the United States. CH: It’s built out of that economic paralysis
and political paralysis, because any time a cabal seizes power, whether it’s monarchical
communist fascist or in our case, corporate. The system seizes up. It no longer is able to implement what is
fundamental to a democracy, as Karl Popper points out. And that’s incremental or piecemeal reform. You can’t staunch the assault whether it’s
through austerity, stagnant wages, or in essence, declining wages. And we go back to that, the borrowing at 0%
interest. The money has to be repaid. And so the international financiers imposed
punishing forms of debt peonage on the population, in order to pay back the money. And so that’s where you get in the United
States, this student loan crisis at $1.4 trillion. And even if you declare bankruptcy, you’re
still responsible for… I mean It’s a really pernicious system. HN: Because you can’t actually, even personal
bankruptcy… You might still… It might be the same in Canada, actually,
where student loans don’t count, again, to bankruptcy. CH: Right we do everything you shouldn’t do
and then 10 years later you copy us. I have never figured that out. Our healthcare system, so cost… We have the most expensive healthcare system
and the least efficient in the industrialized world, but we’re spending, I think, 18% of
GDP… It’s staggering the amount of money. So even if you have insurance. A million people a year in the United States
go bankrupt because they can’t pay health insurance, pay health costs, and they have
insurance. CH: Credit cards are another one. So, as soon as you’re late on your credit
card, you’re suddenly paying 28% interest. So there’s all these mechanisms by which they
gouge the citizenry. All these hidden costs. All the private… I opened the book in Scranton, as you know,
where the city is just selling off municipal assets. The sewer system, the utilities, to get money
because they’re trying to stave off insolvency or bankruptcy, and that’s a short-term. What happens when they don’t have any assets
to sell? And then, once they’ve sold the assets, rates
including the parking authority, double, triple. And I think the per capita income in Scranton
is $45,000 a year or something, so… And there are no mechanisms left. There are no impediments either internal or
external to halt this pillage. So we’re headed for a crisis: Political, economic
crisis of immense magnitude of which Trump is the symptom of the decayed system. He is not the disease. HN: I take it from parts of the book where
you mention some dates that this book began before the election. CH: It did, it began on ice… It took the end 2 years ago and I submitted… I actually have the title, America: The Farewell
Tour, and all of the editors at Simon & Schuster thought I was, once again, being very hyperbolic
and then Trump got elected, so I wrote my chapter, as you know, on the Gambling ’cause
I write about… HN: So did the election change at all what
was ultimately in the book or what… CH: No, no because the election confirmed
everything that was in the book. Because the book was about the pathologies
of a diseased culture and how in a decayed or a diseased culture, these perverted forms
of behavior express themselves, which are hardly unique to the United States. And I studied classics. I know what the late Roman Empire looked like,
which is a lot like the United States. And Trump… When I wrote my chapter on Gambling… So I write about what sociologists called,
Diseases of Despair. So that’s heroin, drug addiction, gambling,
suicide, sexual sadism. HN: But didn’t those things always exist in
the States? CH: Yes, but I think most people have no idea
how pervasive. I mean, just the opioid crisis alone is gambling. The figures are in the book but it’s kind
of staggering. Which by the way, gamblers have the highest
rate of suicide of any addict. And the way the gambling industry has proliferated
because with the fall of revenue for states, because of a decline in taxation, everybody’s
building casinos right and left as a form of economic development. And I covered the war in the former Yugoslavia,
and I’d watch the Yugoslavs try that and it didn’t work out real well. So, Trump… When I write the Gambling chapter, I wrote
it out of the Trump Taj Mahal before he even announced. I didn’t… I just thought he was this bizarre, corrupt
con artist, who kind of would be good for the book and by the time I finished, he was
president. HN: You also write that under every measurement
from the financial growth and infrastructure investment to advanced technology, including
supercomputers, space weaponry and cyber warfare, we are being rapidly overtaken by the Chinese. Is there anything you think that’s unique
to America, that America does it well, the Chinese would not be able to overtake America
in? CH: Yeah, weapons. We make the best weapons in the world and
we are the largest arms exporter in the world. And we are hauling ourselves out from the
inside by funding this unaudited, uncontrollable, phenomenally bloated Military budget, just
like the late Roman Empire, which had a million members of the Roman legion which was trying
to sustain. So we’re rapidly kind of becoming like a third
