The Myth of Human Progress by Chris Hedges

Climate change

Image by jeancliclac via Flickr

by Chris Hedges
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
January 14, 2013

Clive Hamilton in his “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change” describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.” This obliteration of “false hopes,” he says, requires an intellectual knowledge and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means that those we love, including our children, are almost certainly doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire.

To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and continue to resist the forces that are destroying us.


via Truthdig

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

Copyright © 2013 Truthdig


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21 thoughts on “The Myth of Human Progress by Chris Hedges

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  17. global deforestation, diminishing biodiversity, a vulnerable mono-cultured staple-foods supply, top soil erosion, increasing desertification, nitrate pollution of oceans from runoff of industrialized agriculture, escape of nuclear waste into the environment, hydrocarbon and heavy metal contamination of underground water supplies by fracking and mineral mining activity, genetic modification corrupting both flora and fauna gene pools, industrial waste contamination of fresh water sources, atomized depleted uranium, pharmaceuticals and plastics in the food and water supply affecting human reproduction, die-offs of bees and other pollinators …

    there are too many to mention. We’re playing Russian Roulette with a few fully loaded automatic rifles with the barrels fixed at our heads. If depopulation is the goal, war is far less efficient than modern civilization itself

    no doubt the planet will survive, and the biosphere will reconfigure and recover itself; but unless we discover or develop the means to remediate our own lethality – and have the time and will to implement it, we won’t.

    • Strong stuff from Greenpeace Ismaeel. I have a mixed response to this style of propaganda, but if it gets results, so be it. My only worry is it might ratchet the paranoia index and incite youngsters to make the wrong choices, It is quite threatening, and extremely confrontational. Is this the message we need? Are all adults to blame? Wouldn’t it be more effective to target the corporate criminals who exploit all of us in the name of necessity and free enterprise, regardless of age?

      • I feel that it is disingenuous to prosecute the entirety of humanity based on the voices of the loudest which drown out the many who are downtrodden by our wasteful system and those who are intent on fixing it. This article is also very U.S.-centric and doesn’t account for nations such as Iceland which has switched to 100% renewable energy production and prioritized the health of its citizens over the corrupt banks. I do agree about the paranoia issue and think it would be more productive to look to role models that are causing change rather than mull over those who do not wish to understand, as the latter only demoralizes people further. Even assuming this psychological hard-wiring does exist, we have the consciousness to reject it.

  18. As a species, we are victims of our own success; Ronald Wright is quite correct; in particular he is right about the complex karmic debt that is owed. The ancient victim/perpetrator syndrome runs deep.
    The present system is essentially just a blatant incarnation of endemic corruption from religious insanity, institutionalised theft, genocide and the indoctrinated psychopathies of perpetually conditioned narcissistic ownership, historically largely through the proliferation of urban-controlled enclosures for profit, not provision.

    The buccaneering outlaw image may beguile, but it is really corporate fiction disguised as heroic fact. Movies are also a double deceit, not only as a miraculous theatre of make-believe, but also because they are experienced vicariously. We are not “present” at a movie, we are only solitary witnesses to some virtual symbolic-action narrative, all framed and engineered by mechanistic determinants (pace Walter Benjamin “Illuminations” 1936.)
    So with the “consumer” world. An ideological pathology indeed.
    The script is not only fake, it is unedifying and life denying. We need to be unshackled, our senses liberated.. Our minds crave freedom and our bodies liberty, to be cleansed, sanctified and purified at will.

    If the US implodes and collapses, the rest of the world will express regret, but will adjust. The US may resurrect as a different, more accommodating Beast; but it will need to be thinking far more about State sovereignty and much less about imperial Union ~ that, by then, will have been amply demonstrated, to have been a proper dinosaur of a headache.
    Wright’s allusion to “crisis cults” is not entirely perspicuous, as his example of the Ghost Dance somewhat belies the argument for self-induced indolence. Those people did nothing but “get in the way” of desperate colonisers with little justification, other than mixed ideological motives and real needs.
    In turn, the original push for overseas expansion was driven by a) glory and treasure; b) misguided zealotry; c) European internal pressures; d) rapid development of marine technologies; and, e) new trade routes with the chronic threat (perceived thus) from the east, in the form of Islam.

    We have now reached the outer limits of mismanagement. Therefore, “Idle No More.”

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