Welcome to the Asylum by Chris Hedges

Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
April 30, 2012

Exploitation by Diego Rivera in the Palacio Na...

Exploitation by Diego Rivera in the Palacio Nacional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged. We live in an age when news consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet.


via Truthdig

Copyright © 2012 Truthdig

 spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His latest books are Death of the Liberal Class, and The World as It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.

from the archives:

The Last Days of the Lilliputians by William T. Hathaway

The Crisis of Civilization (must-see)

History of Capitalism in the United States: Exposing the Myth of America

Chris Hedges: Nonviolent Citizen Resistance to War and Global Climate Change

The Looming Collapse of the American Empire by Chris Hedges

26 thoughts on “Welcome to the Asylum by Chris Hedges

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  6. Or PTSD, compounded over time at a minimum. Each new SHOCK thrown at us by the DOCTRINE-aires makes it worse. Right now, it’s Japan, drones, shooting 17-year boys for buying skittles, police brutality in all its ugly black and blue, totally screwed up schools ….. The “news” is nothing but a body count fed to us in “infotainment” soundbytes which tend to aggravate the traumatized. Those who watch TV have been tased to the max by psyops, mis- and dis-information. And yes, tasers DO cause heart failure (studies just out) I hate to think what MIGHT happen if people WERE finally told the truth..

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  9. Raining on Your Parade:

    …Wishing for sunshine and flowers is a beautiful spiritual trip.
    The western governments are clearly depicted by Chris hedges as “they” in his introductory sentences..
    Then it must be assumed that these political elites are the lunatics in his asylum…

    Do civilisations die or is change a more apt description of evolving democracies? When society alters and familiar things are disturbed or discarded there may be a perception of insanity as peoples routine beliefs and environments change rapidly in such accelerated upheaval of the established moral and physical landscape…

    The posts on Dandelion Salad reflect sane responses to Chris Hedges article. There is a tinge of “the end of the world is nigh” hysteria about Chris’ writing here.That approach must be challenged. To challenge nepotism, cronyism and corruption in politics and commerce and in society in general should demand logic and sanity prevails…

    Philosophical argument, logic and academic writing has a place in civilised society.Preoccupation with idealistic concepts and plans for the ideal world obscures the need to challenge the cronyism, nepotism and corruption which Chris accurately identifies…

    The democratic electoral system is one route to claiming back our democratic rights and freedoms.When did we last canvas our local elected politicians? Or organise ourselves into interest groups and lobby for our democratic rights?…

    The media has failed in its journalistic duty which is the create a Fourth Estate and again challenge power in every corner of society, local, national and internationally ( eg… Through the Court of Human Rights etc) …

    Appologies for raining on this parade of praise for Chris but the end of the world is not arriving any time soon. People might consider taking back our democratic system from the elitist hijackers who have been given free rein for far too long…

    • Donal , i would not be so sure of that. Jonathan Snell in ”The fate of the earth ” reminds us of the kingdom of insects if we dont watch out with all these nukes. shit , this whole thing could come down by accident , who knows . when i read Revelation and Matthew 24 , Mark 13 , and Luke 21 , it all sounds and looks like the after effects of fallout .
      In many ways Hedges is a secular prophet using relgiuos imagery . i dont take that lightly . but as a proposed before , i prefer a more ”existential eschatology ” since the world ended on the cross when Christ died. everything after that is anti climatic . but that is just the biased mystic speaking from inner expereince in me talking .

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  11. This reminds me of Giambattista Vico, who talked about the imagination – or, as he put it way back then, the “fantasia.” I believe it was he who said that there was the age of Gods, the age of Heroes and the age of man. If I’m not mistaken, it meant that the phenomena of nature were first spoken about in divine terms. Later, man passes into the heroic age, where certain characters explain the universe through their exploits. The third stage is when man loses his poetic understanding and the banality of life is expounded upon in logical ways. This, according to Vico, is repetitive as the age of humans eventually collapses and restarts the cycle with the Divine age. Mr. Hedges seems to be echoing this as we approach a logical, statistical means of understanding the universe that seems to be inevitably collapsing in on itself.

    • Thomas , Bullseye –yes Vico ran the gamut , and it seems like we are moving into a another Theocratic age. He predicted the full circle to come . Shakepeare scholar Harold Bloom in his important work ”The Western Canon ” states that same full circle , and that after going thru all these ages of Lit we will come back to a Theocratic age. It seems with the Central American poets we are already there.

  12. Thank you Mr Hedges, you write powerfully. You show us that it is possible to dream of a new America, one emboldened by Blake’s quintessential Romantic insight that Nature is Imagination Itself. As for the beast of revelation, that is a rather tired cliche, better by far to dwell upon the musing of more enlightened Beasts, who think through their hearts and aspire with their minds to serve Nature not to possess Her.

    • David , let us not forget that we cannot just take one side of Blake . There is no doubt about his work on imagination/nature is supreme as Muggeridge points out , but can never be a sustitute for his high level of spirtuality ( be it possibly gnostic ?) … for if we forget that side of things and only stress the preromantic– Romantic Blakian view we do so with ”aesthetic impertanance ”. That is a real danger indeed.

      as far as eschatology , it may sound as rehash what Hedges is saying unless it becomes an existential eschatology ..then the vision shifts and intensifys into a passionate inward journey.