world country with nukes. [laughter] CH: Because the disparity. I mean, you know it from having been in Pakistan,
but you see it in a developing world, and I certainly saw it when I lived in Latin America,
for example. Where when I lived in Lima, I lived in a section
of of Lima called Miraflores that looked like Miami except for the walls were a little higher
and they had concertina wire on them. But you could walk 10 blocks and go to the
Pueblos jóvenes, where people were living in open sewers without electricity or running… And that’s what America is becoming. These pockets of immense wealth, concentrated
wealth. Because I traveled all over the country for
this book, I saw it. I mean, the whole city is just wrecked, decayed
wastelands. Cleveland, Detroit. I was in Anderson where GM used to have plants
then Clinton passes NAFTA. By 2006, all those plants have literally been
bulldozed to just big, gigantic, open weed filled lots. They’ve moved to Monterrey, Mexico. They’re paying Mexican workers $3 an hour
with no benefits, no job security, no pensions, nothing. CH: All of these union UAW jobs, all these
UAW jobs are gone. People who have made $25-$30 an hour, could
sustain a family on a single income. Own their own house, had a pension, had medical
benefits, sent their kids [17:10] ____ across America. And Anderson looks like every other de-industrialized
pocket of the United States. Not only with everything shutting down, on
churches for sale, all that kind of stuff. But all of the attendant problems that come
with societal decay, the opioid crisis is rampant. Hate groups. I spent hate groups are a product of a decayed
society. And I spent time with these groups. The Proud Boys, Knights of the Alt-Right,
The 3 Percenters, as well as Antifa and the Black bloc, which I have been very critical
of. And I think that kind of pornography of violence,
that kind of violence as a form of catharsis is common to both the left and the right,
the radical left, I’d say. HN: And you don’t… As you said, you’ve been critical of Antifa
which is a left wing extremist movement that violently opposes groups that are considered
as fascists including democratic and centre right. And you don’t think that movement can lead
to real change. CH: No, I think it’s a gift to the security
in Serbia. First of all, I think half of them are cops. But… HN: You think what? CH: Half of them are cops. [applause] CH: You read any counterinsurgency, I mean
read Lenin. Even though his own brother, was involved
in the assassination of Alexander II and hanged, Lenin recognized that that anarchist violence
was very detrimental to the revolution. Why? Because any revolution, and that’s really
what I’m calling for, I’m calling for the overthrow of corporate power and I don’t believe
that that’s going to come through the calcified mechanisms and institutions that once made
reform and democracy possible, including of course the Congress and the courts which have
stripped us of our constitutional rights by judicial fiat, in essence. CH: It needs broad-based popular support and
the theorists of revolution, Crane Brinton, Jeffrey Davies and others have all argued,
I think correctly, that no revolution succeeds unless a significant percentage of the internal
mechanism of control defects. So for instance, in the Russian Revolution,
the pivotal point was when there were bread riots in Petrograd, they sent in the Cossacks
and they wouldn’t crush the rioters. In fact, they joined them. The Tzars are directing the troops, they rush
them back and he has to abdicate before he even gets back to the city in a railway carriage. CH: You saw the same in… I covered the revolutions in Eastern Europe. So you saw the same thing in East Germany,
where Erich Honecker who had been the communist dictator for 19 years, sends in elite paratroop
vision to Leipzig where these protests, the epicentre of these protests and when the paratroopers
get there, the local communist party officials refused to deploy them in the streets. Honecker’s out within a week. CH: As soon as the Shah flees and the head
of the Armed Forces in Iran announces that the military will no longer… The Iranian military, which I think, was the
fourth largest in the world, the Shah wasted a lot of money on American weaponry. And they said, when they would no longer defend
the regime, they would not defend the regime, it was finished. So what the counterrevolutionary forces seek
to do is demonized the movement and make people fearful of it. And the Black Bloc and Antifa provide that
to them. I’ve dealt with them, I dealt with them a
lot in Occupy. And they protested me, especially on the West
Coast, where I’m about to go. So, to the point where they will call in threats. I spoke in LA and I arrived and they’d hired
these three bodyguards because of it. But outside the hall, they’ll walk up and
down dressed in black, with their face with signs that say, “FU Chris Hedges”, every sign
saying the same thing. HN: They did speak to you for your book though. CH: Hmm? HN: Members did speak to you, for your book. CH: Yeah. Not much. HN: Okay. CH: And a lot of those interviews were done
