by Chris Hedges
July 19, 2010
The human species during its brief time on Earth has exhibited a remarkable capacity to kill itself off. The Cro-Magnons dispatched the gentler Neanderthals. The conquistadors, with the help of smallpox, decimated the native populations in the Americas. Modern industrial warfare in the 20th century took at least 100 million lives, most of them civilians. And now we sit passive and dumb as corporations and the leaders of industrialized nations ensure that climate change will accelerate to levels that could mean the extinction of our species. Homo sapiens, as the biologist Tim Flannery points out, are the “future-eaters.”
Copyright © 2010 Truthdig
Chris Hedges spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009) and War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2003).
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A bit OT, but reading this, it struck me how often elitism leads to fatalism. Not that we don’t face real challenges for the future, I’m just noticing how often elitism transforms into a desire for destruction, often leading to death and destruction in pursuit of the “common good”.
Wars and other violent events usually occur because one group sees itself as better than another (or too worthy to have their honor slighted by an opponent), for any number of reasons, thereby justifying military action. Environmental elitism leads to over-the-top claims of impending doom from every direction, often justifying “fixes” that do more harm than good. Social elitism tends to result in bigger problems from the bandaids applied than the original problem caused.
WWI and the current wars began with a certain elitism, be it royal family feuds or more recently, the push to force “our wonderful society” down people’s throats. Most domestic violence calls are due to someone feeling they deserve to be treated better, and take it out on their partner and/or children. Sexual assaults are perpetrated by those who feel they are entitled to someone else’s body.
Rolling blackouts nearly always kill elderly folks in inclement weather, and despite precautions, someone slips through the cracks. The push for better gas mileage has lead to “more efficient” vehicles that can accelerate due to random electronic issues, the use of additives in gasoline that are several times more toxic than the pollutants already in our fuel, and most ironically, the use of massive amounts of toxic chemicals to produce alloys and other materials that are lighter and stronger, to save a couple miles per gallon/watt. Not to mention the nutty groups that are so “green” that their ultimate goal is for all of us to become extinct, thereby protecting the planet from humanity forever.
As for social elitism, the war on drugs has created more violence and addicts as prices are driven up and profits become worth the risk to dealers, while the taboo has tempted made entire generations embrace illegal drugs as part of their desire to rebel against society. Political correctness is it’s own disaster, as we watch more and more people justify horrible deeds to other human beings, while they arrogantly place the blame on their parents, their boss, news items they saw on TV, and sometimes, events from a century before their ancestors ever migrated to America. The desire to “protect the children” has led to a generation of parents that have been so sheltered and cushioned from the dangers of life that many apparently can’t so much as buy and operate a crib without endangering their children, or other common sense things the older generations were more than aware of, because the dangers were often clear and obvious, even to children.
So again, oddly enough, the same elitism that is screeching about how we’re all going to die is leading to a self-fulfilling prophesy where we kill each other in the name of saving each other, often because we’re justified because we’re doing everything we can to make things better, while “the other guy” is ruining things for all of us. I never really thought about it, until Zwally and I talked about it while we were relaxing at Al Gore’s mansion one night, sitting in his olympic-sized, heavily chlorinated, heated, well-lit swimming pool as we dined on caviar and shots of Liquor Al had flown in from Europe that afternoon, as we celebrated the billions we’re going to make off carbon credits, while Al was upstairs chasing a screaming masseuse around the house while his wife was out of town promoting safer driving and censorship.
Ahh…good times… 😛
Chris really makes me open my eyes to so many things going on in the world….
Just saw this….
Chris Hedges live Q&A session to discuss his latest column.
Time: July 21 at 11:00 am PT
Thanks, Tony, I saw that the other day. Hopefully it will be recorded and posted then I’ll post it here when (if) available.
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Freud was right in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, positing that there is a death (thanatos) drive as powerful as the urge toward pleasure (eros),
He looked over the damage from World War I and concluded that the death drive is more powerful. Why else do we re-enact painful experiences? Why don’t people rise up against corporate overlords?
Reflect on the Obama zeitgeist. The machinery to elect the inexperienced junior Senator exploited the hopes of millions, making them feel hopeless and helpless.
Meanwhile other machinery is exploiting projected fears onto hatred of the “other”. Heavily armed neo-Nazis patrol the Arizona desert. Mathematically, every person, man, woman and child has a gun in America. Pleasure/destruction, which one wins in the end?
a. camus remaks on a francoist fascist elite battalion in the spanish civil war whose flag was emblazoned with the slogan, “long live death”!