Chris Hedges and Leo Panitch: The Genesis of Global Imperialism and Capitalism, Part 1

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Dandelion Salad

with Chris Hedges and Leo Panitch

teleSUR English on Sep 7, 2015

In this episode of Days of Revolt, host Chris Hedges sits down with author and professor Leo Panitch to examine the genesis of global imperialism and capitalism. The two discuss how both are upheld by economic and cultural forces, and debate the roles of ignorance, myth, and mal­intent in the perpetuation of systems of inequality. teleSUR


From the archives:

Sanctioned Terrorism by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Abby Martin: The Rise of History’s Biggest Empire

Welcome to the World of Extreme and Destructive Global Dependencies by Ralph Nader (#TPP)

Noam Chomsky: The US Empire: “We Own The World”

Multidimensional and Complex Nature and Effects of Imperialism On Democracy, Society, Nature, and Human Nature by Fazal Rahman, Ph.D.

Larry Summers: Goldman Sacked by Greg Palast + Palast: Larry Summers’ Secret ‘End Game’ Memo

23 thoughts on “Chris Hedges and Leo Panitch: The Genesis of Global Imperialism and Capitalism, Part 1

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  4. Indeed, Panitch underscores the point nicely: what many on the left perceive as ‘fraud’ and therefore indicative of a cleavage between the interests of ‘big finance’ and those of the state is nothing of the sort. The state is capitalist and therefore rules (manages) on behalf of the corporations for whom it exists to serve, creating, enhancing and ensuring a reproduction of conditions that permit the system as a whole to continue existing. The fundamental interests of Wall Street are those of the state and conversely. And yes, because it is a social system — an integrated cultural, political and economic whole — it has a life of its own, an inertia of its own, meaning that people, whether bourgeois or working class, are impelled by impulses not entirely their own. Entrenched culture makes partial automatons of us all. Overturning this thing — which can’t happen soon enough — is not going to be easily done.

        • On the relationship between fascism and capital, Samir Amin has also written a piece that you might find interesting, titled: The Return of Fascism in Contemporary Capitalism.

          You can find it here:

          An interesting topological analysis of the phenomenon in its recent manifestations and how in times of crisis, when the ruling class feels it is losing control, it does not hesitate to turn to this barbarism as a mode of social control.

        • Thanks for the link Norman. As Panitch explains, we’re all implicated, because of the centralised nature of the “heritable” system. It ought to be like the air we breathe, and clearly clean air is what we want not foul polluted, noxious fumes; water is no different.

          Really, in truth, money should be integral to and expressive of our global commons, a fundamental human right by choice, like solar electricity or any necessary, sustainable ethical commodity, just a legitimate means to conduct the normal business of life, a way of regulating our affairs with an appropriate localised fair-trade currency ~ not a privileged element subject to enclosure, hoarding and extortionate exploitation.

          After all, it is purely symbolic. How many Picasso scribbles do you need to prove you are rich? I agree it is difficult to conceive of it this way, but much of the problem is indeed perceptual; ie it is an organizational and therefore epistemological or systemic issue. Enormous resources are being invested in perception management, sophisticated ways of convincing us that what we feel and experience and know is not true!

        • Indeed. Money as a publicly controlled means of accounting and an economy not premised on both profit and the private ownership of the means of subsistence. And yes, as things are, we are destroying our natural world, our very means of survival and that of a great diversity of living creatures who have the same claim to existence as we do.

          It’s all very profoundly disconcerting. It’s difficult to believe that we live in such a barbaric and culturally primitive time as this. I guess that we will continue to dig ourselves out from under the ruins of our collective history for many generations yet to come. I’m actually not very optimistic but I do sense that a shift may be happening for the better, that humanizing ideas are gaining ground, that greater numbers of people are observing and thinking for themselves and, as you suggest, are getting better at separating truth from fiction, first hand experience from indoctrinated dogma.



  5. I have to say, for the average person, economics and finance are like some kind of hoodoo. The magicians who play the field, create it with their fairy-tale wands. They know their way around. The rest of us are fumbling in dense traffic with inadequate white sticks.

    I think this conversation almost entirely misses the point, that I would say should focus harder on the extractive logic of parasitic commerce. It is fundamentally immoral to live off the sweat of others, and even worse, to depreciate the natural capital of a planet that legally belongs to no-one, to the point of imminent extinction.

    It may have been easy to shoot bison from a passing train, just to have their tongues as bleeding trophies; but it is another scale of sacrilegious obscenity to knowingly continue to wilfully destroy precious and pristine habitats, that reduce indigenous populations to levels of utter degradation, that no genuine Spiritual Intelligence would ever or could ever describe as justified or justifiable.