by my research assistant. CH: Ah. Okay. HN: Yeah, they don’t like me, they don’t like
me too much. But I think they’re immature, I think they’re
juvenile, I think that it is about them being able to carry out property destruction, primarily,
it’s property destruction. But we’re never gonna confront this system
of corporate totalitarianism through property destruction or violence. And I was overseas. I’ve seen the US military at work, including… We have 60,000 members of the special forces
alone, which are called “Death Squads”. We just can’t match them, at that we… I’m not a pacifist. I was in Sarajevo during the war. We were surrounded by the Serbs, literally,
with a kind of trench system for three and a half years, it was like World War I, the
zone. Every once in a while some Muslim commander
would get this bright idea, that they were gonna retake a few hundred yards of land and
there’d be start burst up in the middle of the night. CH: You’d the rattle of machine guns and the
next day, 200 Muslim kids were dead, left scrambling through a blasted section of ground
that was meaningless. We knew that if the Serbs broke through those
trenches, a third of the city would be slaughtered and the rest would be driven into refugee
and displacement camps. Not to mention the torture, rape, which was
endemic by the Serbs. So nobody sat around, we were being hit with
2,000 shells a day. Nobody sat around in those basements arguing
about pacifism, but it didn’t save them from the poison of violence. CH: So there are moments when people seek
your annihilation. Actively as was the case in Sarajevo or in
the case of Iraq or Afghanistan, or Gaza where you have a foreign occupation, where that
foreign occupier speaks exclusively in a language of force. So I used to work in Algeria, and when I would
get to the airport, I would say “Welcome to Algeria. Land of a million martyrs. They were able to bleed like the Northern
Amazonian way that the French were not. But that’s not the situation we’re in revolutions
are different entities, and that’s what we’re trying to pull off and so it means that we
have to be strategic and disciplined, we have to speak with the moral force that this corrupt
system can no longer employ. One of the reasons that you have seen the
further isolation of critics of imperialism and in particular the ideology of neo-liberalism
and David Harvey, if anybody really wants to read a good book on neo-liberalism get
David Harvey’s book. It kinda lays it out. I mean, like Marx, he understood it. Was I just utterly utopian. CH: John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s “Bastards” also or he
wrote a book later, “The Collapse of Globalism” but it was just an ideology to
justify greed, it was utterly utopian it never made sense. And so we now have a situation certainly within
the United States, and I would argue, probably most of Europe where people aren’t buying
that ideology anymore, well it doesn’t matter where they come from, in the political spectrum,
this is what saw the insurgency of Sanders and the insurgency of Trump. And so what you’ve seen is critics of capitalism,
and imperialism, such as myself, have already been pushed to the margins of the internet
locked out of public broadcasting even Chomsky, [26:05] ____ but what they’re doing now is
using Google algorithms to further cut us off from the public. So for instance, I write for Robert Sheers
great website Truthdig. CH: But if you know Bob Sheer that former
writer at rampages he’s one, the great icons of American journalism and Google and Facebook
and Twitter… In the name of fake news. Of course, and we had this shadowy group called
Prop or not propaganda or not enlisting all the major left-wing sites: CounterPunch,,
alternet, world socialist website, eyesight, Truthdig as being purveyors of fake news and
for and part of the Kremlin and a Washington Post played it up. And so anyway, that gave the excuse for these
algorithms, and what they do is they have something called impressions where if you
went into Google and typed imperialism and I had written before the impressions were
cut an article on Imperialism it would come up with other articles. Now, those algorithms locked me out. CH: So we’ve seen a graph in the last 12 months,
in Truthdig with over 700,000 referrals from impressions dropping to over 200,000, all
of the left wing sites have been decimated, Alternet’s lost 63%, CounterPunch, Black Agenda
Report, and that coupled with the abolition of net neutrality, or an effective weapon. And I think that’s because the ideology has
lost credibility and is bankrupt, these marginalized predicts suddenly become much more dangerous. And again, you go back to all of the indicators
of a system that is in the death throes and that loss of credibility, is key and so coupled
with it has seen, certainly within the United States, horrific forms of state violence,
state intrusion militarized police 3.3 Americans, almost all unarmed, are shot and killed every
day in the streets of American cities. Mass incarceration. We have created in marginal communities, as
you know I would call them militarized zones of terror. That’s not too strong a word, I mean if you’re