      • Rocket you’re irrepressible, with an “i” ~ by the way shouldn’t it be impertinent? What is pre-romantic-Romantic? Did you see Peter Ackroyd’s very interesting BBC series on the Romantics by any chance? You quoted Bloom on Vico elsewhere, shades of McLuhan perhaps? once a stolid Presbyterian. Let’s not forget that Professor Harold Bloom taught Camille Paglia and wrote a whole book about American Gnosis (Omens etc) and his revered mentor was Northrop Frye, who also taught Margaret Atwood. Frye was a profound Blake scholar who had plenty to say about “Ol’Nobodaddy Aloft” or as Frye delightfully referred to him, the Ferocious Old Bugger in The Sky. Thanks for the Cioran mention in that other post of yours, I’m looking into that. Why shouldn’t Nature and Imagination and Spirituality and Aristotelian Political Virtue (rta in Sanskrit?) all be part and parcel of the same Cosmos? Isn’t that what Chris Hedges is extolling? The Iroquois may not have heard of the Orphic adept from where was it now, but they might have been intimate with the Dao-Deh…
        PS I seriously commend you to the work of the late Algis Uzdavinys.

        • David , i am very fond of Aristotle ..but mainly in the context of Aquinas fusing him with Augustine in the Summa . why? because if Aristotle is left to his own devises we are left with a naturalistic view of the universe. Danger there Dr Smith . and yes , Hedges is a naturalist..which serves us well in regards to the social injustice socio context via the life of Christ , but makes for bad theology ….one might as well come regurgitate Jefferson’s Bible ….i see no difference between the supernatural and natural working together..hence –the medieval Renaissance .

          in regards to Bloom and Cioran . Cioran to me is possibly the most important Atheist of all time . he is yet to be discovered. it took mike tanner aND susan sontag to find him in a rotting garret in Paris. Bloom is sympathetic to the Gnosis . ..but i think that if you read one of his latest ”Jesus and Yahweh” you will get an interesting twist on Bloom . also his comparisons of the Gospel of Mark and Hamlet comparisons . but i must not digress from the subject at hand . despite Hedges naturalistic approach to Jesus ( Schweitzer , and Crossan style ) one can learn alot from the absolute social justice and equality of the rabbi from Nazareth thru the work of Hedges. He gets it . at least that part of it .

          never heard of Uzdavinizys. what book would you first recommend ?
          p/s/ i consider Kenneth Clark’s work on the Romantics to be the definitive . Particularly the musical aspect./

        • Thanks for that engaging response. Kenneth Clarke takes me back to the halcyon days days of film when I could watch a stack of documentaries on reels in the kitchen using the wall as a makeshift screen, with a spare projector from the local Canadian film board office, all for free. I would suggest Uzdavinys’ last publication first possibly, and then work back if you found it of value; it’s available from the Matheson Trust, entitled “Orpheus and the Roots of Platonism” but there are a few essays available online (from the journals Sacred Web and Eye of the Heart for example) that might offer a significant glimmer of the depth of his scholarly originality http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Algis-Uzdavinys.aspx
          I’m sure you’ll find this interesting.

  13. Some of us have been fighting this ALL of our lives. And we shall continue to do that. As long as the idea of SANITY exists, there will be resisters to the INSANITY.
    The real problem, to my mind – is that we became addicted to STUFF, things that can be counted, things to be hauled around, stuff to leave our “dynasties” instead of living in the NOW.
    America is going to have a very hard recovery.
    A favorite of mine, as his/Orlov’s conclusion that MurKa is resoundlingly spiritually at a loss, compared to Russia:
    I wonder when (0r if) Murka shall recover considering how opiated, alcoholed, street drugged most of them are. And that’s not counting the shopaholics, TV druggies, war games addicts, porno addicts ..

  14. Good article. However, please note that Christianity as originally and primitively believed and practiced (and currently so among a minority) was indeed mystical. Scholasticism has heavily influenced first Catholicism and then Protestantism, and the period of its influence has not coincided with a period of growth in the practice of, and appreciation for, Christian mysticism. According to Scripture and the Church Fathers, although God is distinct from his creation, He is not separate from it. Rather, the whole goal of the Christianity is to reunite God and his creation through Jesus Christ, since the relationship between God and man was disrupted by the sin of man. (See for example the works of Maximus the Confessor.) When sin has been abolished, so will the law of the jungle be abolished as well, in nature and humanity, and a peaceable kingdom will be perfected. According to the Bible and by the Church Fathers, love (not selfish acquisition and consumption) was the highest good (see e.g. 1 Cor. 13), and people ought to have, if any at all, only very loose attachments to their property rights. The Scripture enshrined the example of the early Christian community in which goods were held in common.(Acts 2). And it is also true that a matter of history land was generally held in common (although the right to use (not to own outright) certain particular plots of land was often allocated to clans or families and their descendants (generally not to individuals). See “Thompson on Real Property,” Second Thomas Edition, Vol. 1 (2009), Chapter 1, “Property Concepts Among Primitive Cultures.”

    • Ross , yes yes yes ! I think until we see again what the early church had , which is the economic correpondence that went with the sprituality and inward fire that they were expereincing , there will not be much change in this world that will impress non believers enough to make the crossing needed to true conversion . and without that conversion , well.. we are all stuck in an endless cycle of politians , rhetoric , war , starvation , etc….

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