    The evil that men do endures long after the sick perpetrators have turned to dust. Half the forests of this Earth are gone. The Ocean is being plundered to a degree unprecedented not only in mankind’s living memory, but in recorded history. We are satiating our vital communities with poisons and toxic wastes. Our political “leaders” who should be exemplary Stewards of Life, are nothing but grotesque henchmen (& women;) pedlars of meaningless profit for the sludge dwellers of the ages.

    Sophistry and sophisticated arguments are worthless in my opinion. We need to open humanity’s Eye of the Heart and change the way we comprehend and experience reality.

      • Excellent points, David. Maybe Pope Francis should read your cogent message and take it to task, spreading the word to every inhabitant of this planet before it’s too late.

        • Not enough! The right-wing is demonizing him as a “socialist” and crackpot type, and you know they control most of the media outlets.

        • From the 2nd paragraph of Rocket’s piece:

          “Though the Pope subtitles his new work On Care for Our Common Home and makes it clear that he wants every inhabitant of the Earth to read it, just knowing that every Parish and Parochial School in every language in every country in the whole wide world will be taught this as Canon Law, that is a real good start of a long overdue Green revolution. I mean after all, Catholics have no choice, for Rome has spoken, and has spoken indeed.”

          The pope will be in the United States later this month. The media will cover his visit. It will be fascinating.

    • David:

      Re: “We need to open humanity’s Eye of the Heart and change the way we comprehend and experience reality.”

      Great insight. Necessary, but very difficult to implement, as the Eye of the Heart, along with the intellect, has been corrupted, polluted, and co-opted, in overwhelming majorities, by the capitalist-imperialist Moloch. It only sees and feels what Moloch puts into it. Eye of the Heart opens up relatively easily in the Third World countries, during struggles against imperialist wars and invasions, e.g., Vietnam, Algeria, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. That is why innumerable people there-overwhelming majorities illiterate peasants, motivated by unvarnished and simple truths, insights, and values-do not think twice about sacrificing their lives, families, everything, for the cause of justice and freedom. It is only when the capital, “culture”, “values”, and other institutions of capitalist-imperialist technocratic “civilization” infiltrate such societies that the Eye of the Heart starts shutting there too.

      The following quotes, which I placed in my recent paper, posted on my own site, are relevant to your above insight:

      “It is a question of the Third World starting a new history of Man, a history which will have regard to the sometimes prodigious theses which Europe has put forward, but which will also not forget Europe’s crimes, of which the most horrible was committed in the heart of man, and consisted of the pathological tearing apart of his functions and the crumbling away of his unity.”
      Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, (Fanon, 1963, p. 315).

      “We all live under the constant threat of our own annihilation. Only by the most outrageous violation of ourselves have we achieved our capacity to live in relative adjustment to a civilization apparently driven to its own destruction.”
      R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience/The Bird of Paradise (R.D. Laing, 1967)

      • Thank you Fazal, for your illuminating response.

        I recently revisited an RTE TWO documentary about the Middle-east that must have been made in the late nineties ~ “Promises and Betrayal: Britain and the Struggle for the Holy Land.” Not a bad snapshot summary of the predatory, duplicitous & murderous tactics of the former “Great Powers;” with useful contributions from several interesting specialists, like the late Fred Halliday, Mark Levene (The Crisis of Genocide 2 Vols 2014) and Youssef Choueiri (currently Reader in Islamic Studies at Manchester….)

        With the exponential metastasis of US capital dominance, now comfortably embraced by the most lunatic proponents of cavalier & illiterate pseudo-religious fundamentalism, we seem to have reached a fascistic apogee. So I heartily concur with Fanon’s poignant statement that you quote.

        Ronald Laing too, was intensely provocative and original ~ his “refracted” engagement with schizophrenia was a unique, if temporary, release from the ideological straight-jacket enclosure(s,) that reinforced the cold-war hallucination of mutual atomisation.

        I find the horrors and depravities of this past century alone virtually impossible to comprehend in their visceral fullness; what is happening right now, particularly in the Levant, is just apocalyptic & agonizing. It is as though the teleology of annihilation was a preordained eschatological future ~ but especially reserved for the “others.” While those who believe strongest in its certainty, are habitually the ones most determined to seek privileged exemption, furthest from the storm.

        Perhaps it is the fragile enormity of our childlike expectations, that now so hugely increases the magnitude of our despair.

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