a mother with a young African-American son and it’s dark, you don’t know if they’re ever
coming home and it’s ’cause of the cops. HN: But aren’t the grievances that the groups
like Antifa, have aren’t they valid? CH: Well, I share some of them on the left
of course, but this could be a whole evening on anarchism, I mean the anarchist support
pornography, which I don’t. They support prostitution, which I don’t,
they believe. And I think this particularly affects the
vulnerable and in particularly protect women that… For instance, if you’re raped, you shouldn’t
go to the police, because you’re a snitch and I’m not opposed to policing when it’s
carried out for public safety, I am opposed to policing when it’s carried out to shoot
people and oppress people of color. HN: So, what police force in the world would
you say is getting it right? CH: I would say police should not carry weapons. It’s a better way to say it. HN: And there are police forces in the world
that don’t… CH: Well I mean, the old Bobby didn’t carry
a weapon. But I mean this gets into the whole… What was the British police force? Well, it was based on Peel’s formation of
a home guard in Ireland to stop and then exported to Britain to break and I mean policing… Police forces were created in the Peel model
to suppress radicals. That’s what they did in Ireland and that’s
what they did in Britain. But you create the veneer of creating a police
force around criminality, which it almost never is. And the United States followed that Peel model
because we had the bloodiest labor wars in the industrialized world. Hundreds of American workers were murdered
by gun thugs. Pinkerton’s, Baldwin Felts’ company goons
and local police forces, because they were local identified with the workers, so they
had to create state police forces and private militias. CH: That’s the Pennsylvania State Police,
which were brutal especially in the old coal fields, and tough in Pennsylvania. They used to call them the Pennsylvania Cossacks. So that gets into a whole other issue of why
do we have police? Well, it’s not why we’re told we have police. But nevertheless, having lived in a former
Yugoslavia, where all hierarchical systems of authority had been destroyed or having
worked in places like the Congo where it was… Whoever had the the biggest trunk load of
AK47s took over, I have a healthy respect for order. The problem is, who manages that order and
what is their intent? HN: So I wanna go back to corporate America,
which as we know, you’re very critical of. But having lived in the US, one thing I would
say, and even here, one thing I’m struck by is the level of innovation that comes out
of America and you could say, and people do say that partly it’s to do with the fact that
money is a huge motivator when there’s the potential to make millions of dollars. People do invent things that do end up doing
good for society. One example I can think of is I am a mother
of a child with special needs. The machinery that helps her eat, that helps
her walk, all invented in the United States. So is there a concern that if we take money
as a motivator away from people that it affects innovation that ultimately helps people as
well? CH: No, I mean the problem is that those particularly
let’s talk about Silicon Valley. So those innovators themselves make a lot
of money, but what they do is they… Then all of that technology is built in sweatshops
in china or Bangladesh, where workers live under Dickensian conditions that replicate
the hell of industrial England in the late 19th century. And we know from China, you have whole cities
that are making Apple… Everybody is out there over 100,000 people,
but they’re secret, the security apparatus is such that you can’t get in there, you can’t
film it. They live in these horrific dormitories. There’s constant wage theft, and so if they
don’t meet their production quotas they’re not paid. HN: All that, all that totally true I don’t
think there’s. CH: These people who are innovators should
not be given a free pass to be predators. That’s the point. And that’s the problem. [applause] HN: You also write it in your book, “When
a government watches you 24 hours a day, you cannot use the word ‘liberty’. This is the relationship between a master
and a slave.” In your view, are there any successful ways
that citizens can resist this constant surveillance? Because I know if you’re worried about the
NSA listening to your call, you still have to get through your day and make your calls. So the tendency is to say, “Okay, well, they’re
watching me, anyways. There’s nothing I can do.” CH: It’s worse than that. I mean Facebook, I don’t know why anyone’s
on Facebook, I’m not. I mean, we have handed all of our information… It’s called the Black Box industry, it’s now
a multi-billion dollar industry, so they have everything on us. Our health records, our employment records… And the danger of that, as Hannah Arendt points
out in Origins Of Totalitarianism, is that when a government has wholesale surveillance
of an entire population it’s not because they’re looking for crime. It’s because they have information… And we saw that, especially under Stalinism
where they pull up your file, and they will find something for which they will criminalize
you for. And you can be sure that in a moment, of societal
break down, our corporate masters will use it. And we also remember that in the United States,
70% of all government intelligence is contracted out to corporations like Booz Allen Hamilton. And you can be sure they’re not just spying
on us for the US government. HN: But what do you see do as a solution? Not be on Facebook? CH: Well, I mean there are other issues with
Facebook, you can read Empire of Illusion about that. I mean it’s, Facebook is about that whole,
you know, me the life movie. It’s about presentation. It’s not about truth. Yeah, and it kind of sucks you into this black
hole of narcissism and trivia, and it’s a giant waste of time. And it hands to the owners of Facebook all
of your personal data, all of your friends personal data that they sell. That’s the business model. You know and this kind of thing about people
being surprised at Cambridge analytic kind of… No, no, that’s their business model, that’s
why they have Facebook, that’s why their stock is worth so much. Well it’s declined but I mean, so it’s very
hard to escape from the electronic tentacles. But when we are, I’ll give an example. So I was in Zuccotti Park during the Occupy
Movement quite a bit and after the Mayor of Bloomberg attempted to seize the park and
failed, it was clear to the activist that they would come again. But this time they would come without any
warning, probably as they did in the middle of the night. CH: And so the direct action committee wanted
to prepare some kind of surprise for the NYPD. So they all came down to my house in Princeton
slept all over my floor. And everybody sat at the dining room table. All electronic devices were, this was before
Snowden. All, they were very prescient. All electronic devices were put in the car. Phones, computers, everything in the car in
the driveway. Nobody spoke. Everybody wrote on pieces of paper and handed
them back and forth and then we burned them in the fireplace. [laughter] CH: And when the NYPD came, they stormed the
park and it was pretty brutal. And they got to the kitchen area in the center
of the park, and they found 20 activists chained to the kitchen and they didn’t have chain
cutters. And that was a big, it was like, you don’t
know everything. It was puric and yet kind of cool. [laughter] CH: So I think we have to be aware of how,
and I think one of the things that’s been so, was so disturbing after Barack Obama in
a nationally coordinated effort shut down all occupy encampments in America. Was that because these people had communicated
through electronic devices, they knew who the key figures were. And in the months following, I can speak,
I’m sure it was national. But I know from New York, there were, and
it didn’t get much reporting, but they were bursting into lofts where people were squatting
and stealing all their computer equipment. They were taking, I mean it’s not a surprise. They got the right people. They were taking them and fabricating felony
convictions against them. Then forcing them to plea out. So, for instance, one activist was charged
with holding a pair of scissors, and carrying out what was called an attempted assault,
a deadly assault against a police officer. Now they filmed Zuccotti 24 hours a day. CH: But of course they didn’t film that assault
because it didn’t exist. And it was his word against the cops. And he had to plea out on a five year felony
conviction. Which means, that if they pick him up for
anything else he goes to prison for seven years. And that was a very effective technique to
neuter the best activist. There’s a very… It’s very dark what’s happening. It’s subterranean because all of the resistance
is subterranean. If you watch the 24 hour burlesque show on
CNN, you won’t see it. You’ll see a porn star and her lawyer who
now wants to run for president and Omarosa who has about as much credibility as Donald
Trump. That’s, and they love it. They make money on it. It’s entertainment, has zero to do with news. Meanwhile these very serious movements are
taking place within the country. And I would also add, there’s very profound
suffering. By at least half the population or more. CH: And they’re rendered utterly invisible
and I think that’s why the credibility and I think rightly so of the press and most people
when they speak of the press now speak of the electronic media. The commercial electronic media is so low. I don’t know what it is, 9% or, I mean it’s
stats really, I think it might be below 10%. Because the pain and the dislocation and the
injustices that have been carried out are ignored by the elite. And they’ve all become, like courtiers in
Louis Catores and Versailles. You know commenting on which mistress he took
into the bedchamber. While the real world, what’s happening outside
their version of the forbidden city is completely unreported and more dangerously unknown. So when the Republican establishment wants
to destroy Trump during the primaries remember who they trotted out to destroy him? The big gun: Mitt Romney. Wow, Trump’s finished there you know. HN: You know, you talk about the need to create
alliances and listen to people unlike ourselves. And you are critical of people who write off
Trump supporters. You say in the book: “The left often dismisses
Trump supporters as irredeemable racists and bigots, ignoring their betrayal and suffering.” Yet, in the same chapter, you also called
president Trump an imbecile and a narcissist. Do you see any contradictions in that message? CH: No. No, because Trump has power. They don’t. I went to divinity school and that whole issue
of forgiveness. And although I did have a great theology professor
who once told me: “Only God forgives.” HN: But if the goal is to create alliances
with people and he has people who… CH: But we’re talking about power. When people are carrying out… Let’s call it for what it is. Khan called it “radical evil”. When people carry out… When people are empowered to the extent that
they are destroying and crushing human lives, ripping children from their mother’s arms. And then putting these children in warehouses
where they are drugged and abused. When they are carrying out militarized drone
attacks, terrorizing citizens across the Middle East, including, of course, in Pakistan. When they are unleashing militarized police
to gun down citizens in the street. When they are forcing families whose sons
or daughters are ill into bankruptcy to save their children. Then we have every right to call them out
for who they are. [applause] CH: And I look at the Trump supporters ultimately
as victims. I don’t defend their racism, their Islamophobia,
their homophobia… All of that. Of course, their misogyny. But they are victims. And I learned that lesson when I wrote my
book on the Christian Right. HN: Victims of what? CH: They are victims of a system that has
cast them aside, crushed their dreams and their hopes. Told them that they are worthless and have
nothing to contribute. They have reacted the way victims often react
in a society by demonizing the vulnerable. Let’s be clear you have systems of indoctrination
that spew this garbage out over the airwaves and critics of the power elites, such as myself,
have been effectively shut out. So they’re being bombarded by Fox News. I mean talk about fake news. This whole debate on the Russiagate… I’m thinking: No, if you want to go after
the foreign government that has most interfered in American elections that’s Israel. [applause] CH: If you want to go after fake news, we’ve
got it on cable channels and on the radio. Sean Hannity? I mean this is not sane. I mean this guy. And they have huge corporate sponsors. They make tons of money. So you have a powerful system of indoctrination
coupled with people who have bought this, as we spoke about earlier, this belief that
what’s happened to them is an assault against their national identity. It’s been taken away from them by Muslims,
by… I mean it’s of course absurd. Undocumented workers. Women, African Americans… You know, the list. And in degenerate societies… This is what I saw in Yugoslavia. We can watch it in India. I mean how far is Modi from this? That’s what happens. CH: The power elite seek to divert this legitimate
rage towards the weak. And so these people have been betrayed. The way that they’re reacting is indefensible
and ultimately self-destructive. But that is what happens in diseased and decayed
society. I was in Montgomery, Alabama with a great
civil rights attorney, Bryan Stevenson, and we were walking through the city. And Bryan was showing me all the Confederate
monuments in the city. And then he said: “You know, most of these
have been put up in the last 10 years.” And I said: “That is the exactly what happened
with the breakdown of Yugoslavia.” All these Yugoslavs suddenly became Serb nationalists
or Croat nationalists. CH: I remember being… I was with the 5th core after the NATO bombing. We were moving with the doctramentous fifth
core on Banja Luka and I was on the front lines and I was with a battalion of “shahids”. So they all had green headbands. First of all, all these Muslims and Bosniaks
could drink you, me and anyone else in this room out of the table. They hadn’t ever been in a mosque. It was kind of like the Christian Right. They knew a few kind of catchwords and cliches. So I’m with this battalion of… You know, who are being demonize of course
by the West, and they find out that I’d spent seven years in Middle East and I spoke Arabic. And then they all wanted to know if I’d read
the Koran. And I was the only one of 900 people [laughter]
who had actually read the Koran. HN: So I’m told we’re gonna take some questions
but I did wanna but give you a chance to answer one criticism people have of your work, which
is that your message is too bleak. It’s too hopeless. [laughter] CH: But my answer is… HN: What do you say to those people? CH: Right, I didn’t make it up. [applause] CH: I mean I read climate change reports,
and it’s pretty bleak and pretty frightening and we don’t have much time left and we’d
better realize how bleak it is and we better rise up and get rid of these people or they
are going to extinguish the human race. [applause] [music]


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